AllAboutBuses invites you to banish the Monday morning back-to-work blues with a spot of time travel . .
This week’s classic takes us to Bournemouth in 1997, for a bus that is not all it seems . .
Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. Renowned for its sandy beaches, its safe holiday atmosphere, and its large elderly population. Home, in the late 1990s, when this photo was taken, of the municipal fleet of yellow painted buses, operating under the fleet name of . . Yellow Buses.
The buses on either side of our subject are indeed Yellow Buses, in all senses of the word. The fleetname can even be seen on the bus in the background, on the right side of the picture. But the bus in the centre, the brightest, yellowest bus of all, is not a “Yellow Bus”
The fleetname could be generic to any large city, but only the small sticker on the front window gives us a clue that this is actually a London bus, a “red bus” if you will.
This was the era when London Regional Transport allowed the different operators of tendered bus services free reign in terms of livery, and with Grey Green buses on the 24, maroon and cream Routemasters of Kentish Bus on the 19, the the yellow buses of Capital Citybus dominating the east, it looked like the traditional red London bus could become a thing of the past.
Capital Citybus grew out of the the network of London routes won on tender by Ensignbus – they started small with the 145, then they got the 62, then a huge swathe of routes when Hornchurch Garage closed in 1988, and more to follow. Sold off to a Chinese investor, Capital Citybus eventually ended up much later coming into the First Group fold, and until recently formed much of the eastern edge of that group’s London operations.
So it’s a London bus, not a Yellow Bus, but what it it doing in Bournemouth?
A closer look shows it is blinded for the 752 Coastliner Excursion service – express day trips from London to the seaside towns were big business in the years after World War II, and the practice continued right through to the 90s. So Capital Citybus number 409 is working an excursion, and, therefore, it must be a Sunday.
The bus itself is also interesting, being a representative of a small and almost forgotten type – the Dennis Arrow, the last high-floor double-deck produced by the Guildford manufacturer, and introduced (in 1995) so close to the coming of lowfloor accessible deckers that it never really had time to take off in the marketplace. Less than a hundred Arrows were built between 1996 and 1998, the vast majority went to Capital Citybus, a handful to London & Country, and ones or twos to other operators. This example has Northern Counties bodywork, but many were delivered with bodywork by East Lancs.