Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Numbers 437,438 and 439 Routes - Not

We like to check where these non-existent buses have gone, if indeed they have gone anywhere.  So here goes:

To start with the 437:  apparently TfL was wondering whether to use this number when, in 2006, they decided the number 77A was unacceptable:  but instead they changed it to 87, which had become available when the Number 5 Route was extended and the East London and Essex 87 therefore ceased to exist.  But I am not sure whether there was ever a 437 closer than Kent.

On the other hand, the 438 runs from Staines to Shepperton and counts as a Surrey Bus, and the 439 appears also to have run in Surrey, from Redhill.

The range of the London Passenger Transport Board had been enormous before the 1960s;  with the establishment of the GLC, bus services in the leafier areas were passed to London Country Buses. Many of the routes which are 'missing' from the London list were transferred at this time.  The LWB do not really understand why some were not, and why we have had London buses around Dorking, Redhill and other such far away places.

After all those complicated explanations, I thought I would celebrate the many green spaces that we travel past, even in the heart of London.  Sometimes we get just a glimpse, through the rain streaked windows of the upper decks, bus sometimes we get close to memorials and other art works.

In some places, like Kew, for example, protective walls prevent you from seeing anything much until you have paid the substantial entry fee.  But at least you can get in at a price, unlike those private squares in Chelsea and Kensington that the buses roll past.

We have been close to attractive trees and bushes, for example as we have passed Fulham Palace, or travelling around the edges of Regent's Park.

Probably, though, we enjoy the green spaces and flower beds provided by local councils as much as anything, and appreciate the importance of the Open Spaces Act of 1877 in preventing relentless building over every square centimetre of London.  The Corporation of the City of London, from that day to this, has stepped in to maintain areas like Epping Forest and Farthing Down for the benefit of us all.


  1. When you start looking for the origins of routes numbered from 300 to 499 they will originally have been London Transport Country Area routes. The LPTB (1933-1947), LTE (1948-1962) and LTB (1963-1969) operated these with green buses, not to be confused with Green Line coaches which operated long distance services that were lettered before the war and numbered from 700 upwards when they recommenced in 1946. will continue to help you.
    The 437 ran originally from Woking Station to Weybridge, the 438 (rather infrequently) from Crawley to East Grinstead and the 439 from Redhill to Newdigate, via Dorking.
    Once the country services had been split off and local authorities had more involvement with providing services then numbers and routes changed frequently as part of a general decline. London Transport needed more numbers for new routes and those renumbered to eliminate suffixes so started to use those numbers for their services as well as filling in gaps lower down.
    Once you get to 500s and 600s you will find a reuse of numbers that were originally for trolleybuses, until they went in 1962, with the introduction of Red Arrow central London express services in the 500 range and school services in the 600 range. There is (of course) one exception when you get there, but I won't steal anymore of your thunder on that one.

  2. I've heard that the reason some of the outer area routes survive as red bus routes while most went green was due to the garage they were operated from at the time of the split.
    That Loughton bus garage was operated by the red side is why the 20 is a London route not an Essex one for example.