Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 27th July 2000. Best on 800*600.

DT, DC: The Duple / Carlyle Darts

London Buses DT The Duple bodied Dennis Dart was the doyen of the family. The superbly modernistic body was envisaged as the sole body for the new chassis, Duple and Dennis both being part of the Hestair group of companies. The combination was first put together in demonstrator form in 1988, but London Buses insisted on a short 8.5metre version in order to make the most of the current financial regime: the DT was born. Duple built the first few bodies for London Buses before being bought by Plaxton. They didn't want the Dartline body and sold the design rights to Carlyle, who continued it without change as the Dartline.
DT78, Coastal Coaches, Rye, June 2000 DT78, Coastal Coaches, Rye, June 2000 DT78, Coastal Coaches, Rye, June 2000
DT78 still wears the basic London Buses livery in June 2000, after two changes of operator. From 1994 to 2000 it was in the care of London United, and has since passed to Coastal Coaches in East Sussex. It is seen here at Rye Station. Photos by Ian Smith. Click for larger versions.

1990 was the year of the DT. They took over on a variety of routes that were suffering the indignity of "Walkthrough breadvan" operation. DT1-27, bodied by Duple, went to the London United subsidiary, operating out of Fulwell and Hounslow garages, on routes H21-H23, R69 and R70. Another 141, with Carlyle bodies, went to Bromley, Orpington, Thornton Heath, Willesden, Edgware, North Wembley and Stamford Brook.

R&I DC Meanwhile another operator was making an appearance. R&I Tours of North London won tenders to operate the C11 and C12 with new Darts, and chose a longer 9.0m version, with bodies started by Duple and completed by Carlyle. These buses appeared in a very non-London livery of silver and grey (no 80% rule then), and were soon a familiar sight around Kings Cross.

LCNW DC In the Watford area London Country North-West also won an LT tender on the 258, for which it bought eight even longer Dart Carlyles, with 9.8metre bodies. These had a destination box perched on the front, somewhat spoiling the clean lines, and were finished in LCNW's dull green and grey livery.

But by the end of 1991 Carlyle was in trouble, along with other bus-body builders, and the Dartline production ceased. The design rights passed on to Marshall of Cambridge, who pacified the design somewhat for their ventures into the minibus and SLF marketplace.

In service

The DT's sojourn in the south-east suburbs of London was relatively short-lived, and the Bromley and Orpington examples were soon to be found in the London United country beside the Thames, west of London, although Selkent district retained a few that were used on the 124 from Catford. 1994 saw the DTs pass to the privatised companies, nearly half of them to London United, a large number to Metroline, and a few to Stagecoach Selkent and South London.

London United

DT42, Barnes, October 1997 DT42, Barnes, October 1997
London United Harrier DT42 catches me by surprise as it swoops past on the R69 in Barnes, October 1997. By the state of its fenders, it appears that agility doesn't always keep it out of trouble.

London Buses DT London United acquired all 28 of the Duple-bodied DTs (DT1-27 and DT168), plus 55 of the Carlyle versions. Its territory was - and is - the traditional single-decker land around Kingston, Hounslow, Fulwell and London Airport, and it put the Darts to intensive use. Rather than the "Hoppa" name that was appearing on the sides of small buses elsewhere in London, London United emphasised the agile nature of its new buses with a Harrier name and symbol. LU claimed an 11% first-year increase in ridership on routes where the Darts took over from double-deckers.

The later repaint into London United's own livery, with mid-grey skirt and white roof made them even more eye-catching.
DT45, Hammersmith Bridge, October 1997 DT45, Hammersmith Bridge, October 1997

DT45 rolls up towards Hammersmith Bridge at the end of an autumn afternoon in October 1997. It sports an air-conditioning pod on the roof, dual-purpose seating, orange rather than green handrails and Toshiba sponsorship advertising but still wears the original bus livery.
The little Darts with their wide undivided doorway were found ideal for London United's Heathrow Airport services, especially the direct hotel to airport service. A large number of them were converted to dual-purpose seating, with LARGE luggage racks over the front wheelarches, and fitted with an air-conditioning pod on the roof. Most of the Airbus variants were given a distinctive red and yellow Airbus Direct livery. They were garaged at Heathrow West Ramp, and maintained by Stamford Brook. The Airbus Direct service to hotels ceased in November 1999, and the little buses went to new homes around the UK.

DT11, Aldwych, December 1998 DT10, Kings Cross, March 1999

Airbus Direct Darts. DT11 swoops round the corner at Aldwych in December 1998, and DT10 makes a more sedate departure from Kings Cross in March 1999.

London Buses DT


Metroline was the next largest recipient of Carlyle Darts, for its suburban network in north-west London, based around Willesden, Cricklewood, North Wembley, Harrow and Edgware. There they were called Skippers. As repainting time came around the Darts gained the attractive red and blue livery.

Metroline began disposal of its Darts in December 1996, with a sale of six to MTL London to join those newly taken over from R&I. In 1997 there followed a larger sale of 16 buses to Rossendale Transport in Lancashire, who already had three Duple bodied versions from 1990. Another seven rolled their way north to join them in 1998.

Stagecoach Selkent

London Buses DT Selkent District, having been an early user of the type in large numbers, largely lost the work for them before privatisation. The District lost many of its small-bus routes to Kentishbus (later Londonlinks) and newcomer Metrobus, and London Buses passed them on to where they were more useful. Catford did retain an allocation into privatisation, mainly for the 124, although they were occasionally seen on routes where double-deckers would normally be expected.

Some were transferred to Stagecoach Docklands Transit in 1997, in exchange for longer Plaxton-bodied Darts from East Londonwhich came to dominate on the 124, gradually usurping them altogether. Stagecoach transferred the DTs away to sunnier climes (Devon General and Red & White) in late 1997.

South London

London Buses DT South London Buses inherited the Thornton Heath contingent, the thirteen UGO-registered buses. Some of the buses acquired "Cowie stripes" - two broad diagonal yellow bands at the rear, including the seven that were transferred to Leaside in April 1996 for use on Enfield's route 192. Two more were bought from Metroline .
The parent company rebranded as Arriva in 1997, and some at least of the South London batch received the "ice-cream scoop red" variant of the livery.
Arriva London South passed on some of its DTs to Arriva North-West in early 1999, but brought back the Leaside examples. Some were used on G1, which was sub-contracted to Limebourne complete with buses between September 1999 and April 2000. Others worked from Bedlington Farm in the Croydon area, which took them once more into Bromley on the back-road 367 service (West Croydon - Elmers End - Shortlands - Bromley North).

London Buses DT

MTL London Northern

MTL London Northern did not start with any of the Carlyle Darts at all. But in October 1995 they took over R&I Tours. With the company they acquired some of the long DC Darts (some had been sold the year before, to Kentish Bus). They bought some of the 8.5m DTs from Metroline at the end of the year, and used those, and other Darts, to operate the 46, 112 and 274.

The Darts were repainted into MTLs dark red with MTL logos. Several of the short Darts were transferred to Merseyside.

DC216, Kings Cross, June 1999 MTL's London business was sold to Metroline in 1998, and there has since been some interchange of DTs between the fleets. In common with all the first generation Darts, in mid-2000 they are being replaced with low-floor vehicles.

In June 1999 9.0metre DC216 waits to turn right outside Kings Cross Station on the 46. It seems to be wanting a repaint, as it has lost its MTL logos. Even the legal lettering is not on the red, but on the black modesty panel.

London Buses DT

The Shires

Luton & District was eventually given a major rebranding in 1995, emerging as The Shires, with corporate blue, yellow and stone livery, and local fleetnames.
The ex-LCNW Darts received the treatment, being branded initially for the 374 of Network watford, but some at least receiving Lucketts of Watford fleetnames after the takeover of that company in 1997. The Cowie group took over in mid 1996, and another rebranding, into national Arriva livery, was decreed at the end of 1997.

Kentish Bus

London Buses DT When tender changes reduced R&I's requirement in 1995, Kentish Bus bought some of the 9.0m Darts. They were the first buses to receive Kentish Bus's green and yellow livery. They didn't stay on Thameside for long, soon transferring to other Arriva fleets.


Universitybus at Hatfield bought two ex-demonstrator 9.8m Darts with Carlyle bodywork for its Hertfordshire network, in 1992. These must have impressed them, as they were precursors to a wider acquisition of Darts with Wright and Marshall bodies in 1995.


DT89, Victoria Station, March 1999

At the end of 1998 Limebourne was in crisis. Parent company Q-Drive went into receivership in October, and the Limebourne management bought the company at the end of November. The companies that leased buses to Limebourne promptly repossessed their leased vehicles, within 24 hours. The new Limebourne (Independent Way) found itself with virtually no buses. But they promptly purchased eleven redundant Darts from Metroline. They went into service in plain red, with Metroline fleetnames still in place, but soon acquired Limebourne's green skirts and fleetnames. Strangely, the Limebourne fleet has been given names rather than fleet numbers.

Limebourne's DT89 at Victoria Station in March 1999.


DT25, Lingfield Show, August 2000 DT25, Lingfield Show, August 2000

DT25, Lingfield Show, August 2000 The Connex DTs only marginally fit within the London Transport remit of these pages, but as I met one at Lingfield, in old Country Area territory, that will do as an excuse. Early in 2000 Connex, the south of London train operator, bought some DTs for rail replacement work, having started in the bus business by tendering for route 3 in London. But DT1, DT25 and DT41 were not for that. Instead they have acquired a nice deep blue and very pale yellow livery, for contract work. One of them has appeared on the Uckfield-Lewes "un-Beeching" service.

DT25 operated the connection between Lingfield Show and Godstone Station on Sunday 3rd August 2000.

Sullivan Buses

Sullivan bought DT4 in 2000, and have kept it ever since. At times it has been used in normal service, such as on Hertford's 388, and at other times on Railway Replacement services.

DT4 on 388, Hertford Bus Station DT4 on rail work, Hertford North, June 2002

DT4 at Hertford Bus Station on the 388, June 2003, and on Railway Replacement, Hertford North Stn, June 2002.

1999 and 2000 have seen the DTs largely replaced in the London fleets as new short low-floor Mini-Pointer Darts have become available. They haven't gone for scrap. Ten year old buses of this quality still have considerable market value. They have been dispersed to other fleets of the larger companies, to places where London Buses tender requirements for low-floor doorways do not reach. Others have been sold to independents throughout Britain, so their distinctive shape can crop up anywhere to surprise you. They STILL look futuristic.

Some operators are chary about the windscreens, having heard tales of expensive garage shunts, and some DTs have received new Pointer-style fronts (at a cost of about 30,000) before taking up new appointments. What a shame.

Dart Links:

Bus Stop Darts. DT. histories. photos. DW.