Sunday 19 May 2024

Happily Working in High Wycombe (5)

Readers may remember a major development from Carousel. It was a rebranding of several routes under the intriguing heading as above. The routes served the Chilterns geographically and were numbered in a 1xx series. The name was doubly clever because is called to mind a rather weird aspect of the UK's Parliamentary procedure. fbb did expound at the time of the change but will reproduce the appropriate paragraphs again here.
How many of Carousel's customers are aware of this is unclear - but it is still a clever, and more importantly, a distinctive name. And it looked good on the  buses, too.
The first network was a bit like this.
Later the 102 was extended to Heathrow ...
... a destination which had been abandoned since the heady days of the A40 etc.
fbb is not going to chart the subsequent developments, but will move on to the network in 2021,
Today, the 105 has gone but the rest remains much as was in place in 2021.
The first thing to note is that a combined frequency of every 15 mins (Mon to Sat) operates between Hugh Wycombe and Beaconsfield.
The newest arrival in the network is the 106 and 107. The two routes offer an hourly frequency between Amersham (map top left) ...
... and Gerrards Cross; then following different wiggles southbound ...
... to Slough, each wiggle operating every two hours.
Once upon a time Arriva (you may have heard of that company) ran a route 353 from Hemel Hempstead to Slough over most of Carousel's route, but a detailed investigation is well outside fbb's pay grade!
Any route via the delightfully named Stoke Poges is worth of a mention in an fbb blog. Indeed the 353 was once a London Transport country area bus ...
... with Stoke Poges on the blind.

In the name Stoke Poges, stoke means "stockaded (place)" that is staked with more than just boundary-marking stakes. William Fitz-Ansculf, who held the manor in 1086 (in the grounds of which the Norman parish church was built), later became known as William Stoches or William of Stoke. Amicia of Stoke, heiress to the manor, married Robert Pogeys, Knight of the Shire 200 years later, and the village eventually became known as Stoke Poges.

Traditionally Thomas Gray's "Elegy" was written in Stoke Poges Churchyard but there is no evidence for such a claim. The only tenuous link is that Gray lived near Stoke Poges at the time the poem might have been written.

The other Chiltern Hundreds routes are all hourly and details are easy to find on Carousel's web site.

The exception is the 101 and 102.
These provide a half hourly frequency between  High Wycombe, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross and ...
,,, Uxbridge.
Here the 101 terminates and the 102 continues houry to Heathrow. At one stage the 102 was equipped with posh coaches ....
... initially in ex Oxford grey/silver, but later in a more Carousel-esque red.
There was some concern at the time that the vehicles, with a high step entrance, were unsuitable for what is, after all, a relatively bog standard bus route. 

It was probably the extension from Uxbridge to Heathrow that provoked the high floor luxury!
There is no doubt that "Chiltern Hundreds" has grown into a very strong and well-respected brand. fbb is not sure whether a different number for Uxbridge "shorts" is sensible, but maybe Carousel have their reasons.
So, faced with this excellent brand ...
...with added tourist emphasis ...
...what are Carousel doing?

First the good news. Route  101 will no longer terminate at Uxbridge. From the beginning of June it will be extended to Heathrow as route 102 giving a 30 minute frequency all the way.
Well done Carousel!

And now the bad news.

The Chiltern Hundreds brand is to be dropped, thus diluting the image of the 15 minute frequency between High Wycombe and Beaconsfield in favour of a new and very different image just for journeys to Heathrow.

The 102 will henceforth be branded Flightline 102.
It therefore joins the Reading buses Flightline 703 ...
... and Newbury Buses 730/731 (one route with two route numbers!).
Maybe we will see Go Ahead Oxford Bus' Airline rebranded as Flightline?
It would look nice in green!

What would Thomas Gray have thought as he waited morosely at Stoke Poges Church for a Carousel 106?
He might have written a poem "An Elegy for a Country Bus Route" which might have begun like this:-

New branding tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd of PR men have spoke,
The drivers homeward plod their tearful way,
The Chiltern Hundreds name is now a joke.

 Delayed Variety blog : Monday May 20th 


  1. Isn’t the ‘Flightline’ brand owned by Heathrow and used by them as part of their push for more bus routes to the airport. One assumes the extension and change of brand reflects it’s paid for by Heathrow?

    1. Correct. Heathrow is quite generous in its funding arrangements for buses to the airport.

  2. You seem to have missed another fairly recently change to the Chilterns Hundreds - the 103 now runs to Slough rather than Chesham. The brand has been largely defunct for some time in my experience - the 106 and 107 are interworked with the 41 so impossible to keep consistency there, and there is a great deal of variety in terms of allocation even on the 101-104.