Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 1st August 2000, updated 9th January 2003. Best on 800*600.

The Reeve Burgess / Plaxton Darts

London Buses DR

Part One: 8.5m, DR

The story of the Plaxton Darts is one of amazing success. The conservative cuboid body that Plaxton subsidiary Reeve-Burgess put on the Dennis Dart chassis was an instant success. Perhaps it was just not so futuristic as the DT, or as retro as the DW, but for whatever reason they began to sell like hot cakes. Production soon shifted to Plaxton's main works.
London Buses ordered 153 on the shortest 8.5m chassis. They featured a split doorway, giving a low step for the less agile, but a higher front step giving a decent front clearance. With a 7ft 6in (2.25m) width they were a go-anywhere little bus.

They went in 1991-2 to the London United, Westlink, London General, South London and Metroline subsidiaries, mainly for suburban and estate penetration work, replacing "breadvans", with a "Harrier" logo and brand-name.The long-lasting red paint has gradually darkened in the London atmosphere, to a dark crimson bordering on black in some instances.

London United/Westlink DR

London United and Westlink

London United, together with subsidiary Westlink, made very widespread use of their 103 in their territory, and eventually used them from all garages.
London United dedicated some to "The Heathrow Connection" routes until bigger buses took over.
New buses have caused changes of allocations, and the takeover of routes from the DTs. In mid-2000 they operated on:
  • 33 :Hammersmith - Richmond - Fulwell Garage
  • 110:Twickenham - Hounslow Bus Stn
  • 283:Hammersmith - Shepherds Bush - East Acton
  • 290:Staines Bridge - Fulwell - Richmond
  • 391:Richmond - Kew Bridge - Turnham Grn - Hammersmith - Fulham Broadway
  • H40:Chiswick - Turnham Grn - Park Royal
  • R68:Hampton Court Stn - Teddington - Twickenham - Richmond
  • R69:Hammersmith - Barnes Bridge - Mortlake - Richmond
  • K1 :Kingston - Hook - Tolworth - New Malden Stn
  • K2 :Kingston - Surbiton - Tolworth - Hook
  • K3 :Kingston Hospital -Norbiton - Kingston-Surbiton - Claygate - Esher
  • K4 :Kingston - Surbiton - Hook
Some of the buses were repainted with grey roofs, or Westlink flashes, but others retained their original London Buses livery, increasingly melanistic, with fleetname changes.

DR116 on Kew Bridge on the 391, March 2000 DR71 in Richmond on the 391, March 2000

March 2000. DR116 crosses Kew Bridge under a thunderous sky, while earlier in the day DR71 enjoys the sunshine in Richmond. Click for larger pictures.

During 2000-2003 the London United DRs were replaced by low-floor wide-entrance buses as required by new tenders, leaving refurbished DR131 to work on into May 2003 as a singleton spare at Tolworth.

London General

DR at Putney Bridge on the 265, November 1997 London General had 23, split between Putney and Merton garages, in London General's red with yellow-trimmed grey miniskirts. Originally they bore "Streetline" branding. They have retained the marker lights beside the front display In mid-2000 they operated on:
  • 39 :Putney Bridge Stn - Putney Heath - Clapham Junction
  • 170:Roehampton - Putney Heath - Wandsworth - Clapham Junction
  • 239:Victoria Stn - Battersea Bridge - Clapham Junction
  • 265:Putney Bridge Stn - Barnes Common - Roehampton - Tolworth

DR41 in Putney on the 39, June 2000 DR43 in Putney on the 170, June 2000
Putney buses. Short DR41 and 43 enjoy the sunshine in Putney in June 2000, on local round-the-houses routes 39 and 170 for London General. Click for larger pictures.

DR149 at Putney Bridge Stn, June 2000 DR52 at Putney Bridge Stn, June 2000

Above: Putney Bridge Station, June 2000. London General DR149 and DR52 keep company with Metrobuses between turns.

Metroline, Metroline London Northern

Metroline had thirty-two, but the purchase of London Northern caused some redistribution. North Wembley kept some for the PR2, and but some went to Potters Bar for the 383 and W4, and a few to North Acton for the 268. A few were in special supermarket service liveries.
  • PR2:Park Royal - Stonebridge Pk - Brent Park - Wembley Park
  • 383:
  • W4 :Ferry Lane Estate - Tottenham - Wood Green - Oakthorpe Park
  • 268:Golders Green - Hampstead - Swiss Cottage - Finchley Road Stn
DR91 on 268 at Hampstead, November 2000 DR95 on 268 at Hampstead, November 2000
A grey day in Hampstead, November 2000. DR91 and DR95 climb towards Golders Green on the 268.
Sales of earlier examples started in June 2000, and another large bunch were sold in mid-2001, displaced by newer low-floor vehicles.

South London, Limebourne

South London had twelve, but these were loaned to Limebourne for use on the G1, which was sub-contracted to Limebourne by London South. Connex took over the contract, and finally returned the buses to Arriva at the end of 2001. Arriva promptly sold most of them.
  • G1 :Battersea - Clapham Junction - Wandsworth Common - Tooting Broadway - Streatham Stn


Metrobus DR In August 1991 Metrobus of Orpington bought seven short Dart/Plaxtons, to replace Mercedes Midibuses on its 351 back-roads route between Bromley North and Penge. They also worked the London 146 , taken over from Crystals, on weekdays, and extra Sunday journeys on London & Country's 493 route. Sunday journeys on the 357 were also taken over by the new Darts. They made other appearances as well, such as on the Summer Sunday 746 service, when this was not being operated by RF255.
  • 351 (Bromley North- Beckenham - Anerley - Penge)
  • 146 (Bromley North - Hayes - Keston - Downe) (M-Sat)
  • 493 (Orpington Stn - Ramsden Estate) (Sun)
  • 357 (Croydon - Forestdale - Orpington) (Sun)
  • 746 (Bromley - Westerham - Penshurst - Tunbridge Wells) (Sum. Sun)

The whole batch was sold to the Birmingham Coach Company in January 2002.

London Transit

London Transit, a small company based at Hare Street near Buntingford, bought several short Darts from London United: DR1, DR53, DR57, DR68, DR102, DR107, DR111, DR128 in early 2002 for use on Hertford and Bishops Stortford services such as the 384 and 351.

DR107 at Hertford on the 384, June 2002 DR111 at Hertford on the 384, June 2002

DR107 and DR111 wait at Hertford Bus Station late on a June Saturday afternoon in 2002. They still wear old colours, DR107 in London United livery, and DR111 still in old London Buses "tape-grey" livery.


Centrebus of Leicester bought the St.Albans operations of Sovereign in January 2004, then amalgamated its Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire operations with LQT Ltd, Refresh Solutions and Lutonian Buses. The combined fleets have gradually acquired Centrebus orange and blue livery, and include Darts with varied bodies and lengths. Included are six 8.5m Plaxton Darts from a variety of London Buses companies. These have been progressively moved north during 2008.

148, DR18 at St.Albans, January 2007 DR134 at Breachwood Green on 88, June 2008

DR18, now Centrebus 148, at St.Albans in January 2007, on the 34 to Dunstable. DR134, Centrebus 134, on the 88 at Breachwood Green in June 2008

DR histories. DR photos. Part 2: 9.0 m DRL

Ian's Bus Stop Dart index. DW. DR. DRL.