Issue nr. 182
Monday, December 6th 2021


A shorter edition this week as a result of my falling down our stairs on Saturday morning at 3 am. A painful and unpleasant experience but getting better now.

We have a nice report from Jack Cooper again which includes a demonstrator (899)  presently with Oxford Bus, see under their heading below.

James Freeman

899 Video  

Andrew Webb reports on Ensignbus' Running Day

Ensignbus' annual running day returned for 2021 following a Covid enforced absence last year.  Four routes operated, three of which served the sprawling Lakeside shopping complex.  The final route, the X21, avoids this and provides a link between Upminster station and Brentwood.  London Bus Company's LS174 is now smartly turned out in Blue Triangle livery, recalling the earlier operation owned by the proprietor.  It is seen after arriving at Upminster station, with Ensignbus RT1431 also calling with on route X55 to Gravesend.  The RT worked on route X21 later in the day, as did preserved Dart DT39 which is seen in fading light at Upminster.


Ensignbus are one of the few operators to operate their own recovery truck, most preferring to outsource recovery requirements to specialist contractors.  The company's recovery truck has recently been upgraded to this impressive 8 wheel Volvo FH540, fitted with Boniface lifting and towing gear.  It is seen here providing an extra attraction for photographers at Lakeside.

Route X54 was a new addition to the network for this year's event, linking Lakeside with the RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre.  A low bridge necessitated the use of single deckers or lowbridge double deckers.  Representing the latter is Southend Corporation Massey Daimler CWA6, part of the Ensign heritage fleet, arriving at Lakeside.

Ensignbus dominate commercial services at Lakeside, with only First Essex serving the bus station commercially (Arriva and Stagecoach both have TfL contracts terminating here).  Route 100 is usually the preserve of Volvo 7900H buses in City Country Connections livery.  An interloper on the route was this Streetlite in a suitably festive livery.  Are Rudolph's days numbered?!?


At first glance this might seem like another member of London Transport's ubiquitous RT class.  In reality it is one of a batch ordered by St Helen's Corporation.  After a period in private preservation, it is now part of the Ensignbus Heritage fleet, seen here leaving Lakeside with a trip to Upminster.

Your Editor drove this bus on a number of occasions in 1972 when it was with Harpers of Heath Hayes.

When Lakeside opened in 1988 it was a popular destination for coach tours.  Today the number of tours visiting is much reduced with just three vehicles using the coach park.  Hearn's sent this impressive Irizar from north west London, whilst passengers from Surrey arrived on a Safeguard Optare Versa taking a break from plying the streets of Guildford. 


Jack Cooper

Wallingford Market Square and Christmas tree form the background to 873 working the X38 on December 4th.

Michael Penn

In view of the current wintry weather I thought you might appreciate this photo for your buses in the landscape feature.  It is former Eastbourne Corporation Leyland Titan TD5c JK 6711 which had its Leyland body converted to open top in 1956 and was given the name “White Rose”.  It was sold to Creamline of Bordon, Hampshire for use as a tree cutter and was photographed on their premises in January 1966.

Certainly looks too cold for an open top bus ride. Ed.

I think there is an expression "it never rains but it pours". Omicron is now spreading and we all have to keep our fingers crossed for Christmas !  Take care and stay safe.

Masks are now the law on public transport and in shops.

Fleet news and developments

Adam Green

Greenline coaches which have been in Hemel for the 758. This finishes on Saturday December 4th

Hazel Richardson

The last ever Greenline 758 from Hemel Hempstead to Victoria was 7203 BV20HRE seen here in Hemel about to depart the final journey (4/12/21). 7211 BV20HRO was also seen in Hemel around  50 minutes before displaying private hire on the blind


Adam Green has provided pictures for the next issue of 7203 in London.

Michael Penn

Two of the new MCV Evora bodied Volvo B8RLEs are in service today  (Tuesday) with Arriva The Shires at Luton, their first day in service according to the tracking system.

Here is a photo of 3970 on the 27 at Leagrave on November 30th.

3970 (LF71DLK) did one journey on the 25 this morning followed by one on the 24 and then switched to the 27.

As of today (Saturday) six of the new MCV EVoRa bodied Volvo B8RLEs are now in service with Arriva The Shires at Luton on the busway services.  These are 3970-3/6/8 (LF 71 DLK/N/O/U/D/ME and are all 10.8m B38F.  Just to confuse matters 3978 (LF 71 DME) is tracking on bustimes as 3979!  There seems to be a rumour that the remaining 5 12m vehicles may be diverted elsewhere within Arriva Southern Counties but I have no idea if there is any truth in that.  

3971 (LF71DLN) is on the 25 the afternoon of November 30th.  This is despite their intended use on the busway. 

3973 is seen working route A on December 2nd.

Tony Bungay

Not the best of photos I regret to say, but caught 2990 on the 300 on 2/12/21. It was a case of trying to make the best of a chance shot, not helped by a very bright low sun!

Been busy of late, so bit behind on reading the webpage! I notice Neil Gow offered a possible explanation in respect of the rather odd destination display that featured on a photo I took a few weeks back. I regret to say however that the photos were taken between 08.25 and 09.10, rather than the afternoon suggested by Neil. 


Ex Thames Valley 432 has now entered service in High  Wycombe but 431 is still VOR. 

Jack Cooper

A neat picture of two Scania wraps, 602 is passing 221 in St Aldates on December 2nd.

367 appears from the gloom in St Aldates working service 400 on December 2nd.

X3 branded 601 is seen in Magdalen Street West with a 2B service on November 28th.

661 is seen working 5 road, seemingly its' regular route on November 30th but working the 300 on December 3rd.

In the gloom 665 is seen with an X3 heading for Abingdon on November 28th.

A night shot of 681 with a 500 working on December 1st.

St Aldates sees 844 with an 11X road working on December 2nd.

Citaro E demonstrator 899 is seen also working the 11X on December 1st.
I wonder if this will result inn orders for the company?

Sprinter 971 is seen with an 11X in St Aldates on December 2nd.

Jack Cooper

Not too many sightseers on a cold December day in St Aldates, 203 on December 2nd. 

Jack Cooper

First seen in the last issue, Thames Travel's Polar Express connector worked by 210 in Wallingford on December 4th,
plus ex B&H 246, 247 and 248 also involved.

Scania 212 is seen in St Aldates with an X39 on December 2nd.

Scania 229 seen in Wallingford with an X39 on December 4th.

E20 MMC 454 is working the X36 at Didcot Parkway on December 4th.

Citaro 866 is seen at Redbridge with an X32 working on December 1st.

873 is seen at Didcot with a 33 working on December 4th.

904 is seen brightening St Aldates on November 28th.

Jack Cooper

On Friday 3rd December National Express had permanently closed their Oxford office, meaning that there is no National Express office in Oxford anymore!

The notice on the entrance door. 

Adam Green

National Express Chalfont Coaches working the 707 in Hemel which ceases to run from January 1st 2022.

including Courtney, Newbury & District & Thames Valley



Reading Buses has launched its Christmas activity.

The theme is ‘Reading Unwrapped’ which will be promoting local events, venues and businesses – all accessible by bus.

Jake Osman, Reading Buses Marketing and Communications Manager said: “The idea is to show that the real gift this Christmas is the town itself.

“We believe that Reading is the gift that keeps on giving and there are loads of wonderful things to see and do in the town over Christmas.

“From the annual panto to Reading Winter Wonderland, and Twilight Trail to guaranteed snow, there’s more than enough going on in the town to keep even the biggest Scrooge happy!

“Throughout December we’ll be sharing so many things to do in Reading - including maybe seeing Father Christmas on a bus too!

“We will also be launching some giveaways throughout the Christmas period. Freebie Fridays and winning Wednesdays will be coming to Reading Buses’ social media to spread some Christmas joy.

“These will include the chance to win tickets to the pantomime at the Hexagon, Twilight Trail, Reading Winter Wonderland, Apres Bar and the Snow Queen at South Street Arts Centre.

“We want to celebrate the town itself and show everyone that Reading is a gift that can bring joy, time and time again, throughout the season for everyone.

“All events will be accessible by bus and people can use the Reading Buses app to plan their journey, buy their tickets, check their bus times and track their buses.”  

Robert Homan

Stagecoach West short Enviro200 36330 sporting local livery, embellished with South Gloucestershire mud from two round trips on the Yate - Wotton-under-Edge service. Ex Banbury and before then Stagecoach London. Seen in Yate Bus Station on December 3rd.

Tony Gaze

36771 on the 620 in Bath on November 18th 2021

15638 has lost its '25 Years' livery for 'Cirencester College', with new livery front on November 30th in Gloucester Bus Station.

Word reaches me that the 853 will not transfer to Oxford until next year. (This is on the grapevine.)

Jack Cooper

In the evening gloom, 10441 is seen working the 1 on December 2nd.

Blair Cameron

One of the Recent Arrivals From Stagecoach East Bedford Depot To Stagecoach East Scotland Aberhill Depot. These coaches are used on Stagecoach East Scotland Express services from Edinburgh To Glasgow. These will eventually replace the Caetano Levantes.

Stagecoach East Scotland 54318 - YX64WDD Kincardine For Glasgow X27, a Volvo Plaxton Elite seen At Bus Station Dunfermline.>

David Simpson

Only two repainted and in service so far, with the rest still in the queue. 

Andrew Simmonds

City of Oxford 816 W816FBW Volvo B10BLE/Wright seen outside the garage at Cowley Road, Oxford circa 2000.
This bus was later painted in traditional City of Oxford livery.

The old COMS depot in Cowley Road, now but a memory.

Up at Horspath Road, Stagecoach is home to Jonckheere Monaco 34 and M A N /ALX300 916.

Michael Wadman

Once upon a time, Alder Valley used to run into Swindon from Newbury. Keith Newton photographed ex-Aldershot & District Dennis Line III / Alexander in Lambourn on service 106 in May 1976.

Photo by Keith Newton. 

Fast forward thirty years, and the service from Swindon to Lambourn is operated by Thamesdown. Dennis Dart / Plaxton no 127 “Knight of the Golden Fleece” stands in the same place as the Loline on November 14th 2008. 

In February 1979 Keith Newton was riding on the service when the Alder Valley Bristol RE failed and had to be towed to Bristol Omnibus Co’s Swindon depot in Eastcott Road where passengers were transferred onto a Bristol MW and Keith snatched this shot.

Photo by Keith Newton. 

The service from Hungerford to Lambourn used to be operated by Jac’s Minibuses. Iveco Daily MX07GYS is just departing from the same location in the Market Square as the other photos on November 14th 2008.

... and some pictures of Swindon & District by Michael Wadman

Ex Greater Manchester GNF8V in Swindon on October 9th 1999.

Mercedes 678 seen in Marlborough July 7th 1999.

Another Mercedes, 706 in Wantage on May 9th 1999.

Ex SC Oxfordshire (Thames Transit) with S&D 932 with a number 8 in Swindon on November 10th 1999. 

Gavin Francis on holiday in Florida

We went north to Clermont yesterday so a chance to go the the Van Hool service centre. As always I could only get pictures from the outside it would be great to go in. It looks like they have an all electric coach there along with a Flixbus which looks like it has had a bit of a touch.



Variety at Clermont on December 3rd with Van Hool USA. 

Gavin Francis follow up on comment in issue 181

Please find attached a picture of the Heyfordian 70 seater coach when with Tappins showing fleet no 5370 as mentioned.

Taken on April 1st 2008.

Interestingly it was directly opposite where I took the Heyfordian picture in St. Aldates 13 years earlier! 

Mike Walker and Martin Stoolman

As you are no doubt aware, regular rail service resumed between Exeter and Okehampton on 20 November after a 49 year “suspension”.  Of interest to OCBP readers is the connecting bus service between Okehampton railway station and Tavistock operated by Dartline as a revision of their existing 118 service. 

A friend and fellow MDRS member Martin Stoolman (a retired GWR train manager and Employee Director) travelled on both services yesterday in the company of a friend of his recently retired from Devon CC who used to co-ordinate bus services in the county.  They travelled on the 10:32 Exeter St David's to Okehampton which was formed of 150207 and 150248 and carried around 75 passengers with around 40 waiting at Okehampton for the 11:25 back to Exeter.  They then boarded the 11:30 118 bus along with 16 others but 14 of them got off in Okehampton town (like many western stations, Okehampton is some distance from the town centre both horizontally and vertically!) leaving just four of them to continue through to Tavistock – had Martin and his friend not travelled that would have been two!  Coming back from Tavistock on the 14:20 they were in the company of three others all of whom alighted in the town with none joining for the trip up to the station.  However, there were 58 passengers aboard the 15:24 train to Exeter.  Apparently there were only 7 on the first train (07:20 from Okehampton) yesterday so it looks as if it might take time for the expected commuter traffic to build.


The train is currently running at two-hourly intervals seven days a week but it is planned to increase this to hourly next summer.  The 118 bus connects with all trains apart from the late evening ones.  A lot of promotion has gone on, the service is being marketed as the Dartmoor Line (all GWR branches in the west have promotional “names”) and GWR set 150233 has had a special vinyl wrap applied (sadly having worked the service almost exclusively the first week it wasn’t in operation yesterday!) whilst the Dartline buses have special markings applied too as seen in the pictures.  In addition to this Streetlite I’ve also seen a Solo branded for the route.  Note that the bus is displaying its route number on the offside and the display appears to have succumbed to the weather. 

The numbers using the 118 don’t bode well for building a case to reopen the Okehampton-Tavistock-Bere Alston section.