I suppose that the major news this week which is already on line elsewhere stating that from Sunday, August 29th 2021 service 853 from Cheltenham to Oxford will be changed quite a lot. The 853 will be discontinued and replaced by service S2 operated by Witney depot. Nothing on the Stagecoach West website reveals this as of Friday, July 24th but this news comes from a number of sources outside Stagecoach.

So a number of questions arise as follows:

An interesting and fascinating story which merits study and interest as the first major change in a long time for Oxfordshire services. Of interest is that currently an alternative from Cheltenham is the 51 to Swindon connecting with the S6 to Oxford !

I suppose in view of the use of normal standard buses on the S services in Oxfordshire, except normally the S6 is viable to retain what were described as Superior services when the first started always using Gold buses?

Chris Maxfield has provided details of a new fleet book for Malta & Gozo plus some excellent pictures of Pulhams operations.

As ever regular contributors include Gavin Francis, Gary Seamarks who has even visited High Wycombe, Lewis Parker who updates on recent livery changes with Oxford Bus, Martyn Sacaloff and Richard Sharman who provide a chance to see what happened last Sunday at Silverstone with the British Grand Prix and others who help contribute to this weekly briefing.

The one remaining MAN 12.240 MCV Evolution 3646 still in daily use at High Wycombe.
The others in this batch were converted to trainers and the one at High Wycombe recently sold.
The date July 13th by Gary Seamarks.

Quite a scoop is 13808 now working in London and recently transferred from Cambridge to London.
This is seen turning to Elizabeth Bridge on July 23rd by Gavin Francis.

662 has recently returned from repaint into the latest city livery, seen above working the 35.
Taken on July 23rd by Lewis Parker.

Silverstone 2021
see the special record below

Jack Cooper

%0237 is seen at Oxford Train Station ready to work the GP1 to Silverstone on July 18th.

Martyn Sacaloff

Stagecoach provided most of the transport for the GP at Silverstone on July 18th as seen in this picture.

Richard Sharman

For a walk round Silverstone last Sunday look at this video from Richard Sharman.

Interestingly the Silverstone track is partly in Buckinghamshire and part in Northamptonshire. (Well so they said on TV.)

Featured in Times of Old

Looking to the past Michael Wadman and Tony Bungay have provided an interesting selection of pictures. Michael this week from RH Transport and Tony from more recent times than 100 years ago but which prove most interesting. The United Counties Omnibus Company which this year, September to be precise, would mark the centenary since the United Counties name first appeared on the side of Buses in 1921. The true birth of the company was eight years earlier in 1913 in actual fact, when it was called the Wellingborough Motor Omnibus Company. This may provide impetus for others to provide pictures for the September Centenary.

R H Transport F124JGS seen in Woodstock working service 203 on February 22nd 2003 by Michael Wadman.

A Leyland Charabus, restored by Mike Sutcliffe and seen at Showbus in 1989 by Tony Bungay.

Gavin Francis updates us on The Mound at Marble Arch

In the days between July 20th and 23rd work continues on this interesting development.

In a discussion with Richard Sharman I wondered how Oxford would develop in the coming months and years and two links which will answer some of you, as a readers, may have.



My thanks to Richard for his and that of Coach & Bus Week for these of these articles.

Pictures of the Stagecoach vehicles used for the 2021 event

Martyn Sacaloff

There were a large number of Stagecoach fleet members supporting this years even I have selected a number by Martyn to highlights the contributions to this year's event.

megabus coach carrying appropriate branding for the event.

The numerous vehicles to be seen during the day on July 18th.


East provided a number of buses including one the tri-axles  from the busway.

Midland contributions were in force on the Sunday.

Stagecoach London provided four of the vehicles plus two from Midlands.

The Interdeckers were out in force working a number of services over the three days.

Coaches on hire to megabus included an ex Oxford Bus Scania, Yellow Bus Levante apart from a Levante from Stagecoach West.

Ex Oxford Golds from South Wales, 15964 and 15754.

One of the batch of 21 new Scanias from Gloucester, 15352. with older 15346.

The fly past by the RAF Red Arrows.

Gary Seamarks

See a few images appearing from GP P&R some of the Busway tri-axles are over there as well as other stuff, Stagecoach also covering the P&R at the golf in Kent this weekend, heard they have some Scotland East deckers down for that, must not forget the Scottish kids already broken up so freeing up some buses.

Guy Watts

Astromega 50237 on today's 1145 GP10 across to Silverstone. A tight squeeze, but it managed it.

Richard Sharman

For a walk round Silverstone last Sunday look at this video from Richard Sharman.

Rob Knight

On Sunday I took 15934 to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Oxford depot sent two vehicles to Hinton Park & Ride on Sunday but notice the big difference in the numbers allocated to them. All vehicles from each depot are normally grouped together.

15934 and 15757 both from Oxford.

To wear a mask or not to wear a mask on public transport. This is proving difficult to understand as one problem seems to be for buses and coaches that drivers have no legal right to refuse carriage if a customer refuses to wear the mask. Various operators seem to change their rules whilst others strongly advise the use of face coverings. On top of that there are warnings that the lockdown may have to be re-imposed if cases increase. Well, only time will tell.

 Weddings are back enabling the use of some nice vintage buses.

Peter Edgar


A really lovely picture of two Timebus Routemasters in Marlow on July 23rd.
RML2263 and RM29 at All Saints Church, Marlow.

Fleet news and developments

Gavin Francis

Tourismos 7210 and 7214 in the previous week at Victoria.

Along with 2787 the yard at Cressex has been tidied up as seen in this picture taken on July 25th.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

I've had a few trips away / out further afield recently, so will send some pics which hopefully will be interesting to you and your readers, over the next few weeks. One place was to High Wycombe on July 18th.

Seen in Aylesbury Bus Station 4018 is ready to depart to High Wycombe with a 300 service.

3011 at Chesham Broadway with a 1A from High Wycombe

3018 in Berkhamstead with a 500 to take me back to Aylesbury 

3915 on it's way back from Bourne End with a 37.

Mike Penn

I was surprised this week to see to see two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45s on local Arriva services. I thought they were confined to staff duties. 1009 (BF67WGO) is seen here on the 25 while 1021 (BF67WGX) was on the 28.

A small bus for the 25, 1009 is seen on July 14th.

And another on July 18th, 1021 is seen working route 28.

Tony Bungay

Unusually sapphire branded E400 5469 is seen working route 9A in Aylesbury on July 23rd.

Also: what could have been photo of the week except I didn’t have enough time to get it, 1002 performing a 500 duty on 21/7/21!   

Mike Penn

Another Centrebus vehicle transferred from Stevenage to Luton is Optare Solo  329 (KX14FHW).  When new it spent some time at Malta.  Nowadays it still spends much of its time working in the Biggleswade area but it sometimes escapes on to more local routes, as seen here yesterday (Saturday) on the 231 at Caddington. 

Seen in Luton working the 231 on July 14th, Solo SR 329.

Gavin Francis

Ridleys with a 2018 Jonckheere working the 024  on July 23rd.

Gary Seamarks

A nice action shot of 44569 arriving in The Eden Bus Station, Wycombe on July 13th working the X74 from Slough. 

Jack Cooper advises "Ex Brighton & Hove 243 has returned from repaint into red and is to be used by Carousel. " Keep your eyes peeled to let me know who is first to see this bus.

It would appear that 977-979 are back from repaint into red but according my information 980 is still the only bus used on the Uxbridge workings of 581 and 583.  Can anyone enlighten me please?

Gary Seamarks

....... visited Wycombe and caught up with some Carousel working on July 13th.

216 and  242 seen working in High Wycombe. Note 243 is due to arrive soon.

StreetLite 407 is seen working the Cressex Park & Ride service from The Eden Bus Station.

Citaro 857 is seen entering the Eden Bus Station with route 1 service.

Citaro 886 is seen working the link40 High Wycombe - Thame service. 

Daniel Harwood

663 is seen in Abingdon with an X3 working on July 20th.

Trainer 963 is seen in George Street during its working day on July 8th.

Jack Cooper

662 entered service on Tuesday 20th running 300s, it had gained branding on Monday, having arrived back from repaint last week.
Seen above in New Road with The Castle in the background working the 35 on July 23rd. 

is the bus displaying this years winning Brand the Bus charity, Blue Skye Thinking. It is an incredibly eye catching wrap!
Seen above in Park End Street working 4A road on July 23rd.

Lewis Parker

Lewis caught super wrap branded 300 in its new guise on July 22nd.

He also saw 662 during its 35 road day in service in New Road July 23rd.   

Gavin Francis

On July 19th 69 was employed on airport services as seen at Gloucester Green.

Jack Cooper

Here we have Interdeckers 69 and 70 back working airport departures on July 23rd.

Daniel Harwood

Recently repainted and branded ex Brighton & Hove 246 is seen working the 98 on July 16th.

Mercedes 0500 873 is seen working the X32 on July 16th.

Jack Cooper

247 is the next Brighton & Hove bus to be repainted, it has gained the new Thames Travel livery.  

Gary Seamarks

The 34 route seen at Ridgmont Crossing with two E200s 221 and 222 on July 13th.

At the same location is uno Cranfield 209 is also seen on the same day.

Mike Penn

Grant Palmer have acquired another double decker, principally for busway use.  This is former Lothian Buses 866 (SN57GMU), now re-registered BU57WAY. 

A busway operation route C BU57WAY is seen on July 18th.

Gavin Francis

Seen receiving attention in Gloucester Green is Edwards BU18OTE on July 19th.

A Barnes Coach, YR20BJZ working the National Express 040 service on July 20th.

Chalfont Coaches of Southall

Chalfont Coaches are also back with National Express as seen above by BV17GYL on July 19th.


BX65WCC is seen working the 022 on July 19th.

Levante tri-axle BK67LNX with service 032 in Elizabeth Street, Victoria on July 20th.

Selwyn's BD65JFF is Levante tri-axle resting in Elizabeth Bridge on July 20th.

Chris Maxfield

A handful of photos coming through for you.  

First we have YJ14BWN seen at Kemble Station on July 20th.

Second up we have LP12BUS pictured at Upper Rissington on the evening 802 service to Kemble Station on July 20th. 

Third is PUI 9429 a Volvo B12B with Jonckheere bodywork seen in Cheltenham on July 20th.

Last is GB19PUL at rest at Top O' Town coach park in Dorchester on July 18th.

Some very nice pictures from Chris taken on his new phone at nearly 9mb each. They are reduced in size as I normally do to make them easier for those who use mobile phones or iPads to view same.

including Courtney, Newbury & District & Thames Valley

Gavin Francis

The Heathrow branded Levante coaches are now being used on the National Express 210 service.

Reading's 1416 seen working service 210 in London on July 19th.

Richard Sharman

Above is 1417 in George Street, Oxford on July 18th. 

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Red Eagle FP04CFE waiting at Chesham Broadway to run a 354 over to Berkhamstead on July 18th.


Gary Seamarks

Seen leaving The Eden Bus Station in Wycombe is Olympian L983MSC with a school run on July 13th.



Richard Sharman

Here is a  nice video of one of the new Scania UD350's on a test drive. Check the  link below.



An interesting selection of pictures this week can be found above under the Silverstone article. 

Martyn Sacaloff

80074 is the last hire bus to go back in the morning to Ensign bus in the morning Who knows where it will end up next ?


Allan Hollis

Spending a few days with Grayson due to AirCon problems is 50427 on July 23rd now back at Oxford.

Stefan Doon

Once in the tube fleet above is 50275 in megabus livery and then 50266 in Citylink livery on July 13th. 

Gavin Francis

"OurKid" 50408 leaves VCS for Edinburgh with an M20 on July 19th.

The Hull Monty 54266 seen in Buckingham Palace Road with an M22 service on July 20th.

Darcy Bussell 54603 working the M10 to Cardiff on July 19th.

Levante 59228 arriving in London on July 19th.

MP Travel's MP007 Bussy Galore with an M15 to Liverpool on July 19th.

Watts Jonckheere BN64CNJ working a  relief service in Elizabeth Street on July 20th.

Richard Sharman

54217 is seen in Oxford with the weekend M38X from the South Coast to Bradford on July 18th.

London operators

Gavin Francis

Tour bus update

Brigit's Afternoon Tea bus RM 1735 is seen in Buckingham Palace Road on July 17th.

Golden Tours 201 is seen working The Harry Potter service from London on July 20th.

Atlantic Executive Travel's BT15KLJ seen by Victoria Coach Station on July 19th.
Was this  on one of the express operators services?

Edward Thomas is a well known outer London operator with this Volvo B8R / Plaxton Leopard ET70TOM by VCS.

Tony Bungay looks back at this company 

Been a while but thought for a change doing a small article may be of interest to readers. I had intended to do a general story up to 2014, but even this half part became quite large! If of use I hope it is not to large for you, and would you want a part 2   

If the Oxford and Chiltern news page and indeed the internet had been in existence before 1986, then it goes without saying that the Bus operator make up of the area would be totally different. It is probably correct to say that many younger readers may be unaware that one company that still features in the weekly page, albeit in a different identity would have featured more prominently as it’s operating area would have had more presence in the region.

That Company was United Counties Omnibus Company which this year, September to be precise would mark the centenary since the United Counties name first appeared on the side of Buses in 1921. The true birth of the company was eight years earlier in 1913 in actual fact, when it was called the Wellingborough Motor Omnibus Company. With the rapid growth of Bus operation after the first world war. The company rapidly expanded acquiring many small operators along the way. The costs of this and sourcing better vehicles led to the Wellingborough becoming The United Counties Omnibus and Road Transport Company which still retained the Wellingborough Livery of White and Blue with a Red band (almost prophetic somewhat). Over the following years United Counties would grow from providing Services mainly in Northamptonshire and a few reaching out to the edges of adjoining counties, to most of Bedfordshire, much of Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire and parts of Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Rutland, as well as longer distance Express Services.

In these early days of the 1920’s many small operators existed, some growing others being one man and a vehicle, as recounted above many of these in the Northampton area would sell out to United Counties and their vehicle would in some cases come into the companies

Fleet  in pictures                                                                                 

This superbly restored Leyland ‘Charabus’ by M Sutcliffe seen at Showbus 1989
illustrates an example of the one types of vehicles the company operated.
This being acquired fittingly in 1921. This vehicle now resides at the Shuttleworth Collection. Copyright The Bus Archive

No not an example of a 1920’s Double Decker operated by the Company!
In 1981 United Counties commemorated the Sixtieth Anniversary by repainting four Bristol VRT Buses in a representation of the 1921 livery.
Here well loaded Northampton Garage based 828 leaves the now demolished Greyfriars Bus Station on Local Service 51 to Blackthorn in September 1984.

The other three VRT’s were based at Stony Stratford/Bletchley, Kettering and Wellingborough. Number 828 was sold on in 1989, becoming non PCV in 1999, being scrapped by 2009. While slightly off subject, the Bus Station featured in a Channel 4 series called ‘Demolition’ where viewers had been invited to name a building they wanted to see the back of. In this case the wish did become a reality it was later blown up!

Many United Counties vehicle purchases of the 1920’s were Leyland's. Just as the Company had acquired other operators it to became the subject of interested parties and in 1931 was taken over by Thomas Tilling thus becoming a ‘Tilling Group Company’

In 1933 the Road Transport part of the Companies name was dropped and a new colour scheme of Green and Cream adopted.

The 1930’s proved to be more expansive for the company as it’s operating area grew. It taking on a number of services in North Bucks from fellow Tilling Company Eastern National and a similar arrangement with Eastern Counties had it take on the Oxford - London Express Service. Round the same time as these events the Company entered into the long distance travel market. As a result of this activity the Company gained a Service to Buckingham and Aylesbury numbered 46 (todays 60/X60 are the southern half remnant of that route). Vehicle choice of the period was still mainly Leyland, though again with acquisitions there were many other types to. The classic Bristol/ECW combination not arriving until later in that decade.

Also in this period New Garages were built and opened at Northampton (Central Works and Head Office as well). Kettering happily still in existence, Wellingborough closed 1986 and Rushden closed 1978.

In 1948 with the Nationalisation of the Railways, Thomas Tilling who held shareholdings in many of it’s companies which were also partly owned by one or more of the big four Railway Companies also sold it’s interests in these companies to the state. Which in turn saw United Counties become part of the British Transport Commission.

From now on for the next twenty five years or so most new vehicles would be of the Bristol/ECW family, and while this had already been happening, the Company would become highly standardised.

Perhaps the most monumental event so far in the companies existence saw in 1952 the decision by the British Transport Commission in an attempt to equalize the size of their companies, to transfer to United Counties most of the Eastern National Midland Area, this would include amongst others Garages at Aylesbury, Bedford, Dunstable, Huntingdon, Biggleswade, Hitchin and Luton and resultant Services and vehicles, while again being Bristol/ECW in the main other less standard vehicles were also involved. In the same year United Counties Oxford- London Service being some what out on a limb was moved to South Midland.

This status remained largely unchanged, though obviously in a period where passenger numbers started to fall, services would change, be withdrawn, while coincident at the time many railways lines would be closed in it’s area leading the company to be required to run rail replacement services. The need to make savings and at the same time help offset staff retention issues led to introduction of more one man operated Buses, to use the job description of the time. As expected now vehicles were generally Bristol/ECW being Bristol L’s and K’s of the 1940’s/1950’s through to Bristol MW and the then revolutionary Bristol ‘Lodekka’ in its LD  and F series and long rear engine single decker RE and Double deck VR. From time to time it had other vehicles, one instance two Bedford SBO/Duple Coaches, interestingly one of only a few models produced by EFE with United Counties fleet names.

One  notable acquisition towards the end of the 1960’s was the long established Birch Brothers Company, taking over a number of the Services and vehicles operated by this company. Among the routes being Birch’s Rushden – Bedford – London Route.

While already state owned, a new piece of Transport Legislation  heralded the creation of the National Bus Company from the start of 1969. While significant for many large Bus Companies across the country. For United Counties their ownership transferred from THC to NBC.


Preserved Bristol LWL6B/ECW 427 originally 861 seen at Bedford Garage Open Day June 1981          

Preserved Bristol JO5G/ECW 200 originally 450 seen at Milton Keynes
 Garage Open Day May 1984.

This Open Day was held to showcase the new Bus Garage at Milton Keynes, replacing Stony Stratford and the former Bakery Site at Bletchley. As Bus Garages go Milton Keynes must be near the top for having the shortest operational life! Alongside it was The West Coast Railway Line, which for a number of years passengers could see the large NBC on the wall, years after the NBC had ceased to exist!

Preserved Bristol LWL6B/ECW DP 428 Also at Milton Keynes Bus Garage Open Day May 1984       

Preserved Bristol MW6G/ECW at Bedford Bus Garage Open Day June 1981

Preserved 1950’s Double Decker Bristol KS5G/ECW 838 0rignally 692 alongside 1960’s Single Decker Bristol RELL/ECW 311, at Showbus 1985.

Number 311 would later be in the Luton and  District Fleet and be one of only two to receive Luton’s Red and Ivory Livery. Since then it has Been completely restored to it’s original when new livery. 

Typifying  United Counties Double Deck purchases of the late 1950’s/1960’s  is Bristol ‘Lodekka’ FS6G/ECW 712.

Seen above in Preserved status at Aylesbury Railway Station in May 1992. The vehicle   Was indeed in Service though, running journeys to Princes Risborough Station in connection with  Metropolitan Line London extension centenary.  The Route number 365 was certainly correct for The Service, although in reality didn’t start until 1971 replacing Thames Valley 80. Obviously I don’t think the Bus was faithfully operating the original Route, as it run the risk of becoming Open Top. 

Not quite what it seems, this Bristol VRT is indeed an SL1 version delivered in 1969, one of the earliest Bristol VRT/ECW Buses in United Counties Service.

Many SL1 and early SL2 vehicles were rebuilt by the Company in the early 1980’s to SL3 spec. Which is shown in this photo of 752 about to cross into Aylesbury Market Square for it’s next Duty to Buckingham at the time numbered 536, see in above      Text in respect of Service 46, the vehicle would last until 1990.

Many thanks to Tony for a most interesting piece.

Michael Wadman

A few shots of RH Transport. 

From their early days as a bus operator, in October 2002 they started a network of tendered services based on Woodstock marketed as "The Woodstock Wanderer".

Ford Transit
F124 JGS after arrival at Kidlington Sainsbury's on service 203. If anything the fog seems to have gotten worse. 

Two more of their Transits, photographed at St Giles:

G434 ETW with Dormobile body on service 8A on 17th December 2004; 

H239 ANE with Williams Deansgate body on service 8 on 22nd November 2005. 

King Alfred’s statue and the townscape of Wantage are reflected in the windows of two Optare Solos in awkward light on 16th  February 2008

  no 302 (MX07 JPY) on service 67 to Faringdon; 

no 408 (MX07 JPY) on service X47 to Swindon. 

Finally, Optare Solo no 410 (MX57 UPT) at the Thornhill Park & Ride site on service 600 on 4th September 2009.

Memories of a once busy company now sadly long gone. 

Chris Maxfield asks me to display this advert for those keen on Malta.
A full review will be published in my next Weekly Briefing. 

Gavin Francis

In the last issue we showed a picture of the bus below which started life with Reading.

728 seen in Reading on June 28th 2006 and then August 14th 2008. 

Kevin Fitzpatrick

I've had a few trips away / out further afield recently, so will send some pics which hopefully will be interesting to you and your readers, over the next few weeks. Starting with Bridgnorth in Shropshire, where Arriva is the dominant operator. This is interesting for readers as Bridgnorth is in the Arriva Midlands North area,, locally were are part of Arriva Midlands South.

Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 2143, MX12JXE passes through Bridgnorth High Town, whilst working an afternoon town service, on June 26th 2021.

On June 23rd 2021, Optare Solo 2518, YJ09MLY waits departure time in Bridgnorth High Street with an evening service to Kidderminster

Optare Versa 3692, FJ13BJF, collects passengers at the Bridgnorth Sainsbury's stop, on a Saturday morning service to Shrewsbury, also on June 26th 2021. 

We much appreciate this contribution from Kevin Fitzpatrick. 

Jack Cooper

...... has been in St Ives, Cornwall.

Two of the services in St Ives from Kernow, 32623 and 37008 at The Terrace on July 19th.

Dart MX56HYS was Abellio 8117 in West Middlesex before being acquired by Royal Buses again at The Terrace on July 19th.

St Ives Bus Company

ADL E20D MMC seen in  Chapel Street in St Ives on July 19th again.

Thanks to Jack for some pleasant photographs of a seaside area.