London Buses bought twenty-seven Volvo Citybuses - Volvo B10M-50s - at the end of 1989 for use on the tendered route 133 (Liverpool Street - Tooting Broadway. They carried Northern Counties dual-doorway bodies with central staircases and split-level entrances, those being the London fashions of the moment. Livery was London Buses' red with grey skirts and a white tape between the decks. They wore the Ole Bill emblem of the London General district, and operated from Stockwell Garage.
The first three, VC1-3, were fitted with coach seating on both decks, for the newly-allowed private hire business, while the next three, VC4-6, had the coach seats only upstairs and across the rear of the saloon. With underfloor engines, they had a good capacity of 80 seated plus up to 13 standing.
A further identical batch of eleven was delivered in June 1990 for use on the 196 (Norwood Junction to Brixton). These also went to Stockwell. One more was bought at the back end of 1991: VC38 had a very similar body, distinguishable by marker lights above the cab.
Quite a few were given cherished registration plates from Routemasters.
A study of VC26, at the South Kensington terminus of route 49, in March 1999. Below right - a perhaps more typical view of the class: VC35 on crosses London Bridge on the 133, September 2000.
Privatisation in November 1994 saw them all go to London General, not surprisingly. Livery acquired their minor embellishments: darker grey skirts, yellow trim lines, and orange London General banners.
Most of the class had a totally unremarkable existence in London, remaining at Stockwell all their days. The exceptions were those with coach seats, which were eventually pulled out into the special events fleet, and stationed at New Cross or Sutton (where they appeared also on the 293). This followed a reduced requirement for the fleet on ordinary duties when the retender for the 196 was lost in 2001. VC7-9 were sold at that stage. The rest stayed on duty until the first half of 2002, when they were displaced by buses to the new fashion: low floors. The bulk of the fleet then passed to Pete's Travel in West Bromwich. The private hire fleet went in September 2002, VC1-3 becoming farm workers' transports of delight for Grampian Country Foods.