Prepared on Wordpad by Ian Smith,

This page created 9th February 2024.

Mitcham Belle

Mitcham Belle was a south London coaching company that dipped its toe into London route tendering in June 2001 with a successful bid for route K5.

K5: Ham - Kingston - New Malden - Raynes Park - Morden Stn

For the route it acquired four new 8.5m Optare Solos, which it had painted in company livery: white, with red roof and blue skirt. They arrive in September 2001. The interim was filled by four Darts hired from London General (DR41,45,51,52). The Solos settled down to unremarkable - and little photographed - service on the back-streets route. An extra Solo was obtained in March 2004 from Thames Travel. It was used at first on staff duties.

The company had problems maintaining its fleet, and in August 2004 was taken over..

Centra OS1- OS5

Central Parking Systems was a company rapidly expanding around various airports, and in August 2004 stepped into London tendering with its takeover of the ailing Mitcham Belle company, including the five Optare Solos (and a horde of other buses). Centra undertook a massive engineering task at it Beddington depot to try to pull the fleet into shape. But it still had staffing difficulties, and the K5 continued to underperform, despite new coats of red paint with a silver band and blue skirts. They buses received numbers OS1 to OS5, although even here there was a mixup at first: what should have been OS3 was first numbered OS2. Buses received depot codes of MC.

The Solo operation only lasted until February 2006, when it was taken over on a temporary contract by London United.

The Solos went into store, and then OS1-OS4 went to Ensign Bus for sale. OS5 went to Optare. They were not bad buses, and went on to have careers around the UK for the next decade or so.

Ian's Bus Stop Solo index. Solo text. Solo histories. photo references.