Armchair Dart SLFs
DP675-699: Plaxton Pointers 10.0mArmchair bought twenty-five medium length Pointers for a tender win on the E2 (Greenford - Ealing Broadway - West Ealing - Northfields - Brentford) and E8 (Ealing Broadway Stn - West Ealing - Hanwell - Brentford) in April 1997. Armchair dressed them in its distinctive orange, black and white livery, and operated from its garage in Brentford (AH).
They stayed put for five years, being numbered in February 2002 when the new vehicle registration system made reliance on registration numbers for fleet recognition no longer a viable proposition.
In the summer of 2002 they were displaced by newer, dual doorway Darts, and most were sold.
Ealing, February 2002: DP682 passes on E8, followed by DP689 on E2.In the summer of 2002 they were displaced by newer, dual doorway Darts, and most were sold.
DP677-691 were bought by Dawson Rentals, then 677-689 were promptly hired to Tellings-Golden Miller
who needed tham for a few months until new buses arrived. 690 and 691 were hired back to Armchair for the K50 Kingston
Park & Ride, together with 692 which had been sold to Ensigns. 694 to 699 were also retained by Armchair for use on the K50.
675 had been sold to Ventura back in June 2002, but was reacquired to act as a reserve during the autumn and winter.
676 and 693 were retained by Armchair as reserve buses.
But when January 2003 came the axe fell anew. All but 693 departed, either back to Dawson Rentals or to Blythswood of Glasgow.
Countryliner of Guildford then took 682, 686 and 688, and others went to operators in various places.
Several found their way to Stansted Transit, of which five went to Olympian / SM Coaches of Harlow in September 2007.
Now with SM Coaches of Harlow, DP678 heads out of Hertford in June 2009.DP693 stayed on until August 2005, through the takeover with Metroline, and was eventually sold through Ensigns to Carters Coaches of Ipswich.
DA140-152: AlexandersThirteen dual doorway Alexanders came to Brentford in May 1999 for route 209 (Hammersmith - Barnes Bridge - Mortlake). They were in Armchair's distinctive orange, black and white at first. Strengthening work on Hammersmith Bridge prevented Armchair from taking over the 209 on time, so they had a temporary exchange of routes, with the new Alexanders going to work on London United's route 49 while that company continued on the 209 until the weight limit on the bridge was lifted.
The Alexanders continued on the 209, and were repainted red with a black skirt to satisfy TfL in 2004, when the tender for the 209 came up for renewal. In nice fresh new paint they appeared frequently on the E2 and E8, alongside the newer DPs.
DA141 rounds the corner at Hammersmith on the 209, October 2001.Metroline took over Armchair in November 2004, but this had little impact on the DAs. They stayed put. From 2007 they began to appear with blue skirts instead of the black. But they stayed on the 209.
Late in 2009 they started to go into store at North Wembley, prior to disposal.
The last was returned to Key Leasing in January 2011.
Plaxton MPDs: 549 and DP 962The temporary contract for the 49 in May 1999 posed some problems for Armchair, as the thirteen DAs were not enough for the vehicle rquirement of sixteen. For the start Armchair improvised, using spare vehicles from other routes, but quickly hired three MPDs from Dawson Rentals. T546/8/9 HNH operated in dealer white. In October the 209 was taken over, but two of the MPDs were retained, and a further five 10.7m SLFs were hired, for the seasonal K50 Kingston Park& Ride service. The MPDs were found to be too small for the Park & Ride, and were redeployed to the 237 while double-deckers substituted on the K50.
When the K50 contract terminated T549HNH was retained again, on a longer lease. It was repainted in orange, black and white, and appeared on the 117 and 190.
In May 2001 it was redeployed on the 485 (Kingston - Richmond). It was decided to replace it permanently, so in July it returned to dealer white, and in August was returned to Dawsons. It did reappear at Armchair, briefly, for the 2003 K50 contract.
962 was the replacement MPD for the 485, arriving in July 2001. It was duly given fleet number DP962 in February 2002, and was taken over by Metroline in November 2004.
In July 2006, still orange, it was transferred to Potters Bar, where it was to be found on the 84, 234, 242 and W9. A repaint into the then current Metroline livery, with pale blue skirt, followed in September 2006.
In March 2007 it moved to Brookdell Yard, Garston, which Metroline was using as an outstation to service the 346.
It was withdrawn in February 2009, and was sold straight away through Ensign Bus to Carters Coaches of Ipswich.
Plaxton Pointer 2 10.1m: DP1001-1048DP1001-1008 arrived in September 2001 for the newly extended 117 (Staines - Isleworth - West Middlesex Hospital), taking over from older Armchair Darts. This initial batch of Pointer2s arrived in Armchair orange with black skirts.
DP1009-1016 came four months later, in January 2002, for the 190 (Richmond Bus Station - West Brompton) These wore the new livery of red, with a black skirt and orange upswept band.
DP1017-1048 arrived in May to August 2002, and displaced the "shoebox" early Dart SLFs DP675-699 from the E2 and E8, which although only five years old only had single doorways. TfL was insisting on dual doorways.
DP1049 was a late addition, in September 2004, to cover an increased requirement on the 209.
They were all taken over by Metroline in November 2004. Metroline livery followed in 2006-7.
After that a few strayed away from Brentford, but mostly they stayed put until 2009-2010,
when they were gradually taken out of service for return to Dawson Rentals, replaced by new EnviroDarts..
HiresArmchair was a company used to leasing its buses, mainly from Dawson Rentals. But in addition to its long-term leases there were a number of short-term leases, especially for the annual short-term contract for the K50 Park & Ride service between Chessington World of Adventures and Kingston during the Christmas and New Year shopping frenzy in the late 90s/early 00s. These tended to be Dart SLFs in dealer white, but with large vinyls on the sides advertising their service. In 1999 the hired MPDs proved too small, and were substituted by double-deckers, going themselves onto the 237 during the hire period.
Other short-term hires covered periods of repainting, and included LDP38 from London General and DLF119 from Thorpes (who had it on hire from Mitcham Belle!). There were also instances of hires until the required new buses became available..