Barking & Dagenham Local History
                                                                                                           Where History is in the Past

Where History Is In The Past


179 Withdrawel in Barking After 46 years

The original 179 was a replacement for tram route 54, and commenced on 6th January 1952. It worked between Grove Park and Elephant & Castle being withdrawn on the 8th November 1961, rather oddly as part of the trolleybus replacement programme, which ran from 4th March 1959 until 8th May 1962 in 14 stages.

In 1963 London Transport had carried out many weeks of surveys and observations to note passenger movements and requirements in the Barking, Ilford and Romford regions. From these conclusions it was decided to reorganise many of the bus routes here in the autumn of 1963, which was depicted in a leaflet, ‘Alterations to Bus Services’.

It was noted that these changes had come about largely due to public demand. Under a Transport Act of the 1st August 1962 the responsibilities of the London Transport Executive were passed to the London Transport Board on the 1st January 1963 and they stayed in their control until 31st December 1969.

Prior to these changes a bus numbered the 193 operated from Chadwell Heath via Seven Kings, Ilford, Barking and Thames View Estate.

On October 9th 1963 this was withdrawn between Barking and Thames View and extended in the east to Upminster Park Estate.This was replaced by a new service, resurrecting the number 179, being operated with RT [Regent] style buses. 

The first 179’s worked between Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel) on the Epping Forest fringes, via Whitehall Road, Woodford High Road, Woodford New Road, Grove Road, Southend Road, Gants Hill, Ilford, Ilford Lane, Barking, Ripple Road, Movers Lane, River Road and Bastable Avenue to Thames View Estate (Abridge Way), covering the 193’s withdrawn section.

In September 1968 the Chingford terminus of the 179 was altered from the Royal Forest Hotel to Chingford Station. Around 1970 there was a fall in passenger numbers using the buses particularly at weekends. There was also a shortage of crews, and rising costs, so following this it was deemed necessary to make further alterations, which included one-man operation, a feature, which London Transport hoped they could extend throughout their network.

Some of the local routes had changes in January of 1971; while fresh proposals for the 179 were not announced until later in May, with them taking place on July 4th of that year. It was still to run from Thames View to Chingford, but was to become one-man operated, employing single-deck vehicles SMS [Short Merlin Swift], which were to seat only 33 people, with another 34 standing.

These new buses replaced the existing RT double-deckers, which seated 56 with merely 5 standing. The price of any journey would carry a flat fare of 25p. A number of other local services followed suit during this period.

Two innovative features of this new vehicle was the fact that they were constructed with two doors: the first at a front entrance: plus exit doors in the middle. Tickets could be purchased from the driver or from an automated machine. I recall a slogan of the day, which was ‘to think of this bus as a phone-box’.

These changes in the Thames View area brought about immediate chaos on the Monday following their introduction, with passengers struggling to get on the one-man buses. A petition was signed which carried 3,500 signatures asking for the old service to be restored; the petitioners described the new vehicles as little more than ‘cattle-trucks’.

Many of the users, particularly the elderly, had complained about being thrown about inside due to lack of seating, and getting trapped between the automated doors. LT in a rather lame response brought in a new timetable, which included an extra bus: also two more drivers on September 11th 1971.

By January 1972 the decision was taken to take the protest to County Hall in London. A pressure group calling itself the Gascoigne Public Transport Working Committee, also opposed this, and had agreed to a truce in May 1972, when LT promised a new service, numbered the 199, to be worked by new DMS [Daimler Fleetline] double-deckers, also with one man operation, but could convey far more people.

The 199 duly commenced its operations on 17th June 1972, running a Monday to Saturday service from Barking (London Road) to Thames View Estate. At the same time the 179 was duly curtailed at Barking with its operations running through to Chingford Station on M-St.

A Sunday 179 service however, still ran onto Thames View, employing the new DMS double-deckers; plus a few of its Saturday buses also ran to the estate too for shoppers, giving them a link with Ilford.

The reason given by LT for altering the service was heavy traffic in the Woodford and Ilford areas, which made it necessary to make the Thames View service a merely local run. There was no mention of the pressure put on by local people in the Barking area, but this clearly must have had an effect.

On 23rd February 1974 the one-man operated double-deck vehicles [DMS], that were only operating the 179 on Sundays to Thames View, also took over its M-St service worked by SMS’s.

The buses running the service seated 68: with another 21 standing. They were also ‘pay as you go’ with coin-operated boxes.

The Saturday shopping service was lengthened to all day on 11th October 1975 between Barking and Thames View Estate.

London Buses Limited re-organised their services into regions on the 1st October 1979. The Barking area came under Forest Bus District. This system prevailed until the subsidiary collapsed in 1991, which was then known as London Forest.

At the end of July 1980, all buses that operated from Barking Garage were progressively changed to one-man function, using new T [Titan] double-deckers.

This also see the loss of the last crew run vehicles from Barking. The 179’s were converted to a T-type vehicle in June 1980.

On the 4th September 1982 the 179 was withdrawn entirely on Sundays and between Barking and Thames View Estate on Saturdays, and the service became a M-St working only, with it being curtailed at Barking (London Road). 

The 199’s, which functioned from Ilford to Thames View on M-St, were also withdrawn at this time, with all operations to Thames View now passing to 169.

The 179 originally ran from Barking Garage [BK], but on 2nd November 1985 the BK allocation was transferred from here to Loughton Garage [L]. The vehicles were converted to single-deck LS from one-man operated Titans at this time. Some journeys going to the Loughton Garage were extended beyond Chingford Station. This was only a short-term arrangement as 6 months later it was again relocated to Leyton Garage [T] after the closure of Loughton Garage in May 1986.

A Transport Act of 1985 led to the deregulation of bus services in Great Britain, but this had spared the Greater London region, except for services that passed outside its boundaries. Now any licensed operator could submit an application to run a new route even if another company already ran a service along the same roads. It was eventually hoped to extend this to London.

The privatisation of London’s buses had begun as early as 1984. As part of the privatisation programme London Buses Limited [LBL] was created on the 1st April 1985, being a subsidiary of London Regional Transport.

As a step towards de-regulation, LBL sub-divided their bus operations into 12 fresh operating units, which included East London Buses.

In 1986 privatisation took hold locally, which see many bus operators, with diverse liveried vehicles enter the London tussle.

The 179’s LRT contract was won by LBL on 24th May 1986. Its link with LBL was to be short-lived as it soon passed to Grey Green on the 17th October 1987.

It was though, still under contract to LRT. The Grey Green Company had its original roots in 1966, but had become part of the Cowie Group in 1981, and had a base in Dagenham which was run as Dix Luxury Coaches. By 1987 when it took over a few local tenders it was based in Manchester Way, Dagenham.

The livery of their bus fleet locally was a chocolate, white and orange, which was strange, as Ian Smith points out in his web pages, ‘for a fleet called Grey-Green’.

We can observe from the photograph on the right that their original promotion scheme was to name their services as ‘Eastenderbus’.

This logo was however, short-lived with the fleet name of Grey-Green replacing it, with vehicles eventually using the Grey Green livery.

It was operated with double and single-deck vehicles still running its traditional route from Barking (London Road) to Chingford Station.

The single-deck buses had a capacity of 63, with 36 of those seated: while the double-deckers were Volvo Citybus B10M with Alexander RV bodies.

It was still under Grey Green on 26th February 1990, and again retained by them on 20th March 1993 for a further three-year term.

The contract was then transferred to Capital Citybus in 1996. It was in this year that the 179 returned back to Sunday working. The bus company was still known by this name in 1997, but on July 7th 1998 this was sold to First, and became known as First Capital.

At this stage in its history Transport for London [TFL] was created on 3rd July 2000 by the Greater London Authority Act of 1999, becoming itself part of the GLA. This took over most of the functions of London Regional Transport at this point.

From the 20th October 2001 this service being run by First London (East) on behalf of London Buses. 

They still operate this today. The 179 is run by from its Dagenham bus depot [DM], using Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 vehicles.

We can also witness that although the 179 has passed through a number of short term contracts since privatisation it has continued to work its famous itinerary from Barking (London Road) to Chingford Station.

However, it was part withdrawn on 19th February 2010, when it was sadly cut back to Ilford (Hainault Street) after over 46 years of running in Barking.

Two fresh services entered the fray on the 20th February 2010, as part replacement for the loss of the 179 between Ilford and Barking, and also the total withdrawal of another service the 369.

These were the 24-hour EL1 from Ilford Station to Thames View Estate: and the daily EL2 from Ilford Station to Dagenham Dock.

These new services are run by the Go-Ahead Blue Triangle group, and utilise Volvo Wrightbus double-deck vehicles, being operated from their garage in Rainham [BE] in Ferry Lane. 

For the record Blue Triangle had been procured by the Go-Ahead Group on June 29th 2007, and in August 2008 buses appeared under their Go-Ahead London banner.