Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 15th February 2012, updated 18th February 2015

Imperial Buses, Romford: Dart SLFs

Imperial Buses operated on the eastern fringes of the old Country Area, with local routes, school contracts and railway replacement services. The company had a history of using historical London bus types, such as Routemasters, an RT, an RTL, Titans, Metrobuses, Metropolitans and Dennis Darts.


Imperial DL81 sketch In early 2006 a Dart SLF was acquired. This was a 10.1m single-doorway bus that had been Metroline's DL81. It was painted in green and cream and put to work on the 32 (Chelmsford - Ongar). It also worked on the H1 (Harlow- Loughton). Both these routes were lost on re-tender.

Imperial started the 339 (Blackmore - Ongar - Brentwood - Warley) as a commercial route, competing against Stephensons on the 32. DL181 found a new home there, but it was a brief flurry, lasting just from September to December 2010, due to insufficient custom.

DL181 had a repaint into overall green with a single narrow cream band. Latterly it worked the TWH route 555. It was retired, a respectable fourteen years old, at the end of 2012.

Marshall Capitals

Imperial DMS sketch During 2008 Imperial bought a series of Marshall-bodied SLFs from Metroline. Three were short 9.3m models: DMS10 in January, DMS20 in June, DMS26 in August. Longer (10.2m) DML44 followed in October. They had individual variations on Imperial livery: DMS10 (later D710) received overall green with a narrow cream band - later the standard livery; DMS20 was overall cream with a green skirt; DMS26 was cream with a green skirt and roof; DML44 (later D874) was green with narrow green band. From photo evidence it seems that DMS10 and DML44 majored on the 32 and H1 routes, while the other two were mainly used on the Brentwood routes taken over from Clintona in summer 2008: 71/72 (Warley - Brentwood - Stondon Massey) and 261 (Blackmore - Warley). They also worked on Imperial routes 268/269 (Grays - Brentwood - Blackmore).

Later all four received the overall green with cream band livery.

In November 2011 Imperial surrendered its Essex contracts in Brentwood, and routes 71/72, 261 and 268/269 were taken over by Regal Busways. The two short Dart Marshalls (D520 and D526) that had been most closely associated with these routes were sold to Regal too, to continue operating the routes. The other short one, D710, was sold separately at the same time. D874 was retained.

Plaxton MPDs

Imperial MPD sketch In the summer of 2008, also to service the routes taken over from Clintona, Imperial acquired a pair of 8.8m Plaxton Pointers. These two - X371CUY from Burton's (ex National London) and SN05HDF (from Dawson Rentals, I think) - were dressed in in a pale milk colour, with green skirts and cantrails. The second bus was disposed of early in 2011, and the other was sold to Regal #Busways with the Brentwood routes in November 2011.

Another MPD for Thurrock services

Imperial DLM sketch Imperial gained more local bus work from April 2011 in the shape of Thurrock Council's route 11 (Purfleet Station - Aveley - Orsett - Chadwell St Mary), taken over in amended form from Clintona. This required a slight fleet expansion, and Imperial acquired another Dart SLF: ex-Metroline DLM155 (Y251NLK), an 8.8m MPD. This was painted in the dark green with narrow cream band livery, and decorated with Thurrock Council branding.

SLFs from London General

Imperial LDP sketch In May 2011 Imperial loaned ex-London General LDP46 from Ensign Bus, and used it on the 269. It was then loaned to Stephenson's of Essex for a cople of months, then was bought by Imperial in August. It was repainted into plain dark green (no cream band), with Thurrock Council markings.

Another ex-London General Pointer, this time a Pointer2 was LDP104, which was acquired by Imperial in September 2011. This one operated briefly for Imperial still in LG livery, but was then sold to Regal Busways with the Brentford routes in November.

A reduced fleet

VU52UEG at Grays Bus Stn, Dec7th 2013 The sale left Imperial with not much bus work (except Thurrock's 11), but also not many single-deckers. That was the situation for two years, with the company maintaining the 11, schools contracts and railway work. Some older buses were sold, including step-entrance Darts, and these needed replacements. Sometime during this period the company bought another MPD, that had originated with Happy Al's in Birkenhead, and had then seen service in Scotland. VU52UEG was painted in green, with Thurrock Council markings and cant-rail branding for route 11, that listed the major points on the route in white.
The 11 was extended to Basildon in April 2014, and the frequency increased, requiring more buses. Another Marshall Capital was acquired, this time from Ensignbus, where it had been 724. It had started with MTL London Northern and then Metroline as DML24/524. So far I don't know what livery it was given.
VU52UEG calls at Grays Bus Statation in the afternoon of 7th December 2013.

Regrowth: Imperial wins the 374.

In April 2013 Essex Council re-allocated the 374 (Grays - Basildon) from Go-Ride CIC, which consortium had only operated it for a year. The route came to Imperial, where there was now a need for more buses. VU52UEG lost its route 11 branding. A medium length (10.1m) Pointer 2, ex Metroline DLD138, was acquired and painted in the green with narrow cream band livery. Two MPDs, ex Abellio London 8052 and 8059, were given plain green. A long SPD, 11.3m, was presumably taken with school journeys in mind.

Imperial ceases London bus operation.

From April 2014 Imperial lost all its bus work, and surrendered its operating licence in August, by which time it had sold off all its modern buses, including the Dart SLFs.

Ian's Bus Stop Dart SLF index. Imperial SLFs. bus histories. photo refs.