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Monday, 21 April 2014

A throwback takes us to Quality Line's Epsom Depot, located in you guessed it Epsom. The purpose of the visit if I can remember correctly was to photograph the two new E400s that had just been delivered for the recent 467 contract gain from London United in 2011.


The garage is located on Roy Richmond Way, named after the much admired family who founded the company in 1920. The business started out as an excursions company, who made available family trips around the United Kingdom using open top coaches known as Charabancs. Their most popular were those to Brighton, although expensive, costing an extortionate £1, which in fact would be £21.80 today, not to mention the nearly 5 hour drive, it seemed that the public were willing to pay by any means, so long as it was a Richmond & Reeves Coach and this is what helped mould the company into the success they are now today.

Over the decades the company began to grow from strength to strength, ditching the Charabancs in the process in favour of some conventional saloon coaches in the 1930s. Skip a few years to the 1960s and thus came another growth for the company, as they opened up the first of four retail travel agencies as well as becoming the first tourist company, to operate a fleet of 11m coaches.

1971 saw the company move into a purpose built location on the Longmead Estate in Epsom to facilitate the expansion of the company. At the time of their opening the premises were described as the 'finest in the UK' and said to be miles ahead of their competition if any. The small base housed a fleet of 30 heavyweight coaches ranging from Leyland Leopards to AEC Reliances'.

By 1986, the company had wandered into the Bus industry for the first time, taking advantage of the recent deregulation. The company began to operate hopper type services in and around the Epsom and Ewell areas using a fleet of Mercedes midibuses. In the same year the company's director Roy Richmond was presented with an MBE for services to the passenger transport industry.

The 1990s was a significant year in the company's history, as the company proceeded to win its first London route, in the form of the S4, this came shortly after the appointment of Steve Whiteway as Managing Director, the first non-family member to ever join the board. The S4 win saw a record investment by the company, culminating an order for 11 brand new state of the art Mercedes buses, the first of their type in London. The vehicles were branded using the quality line identity, the new name for the bus division.

As the bus and coach industries began to flourish, the decision was made to sell off the travel agencies that had existed since the 60s in order to focus on the expansion of the said industries. In 2005 the company expanded the base, by purchasing and adjacent site which was developed into a workshop to service the needs of the ever expanding business. 2007 saw the delivery of the company's first double deck buses in the form of E400s commence following the tender success for routes 406 and 418.

Following the formidable expansion of the company, plans arose to yet again modernise the Blenhiem Road site to provide a 21st century operating centre. The modernisation programme was completed in June 2010 which included a new paint shop to accommodate any size single or double deck vehicle,  a state of the art workshop as well as a new staff quarters, this helped boost the capacity of the premises to a respectable 130 vehicles.

In January 2011, Roy Richmond died, leaving behind a 64 year legacy with the company, following his death, Blenhiem Road was renamed to commemorate his legacy in June of that year.

At present the company operates 14 Bus Routes, with a fleet of over 90 buses. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have writing it and more photos are situated below the text in the post.

Quality Line SD33 SN51 UCO
Interior of Quality Line SD33
Quality Line OV01 YJ60 KGA
Interior of Quality Line OV01 
Quality Line SD48 PE56 UFN
Interior of Quality Line SD48
Quality Line OP14 YN53 SUF 
Interior of Quality Line OP14

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Firstly, I have to apologize for my lack of presence on the blog as of late. Uni has been hectic and I have had to prioritize! Anyone following me on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/londonbuses1/) will know that I have still been trying to upload photos as regularly as I can but taking the time to sit down and write a blog post hasn't been as easy! Anyways, being a West Londoner, I thought I would give an overview of some recent workings and changes that have taken place recently.

During February, the country was hit with some bad weather. This affected a lot of routes around the Surrey area. An oddity that appeared as a result of this was double deckers on the 203, something that otherwise is unheard off bar the odd occasion. They were primarily running shorts between Ashford Hospital and Staines although some did come in service to Hounslow Bus Station.

TA235, LG02FAU is pictured at The Bell in Hounslow

The first white on black blind dart finally arrived at Fulwell garage in the former of reinstated dart 8436, RX51FGK. It was first seen in serivce on the 28th February working on Route R70. Since then, 8435 has also re-entered service with WOB's too meaning there is now three RX51 darts at Fulwell (8435, 8435 & 8439).

8436 is pictured making the turn towards the stop at Richmond Bus Station

Recently, a new peak bus has been introduced on the H28 during the evenings to help aid the service. As the route only has one spare bus, that is often used on the 112 or U7, sightings of nimbuses on the route have started to happen again. The peak bus, running number 349, leaves Osterley Tesco on its first run at 15:20, and is the last bus of the day to leave Osterley at 23:30pm. As a result of the new timetable, the running number series has also changed. 611 - 618 has been replaced by 341 - 349.

8466, GM03TGM is pictured loading up outside the Treaty Centre in Hounslow

Route 235 was recently extended to the new development in Brentford called Great West Quarter. To start off with, the route was converted to near fully E200 operation bar the power blinded nimbuses/darts as the 87## series nimbuses didn't have inserts for the extension. It has taken a long while from them to gain inserts but earlier this week, the majority of the nimbuses returned to the route with there new inserts.

8462, RL02FVM is seen on stand at Great West Quarter

SLE43 recently transferred over to Fulwell from Shepherds bush and received old style blinds (which I much prefer!). It is another SLE that has had a skirt only paint job but it is certainly looking considerably better than SLE45 which had the same treatment and is 50 shades of red!

SLE43, YN55NKM is seen passing West Middlesex Hospital

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Hopefully it will not be so long before I write another one! For the latest updates, check out my Flickr!
As Stagecoach celebrate the centenary of Catford Garage, we at the Circle of London Blog, humbly celebrate four years of being of being online.  




We really appreciate the support given as well as all the criticism which has helped us to improve. At the moment we are undergoing a massive site rebuild of the site which will the inclusion of many new features. One a small note, we do hope to bring out our bus simulator demo game in the coming weeks. But once again thank you!  

Monday, 7 April 2014

Every now and again, we Londoners are blessed with the opportunity to experience a new type of vehicles, be it for a fixed period trial or evaluation. Today's post will focus on VNE32052, an East Lancs bodied Volvo B7TL and the only one to be operated by First London.

VNE32052  X578 RJW in 2009 on the 79 seen leaving Edgware Station
Ⓒ JE1791
The demonstration vehicle was the first ever ELC Vyking body to be coupled to a Volvo B7TL Chassis when it was completed and delivered in September 2000.

Coded VE953 prior to First's Voyager numbering system took place, it was allocated to their Centrewest Uxbridge Garage (UX) although it was rarely used due to its reliability at the time. Being a Euro II B7TL it mechanically different to any other Volvos within the Centrewest fleet. However when it was utilised,  it was mainly seen on the 207.

Following its stay at UX, it was sent to Westbourne Park (X) as well as blinded for the routes there although it did not make it out onto the running sheets.

The brief stint at X ended when the vehicle, still owned by Volvo was sent back to ELC for major modification work, the lack of opening windows saw it fitted with an air conditioning unit which required major structural change in order to bring it in line with Tfl compliance.

Two years the vehicle now purchased by First London, reappeared, this time at Alperton (ON) with a new fleetcode (VNE32052) as well as opening windows. The vehicle was purchased as part of the route 83 tender which saw it run alongside 29 VNLs that were also purchased for the route although used primarily on the 79 and 258 while the 83 still used a proportion of its Leyland Olympians. Despite being allocated on paper to the 83, it spent most of its time on the 79 as well as making cameo appearances on the 92.

The 10.2m vehicle impressively seated 63 people, something typical of East Lancs vehicles which was made possible by the lightweight seats used.

November 2009 saw the phased introduction of new Gemini2 bodied Volvo B9TLs for the route 83 contract thus saw the decommissioning of the this lovely vehicle, I often referred to as just 'VNE'. Before it disappeared for many moons.

It resurfaced on the 13th of November 2010 after a major refurbishment which saw it converted into a Engineering research and development vehicle.

VNE32052 X578 RJW at First Aberdeen Depot in June 2013
Vehicle Fact File

  • First ever ELC Vyking Volvo B7TL 
  • Delivered to First Centrewest in September 2000
  • First used at Uxbridge on the 207 before visiting Westbourne Park
  • Sent back to ELC for major modification work which saw the inclusion of opening windows
  • resurfaced in 2003 and formed part of the vehicles used on the 83 contract after it was purchased fom Volvo
  • Allocated to the 79 
  • 10.2m long
  • Withdrawn in November 2009

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Metroline TE1571 LK08 is seen outside White City Station in a refurbished state having just completed its journey along the Uxbridge Road Gateway. The 607 is one of a few express routes operating in London, but unlike the others it hasn't been subject to much change apart from the extension to White City from Shepherd's bush which came with the opening of Westfield Shopping Centre in October 2008.


TE1571 LK08 FNE in new money started its life at Northumberland Park (NP) as DN33503 as per Route 179 contract, however in 2009 it moved over to Greenford Garage (G) as a TN went in the other direction. It was easier to spot as opposed to the other DNs as it had the old orange fluorescent logo.

More recently it has been transferred to Uxbridge Garage (UX) now operated by Metroline West, where it has been integrated into the existing batch of TEs at the garage whose bonnet numbers run from, TE1571 - 1582. The batch is currently being refurbished as per 607 contract, the refurbishment will see the inclusion the following
  • Removal of Silver tree deflectors and replaced with red ones
  • The inclusion of black matting around the near and offside windows
  • The inclusion of garage codes 
  • Metroline seat moquette
  • Roundels as standard
The hubcaps still remain on some vehicles but are expected to be removed in due course. However the vehicles still retain their purple back seats complete with the aqua handrails, albeit with Metroline seat moquette. Definitely one to look out for. A similar job has been done on Go Ahead, Northumberland Park based EN4.

TE1582 LK08 FND is another vehicle which has been refurbished to a similar specification although it is still devoid of fleetnames, a picture has been placed below.

Refurbished Metroline TE1582 LK08 FND

Monday, 17 March 2014

The introduction of new Routemasters on the 390 was the catalyst that triggered a fleet shuffle within the Metroline fleet particularly concerning their Holloway and Potters Bar Garages. Which is what will be covered in this post, not so much what was at the centre today, so in this case the pictures act as a visual aid to the text.

Route 390 converted from its Plaxton bodied Volvo B7TL vehicles to NB4L operation on the night of the 7th of December 2013. The introduction of these vehicles was over a week late, for reasons unknown, however the change of vehicle type was swiftly done which in theory would make the VPLs surplus to requirements. VPL581 - 603 formerly Route 390 operatives were reassigned to the Route 4 which just gained clearance for the longer 10.6m vehicles.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Would anyone like to warrant a guess as to where this picture was taken, as late some new Routemasters have commenced their delivery ahead of the Route 10 conversion to NB4L operation.


I had an intention to write up a post based on this location, however I wasn't satisfied in the amount of pictures I gained on this occasion. So I thought I'd rather have a bit of fun and allow you to comment below where you think this location is.

London United NRM LT162 - 166

Monday, 3 March 2014

My once very numerous visits to Metroline's CELF Centre have now become as few and far between as a summer without rain. Those familiar with the blog would be more than able to testify to this. The Centre was opened in 2007 to help assist the engineering departments across the company with the maintenance of their vehicles. The Centre since its opening nearly 7 years ago has been accredited for its excellency and is widely utilised by other companies, namely London United and Tower Transit, whose vehicles can be seen here on a regular basis.


Metroline operate a fleet in excess of 1600 vehicles, which was boosted by Acquirement of First West London in June 2013. All of which must spend a statutory two day period at the centre whilst they undergo MOT and chassis cleaning amongst other things.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


3817 - LJ58 AWC is seen on stand outside Watford Junction Station.


LJ58 AWC transferred from Arriva London to Arriva the Shires in August 2013 after refurbishment at Hants and Dorset Trim.

The batch (ENL11 to ENL17, now recoded 3811 to 3817), along with a few others was originally ordered for Arriva London's Route 491 back in 2008. In May 2013, the route passed over to Go Ahead London. Therefore, a few ENL's would remain surplus at the Enfield Garage.  Arriva decided to transfer these to the Garston Garage to work on Routes H18/H19 which had been given a PVR increase of 2.

The batch entered service in August 2013 primarily for the circular H18 and H19 routes. Nowdays, they can be also put into service on other single decker routes (268, 288, 303 and 305). Arriva the Shires are known for intermixing their double deck vehicle into single deck routes and vice versa. This has been the third time Enviro200 has been put into service on the 142. Route 142 is usually a full double deck operation.

Sunday, 23 February 2014


DLA206 - W437 WGJ is seen on stand at Edgware Bus Station.

DLA206 - W437 WGJ
The Vehicle was formerly part of a batch from Brixton (BN) operated by Arriva London South. DLA206 transferred over to Arriva the Shires' Garston Garage in early February to cover for the PVR increase of 1 on Route 340 due to road works on Marsh Lane between Cannons Park and Stanmore Broadway. No change in fleetcode and inadequate Blind Destination Boards indicate that the vehicle is a temporary transfer and may get decommissioned out of service in London. This may follow in the footsteps of 6224 (X457 FGP), which was a permanent transfer to Arriva the Shires from Arriva Southern Counties.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A recent yet unexpected repaint comes in the form of long term absentee SEL746, the vehicle is part of a batch of 33 ordered by the company in 2007 and delivered between the summer of that year and January 2008. For no apparent reason on the 19th of February 2013, the vehicle was withdrawn from service, however it was later emerged that it had suffered severe damage, although the details were not disclosed.


During my various trips to CELF, I never did actually manage to catch a glimpse of the vehicle, it became somewhat of an interest point for me as at the time it seemed weird as to why it was out of action for so long. One the 18th of January 2014, just a month shy of a year out of service, it inaudibly slipped back into service on the 297. Albeit sporting a fresh coat of paint complete with the latest Metroline logo and a very small roundel.

For all the efforts of repainting the vehicle, it will become redundant in June 2014 along with sister vehicles, SEL739 - 745 & 747 - 764 which will be replaced by 21 brand new Volvo B5LH/Gemini3 buses as per the new route 7 contract.  No doubt the repaint has activated the rumour mill again to where these buses will end up after their duties are relieved on the route 7. One was seen driving in the Holloway area in the direction of  HT garage.  I'll let that one land where it does...Feel free to comment! 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I think I'm being really generous, today's visit caps off four garage visits in as many weeks. As the title suggests, today's visit was one to Arriva London's Edmonton garage which is strangely not even located in the area of Edmonton. The garage itself is situated just a short walk from the Lea Valley Garage on a piece of land adjacent to the river Lea. The area has a somewhat industrialised feel to it, which is exaggerated by the Pylons towering over and almost makes you feel out of place if you don't work in that sort of industry, and although I vowed to never come back to this area any time soon, I couldn't refuse to opportunity to add to this year's already promising looking portfolio.


Opened in 1993 by the now defunct operator, London Suburban bus, Edmonton Garage was the base chosen to house the recently won 4 and 271 routes, with the 41 being won at a latter date. The obstruction of the River Lea and Pymme Brook, means that drivers would have to cautiously drive alongside the canal for quite some distance before joining the main road, which was interesting to see.

Favourite defunct company

Favourite London Interior

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