Kentish Bus 557-559, 561-565Kentish Bus was an early purchaser of the Volvo Olympian. In 1994 the company was going through a rapid expansion, taking on central London tendered routes in profusion, and opening garage premises in London to take on the extra work. They won the contract for the 161 (Woolwich - Chislehurst), and for it ordered eight Volvo Olympians with single-doorway Northern Counties Palatine II bodies. The route was taken over in February 1994, and the company borrowed buses to start it off, before the Volvos arrived in April. They were painted in Kentish Bus maroon and primrose. Some received a livery like that on the Scanias and Leyland Olympians, some with rather more maroon amidships. They operated from a base in Deptford (LM).
Kentishbus Olympian with more maroon livery: rear is conjectural
Kentish Bus now found itself having to backpedal rather rapidly, having bitten off rather more than it could chew. Various routes went at the end of 1995, including the 161, which was passed over to Metrobus. The Olympians moved to Northfleet, where they worked alongside Volvo Citybuses to displace older Atlanteans and Olympians from the 96 (Woolwich - Dartford) and 269 (Bexleyheath - Bromley North).
The company's woes brought the usual response: corporate restructuring. The reshrunken Kentish Bus was lumped in with Maidstone & District for organisational purposes, and the fleet was accordingly renumbered to fit with the M&D scheme. The Volvo Olympians became 5557-5559 and 5561- 5565 in November 1997.
Takeover by the Cowie group and rebranding to Arriva Kent Thameside brought a new livery to the buses: turquoise and champagne is the posh expression.
January 1999 saw the loss of the 96 and 269 as well, to Stagecoach Selkent. 5563-5565 promptly went of to another part of Arriva Southern Counties, at Maidstone, while the earlier members of the batch stayed at Northfleet on commercial services: contracts, schools duties, the 700/701 express services between Gillingham and Bluewater and the X29 service to Bluewater from the Bromley area.
5557 was one of Northfleet's stayers. In November 2000 it was seen ascending Bromley High Street with an X29 to the Bluewater shopping emporia, while earlier in the year, in March, it crosses the Medway at Strood on a 701 - also to Bluewater.5565 returned to Northfleet in August 2000, but went again, along with 5561 and 5562 when the 700/701 services were transferred to Arriva Medway Towns, the three buses going to Gillingham depot with the route.
5559 was loaned to Arriva Kent & Sussex at Tunbridge Wells in March 2005, a loan which turned into a permanent transfer.
Older Palatine IsThere was an ongoing need for a scattering of double-deckers for schools contracts, and from July 2009 Arriva Kent Thameside kept a handful - or fewer - of Palatine Is culled from around the Arriva fleets, usually from Arriva Kent & Sussex, but with a few from Arriva Midlands. Some stayed. Some quickly departed when anticipated contracts failed to materialise.
5939 and 5940 came from Derby in July 2009, and settled at Northfleet.
5925 came to Horsham from Arriva Kent & Sussex in May 2009, and after transfer to Guildford stayed until sold in 2012.
5925 at Crawley Bus Station on the 898 to Southwater, September 2009.5943 and 5913 were allocated to Guildford for anticipated schools work in August 2010, but very quickly departed to Tunbridge Wells.
Likewise in 2012 5934 and 5935 spent a short while at Guildford before going to Tunbridge Wells.
5936 was transferred from Sheerness to Northfleet in May 2011 and became a regular performer there.
5936 on Christmas shopping duty at Bluewater on the 489 from/to New Ash Green, December 2013. Its roof-line has suffered somewhat.Bus Stop Volvos Harris Bus bus histories photo refs London & Country