Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created 7th March 2006.

Jubilee, County, Sovereign and Luton

The situation north of London in the early days of deregulation was particularly fluid. London Country North-East had been split up in January 1989 into Sovereign and County. Sovereign operated in St.Albans, Hatfield Welwyn and Stevenage, while County was at Hertford, Harlow and Grays. Competition was fierce, with Jubilee Buses operating at Stevenage, Welwyn-Hatfield line at Welwyn and Buzz at Harlow.

Jubilee

Jubilee Lynx Jubilee bought seven Lynxes during 1987 and 1988, having the first as a demonstrator in April 1987. Jubilee had developed from the contract bus operator Contractus, and had won several tendered operations in Stevenage using second- hand Fleetlines. These had been replaced by new Metroriders and Lynxes. The Lynxes were a distinct step forward in quality, and were put to work on Stevenage work 8 and route 312. Livery was white, with a very dark bottle green skirt (I think).

Whether it was the acquisition of the new buses putting a strain on the finances, their higher profile presenting the company as a serious threat, or other factors, I don't know, but the company was taken over in January 1989 by the fledgling Sovereign company. The Lynxes were divided up between the old LCNE companies, three staying with Sovereign and four going to County Bus.

Sovereign continued to use 603, 970 and 358 in Jubilee livery for a while. They even appeared on express 797 to London. But Sovereign did not stay with the Stevenage operations very long. In May 1990 they, with 603 and 970, were bought by Luton & District.

ex-Jubilee Lynx The other four were loaned to County Bus, which sent them to Grays. The new shopping pit at Bluewater was just starting up, and County used the new Lynxes on a series of commercial routes linking to the new centre. They acquired County livery of cream and green, with Thameside fleetnames.
However, they did not stay with County permanently, returning to Sovereign later in 1990.


County LX251-258

County Lynx It seems that County must have been impressed by the Lynxes, as they ordered eight new ones for delivery in July 1990. These were for a London contract: route 66 (Romford Stn - Leytonstone). As such they had stepped floors (ie with a flat front floor rather than a ramped floor). They were based at a new outstation at Debden, with oversight from Harlow. They went into service in August 1990.

They were displaced in January 2001, when five went off to Arriva Colchester and 254, 255 and 258 transferred to Arriva The Shires at High Wycombe or Dunstable.


Sovereign

Sovereign Lynx Sovereign bought seven more stepped-floor Lynxes in October 1989. At the same time they reacquired those loaned to County. The Lynxes were used on a variety of routes, but were frequent performers on the trunk 300 route (Heme Hempstead - St.Albans - Welwyn - Stevenage), even though that had lost the Stevenage - Hitchin section. In 1990 they became the star performers on the 734 (Watford - Welwyn - Stevenage - Hitchin). This lasted until 1996, when new Volvos with Wright-built low-floor bodies took over the 300 and the 734. The Lynxes were retained, and used on humbler duties. Apart from one which was sold, this batch stayed in service, mainly at St.Albans, until August 2002, when they were again replaced by the Volvo/Wrights in a further cascade.

In 1993 Sovereign transferred in six more Lynxes from Blazefield's Keighley & District. Lynxes and Beavers became the standard buses for St.Albans operations, with Olympians used when necessary. More Lynxes followed during the decade: one from Harrogate & District in 1993, another in 1995 and two more in 1997.

Sovereign Lynx The livery too was modified in line with Blazefield Group ideas, with a strong black body band, a deeper skirt and a stronger fleetname.

In 2000 there was a shake-up. Seven Lynxes - six imports plus one of the orignals - were sold to C&M, Aintree, and another four arrived from Yorkshire. Transfers between Hertfordshire and Yorkshire continued. Lynxes worked the 357 (SA) and 366 (HF). Until September 2002. Then the last nine were swept away by the arrival of nine Alexander-bodied Volvos from Lancashire United.

At least, it was assumed that they were gone, but 281-4 were in store at Burnley & Pendle. First 281 came back to cover for an accident victim in March 2003, then 283 returned in April and the other two in May. They worked on on the 384 and SB33 from Stevenage, routes acquired from London Transit. But new Darts arrived in August, and the Lynxes headed north to Harrogate, back into store again.


Luton and District, The Shires

The Shires' Lynx Luton had bought five Lynxes (400-404) in July 1989 for its Luton & Dunstable operations, in red livery. In May 1990 they took over Sovereign's Stevenage bus operations, and with them two of the ex-Jubilee Lynxes, (11 and 13, now 405-6). These were followed by another four new buses (407-410) in October 1990.
The expanding company rebranded as The Shires in April 1995, following which the Lynxes adopted the yellow, blue and stone livery, with appropriate local branding for Luton & Dunstable or Chiltern Rover.


bus histories. LX photo refs.

Ian's Bus Stop LX Contents. Boro'Line, Kentish Bus. Hillingdon, London Buses.