Sunday, 31 May 2015

In The Loop or On the Loop? [2]

Stagecoach Loops

When fbb "were nobbut a lad" and British Rail had just electrified the line to Northampton, the less chubby one enjoyed many a cheap day out. Northampton to London was a "normal" 20 shillings and six pence and Margate, for example, was 21 shillings. That was London to Margate for a tanner AND the Underground was included.

So to Margate he went. There was a ride on an open topped bus, this one ...
... from Ramsgate to Pegwell Bay where, later, would appear a cross-channel hovercraft terminal.
But way back then, fbb-to-be was able to enjoy a feast of omnibological loveliness supplied by the East Kent Road Car Company.
This coach showed  the destination "Excursion 2". But the lad vaguely remembers a ride back to Margate on a frequent bus service (was it 25?) which seemed to go everywhere; Cliftonville, Broadstairs, Rams- and Margate.

It was this circular service that Stagecoach branded as "The Thanet Loop". With a large circular loop-with-a-blob on the vehicles and timetable leaflets.
In essence, the service was one example of that rarest of beasts, namely a genuine circular. Needless to say it has had a "brand refresh", losing its hoop loop in favour of some strange typography ...
...more of a Squiggle than a loop!
Back in the sixties, the lad thinks he remembers a bus every 10 minutes (?) which has grown in 2015 to eight buses an hour both ways round.
The route, however,looks much the same as it ever was.
Margate is top left, Ramsgate bottom right. Westwood (centre left) was site of the huge Triang (later Hornby) factory...
Click to enlarge and you may spot some loop predecessors passing the works!

Not to be outdone, Eastbourne has got a loop ...
... this time with a real genuine loop and not a squiggle.
And the colour is similar to First's Falkirk feature. 

fbb can remember travelling on this service only a few years ago but can't remember its pre-loop route number. Possibly 6?
Frequency is but half of its Thanet "twin" at every 15 minutes.
Two Stagecoach "loops" to First's one!

Scouring the deepest recesses of internet world, fbb found a third Stagecoach reference to loopiness; this time from The Wirral.
This "brand" did not appear to be for a particular route, but as a PR exercise when Uncle Brian bought Uncle Giles' buses in the area.
So First's loop in Falkirk is certainly not a scoop!

Who pinched that logo from whom? Or simply do great first minds and great stagecoach minds think alike?

 Next bus blog (29) : Monday 1st June 


  1. Thanks to Clive of Kent, "The Loop" was 8s, 9s, 98s, 99s before it was renamed. Prior to that it was even more complicated that I remenbered!

  2. Eastbourne was the 11 and 11A

  3. Correction, 13 and 13A

  4. The earlier East Kent 'circular' operation in Thanet primarily consisted of services 49 and 50 with variations which operated from Ramsgate via Broadstairs to Margate, Birchington and Minnis Bay. The direct service between Ramsgate and Margate via Westwood (bus garage) which completed the loop was the 52. All shown on one timetable but change of bus required to complete the loop.

    When in 1985 East Kent declared their commercial deregulation operation the Thanet network was simplified into two basic services, which if memory serves me correctly were extended beyond Birchington to Canterbury and operated by bread vans. KCC tendered for infill services which because of the number of places and areas that were not covered by the commercial registration , resulted in an almost parallel route around most of the island (plus some others). The list of services, variations, changes etc is too long for here and I no longer remember the exact detail.

    It is amazing and a testimony to Stagecoach that they have been able to take what had been such a poor network and develop it to this degree.

  5. There were 5 circular services in Eastbourne between 1986 and early 2000's the 11/11a,12/12a,13/13a 14/14a and the Evening and Sunday only 15/15a.These were discontinued in the latter part of the 2000's due to concerns over timing reliability caused by the Level crossing at Hampden Park(one of the busiest in the country) and circular services were replaced by a linear network.
    The Eastbourne loop was introduced by Stagecoach when it purchased Eastbourne Buses and merged it with it's other local purchase ,Cavendish Motor Services.
    The main Eastbourne Loop route is a combination of the 11/11a,Eastbourne to Lindfield Rd via the Lewes Rd & District General Hospital,the12/12a Lindfield Rd to Lottbridge Drove(B&Q) via Hampden Park Station and Winkney Farm and the 13/13a Lottbridge Drove(B&Q) to Eastbourne via Langney, Langney Point and Seaside.
    There are late evening variations to The Eastbourne Loop via Old Town en route to the Hospital(formerly the 12/12a route and via Shinewater between Lottbridge Drove(B&Q) and Langney the former 11/11a route.

  6. Actually it was only with the introduction of The Loop that the Thanet service became a true circular. Prior to this it was, at best, a frying pan of some sort. Buses from Westwood rarely ever turned right at Margate to head towards Cliftonville.
    At the time of the original visit, the 52 (right numbers remembered, wrong order) was the direct Ramsgate-Westwood-Margate service, which at Ramsgate usually turned into a 49 or 50, to amble back to Margate via Broadstairs, then on to Birchington.
    My summer 1964 timetable gives the frequency as every 10 minutes, increased in the high summer to every 7.5 minutes (and providing employment for a substantial number of student conductors).
    The 8, 9, 88, 99 and assorted other numbers were introduced at deregulation, when service 8 from Canterbury to Margate formed one of the westerly extensions.
    Eastbourne's Loop actually derived from a Cavendish service, after Eastbourne Buses had given up running such routes.
    And there's one more example to my knowledge:

  7. And, not wishing to be outdone by the other major groups, Arriva will be introducing a 'Loop' in Medway from the 12th July!

  8. Go North East's has been running for at least 7 years - and they have an Orbit too. That's like a loop but higher.

  9. So basically what we are saying is that First have copied everyone else but as per normal haven't quite done such a good job and it's with lousy frequency.

  10. The logo? The Co-operative Bank used it for many years, joining the "o-o" in that figure of 8 manner.