Wednesday 15 May 2024

Happily Working in High Wycombe (1)

 Stop Press

Just announced : Arriva to close its operations in High Wycombe and Aylesbury. Details tomorrow.


It Started In Year 2000

A new and rare invencon knowne by the name of the royalle carousell or tournament being framed and contrived with such engines as will not only afford great pleasure to us and our nobility in the sight thereof, but sufficient instruction to all such ingenious young gentlemen as desire to learne the art of perfect horsemanshipp. [letter of 1673]

Maybe without the horses, the above could, just about, be a rather pompous description of a bus tide. The name was chosen by a new-start bus company operating a few oddments for Buckinghamshire County Council. But maybe the timeline can go back a but further.

High Wycombe was London Transport green bus territory ...

... later to be handed to the National Bus Company as "London Country".
It was privatised as London Country North West ...
...which begat Arriva. Another bit of the National Bus Company muscled in from the south ...
... and became the Bee Line Bus Company ...
... which was originally Thames Valley with a small depot on London Road.
Bee Line was sold on to Oxford Bus and branded Wycombe Bus.
In turn this operation was sold to, guess who, Arriva.

Are you still awake at the back?

So Arriva became king bus provider in High Wycombe. 

Thus it was that in year 2000 Carousal Buses began operating, initially with a bit of tender work.

But in 2003 this upstart started up a bus route from High Wycombe to Heathrow Airport, numbered A40 - possibly because it ran along the A40?

It was soon joined by a 740 variant, then a 730 from Chesham to Heathrow. The Carousel was making sweet music in the bus industry (sweet unless you were buses at Arriva!) And the company rapidly gained a reputation for quality.
Over the next few years things omnibilogical in High Wycombe were often in turmoil. There was competition between Carousel and Arriva; the two bedfellows had periods of grumpy coexistence and eventually learned to work together. Routes were swapped between the companies - both ways! - so, for example, Arriva's 52 from Hemel Hempstead to High Wycombe ...
... became absorbed into Carousel's route 1. And, yes, they did call it "Line" 1 for a while.
And, to confuse us all, Carousel ran a version if Arriva's 336 at some stage ...
... and this was a London Transport (green bus) route number.
It is all a bit too much for the old man's brain power. Best move on quickly before anyone notices the mistakes!

Carousel Goes Ahead

In 2012, Carousel was acquired by GoAhead and was to be "managed" by Oxford Bus complete with Thames Travel bought the previous year.

By way of interim conclusion, we need to seek evidence of this chummy working together idea. Arriva, not renowned for admitting anything about what other operators do, at least publishes a joint map for the High Wycombe area. Below is just an extract.
Carousel, however, publishes their own network map with no mention of Arriva; BUT, joy of joys includes all Arriva services on in its web site. Again just part of the list is shown below.
Also included in First's X74 from Slough.
Well done Carousel. 

There is now no direct competition between them and Arriva, so why not make it easier for passengers to access bus information in one place; thus encouraging the use of the bus for all?

And an extra thought. Part of London Country North West was branded "Choltern Bus" ...
...which, before being swallowed by the giant jaws of "corporate liveried" Arriva, carried the privatised brand of "Chiltern Rover" ...
...with a far better livery than either London Country North West or boring blue Arriva.

Tomorrow fbb will sample a few current Carousel routes of more than average interest.

P.S. Is Thames Valley's former depot now the KwikFit depot on London Road High Wycombe?
fbb is just guessing!

 Next High Wycombe blog : Thursday 16th May 


  1. fbb has almost got it right . . . LCNW was purchased by Luton and District, which was purchased by British Bus, which was purchased by Cowie (as in Grey Green), which re-branded as Arriva.

    Carousel was spawned by another local operator run by David Crowther (of Black Prince fame in Leeds), which was re-named Carousel by Steve Burns, and whose logo was based on the LCBS "flying loo-seat" logo.

    The bus industry in the 1990s was nothing if not complex!!

    And BTW . . . I liked the green and silver LCNW livery . . . NOT a Stenning colour scheme . . . he presented liveries to us, but his designs and colours at the time were very LCSW-derived, and we wanted something unique!!

  2. And yes . . . that IS the former Thames Valley Garage !!

  3. Are you sure you have the right Crowther, greenline727? I thought that the "Black Prince" Crowther was Brian, while David Crowther was involved with Dewsbury Bus Museum, but operated heritage services using preserved buses in the area around High Wycombe.


  4. Does anyone know any more about the Arriva announcement of today? (High wycombe)

  5. Go to BBC News Bucks for fuller details. Consultation underway to close High Wycombe and Aylesbury, no earlier that 27th July.