Sovereign Volvo B10B/Wright Endurance, B6LE/Crusader B10BLE/Renown,
This page created 17th August 2014 by Ian Smith
B10B/Endurance, 101-110, 112, 169-172In 1995 Sovereign updated its offering on trunk route 300 (Stevenage- Welwyn Garden City - Hatfield - St.Albans - Hemel Hempstead). The Leyland Nationals were replaced by Volvo B10B-58s with Wright Endurance bodies. Wright had introduced this distinctive body style with the Endeavour, and was to develop it with a range of models as the company pioneered low-entrance, low floor single-deckers over a period of twenty years. The Endurance was not low-floor. It had a step inside the door, but it did have a wide entrance and a kneeling capability.
Sovereign took five in 1995 (101-105) for the Stevenage trunk route, with 49 coach seats and a distinctive livery: blue and white with prominent (if not very elegant) route branding along the sides. The first few had their radiator ahead of the rear wheels, like a B10M, but the later ones had the cooler group at the rear. Several years in they received the Blazefield group livery with a deeper blue and red band, which looked much better.
A further six arrived in 1996/7, for the 734 (Hemel Hempstead - St.Albans - Welwyn G.C. - Stevenage - Hitchin). These were also route-branded, with a black band between the white body and blue skirt, a black diamond amidships on the black band, with 734 in white.
They were displaced onto more local duties in 2000 when the Renowns took over the 300/734 routes.
These six were disposed of in late 2003 / spring 2004, 106-110 to Strathtay Scottish and 112 to The Delaine. They were replaced by four similar buses from Harrogate, where they had been used on the trunk 36 route between Leeds and Harrogate. They became Sovereign 169-172. (Other replacements at this time were ex-Huntingdon 124 and 127, but these were low-floor B10BLEs (see below).)
Arriva bought the survivors in January 2005, and gradually they were repainted in corporate turquoise and cream - although this took some time. 101-105 became Arriva the Shires 3840, 3845-3848, and were repainted into Arriva turquoise and cream. These five were sold in 2009, 101 and 102 going to Jim Bell in Hull and the other three to Stephenson's of Easingwold.
3846 now in Arriva livery, enters Stevenage Bus Station in June 2006 on the 101. On a bright January day in 2008 3847 is back on the 300, heading through St.Albans for Welwyn Garden City.
169-172 became Arriva 3849-3852. Their repaints in 2006 saw them into the new interurban blue.blue livery, with Centraline 300/301 branding. That saw them through to August 2009, when they were repainted, still in interurban blues, but without branding. They moved to High Wycombe, where they took over the Reading and Oxford routes 850 and 851. They were sold for scrap in autumn 1012.
B6LE/Crusader 2, 601, 602-604, 606-608By 1997 Volvo was offering an updated B6 in a low-floor version: the B6LE, for those who wanted a shorter bus than the B10BLE. Sovereign took just one in March 1997, 601, fitted with a 38-bus seated Wright Crusader body. It was for the 383/384 routes (Stevenage - Walkern - Benington - Dane End - Ware - Hertford).
Six more - 602-604, 606-608 - were ordered, and arrived in March 1998. Five had a revised Sovereign livery, being pale cream and blue with a black skirt and red trim. 608 wore red and cream, and was lettered for the Welwyn-Hatfield Line. They went to St.Albans garage at first, but were often transferred to and from Hatfield garage as work required..
601 was route-branded in 2001 for The Great Ashby Link: routes SB31,32.
They were all bought by Arriva the Shires in January 2005, and were repainted turquoise/cream in June that year, receiving numbers 3240, 3241, 3245, 3248, 3249, 3298, 3299. They collected at Stevenage (Babbage Road), especially when Hatfield garage closed in August 2005. They were displaced in September/October 2009, being repainted in interurban blue/blue. All but two went west to High Wycombe. 3241 went to Harlow to join 3249, which had migrated there two years earlier, both passing on to Arriva Scotland West in 2011..
3249 passes through Stevenage Old Town on an SB8 service in June 2007.Those at High Wycombe were withdrawn during the first half of 2012, having given a creditable fourteen years of service.
B10BLE/Renown, 128-129, 131-134, 136-139, 140-145, 124, 127
129 heads out of Stevenage towards Hitchin in June 2003.The Renown was Wright's low-floor follow-on from the Endurance. Sovereign took ten (128-139 with gaps) in spring 2000 for the 300/734 routes, route branding them above the windows in a much more elegant way than on the Endurances, which were displaced onto other duties, in turn displacing Lynxes and Mercedes-Benz minibuses.
The 734 was transmogrified into the 301, and the branding was amended to suit.
133 and 139 make their way through Hitchin on Sundays in June 2003 and 2004. Their 101 journeys to Hitchin belie their route branding.They stayed on the 300/301, with forays onto the 101, on into the Arriva era, becoming 3301-3310. In 2005 they were repainted into interurban blue/blue, with branding for the 300/301 Centraline, including a route bar on the sides.
3310 in St.Peters Street, St.Albans, in January 2007 on the Centraline branded 301. 3302 going the other way a year later.Eventually they were displaced by newer B7BLEs on the trunk routes, and were then used on the Stevenage Superbus network.
140-145 arrived in early 2002. They had been ordered for Blazefield Group's Lancashire United at Bolton, but that operation had been sold off minus these low-floor buses. So they arrived at Sovereign in fleet livery, with prominent branding for the SB1 (Bus Station - Chells - Poplars) along the cant rails. They featured dual-purpose seating as well as wheelchair spaces and full low-floor access.
They stayed on the SB1 at Stevenage. Arriva numbers were 3311-3314, 3322-3323. Arriva gave most of them interurban blue/blue livery with fresh SB1 branding, despite this being a purely Stevenage local route.
143 drives purposefully into Stevenage Bus Station in June 2006, still wearing Sovereign livery. A year later 3312 enters the bus station wearing interurban blue/blue with SB1 branding.
In 2009 the SB1 received a batch of new buses, and the displaced 140-145 went onto the Stevenage - Luton routes 100 and 101.
3314 shows the plain interurban livery worn for 100/101 duties, at Stevenage Bus Station in June 2010. 3323, in turquoise/cream, passes Luton Airport heading for Luton in September 2009.
124 and 127 arrived in the winter of 2003-4, both from Blazefield's Huntingdon operation. (124 had originated with Keighley & District). 127 did not stay long, heading off for the Group's Yorkshire Traction operation in January 2005. At that time 124 was bought by Arriva the Shires. It was numbered 3300, and given a green livery advertising PlusBus add-on bus tickets for rail travellers. It kept its blue and white front. Perhaps it was its green image, but it became a frequent spare on Green Line service 797 between Baldock and London, alongside much more up-market coaches. It lost the ad livery in favour of interurban blue/blue in April 2009, but still found itself going to London more often than its peers (Did it have a different gear ratio?).