Prepared on Wordpad by Ian Smith,

This page created 20th February 2017.


Crystals was a small operator in Dartford, who developed a network of Mobility routes on behalf of London Buses, in the south-east of London. They had a substantial fleet of Mercedes Benz midibuses. In 2000 they took on three Optare Solos: a demonstrator from Optare, plus two new seventeen seater buses with 5 wheelchair spaces.


In May 2001 Crystals gained a tendered bus route, the Bexleyheath B14. For this two route they took on six 8.5m Solos, one a loaned demonstrator from Optare, which ran in demonstrator silver/blue, and five new, in London red. They made sporadic appearances on Orpington route R7. The R7 was subsumed in December 2001 into a new route R6, which linked Orpington and St.Mary Cray Stations by a different routing from the B14. The takeup of the R6 prompted Crystals to acquire another 8.5m Solo: YJ51JWW.

Mobility Solo W442CWX was converted to normal B30F configuration and repainted red for use on R6 and B14.

  • B14: Orpington Station - St.Mary Cray - Queen Mary's Hosp. - Sidcup - Blendon - Bexleyheath Shopping Centre
  • R6: Orpington Station - St.Mary Cray - St Mary Cray Stn

Crystals bought another two Solos in January 2003 for a private NHS contract for a staff shuttle between Guy's Hospital and St.Thomas's Hospital. MW52PYS and MWS52PYT were 8.5m Solos in white.

Tellings-Golden Miller, Dartford

In August 2003 Tellings-Golden Miller took over the bus operations of Crystals, including the red and Mobility Bus Solos. Operation by Solos of the R6 and B14 continued. The buses gained "Tellings-Golden Miller" fleetnames along the cant-rail, and were numberd by T-GM.

Solo YJ51JWW, originally Crystals, and now Tellings-Golden Miller, continues to work the B14 between Bexleyheath Shopping Centre and Orpington Station. There it rests between duties, alongside Metrobus Scania OmniCity 522 on the 358 to Crystal Palace, and RT3148 on a Running Day 471 to Knockholt Pound, July 2004.
Solo YJ293PDN was parked in the background at Orpington Station when I took this picture of RT3148 on another Running Day 471

Metrobus, Green Street Green

394, 396 for Kent, Surrey

Metrobus of Orpington in October 2002 bought a 8.5m Solo. 394 was for Kent County Council services in the Edenbridge area, working out of Godstone. It wore an overall yellow livery and had a rear-mounted bike rack. Another, 396, arived in January 2003, this time in Metrobus country area blue and yellow. Its usual home was the 409.

Solo 394 operating the Sunday 401 between westerham and Tunbridge Wells, approaching Sevenoaks Station, May 2005. Note the bike rack on the rear.

Solo 396 visited the East Grinstead Running Day in April 2003.
394 and 396 stayed in service from Godstone until that closed in February 2006, when they moved to Crawley. Their contract with Kent County Council expired in April 2006. 394 was returned to Kent County Council, who used it on the Edenbridge routes, then passed it on to Kent Top Travel who did the same.

396 was transferred to sister company Brighton & Hove, where it donned cream and red and number 301.

Metrobus takes over R6 and B14

Metrobus took over the R6 and B14 from Tellings-Golden Miller in March 2005. It took the six 8.5m buses on loan from T-GM, plus the two longer 9.2m buses, and renumbered them. The Dartford base was not included, and neither were the two NHS contract buses. The red Solos were transferred to the main Metrobus garage at Green Street Green.

The ex-T-GM Solos were returned to T-GM in April 2006, their place on the R6 and B14 taken by Darts transferred from Croydon. The three 9.2m buses, including the ex-demonstrator and five of the six 8.5m buses went on to T-GM at Colchester (Burton's) and/or Classic Coaches of Annfield Plain near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The other 8.5m bus went to Arrivsa North-East, where it rubbed shoulders with those at Annfield lain.

Solo 191 on the B14 to Bexleyheath, in Orpington, July 2005.

Tiny Solos for R8

There were a few months in 2006 when Metrobus had no Solos. But in December 2006 two very small Solos, arrived: slimline SEs, just 7.1m long. These were for the R8, from Orpington Station to Biggin Hill, via Downe, traversing some narrow, high-hedged lanes. They replaced a pair of Sprinters that had come from T-GM.
  • R8: Orpington Station - Orpington High Street - Green Street Green - Downe -Keston Church - Leaves Green - Biggin Hill Airport - Biggin Hill

Solo 101 on display at the Cobham Bus Gathering at Chobham, April 2007.
The little Solos chugged back and forth along the R8 - close to the London Loop long-distance orbital path around London. and along lanes travesed by me on my bike many years previously - until April 2017, when they were replaced by Streetlites. The two little buses went to Ensign Bus & Coach in June/July.

Ian's Bus Stop Solo index Solo text. Solo histories. Solo photos.