First Marshall Capitals: DMS, DM, DMLThe Marshall-bodied Darts were not Centrewest's first SLFs; they had taken some over from London Country, and bought some replacements. But just as Centrewest had preferred Wright's DW Handibuses to Plaxton's Pointer step-entrance Darts, so too they opted for the Marshall Capital as their preferred SLF design, in three lengths: short (DMS, 8.9m), medium (DM, 9.3m) and long (DML, 10.2m).
DM117-DM157: Ealing Buses 9.3mFor their Ealing Buses contract in May 1997 Centrewest opted for Marshall Minibuses (which didn't materialise on time), and forty-one 8.9m thirty-three seater single doorway DMs for the E3, E7 and E9. They were in red with a narrow yellow waist-band and Ealing Buses fleetnames, and operated from Greenford, replacing Renault RWs.
DM123 heads for Ealing Hospital on the 195, Bulls Bridge, February 2002. DM163 on the E7 approaching Ealing Broadway Stn, February 2002.After the run-down of London Buslines in June 2001, and the consequent move of eleven of their DMLs to Greenford, nine of the Greenford DMs (129-137) were moved west to Uxbridge for the 331.
Sixteen of these early DMs (117-128, 138-141) were transferred north to First PMT in Stoke-on-Trent More followed in October 2001, going to First Cymru in Swansea. In January 2003 seven (148-154) went to First Western National. More went to other parts of the First empire from May 2003.
633-653: London BuslinesIn August 1997 route 90 was divided into two parts. London Buslines retained the 490 section (Richmond Stn - Hanworth - Hatton Cross Stn), and bought nine DMLs (633-641) for it. Livery was London Buslines yellow with red and maroon bands. Their garage was Southall.
Similar 653 arrived in December 1997, followed by 642-652 in February 1998. These were for the 105, on which London Buslines had been using Plaxton-bodied DSLs on loan from London Country. Some were given blue sashes and route branding for the 105 (Heathrow Airport - Southall - Greenford).
645, minus most of its 105 sash, heads west from Ealing Broadway Station on the E7, February 2002.Southall lost the 490 in April 2001, so eight of the DMLs moved to Uxbridge for the U3, gained by First Centrewest on the same date. At the end of June the 105 was converted to double-decker, and nearly all the remaining DMLs at Southall went to Greenford, displacing DMs to Uxbridge. The fitting of ramps and repaints to red started, but not with any urgency.
A surprise in July 2002 was when DM634, still in yellow and wearing long-redundant 490 branding, was one of the buses sent to Rainham to cover for a shortfall of new DMLs there. Others began to be transferred away from London in September 2002.
After London 41647 found itself with First Essex. Here it visits Grays on a 200 from Basildon to Lakeside, December 2007.
DML165-DML200: Ealing and Uxbridge 10.2mDecember 1997 was the date for the start of an influx of DMLs. Eleven single-doorway 10.2m buses (DML168-178) arrived at Greenford for route 282 (Ealing Hospital - Greenford - Yeading - Northolt - Northwood - Mount Vernon Hospital).
DML165-167 followed to Greenford in January 1998.
In March 1998 Uxbridge started to receive DML179-200, twenty-two of the single-doorway 10.2m buses. The U4 was the beneficiary.
DML182 pulls out of Uxbridge Bus Station on route U2 in April 2004.Disposals started in spring 2003, some going to First Berkshire at Bracknell, and others to First Potteries. As single doorway buses they fell out of favour with TfL, and were replaced at Uxbridge during summer 2004 by dual doorway DMs from Westbourne Park. Some went to First Berkshire at Slough, where they converted the town's services to low-floor. Slough routes 41 and 43 had some buses branded and marked for Overground on Barbie livery.
DM158-DM164: Single Doors for GreenfordAnother seven of the medium length Marshalls, with single doorways, arrived at Greenford in April 1998, presumably for the E6.
Greenford kept them until May 2003, when they went to First Devon & Cornwall.
DM201-DM234: Dual Doors for 31 (Westbourne Park)The Wright-bodied step-entrance Darts (DW) used on Gold Arrow route 31 (Chelsea - Kensington - Notting Hill Gate - Kilburn - Camden Town) needed replacing, and in April/May 1998 dual doorway 9.3m DMs took over. Thirty-four buses came to Westbourne Park Garage with discrete Gold Arrow fleetnames.
Gold Arrow DM206 in Knightsbridge on the 31, when new.
These dual-doorway buses started to receive a strengthening panel ahead of the nearside centre door from early 2004. DM41201 to 41228 all went to First Glasgow late in 2004 or early in 2005. The rest of the batch (except fire-damaged 41231) moved east to Hackney Wick.
DM41232 rounds the Stratford one-way system on the D8 in April 2006. By now it has received mid-body strengthening ahead of the door, and an all-red repaint.
DML249-DML252: Hotel ExpressFour dual doorway 10.2m buses were bought in June 1998 for a specialist service serving hotels in the Marylebone and Marble Arch areas, connecting into the Heathrow Express service at Paddington Station. They were dressed in overall silver to match the trains.
The service only survived until September 1999. The four non-standard buses were withdrawn and sent to
Bristol Airport (owned by FirstGroup) to operate a similar service there.
DML235-DML248, DML253-DML256: dual doorway DMLsRoute 92 (St.Raphaels Estate - Ealing Hospital) was re-equipped with eighteen dual doorway DMLs in December 1998, based at Alperton.
These too started to receive a strengthening panel ahead of the nearside centre door, replacing the small window, from early 2004 and the entire batch moved west to Uxbridge.
They lasted until 2009, when they were dispatched wholesale to First Essex, First Glasgow and First West Yorkshire.
DMS257-DMS263: Short replacements for MLsThe Marshall ML integral midibuses at Greenford had not been a success. In March 1999 they were replaced by seven short, 8.9m, Capital-bodied Darts, DMS257-263.
They stayed in business until 2011, in a variety of locations, then most were disposed of, either to other First companies, or to the scrapman at Erith.
41259 hung on at Dagenham, as a go-anywhere spare bus.
DM264-DM306: More dual-door 9.3m for 28, 328 (Westbourne Park)May and June 1999 saw forty-three more DMs come to Westbourne Park for the conversion of routes 28 and 328 to low-floor Darts, as well as the night buses. The shortish Darts on this high frequency route were due to narrow streets and many parked cars. Livery was red with yellow-gold waist-band.
During 2004 Westbourne Park re-equipped, and these dual doorway DMs, many now with reinforcement panels ahead of the nearside centre doorway, went to displace single doorway buses, mainly at Alperton and Hackney.
The second half of 2011 saw them displaced by newer buses, and many went to the scrapyard at Erith Commercials. Some gained a new lease of life at First Glasgow.
DM41269 has moved east by April 2005: it sweeps round the Stratford one-way system on the 308. DM41300 has gone west by April 2004, to Alperton: it rests from the 223 at Uxbridge.
DML336: the Uxbridge singletonA single long single-doorway bus was bought in August 1999 for Uxbridge, matching those already there. It transferred right across London in March 2005, to Rainham, and moved on to the new Dagenham garage in December. Finally it went to First Berkshire in March 2011.
DMS337-361: DMSs for Greenford and OrpingtonNext, also in August 1999, came more of the short 8.9m buses to sweep away the remainder of the midibus fleets, twelve for Greenford (DMS337-348) and thirteen (DMS349-361) for Orpington, for the back-roads twisting 336 (Bromley North - Bromley South - Bickley - Southborough - Bromley Common - Locks Bottom).
DMS359 arrives at the Bromley North bus stance, unusually off the 61, April 2003.Four of the batch (DMS349, 352, 353, 356) moved to First Capital at Northumberland Park in the autumn of 2001 to bolster the 318.
DMS360 dives down East Street away from Bromley North Station on the 336, November 2000.Four of the batch that were at Orpington in December 2007 (DMS41355/58/60/61) were transferred to Metrobus at Green Street Green when their operations were taken over.
The remainder gradually departed the fleet: some in 2007, a sizeable number in 2009, and some in 2011, leaving just 41356 at Dagenham in May 2012 as a garage run-about.
DML307-DML329, DMS330-DML335: First Capital for DocklandsTwenty-three dual doorway 10.2m buses were bought in September/October 1999 by First Capital, for use on the Docklands routes D6 and D7, and six 8.9m buses in October 1999 for the D8. The new buses at Hackney wore a new livery: still red, but with a pair of twisted white and yellow bands along the sides: the "willow-leaf".
DMS331 calls at Stratford on the D8 when new, in August 2000, in the new livery.When Marshall went into administration in July 2002, so that Rainham did not receive new DMLs, four from Hackney (DML312-315) were provided by double-decking the D7. They returned to Hackney in February 2003, when Rainham received new buses, by now bodied by Caetano.
DMS330-335 were withdrawn from Hackney Wick in August 2004, for transfer to another First company.
DML41318 at Bow Church on S2, with RML2456 on route 8, June 2004. DML41311 on S2, DM41232 on D8, at Stratford Bus Station in April 2006.
DML41312 on S2 at Stratford Bus Station in May 2005. DML41321 on 236 at Hackney, April 2006.The short buses went to First Somerset & Avon in summer 2004, and the others were seriously culled in 2009, going to First Glasgow and First West Yorkshire. 2011 saw more head for the Erith scrapman, leaving a small number in service at Alperton into 2012.
DML362-380: DMLs for TramlinkNineteen long 10.2m dual-doorway buses were ordered in 1999 for the Tramlink services to complement the new Croydon Trams. They arrived before the tramway was ready, wearing a distinctive livery of red and white to match the trams. They were stored at Marshalls over the turn of the year, but in February 2000 ten were loaned to First Capital at Northumberland Park for the 212, and two were used temporarily at Alperton on route 258. Others visited First Buses in Manchester and Southampton.
In April most of the First Capital loans were moved to Dagenham, from where the T32 was to be worked at first. The others congregated at Orpington for the T31. The Tramlink system finally started in May 2000, along with the feeder services T31 and T32. The buses at Dagenham came "home" to Orpington in September.
Tramlink in New Addington, July 2000: DML367 on T31 and DML371 on T32.The Tramlink buses received a strengthening panel ahead of the nearside centre door during 2004, replacing the small window.
DML41363 on T31 at Addington Interchange, October 2005, together with a tram.
DML41358 and another on T32 at Addington Interchange, October 2005.
T31 was lost to Arriva London South in May 2007, leaving a requirement for three and a spare for reduced route T32. The others went into store for repaint, refurbishment and reallocation to Greenford or Alperton. Most had headed for the scrapman by the begiining of 2012.
Those remaining at Orpington, DML41373/74/75/80 were taken over by Metrobus in December 2007, becoming 385, 386, 383, and 384 respectively. Three, 384-386, were sent to Metrobus' garage in Croydon, and appeared on the 130. (Metrobus tried to avoid using them on the T32, for which it used its own Darts). 384 was allocated to the Green Street Green depot, along with all the other Darts taken over. Metrobus replaced them in January 2010, selling them to the Stafford Bus Centre. Three of them subsequently reappeared with new fronts at Grant Palmer's in Dunstable - in red and white livery!
Metrobus 384, erstwhile DML41380, climbs over the Shirley Hills in October 2008 towards New Addington.
DM681-687, DML718-728, DM688-690, DM697-700, DML729-738, DML740-745: First CapitalIn July 2000 seven 9.3m buses came to Hackney Wick for the 308, followed quickly by longer DML718-728 at Northumberland Park for the 212. In September/October Hackney Wick had a further influx, with DM688-690 and DM697-700, ostensibly for the W11 and DML729-738 and DML740-745 for the 236 and N236. The DMs helped out on the 236 from Hackney Wick until all the DMLs arrived in October, then switched to the W11 at Ponders End, displacing Alexander-bodied Volvo B6s. Then at the end of October DM698-700 moved back to Hackney Wick to work the 339.
DM687 on S2, Stratford Bus Station, May 2005.Ponders End was run down, operationally speaking, in June 2001. The W11 and W12 moved to Hackney, and DM688-690, 697 moved with them. Hackney Garage was closed in December 2007, to make way for the 2012 London Games. Hackney's large Dart allocation moved to a new site at Lea Interchange.
DM682 on D8, Stratford Bus Station, August 2002. DM41697 passes through Homerton on S2, April 2006The Lea Interchange buses were gradually displaced, tranches going in 2009, 2010 and 2011, for cascade or scrap, with a final withdrawal in April 2012.
DML381-402: DMLs for 295 (Westbourne Park)At the end of October 2000 First Centrewest took over the 295 (Ladbroke Grove - Shepherds Bush - Hammersmith - Fulham Bdy - Clapham Junction). Only three of the new DMLs had arrived, so four more were borrowed from Alperton. Also used were six Metrobuses, four Volvo B6s, a couple of Westbourne Park's DMs and DW170. The remainder of the new DMLs (except 384) arrived in November, with 384 arriving in December. They brought the new corporate livery to West London.
October 2001 at Hammersmith: DMLs 387 and 393 on 295 to Ladbroke Grove.These DMLs from Westbourne Park were nearly all transferred to Greenford in the winter 2002-3, when new Volvo B7TLs arrived. They stayed until the summer 0f 2009, when they were nearly all cascaded to First Cymru.
DM746-748: DMs for W11 (Ponders End)The three DMs ordered for the 339 arrived in December 2000. But as the 339 had already been equipped with buses from the W11 at Ponders End, the new buses were sent to complete the W11 establishment at Ponders End.
Ponders End was run down, operationally speaking, in June 2001. The W11 and W12 moved to Hackney, and these three joined DM688-690 and DM697 in the move.
DML751-772: DMLs for 257 (Hackney) and 296 (Dagenham)First Capital took another twenty-two DMLs in January 2001, fifteen to Hackney for the 257, and seven to Dagenham for the 296. The 257 (Stratford - Maryland - Leytonstone - Whipps Cross - Leyton - Walthamstow Central Stn) was converted during the latter half of January, and the 296 (Ilford High Road - Gants Hill - Little Heath - Romford Stn) during February.
But in November 2001 the 257 was converted to double-decker operation with TNLs. The displaced DMLs (751-764) mostly moved to Dagenham, except 756 and 758 which went to Centrewest. The Dagenham transferees were used on the 165 (Romford Market - Gidea Park - Hornchurch - Rainham).
All Dagenham buses (and services) were transferred to Rainham in March 2002. The batch became quite scattered between the First London garages. Some went to First Scotland East in 2011, others were withdrawn and/or scrapped.
DM773-788: DMs for Northumberland ParkSixteen medium-length buses came to Northumberland Park for the Southgate routes 299, W6, and W10, starting in February 2001. They stayed put at Northumberland Park until 2011, when they were cascaded away, many to First Glasgow.
Cockfosters Station, terminus of the 299: DM41778 in February 2011, DM41788 in May 2007.
DML403-431: DMLs for 331 (Uxbridge), R9 (Orpington) and 224/226 (Alperton)Uxbridge finally received its eight new DMLs (403-410) for the 331 in October 2001. This small batch all had ex-Routemaster registrations from new. They displaced the incumbent 9.8m step-entrance Plaxton Darts, which went to Southern National at Taunton.
Orpington had ordinary new-style registration marks on the four (DML411-414) it received for the R9, which displaced the rest of the D-class Darts, this time to Western National at Truro. 411-413 were still at Orpington when Metrobus took over in December 2007, but DML41414 had already moved to Willesden Junction.
Alperton had eight (DML415-422) in October for the 226, and a further nine (DML423-431) in November 2001, completing the 226 and converting the 224 as well, in both cases replacing DW Darts, many of which went to Swansea. These seventeen moved to Willesden Junction in March 2003.
These have been some of the longest-lasting survivors of the First DMLs. Several have become trainers.
DM432-449: DMs for 223, PR1, PR2 (Alperton)In November 2001 Alperton also received seven DMs for the 223. Alperton received another batch (DM439-449) for Park Royal routes PR1 and PR2 in January and February 2001, starting work in March. They all moved to Willesden Junction in March 2003.
They moved east to Dagenham in 2007, and on to Lea Interchange in 2008, staying there until the mass withdrawal in April 2012.
DMS790-795: DMSs for W19 (Dagenham)December 2001 saw the arrival of six short DMSs for Dagenham's W19 (Walthamstow - Leyton - Whipps Cross - Leytonstone - Manor Park - Ilford High Road). But they didn't stick to the one route, and were quickly seen on the 296 and 396 too.
All Dagenham buses (and services) were transferred to Rainham in March 2002. However, a new Dagenham garage opened in December 2005 and the Rainham allocation returned en masse. This batch became itinerant, popping up all over the First London system as needs arose, until withdrawal in April 2012.
DMS450-473: DMSs for R1, R11, 273 (Orpington)In January 2002 First won the 273 route from Selkent, which took First into new territory, along back-roads from Petts Wood through Chislehurst and Grove Park and on through Lee Green's back streets to Lewisham (Tesco). This had a vehicle requirement of 7, for which First put an appropriate number of new DMSs into Orpington. Ex-Roundabout routes R1 and R11 were also re-equipped with DMSs at the same time, needing a total batch of twenty-four.
DMS450 and DMS451 cross near Grove Park, going opposite ways on the 273, September 2002.
DMS465 at the R1 terminus, Green Street Green, July 2004. DMS458 emerges from Orpington Station on the R4, July 2005.
DMS41455 passes through Grove Park Bus Station on a 273 on its way to Lewisham, April 2006. Note the revised rear end treatment, without the black window surround or corner flutings.
DMS41461 turns left in Sidcup on the R11, July 2007. DMS41466 emerges onto Crockenhill Road on the R6, July 2007.In January 2007 Selkent reclaimed the 273, but this does not seem to have caused Orpington to lose any of the batch.
All twenty-four of this batch, that were at Orpington in December 2007, were transferred to Metrobus with the Orpington Routes. First was part-way through refurbishments and repaints for them, and agreed to finish the programme as part of the deal. DMS41450-41467 became 124-131, 138-147, and 132-137 at Green Street Green, working the Roundabout routes.
DMS474-491: DMSs for Rainham, Greenford, Northumberland ParkRainham should have had eighteen new DMLs for routes 364 and 499, in July 2001. But Marshalls had gone into administration, and the long buses would not be bodied by them. There were some outstanding DMSs, which trickled out as they were finished by Marshalls: three, 487-489 went to Greenford in June, and another four (474, 476-478) went to Rainham in July. To make up its shortfall Rainham received a mix of DMs and DMLs from around the system, from Hackney, Greenford, and Uxbridge.
Seven more (475, 479-484), went to Greenford in August 2001, and the last two DMSs (485-486) went to Northumberland Park for the 379. That Vario route was not physically ready for the Darts, so they started work in September at Rainham.
A new Dagenham garage opened in December 2005 and the Rainham allocation went there en masse.
41474 moved on to Northumberland Park in 2007, and was still there when Go-Ahead London took over the Northumberland Park routes in March 2012, and transferred between companies, becoming DMN 1.
The Dagenham buses, 41475-486, became the staple fare for route 193. The others of the batch went to First Cymru (2009) or First Glasgow (2011).
Orpington AbandonedIn December 2007 First pulled out of Orpington, surrendering its remaining routes there to Metrobus, and selling to Metrobus the buses currently operating them: thirty-five Dart SLFs, twenty eight DMSs and seven DMLs. Of the latter four were red and white Tramlink buses, which Metrobus put to work on the 130 from Croydon. The others were part-way through a refurbishment program, which First completed on the already sold vehicles. These continued to work in Orpington, but from Metrobus' garage at Green Street Green.
East London Line ReplacementFirst operated two bus routes replacing trains during the rebuild of the East London line for the Overground. One of the routes, ELW, was at first double-decker operated, but poor patronage resulted in their substiution by seven DMS Darts. These were specially branded: on all-red repaints they had yellow cant-rails bearing a route descriptor, and orange panels beside the destination displays. The seven were DMS41258/260/261 and 41350/351/352/354, which started operation in August 2008.
Wide-spread CascadeFrom 2002 onwards First London began to cascade older Marshalls out to the provinces, all over the UK. New contracts began to specify new buses, and after Marshalls ceased to be available First London began to take Caetano bodies (the DHL/DMCs). After them came new Plaxton-bodied Enviro Darts (also DMs and DMLs, but in the 44*** series). As the new buses arrived, the oldest Marshalls fled to the provinces, notably First Cymru, First Glasgow, First Edinburgh, First Manchester, First Devon & Cornwall and First Essex. The less-old Marshalls then transferred around in London to plug the gaps. Some, in secure peripheral niches, stayed where they had first been put.
Cockfosters Station, February 2011: DM41775 is still working from Northumberland Park on 299.
First Pulls out of London: Go-Ahead takes Dagenham squadIn June 2013 First Group divested itself of most of its London operations, variously to Metroline, Tower Transit or Go-Ahead London, according to geography. Go-Ahead took most of the Dagenham operations, including the 193, for which First handed on DML41427-41431 and DMS 41475-41486. These were given DMN numbers in the Go-Ahead fleet, mostly applied alongside the First number.
DM41475, now DMN7, at Romford Station on the 193, 13th November 2013. The following day DML41431 (DMN6) heads for County Park Estate, Upminster