THE

INDEPENDENT

BUS

SOA
SHROPSHIRE

READING
MAINLINE

BIRCH
BROS

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GUILDFORD

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KING
ALFRED


TWO LONDON BUS ROUTES:  98B  AND  235

Both remained in the hands of independent operators after the industrial action of 1966






Please note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information






Routes provided by independent operators within the London Transport seem always to have held a special fascination for many. These two routes were somewhat unique however. Following an overtime ban by London Transport central area crews starting in January 1966 certain sections of red bus routes were withdrawn from operation. To minimise the effect on the travelling public permission was given by London Transport for independent operators to provide certain services in substitution. For a month or more a couple of dozen firms - large and small - provided cover over a wide ranging geographical spread of routes; some of these being coach operators running buses for the first time. When the industrial action ceased all but two of these substitute routes ceased running, as might be expected. But two routes were not taken back by London Transport and remained independently operated for many years after. These were the 98B, which ran for twenty-two years, and the 235 which ran for fourteen years.

Route 98B ran from Ruislip station to Rayners Lane station by a somewhat circuitous route via Eastcote, Pinner, Hatch End and North Harrow. This service was to have a somewhat chequered history. The original operation started on 15th February 1966 and was half-hourly between Ruislip and Pinner only, operated by World Wide Coaches of Camberwell. Ten days later a new operator took over, Hall's Coaches of Hounslow, but that lasted only a week. May 1966 saw Valliant Direct Coaches of Ealing running hourly between Ruislip and North Harrow only: but that was only for three weeks during the month of May. After two months without buses operations restarted on 1st August on a half hourly headway provided by Elms Coaches of Kenton. Their Bristol single-decker HBL 88 (ex-Thames Valley) is pictured here. At the end of November the route was extended to its full length from Ruislip to Rayners Lane, and thus things continued for some years until the end of March 1970. During April and May 1970 the service was operated by Atlas Coaches of Edgware. Another inter-regnum followed, five months without service. During November and December a service was provided by Thamesmead Motor Services of London SE21. This ran every 80 minutes, but the Saturday service was discontinued. Finally stability came to the route from 24th May 1971 when it was taken over by Elmtree Transport of Wealdstone - proprietor Bernard Cheek - who ran the service Monday to Friday every 45 minutes. Their tenure on the route was to last nearly seventeen years until the late 1980s. The last day of operation was Friday 22nd January 1988; by this time London Transport route H13 was covering almost all of the route. (But the later history of the route is unclear as an alternative source suggests that until 1997 part of it was operated by Scorpio Coaches as service 398 (Ruislip - Eastcote - Rayners Lane - South Harrow) under a London Buses Agreement as a commercial route, not part of the London Buses network. In the last few years of its operation by Scorpio Coaches London Transport did give some support and the frequency was increased from hourly to every 45 minutes. London Transport wanted another frequency increase and Scorpio (rebranded as Blue and White by this time) could not muster the operational support to facilitate this. Thus in 1997 the 398 was formally tendered as a 'proper' LT bus route to Sovereign).

A much simpler story attaches to Route 235. This was a short route running half hourly from Richmond station to Richmond Hill, and was referred to locally as 'The Hill Bus'. The original service was provided by Isleworth Coaches starting on 31st January 1966 and operations subsequently passed to Continental Pioneer of Richmond in May 1968, with peak frequency then increased to 22 minutes. Tim Lewis was the founder and owner of the successful Continental Pioneer company. Eight years later, from 31st August 1976, the hill terminus was altered to an extended one-way loop via Queens Road and Marchmont Road. This avoided an awkward reverse turn at the original terminus at Cardigan Road but the extended route meant a 30 minute frequency. The timetables appear to have been planned with suitable gaps in departures for crew relief, but this was a continuation of the way London Transport had provided the route. A variety of vehicles operated on the route including Bristols, an ex-LT RT and a front entrance version of the Routemaster. In 1973 a Ford/Willowbrook single decker was bought new with aid of bus grant and appropriately registered PGX235L. Always a busy route increased capacity was provided in November 1979 when an ex-Portsmouth Corporation double-deck Atlantean was introduced. After twelve years the route was relinquished by Continental Pioneer on 27th September 1980 and existing London Transport route 71 was diverted to cover the service. (London Transport had introduced the 235 in March 1956, operating Mondays to Saturdays; and also on summer Sundays from Easter 1956 until the end of the 1960 season. It was a one-bus operation from Twickenham garage using an RT). On the last day Continental Pioneer's blue liveried AEC Reliance single decker KHM1D (ex-British European Airways) ran the route suitably decorated with goodbye messages.



235 The Hill Bus
235 timetable

Continental Pioneer Ford / Willowbrook 43-seater PGX235L - The 235 Hill Bus in the 1970s.
Photo by johnmightycat1


LT timetable for the then new
route 235 in 1956

1968 timetable Continental Pioneer
1976 timetable Continental Pioneer
1968 timetable for the original 235 route

1976 timetable for the extended 235 route

1968 timetable Elms Coaches
1970 timetable Thamesmead
1966 timetable for the 98B route (Elms Coaches)

1970 timetable for the 98B route (Thamesmead)
Elmtree timetable 1977
Elmtree Transport timetable valid in 1977

235 London transport timetable
London Transport 235 timetable
London Transport 1956 timetables for the 235 Richmond Hill route


with many thanks to Derek Persson for the timetables


Further information on other similar operations in and around London can be found in the book

"London Transport Connections 1945 - 1985" by Philip Wallis.  Published by Capital Transport in 2003.


THE

INDEPENDENT

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SHROPSHIRE

READING
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BIRCH
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