London & Country Volvo Olympians

This page created 22nd February 2007 by Ian Smith

In between the avant-garde bodies on the Volvo Citybuses, and the Pyoneer bodies on later Olympians, East Lancs came up with a real horror. It seems to have been loosely based on the popular Alexander R bodies, but was fronted with a brutal grille that made the whole look like something dreamed up by a Sovblock designer with a bad case of vodka. The best thing about them was the London & Country Best Impressions livery of forest green, lime green and red.

London & Country bought the twenty Olympians in the autumn of 1994, four for the 406, and sixteen for the 403 and 400. The first four, 685-688, went to Leatherhead, and the next twelve, 689-700, to Beddington Farm, London & Country's Croydon base for their London operations. The last four 701-704, arriving in November, went to Leatherhead and replaced the first four.

L704 at Croydon, November 2000 East Lancs 1-door drawing

In November 2000 L704, still in London & Country livery, heads for Chelsham through Croydon.

L697 near East Croydon, September 2000 And there they stayed, for a while. The Beddington Farm operations were seconded to Londonlinks in January 1995, so that some of the buses acquired the slightly different Londonlinks livery when repainted, gaining an apple green roof and losing the top dark green stripe.

But all was not well with London & Country. Not least that they were losing their garages. Having sold off their garages to a property company to realise the capital to buy the company in the first place they were now finding the garages sold from under them, homes for people being more profitable than homes for buses.

The buses with Londonlinks reverted to London & Country during 1997.

In June 1997 the Leatherhead four needed a new home, and moved to the base at Merstham (which had "replaced" Reigate). They only stayed at Merstham until May 1998 before moving in to Beddington Farm.

L697, in Londonlinks apple green, with forest green skirt and red band, passes East Croydon on the 403 in September 2000.

Now Arriva began to play pass the parcel in organisational terms. London & Country was split up into fragments: Arriva Guildford & West Surrey, Arriva West Sussex and Arriva Croydon & North Surrey. All the surviving Volvo Olympians went to the last of these in June 1998.

Later in 1998 the 400 (Caterham - Warlingham) was transmogrified into the 466, operated by Arriva London South, and some of the buses were redundant at Croydon & North Surrey. Arriva Northumbria had a need for nine, so off went 685 - 693 in October. This left a gap at Croydon, but this was filled by secondhand Metrobuses that no-one else wanted. L700 gained turquoise and cream livery.

But in October 1999 Beddington Farm, with all its routes and buses was reorganised into Arriva London South. Now the buses started to gain red repaints, with Arriva horns on the front. The class of eleven vehicles was now - briefly - wearing four different company liveries!

East Lancs 1-door drawing L698 at West Croydon, November 2000

L698 is freshly repainted in Arriva London livery at West Croydon in November 2006.

L704, Leeds Bus Stn, August 2005

They were still in service on the 403, and with their management now stable they went on doing the same job, with apparently no hurry to repaint them, the last not being repainted until February 2001.

Low-floor buses, in the shape of DAF/Wright DWLs, ousted them from London service at the end of 2004, and the eleven all went north to Arriva West Yorkshire.

Two ex-London & Country Volvos in Leeds Bus Station in August 2005, 704 nearer the camera.

Bus Stop Volvos Kentish Bus bus histories photo refs Luton & District