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Friday, 8 June 2012

Go Ahead London Stockwell Garage [SW]

Today was a visit to London General's Stockwell Garage which is located in south London close to the riverside town of Vauxhall. The garage is arguably one of the most iconic garages in London due to the fact at the time of its construction in 1952 it held the status of the largest unsupported area under one roof in Europe, which is pretty impressive for a London bus garage.

The garage was designed by Adie, Button and Partners and opened in 1952 by the LGOC (London General Omnibus Company) after four years of planning, the garage is so to speak a triumph of doubt as the post war built garage was one of those built without many essential materials owing to a steel shortage following the lengthy and costly war. So the opportunity was taken to create a bravura piece of reinforced concrete to show of the skills of the architects with 10 very shallow two-hinged arched ribs. The distinctive and risky attempt at architecture paid off and came with many advantages. The incorporating of a roof structure that did no require any supports enabled a staggering 73,350 square-foot (6184m2) of unobstructed parking which allowed more buses and staff vehicles to be housed in the garage at any one time. This also allowed the offices to be located on the corner of the garage without obstructing the parking area.

In the first few days of the operation, the garage which is capable of running 200 buses was only running 11 buses on the route 178 which had just moved from Rye Lane garage although more work was gained after the tram replacement program commenced for which the garage was actually designed for. However t was still short of capacity so more work arrived in the form of routes 77 and 77A (now route 87) which moved from Victoria garage due to recruitment problems at the base in 1953 and 1954. The closure of  Nunhead Garage increased the PVR of the garage to 110 and in 1970 Round London Sightseeing Tours moved into Stockwell.

In 1984, Stockwell was chosen to do comparative type tests on the route 170 using consisting of MCW MetrobusesLeyland TitansLeyland OlympiansDennis Dominators, and Volvo Ailsas. The chosen allocation were the ever reliable Leyland Titans. The allocation of the garage steadied at 120 for a few years which partially owes to route 11 moving back into the garage after moving in from Waterloo (RA). In 1988 the garage was given the status of being a grade II* listed building placing it on the  Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. 

Today the garage is run by Go Ahead London General, holds holds 185 buses, and runs London bus routes 11, 19, 87, 170, 196, 315, 333, 337, 639, 670 (AM journey), 24-hour routes 24 and 88, and Night routes N11, N19, N44, and N87. It has had a steady growth over the years, with the company gaining routes such as the 19 and 196 from the base, however to counter this, it was announced that the company had respectively lost route 24 to Metroline which will take effect from the 10th of November 2012.

Kudos to the Go Ahead London staff who whilst on site ensured that our safety was paramount by complying with the Health & Safety Act at work and for allowing us into their premises. More shots are based below.

The entrance at Stockwell Bus Garage
Don't say you weren't warned!
Inside Stockwell Garage showing the stunning architecture
A line up showing the variety of buses in use at Stockwell Garage
A Gemini 2, a Pointer and a Gemini 1
Go Ahead London E154 SN11 BUE
The Hybrids!
The offside of WVL485, this is one of 16 WVLs purchased for the Route 19
WHV28 LJ61 NVP and DP201 EU53 PYJ
So which one would you pick?
A view of the left hand side of the garage
Go Ahead London DP202 EU53 PYL
Olympic shuttle bus LDP187 Y987 TGH seen at the entrance of the garage
The highly detailed garage plan

Key Facts to note about Stockwell Garage

  • Built in 1952
  • One of the first post war bus garages
  • Has a single roof  span made from concrete slabs
  • Has a capacity of 200 Buses
  • Runs 16 Bus Routes
  • Situated on a dual one way system


C0BO says:
at: Friday, June 08, 2012 1:51:00 am said...

Very good work and nice photos too.

at: Friday, June 08, 2012 1:01:00 pm said...

The 170 did not use Titans. In fact I can't recall SW ever having a Titan allocation. Do you mean Leyland National Mk2s which did appear on the 170, although not as part of the trial. The usual allocation on the 170 at that time had been DMS Fleetlines

The garage was opened by London Transport - London General did not exist then.

at: Saturday, June 09, 2012 1:26:00 pm said...

It was the Mk2 MCW Metrobus (M1441-2), Leyland Olympian (L1-3) and the Dennis Dominator (H1-3) that were used on the 170. The dual staircase Volvo Alisa was also used.

Titans weren't part of the trial as by 1984 they had already existed in great numbers throughout east and south east London (type introduced in 1977 with the last batch delivered around 8 years later in 1985 (T1-1131), similarly with the Mk1 MCW Metrobus (M1-1440).

at: Saturday, June 09, 2012 9:31:00 pm said...

The 2 conventional Ailsas V1-2 were also part of the trial on the 170. However the dual staircase Ailsa V3 with second door at the back did not run on the 170 as it wasn't deemed suitable for OPO operation. It was initially used on the 77a and then the 88 instead.

at: Saturday, June 09, 2012 9:35:00 pm said...

Thank you for the report on Stockwell garage - once described as the most beautiful bus garage in the world. Compared to the windswept open yards that now pass for bus depots, it most certainly is.
Stockwell has good acoustics, too. Back in the 1980s an open day there featured a Caribbean steel band that performed admirably.
Having moved out of London in 1990, I haven't revisited SW since and hope it still looks as magnificent. The interior views of it look clean and tidy. Good stuff.
Harrogate, Yorkshire

LondonBuses72 says:
at: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:43:00 pm said...

Which one would I pick? Probably the Gemini 1 or 2. Great Post!

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