London's former garages

Abbey Wood – AW

Abbey Wood was originally a London County Council tram depot. It was converted for bus operation in 1952.  Because of limited space available to expand to meet the needs of housing developments, its work was transferred to newly built Plumstead. The old garage closed in 1981.

Athol Street, Poplar – C

Athol Street, Polar opened in July 1907 and closed in 1961.  The site no longer exists, but is remembered in Athol Square, off Blair Street.  

It was famous for operating the Tunnel STLs from 1939 to 1954. It was built for use on routes 108 through the Blackwall Tunnel and 82 through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. The buses had specially curved roofs and reinforced tyres to prevent damage from rubbing along kerbs in the narrow tunnels.

Bexleyheath – BX

Bexleyheath was the first new trolleybus depot built by London Transport in 1935. It coincided with the conversion of local tram routes to trolleybus operation. It was converted to bus operation in 1959 when local trolleybus services ceased.  

The garage closed in 1986, when its work moved to Plumstead, Catford and Sidcup.  It re-opened in 1988, as a low-cost tendered operation under the Bexleybus brand part of Selkent, using buses in a blue and cream livery.   Subsequent tender losses saw the garage ownership transfer in 1991 to London Central, who still operate local services.  

Clay Hall, Bow - CL

Clay Hall, Bow opened in 1931 and closed in 1959, when nearby Bow ceased trolleybus operation. The site on Old Ford Road no longer exists, having been enveloped in the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach.

Forest Gate – G

Forest Gate located in Green Street was built in 1906 by the Great Eastern London Motor Omnibus Co. The garage was acquired by London General in 1911.  

It was closed in 1960 but continued in use as a store for many years.  It was recently replaced by a block of flats.

Hornchurch – RD

Hornchurch garage was opened in 1924 by the LGOC under the name ‘Romford’. It was renamed in 1953 when the new Romford, North Street, garage opened.  Rebuilt in 1954, the garage was among the first to close, in September 1988, as a result of route losses under competitive tendering. 

It was the first garage to have an allocation of the new Leyland Titan (B15) buses. The first forty three of which were allocated there en mass and remained so until closure.  

The garage also had a number of Leyland National buses. Six of these buses were refurbished for use on a commercial route, the X99, running between Harlow and Basildon.  This was not successful and ran only between August 1986 and February 1987.

Loughton – L

Loughton was built by the LGOC in 1923. It was rebuilt on the opposite side of the road in 1953 in anticipation of service expansion due to planned housing developments that never took place.  Only half of the new garage was ever used for bus operations.  

The garage closed in 1986 following service cuts resulting from changes in funding of ‘out county’ services.  The 1953 garage was built over shortly after closure, but the original LGOC garage survives as a DIY store.

Plumstead – AM

Plumstead was opened by the LGOC in 1913. It was one of a number requisitioned during the First World War, re-opening as a bus garage in 1919.  

Its small size meant that it was not capable of accommodating extra buses required to meet the needs of the developing Thamesmead area. Along with Abbey Wood, it closed in 1981 when the new Plumstead garage opened in Pettman Crescent. The site in Wickham Lane is now occupied by a DIY store.

Seven Kings - AP

Opened in May 1913 to serve local housing developments.  The garage was modernised in 1961 and again in 1976, prior to which it had not been able to accommodate larger buses than the RT type, but was still one of the smallest in the area.   It was home to London’s first allocation of Optare Delta single deck buses in 1992 (and a prototype Renault), the only time in its history that single decks had been based there.  As a result of tendering losses the garage closed in 1993, prior to which its routes were intended to be worked from the planned Chadwell Heath garage.

Sidcup – SP

Sidcup Garage opened in 1924 and was extended in 1972.  

The garage became home to the legendary Routemaster – RM8. This had been an experimental bus at Chiswick works from new until 1976, when it was sent in to passenger carrying service for the first time.  The garage closed in 1988. 

Stratford – SD

Stratford Garage originally opened as Bow Midi-bus Base. The garage was set up in 1992 as a “low cost” base to which Bow and West Ham’s midi-buses were transferred.    

The garage expanded when double deck buses were allocated in 1998 and the name became Stratford.  It closed in February 2008 to allow construction of the Olympic Park. All the buses moved to a new site near West Ham Station.

Upton Park – U

The London Road Car Company originally built a garage on the Upton Park site in 1907. It was taken over by the LGOC in 1908.  Requisitioned for the war effort in 1915, it resumed bus operations in 1919.  

When it was rebuilt in 1931 it was unique because the roof span was formed with no supporting pillars. The engineers' offices were at first floor level overlooking the yard and buses had their fleet numbers shown on their rear roof domes.

The garage closed as an operational unit on 16 September 2011. It was used for storing surplus buses.  The site was sold to Telford Homes for a social housing development in November 2014.

At the time of its closure, the garage had ninety seven double deck Alexander Tridents and ten Dennis Dart SLF. These were working on routes 101, 104, 115, 238, 262, 330, 376, 473 and N550.  

The routes were re-allocated as follows: 

  • 101 to Barking
  • 104, 115, 238, 262, 330, 473 and N550 to West Ham
  • West Ham relocated the 15 and 277 to Bow
  • 376 was lost to Go-Ahead on tendering

The garage was demolished in 2016 to make way for a housing development.

Walthamstow – WW

Walthamstow Garage was opened by Walthamstow Corporation Tramways in 1905. It was converted to trolleybus operation in 1937 and motorbuses in 1960.    

It closed in 1991 when the London Forest Travel subsidiary of London Buses closed.   The office building remains under a preservation order and new houses have been built on the rest of the site in the aptly named Omnibus Way.

West Ham – WH

West Ham opened as a tram depot in 1906 by West Ham Corporation Tramways. It was converted to trolleybus operation in 1937 and motorbuses in 1959, when Routemasters were used in replacement of trolleybuses.   

The garage closed in 1992. Part of the garage offices remain under a preservation order. The housing built on the site is in Routemaster Close.

Poplar – PR

Poplar was originally a London County Council tram depot. It was built in 1906 on a site acquired from the North Metropolitan Tramways Co.  

It was rebuilt in 1940 to allow conversion to trolleybus operation and further modified in 1959 for motorbuses.  It was among the first garages to work Routemaster buses on trolleybus replacement routes.   

It closed in 1985 and the buildings are still in use today.

Waterden Road – WA

Waterden Road opened in 2004 as a base for articulated buses on the newly won route 25. The garage had previously been a local authority depot and distribution centre.   

The main buildings were reduced to half their original depth, but still long enough to accommodate an articulated bus, and the office buildings were refurbished.  Other buildings were demolished to allow fuel facilities and a bus wash to be installed.  The site was capable of holding a hundred buses, so the initial allocation of forty five Mercedes Benz Citaros left room to spare. 

The company’s training school for East London was relocated to the garage, along with the training fleet. These were joined in late 2005 by East London Coaches hire fleet until their demise in January 2007.  Heritage route 15 with its Routemasters was also based at the garage from its inception until removal to Bow.  

With the win of the London Olympics bid, route 25 and its buses were moved to Rainham for a short while. The garage finally closed in December 2007.

Chadwell Heath – CH

Chadwell Heath garage was planned to open in 1993 on a site in Selina’s Lane, Chadwell Heath. It would have taken all the services operating from Barking, Romford and Seven Kings garages.  

It was discovered that the site had been contaminated by years of paint production and was not suitable for development at the time.  Planning was sufficiently advanced that Seven Kings did close and for some years afterwards buses from Barking and Romford carried CH garage codes.