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Monday, 21 April 2014

Quality Line Epsom Garage [EB]

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


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