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Wrightbus Factory Watch Part 5

I did promise that I would keep it up and I have stuck to it. Readers of the last post would know that now I have a job, blog updates are few and far between. But I am determined not to let this site die down as some may have thought. As you get older you naturally gain more responsibilities so whereas I'd love to be around taking photos here and there...I can't as I have to provide for my family.

Thanks to the wonderful Paul Mckenna in Northern Ireland, I am able to continue on this very interesting series of photos. This is part five of the series. Those who haven't viewed the rest of the four series, just use our search box above and type '"Wrightbus Factory Watch". In addition to this in our News section there is a direct link to a page which contains the whole series.

The above image shows, VH18 of London Sovereign. Part of a batch of 23 buses earmarked for the Route 13s new contract which commences this coming August. The introduction of these vehicles marks a milestone for London Sovereign...the end of ordering crap! In all seriousness, it should mark a new era of ordering higher quality vehicles as opposed to the prestige stock offered by East Lancs *Jokes!*

Their introduction will remove most of the company's 55 Plate Scania ELC Omidekka vehicles to Routes 114 & 292 which will in turn oust the Volvo Presidents from the 292 and most Volvo ELC Vykings from the 114.

Dublin Bus are firm fans of the Homegrown Gemini as well. However they prefer the older face as they have many of the older Gemini 1 B7TL Buses in their fleet, so I guess from a maintenance point of view, its a wise thing to do. Unique looking things. If you look closely to the bus on the far left, on the upper deck rear window you will notice it has an opening window slot....never noticed this on any other Gemini2 apart from the B5LH variants.

A few monstrosities, well five to be exact are lined up near the perimeter of the premises. This time for the Route 11 which will convert on the 21st of September 2013. Another horrible day to note down.

A close up shows the high quality paintwork on these vehicles.
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London Sovereign Edgware Garage [BT]..New Hybrids for the 13

Its been a while since the last update I know *covers face* but there's a reason behind it. 4 weeks ago I moved house and anyone who has moved house will know how hectic moving can be, as a consequence of the move, it has meant that I have had no Internet for this period. In addition to this I have also started working full time, so I have really been pushed for time as late...

However lets crack on. Before I go any further I must give credit to the London Sovereign staff for allowing on site and for ensuring my safety while they carried out their duties. Most of you by the above image have probably guessed why I was here in the first place. Followers of the blog would already know that I visited here in October 2011. But I'll still give you a brief insight into the history of the garage.

The Garage was officially opened in 1925 by the London General Omnibus Company and at the time only holding 30 Buses. However in 1984 a restoration program took place and the Garage was replaced with a new 100+ Base, that would have light maintenance facilities and a Bus wash. In spring of 1999 London Sovereign had won/retained routes 13,114,183 and 292. The 183 was respectively won of Metroline from Harrow Garage (SO). When these routes were won/retained, they saw Edgware Garage as a perfect opportunity to base their operations as it was closer to the routes which they ran and would ease dead mileages. Subsequently Sovereign's Borehamwood Garage ceased London operations. So Sovereign as they were known as at the time took out a 10 year lease on this garage and they became the sole operator of this garage right until summer of 2000 when Metroline moved back in. Metroline moved back into EW following the retention of the 107,113, 204 and 240. The Route 186 moved back into EW in October 2006 following a reallocation from Harrow Weald (HD). However this did not mean there were any capacity issues at the garage, but it now meant that there was now stiff competition for TFL contracts.

In late 2012 it was announced that London Sovereign had retained the Route 13 and to their surprise as I learnt today. The route which is their only Central London route, runs from Golders Green to Aldwych with the night service extending beyond Golders Green to North Finchley. The contract due to start in August 2013 was awarded on the basis of new Hybrid Buses, which were believed to be the shambolic Borismasters or NB4Ls to me and you. 

As everyone prepared for the worst, London Sovereign quickly announced that the vehicle chosen would be a conventional Hybrid which was later to be revealed as the ever reliable Volvo B5LH with prestigious Wright Gemini2 bodywork. Their arrival was much anticipated as many thought the company would opt for the E400 Hybrid instead. 

I expected the vehicles to be arriving around June, however there was no sign of them and just as things had started to get quiet Ian Rivett, the author of 'Bus News' reported that a few of the buses had started to arrive. I instantaneously started to plan when I'd attempt to visit the London Sovereigns and photograph them which turned out to be today (Sunday).

Prior to arriving I expected that their specification would fall in line with 11 Reg DEs they have, however there was no such luck. The vehicles which are classed 'VH' have fleet numbers ranging from VH1 - 23 have a totally different interior to their other fleet members as you are about to witness. Three vehicles still devoid of logos were on site, with another two set to arrive tomorrow. Interestingly they are the only batch of vehicles in London to have a registration sequence that matches up with their Garage code, the Route they are entering service on and the year of them entering service. 

The introduction of the vehicles on the Route 13 will oust the existing SLEs to the Route 292 which will oust possibly my favourite buses VLP18 - 27 back to their leasing company. The remaining SLEs will help oust some of the VLEs on the 114 which will also return back to their leasing company. The changes are expected to take place in August so if you like the VLPs as much as I do, I'd suggest you hurry up and snap them. 

Again, credit to the London Sovereign staff who made the visit possible and very much worthwhile. Please note that all safety procedures were implemented to ensure my safety whilst on site. Please do contact operators before proceeding onto any garage or site as this is a place of work and accidents can prove very costly to the company. More photos from the visit are placed below.

The upper deck interior facing the rear shows off a
very light colour scheme topped off a royal red seat moquette.
The Grey theme becomes evident as we turn towards
the front of the Bus.
The bottom deck interior demonstrates how airy the
Gemini2 body is

Not quite sure on the interior choice of colours if I am being totally honest. I don't mind the seat moquette, as I do like the red, however I'm not a fan of the orange handrails topped off with grey seat backs. 

London Sovereign VH1 BD13 OHU is seen on the pits
still with the beautiful hubcaps on the wheels. 
London Sovereign VH2 BD13 OHV shows off its
rear end at Edgware Garage
Here's a look at some of the other stuff that was in the garage today

Olly...Olly...Olly...Oi..Oi..Oi London Sovereign VA17 XDZ 5917
London Sovereign SP68 YT59 RXR in the washing facility
London Sovereign SDE23 YX60 BZF with
VPL220 seen in the background
On Loan YT11 LSD 

London Sovereign VLE30 PA04 CYS and YT11 LSD
A general Garage view
London Sovereign SP71 RT59 RXV
London Sovereign SDE19 YX60 BZB
London Sovereign VLP20 PJ53 OUP
More shots of the VHs

In sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's post as much as I enjoyed taking time out to construct it, visiting a garage again has certainly got me back in the mood and I look forward to doing more posts when my time permits. Thank you and take care. 
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