Issue 46

Monday 15th September 2003

next update week ending 27th September 2003

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

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Well this week has been somewhat quieter than of recent weeks and whilst Brookes Bus starts to get under way with the new academic year beginning there will be a wait for the new buses ordered for this route. In the meantime extra buses have been drafted in from other parts of the Stagecoach system. Full details can be founds under the Stagecoach heading below.

Knowing that many of you who read this page are also followers of First Berkshire I was pleased to be at Victoria coach Station on Saturday afternoon to witness the arrival of one of the Volvo B12Ts recently replaced on the Reading Rail Air link by Scanias, on a National Express Bristol working. 704 is seen above as it pulls on to its stand prior to loading.

One of my correspondents ask about reversing at Gloucester Green bus station. He says several vehicles were seen reversing off in the Saturday peak without supervision and wonders how long it will be before there is a serious accident. He remarks that in Scotland at Glasgow main coach station it is a rule that if a vehicle is reversing, oncoming vehicles must give way to the reversing bus or coach. This seems not to happen and worse still buses and coaches are severely restricted in the space available and, in hios opinion do need supervision, especially in busy periods. When one adds to this the cars and pedestrians who also roam all over the operating area one can only shudder at what could happen. does anyone have any comments on this matter.

Chris Maxfield visited the Oxford Bus Museum on Sunday and found the latest minibus addition, a City Nipper 724, which has been restored by Oxford Bus in their workshops. It certainly looks excellent.

There are now four minibuses with the museum including 724 reminding visitors of the latre '80s when the minibus seemed to reign supreme in the city of Oxford.

From left to right we see a Ford, 106, which was with South Midland, another Ford 122 which started life
with Thames Transit and finally a Stagecoach Iveco ElectroBus, 247, which never really got off the ground.

Buses and Coaches I have driven

Having gained my PSV licence and following a few months with Jackson's in Altrincham I did some part-time
work for Melba Motors of Reddish, owned by North Western. My first duty involved this Weymann Bristol L5G, 311.

More memories of buses that I have driven were evoked by this black and white photo, taken in the '50s at Knutsford - Canute Square when working a Congleton-Manchester service. This bus, new in 1949, was an Altrincham depot bus for many years. By the time I started with Melba it had moved to Stockport and was my steed for a football duty from Reddish to Maine Road taking City supporters to a home match. I remember being told to report to Charles Street Garage, for my first duty with Melba, to get my coach. I was told "311 in the top garage" and that was it. Without any type training I was off in 311 and a stranger to the 5 speed gearbox, at least from a driving point of view.  As a passenger one was aware that when a driver got his Bristol going at a suitable speed he would go from 4th into 5th and then often the bus would fly. What no one had told me as a young driver, was the secret of how to change from 4th into 5th and more important how the hell to get back to 4th. One found out by trial and error that 5th was on a U from 4th gear and going back into 4th required some careful foot work with a crash gearbox. Those supporters on that Saturday afternoon were treated to a cacophony of sound as I struggled with an unfamiliar gearbox. I am sure they thought, "young drivers, they don't know how!"  Indeed I had ridden as a schoolboy many times on 311 and took my first photos of it from my house, on a snowy winter's day I remember, never thinking that on my first day with Melba I would drive the bus. Driven well the Bristol was a fine machine and would go on forever but in the hands of a young blood with no experience, 311 became a nightmare. When I think back driving today's buses and coaches bears no comparison in driving ability. Of course traffic is somewhat different but with an auto gearbox and power steering a lot of hard work is spared. Ah well, happy days.

Some weeks ago I ran a picture of a Lytham Leyland TD and omitted to credit this picture to Geoff Meek who owns the copyright. My apologies to Geoff for that omission.

Several weeks ago Mac H asked for information researching the use of the number 400 with regard to buses/services in the ex-Thames Valley Area.

A number of readers of the Oxford and Chilterns bus page responded with enlightening information for which he was most appreciative. The article has recently been published and as promised, Mac H has sent a copy. click on this link to view

Mac H says he received particular help from Andrew Dyer, Nick Taylor and Neil Gow who also responded to my enquiry via your web site.

Mac H goes on to say "Simultaneous was the reappearance, after many years of restoration, of 'Boris' (GRX 1N) and quite by coincidence the possibility of it having carried the fleet number 400. Now that was a lucky break!

Also of the older generation, I particularly like your return to years ago. I hope we will see many more in the future? Most buses/coaches must have been a pig to drive in those days but a sheer pleasure for those preservationists who today drive them for only a few hours each year and provide so much pleasure to us enthusiasts? Could, or indeed would, a youngster of today accept such hardship and long hours! One thing I miss are the cheap 'greasy spoons' cafes that kept drivers going before motorways appeared - sadly few and far between nowadays but great value for money. I'm sure you could relate some stories about your journey breaks or using that word - (break)downs - there must have been some over the years?"

I now have some more details about the Amersham Running Day which this year will be on Sunday 5th October 2003.

Amersham & District Motor Bus Society 15th Running Day, in association with RT/RF Register. Amersham London Underground station car park starting at 10.00. Details: Brian Barlow, Orchard Hose, 20 Wheelwrights, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 5QS. Phone: 01296 613001 or Anthony Bassett, phone: 01494 522531. Info from -

Well, now on to the reports for our area. your contributions continue and I am pleased to receive them each week.

Malcolm Crowe, September 15th 2003.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

News of the local companies 15th September 2003

Abbey coaches, High Wycombe.

I popped up to Abbey Coaches last Sunday and it appears that Smiths has been taken over by Abbey. Two of the Smiths buses are seen above proclaiming to be part of Abbey Coaches.

the Arriva Bus Running Day
Sunday 21st September 2003
- there will be visiting Routemasters as in previous years
and the event is organised by Richard Bond.
sae to Richard at 11 Telford Way, High Wycombe HP11 8UX for full details
venue : Newlands Bus Station time: 1000-1700

Dart SLF 3823, the one that got away to Aylesbury, works a 323 service last Sunday

Nigel Peach writes to say "I continue to read your page with interest. I seem to be going through a quiet spell, not noticing anything noteworthy just lately. I went into the bus station today but nothing of interest to report. I notice that Olympian 5833 which should have gone to Aylesbury, is still at the back without blinds & with jacks all around it. Another one that has been out of service for a while is SLF Dart 3179."

Its that 260 working again, this time in the hands of Lance 3376
recently transferred into Aylesbury, seen in St Clements.

Carousel Buses, High Wycombe

Just a shot to show off branding on 564 for the A40.



Nice one, caught on my way to town last Saturday as passenger, 508 on the 5A in Cowley Road.
The 14 route branding and Metrobus livery makes an interesting one for the album

Geoff Cunliffe noted that as he came down to Oxford from Lytham he saw a Citaro heading north past Knutsford a week ago Saturday. This was in fact 825 on its way to Blackpool with  Driver Terry Haynes who was competing in Bus Driver of the Year 2003. He gained 5th place and received the Scania trophy. Well done Terry!

Rob Williams sends his usual spottings and jottings.

Wed 10th:

508 on 5         223 on 300

Thur 11th:

223 and 104 on 5     

Fri 12th:

648 on 5      410 on 5

Last Saturday Volvo b10B 640 was working 5 road.

Following 640 was 804, more normal fodder for 5 road.

It appears that 221 has been sold and will leave the fleet shortly. This leaves three older Olympians 222-224.

I am advised that 801 is in for repaint.

Brian Matthews writes to say

ex-COMS Bristol VRTSL3  HUD 497W seen around the Faringdon area this week, probably on schools duty, but in the green and cream livery of "Taylors of Sutton Scotney" whose fleetname still appears on the rear panel.


David Whitley, Marketing Manager of the company has asked for the latest attached fleet list (period 5 - August 2003) to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click on the Stagecoach logo to view. (you will need to rotate one of the pages to view)

getacro.gif (712 bytes)

David also advises that the M A N s for Brookes are due around 19th September.

Volvo PS 20417 is down on loan from Morecambe depot  and is seen here working the 28.

Rob Williams writes

Fri 12th:

32052 on 7A     32612 on 10

More on Brookes Bus from my correspondents including Rob Williams who advises "The temporary Brookesbus fleet received colour Brookesbus logos over their front Stagecoach logos. This includes 16079, 16140, 16614/5, 31330.

and "Yes, 16031 had arrived by Wednesday morning and 16032 by Thursday morning. Both still retain Stagecoach in Warwickshire fleetnames and legals, although the UniRider and 'Happy as Larry' branding had already been removed from the nearside windows and blind boxes. I didn't look inside to see if the internal branding had also been removed. Neither have ticket machines or blinds fitted. Both were taken out for a short test drive today, but have yet to see service in Oxford.

I don't know if either ever actually did make it up to Manchester, their move up there of course is only temporary anyway - the entire batch is being returned to the leasing company sometime in October. 16438-40 from Oxford will replace three at Leamington (16439 still at Oxford today), not sure about the rest but B10Ms could be involved. Leamington's decker PVR is still reduced for another couple of weeks until Warwick uni go back, then I think they will start to struggle for vehicles if their loans aren't returned! "

Ralph Adams adds "Now 2 more ha ve arrived being 16031 P531HMP. This was at Leamington and on the last fleetlist noted as transferred to Manchester. It is now at Horspath. The rear has Stagecoach in blue writing (instead of white) on the red rear. In my opinion it looks better and 16032 P532HMP. On the last fleetlist was still at Leamington and carries name Stagecoach in Warwickshire.

Did 16031 every go north? What has Leamington got to replace 16032? Did Manchester send a full height bus south?"

Dart 31330 with those small fleet numbers. David Whitley advises they were a
production mistake and will be replaced in due course.
31330 has also gained Brookes logos.

16615 has also joined the "Brookes fleet" and is seen here at Wheatley.

Thames Travel

The new timetables (wef 7th September) are now at

KF51UFB seems to have lost its fleet number on the front, seen in High Street last Saturday.

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This is a most interesting site which I do recommend

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002