This page created 12th June 2005.
by Ian Smith
When I started writing about the Leyland Olympians of the London area I did not expect it to take long. There were the London Buses L class, of course, plus London Country's LR class, plus a few odds and ends. I had not anticipated just how extensive those "odds and ends" were, involving another fifteen bus companies at least buying Leyland Olympians from new. There were variations in body style too, with the basic ECW shape being subsequently built by Leyland, Roe and Optare, several styles of Northern Counties bodywork and Alexanders in low and high form. Then deregulation in the London hinterland led to a shifting sea of contracts and companies, with failures, successes and takeovers. The Olympians changed hands, and liveries. It became a fascinating study for me, over a space of three years, during which time they have disappeared from routes tendered by Transport for London. They could long be found in parts of the London periphery - Arriva never throws anything away if it works and makes money - where the step-entrance was still acceptable, or on rail replacement contracts.
A London Olympian on a typical London duty, threading a way through Oxford Street on the 176 to suburban Penge. Others have been moved out to the London periphery, like L16 (now 5836) with Arriva The Shires. Still with ex-Routemaster cherished plate it wears the Arriva turquoise and cream lightly over its London red as it waits in Hertford Bus Station for another trip on the outer-urban 311 route to Enfield. (both June 2004).