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Sunday 15 March 2015

Stagecoach London Barking Garage [BK]

The other garage in Barking is occupied by Stagecoach, located on Longbridge Road, the garage stands out almost as a monumental figure as it has done for the past 9 decades. Opened in 1924 by the LGOC following the increased demand of bus services, which was an implication of the sudden boom in the construction of housing estates in the nearby Beacontree Heath area.

The structure was comprised of a yard as well as a large Victorian styled shed, which was typical of many garages which were built under the influence of the LGOC. 7 years after opening, the base was expanded, and rather unusually, the entrance of the garage was located on S Park Drive, which limited the amount of vehicles that could enter at any one time and this was amended when it was expanded years later.

The garage proved quite a successful one time, taking advantage of the numerous routes that operated in and around the neighboring Barking, Beacontree Heath and Dagenham areas, its Central location allowed for easy access as well as providing relief for the nearby North Street & Seven Kings Garages, but its size prevented it from ever utilizing its full potential.. However it still remained quite a popular one and certainly among enthusiasts which was probably intensified when in 1979 it rather dubiously became the last garage to run the much loved RT class Buses on the Route 62.

However its popularity could not expel it from the plans, to close it in the 1990s. By 1991 plans had surfaced to close the garage by 1992 in favour of a new 'super garage' in the Chadwell Heath area. The new garage was planned to have replaced the work from the Barking, North Street and Seven Kings Bases and rather fittingly coded 'CH' and set to commence operation in 1993. But closer inspection of the site, revealed due to its previous use as a paint manufacturing plant, the land had become so badly contaminated, it was no longer suitable to build on anymore and the operation was aborted. Expectations for the base seemed rife and many of the Barking and North Street vehicles for years ran around with 'CH' codes.

Despite the fact the super garage did not open, quite surprisingly the Seven Kings Garage still proceeded with its closure that year, which as a consequence meant Barking had increased pressure due to an influx of work.To mitigate, it was slightly extended, which was achieved by purchasing of two adjoining bungalows before demolishing them.

By 1994, the garage had a maximum vehicle requirement of 109 vehicles at any one time, quite a large proportion of which made up by lengthy Route 5. The base like many in the 80s and 90s underwent a period of modernisation resulting in the introduction of the coveted Leyland Titan and the rather uncanny Optare Delta types.

Skip a decade to 2013 and, it was chosen as the first London Bus Garage to use  chip fat oil which on its 120 buses, this was set to reduce emissions by up 20%, stickers to designate this were accordingly applied to the vehicles on site. A 50,000 litre storage tank was installed on the site which enabled the bio-fuel to be mixed on the site, further reducing the costs as well as carbon emissions. A key standing point for the introduction of bio fuel on the site was the 8,700-strong bus fleet uses around 250 million litres of fuel each year, with 3.7 million litres used by buses operating out of the Barking garage alone. Although it remains to be seen whether or not the results from this experiment were successful or not. 

In contrast to the 1980s and 1990s, at present the garage runs the following routes 5, 62, 101, 145, 169, 366, 387, 396, N15 (also BW) with a fleet that consists of  40 double deck Alexander Tridents, 54 ADL Enviro 400s,  23 ADL Enviro 200 and 14 Optare Versas. 

Garage Fact File
  • Opened in 1924
  • Expanded once in 1931 and again in the 1990s
  • Runs 10 Routes
  • Ran the last ever route to run the Regent RT Class on the 7th of April 1979
  • Runs 120 Buses
  • Planned for closure in 1992 due to opening of new Chadwell Heath Garage which did not happen


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