Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 30th November 2005.

Beavering around the Fringes

The Reeve Burgess body on Mercedes chassis combination, known as the Beaver, was not the most used within the traditional "red bus" London companies, but it was well used round the London periphery.

The small company, Chambers of Stevenage, was one of the first, using D638KMM on Stevenage Superbus route SB10 in October 1987. Epsom Buses had experience of older Mercedes midibuses, and turned to the Beaver for its tendered operations in Surrey.

After that Metrobus of Orpington had a batch for their mini-Metro aggressive competition network in Gravesend, passing them on to Kentish Bus after the venture was not the anticipated success.

Eastern National was an enthusiastic user of the type, replacing the Bedford YMQs on the W9 in 1988, and then using both 709Ds and 811Ds for the W13 and W14 in spring 1989. They also used the types for tender operations in the Romford and Grays areas. In 1990 their London fringe operations were separated out as Thamesway, and many more Beavers were acquired. London Docklands saw wide-doorway 811Ds on the D8. First Capital took over Thamesway's LRT operations in August 1998, taking the relevant midibuses with the roputes.

County Bus bought - or borrowed - a fair number of Beavers for operations in Harlow and Grays, adding and subtracting as contracts changed the requirement on a fairly frequent basis. Survivors of their 709D MB class were taken on by Arriva East Herts & Essex in 1999. Meanwhile they had bought a dozen larger 811Ds for the W15, operated from Edmonton. These, their MD class, ended up in red livery with Arriva London North.

Sovereign Bus used both sizes in both their spheres of operation: Hertfordshire local operations in the Stevenage area, and London tendered operations at Harrow.

The Shires was a relative late-comer to Mercedes operation, but from 1995 was an enthusiastic operator of the type. Secondhand acquisitions had a variety of bodywork, but those bought new in 1995 and 1996 had the Plaxton Beaver style. They were used for country area tendered operations for the County Councils, and for New Town estate-penetration work.

London Buslines used 709Ds for the Chelsea Harbour route, C4, and larger 811Ds for the 201/203 between Hounslow and Staines.

Armchair used a 709D on Surrey-contracted route 564 and then a pair of 811Ds on the 501.

Capital Citybus started midibus operations in Fenruary 1992 with twenty 811Ds on five routes (plus other midibuses on two others). They also took over five 811Ds and a host of 709Ds from Thamesway when their Ponders End operations were taken over under First management in September 1998.

London & Country had been using other types of bodywork on its early Mercedes-Benz midibuses, but then settled on Beavers for longer buses and Alexanders for shorter ones. Later it bought 711Ds with Beaver bodies too. Its main batch of 811Ds with Beavers was bought for a London contract: the 367, which was then handed over to Londonlinks - with the buses. Arriva Croydon & North Surrey then took them on. 709Ds and 711Ds often had tail-lifts for a number of wheelchair-accessible contracts.

Tellings Golden Miller used a small number of 709Ds with Beaver bodies on their Epsom area contracts. When they lost these to Epsom Buses the buses were borrowed briefly by Epsom, but returned to take up other duties. T-GM also took over the Capital Logistics fleet, including the 709Ds with tail-lifts that Capital Coaches had bought for Hounslow's H28 route.

Kentish Bus and then Arriva Kent Thameside had some Mercedes-Benz too. They took over some with Carlyle or Dormobile bodies from Transcity, and later had a selection of small high-floor 609Ds with Plaxton bodies for staff ferry duties.

Buzz Co-operative at Harlow operated some 709Ds in their distinctive yellow and white livery.

Trustline at Hunsdon have had some occasionally.

Centrebus acquired some for St.Albans operations, some ex-Sovereign, and others from Keighley & District.

Centrebus 664 in St.Albans, January 2006 Centrebus 664 in St.Albans, January 2006

Centrebus 664 is a Beaver secondhand from Keighley & District. In January 2006 it was busy in St.Albans on the 304.

Part Three: Epsom Buses.

Ian's Bus Stop Midibus index. MT main text. histories. photos.