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  Archive/Photo of the Month & First Hampshire and Dorset latest news

Last updated: 21 November 2021

  Archive/Photograph of the Month  

With the leaves on the trees turning and beginning to fall, November’s photo of the month takes us back six years to a brief chapter in Hoeford’s history, where a number of former Berkshire Mercedes-Benz Citaros operated from the depot. Pictured on 28th October 2015 (how time flies), here is 64002 (LT02NTX) passing along Pasteur Road on the Queen Alexandra Hospital site, heading for Portsmouth on route 3. At the time, this was one of three in ‘Barbie’ colours, along with sisters ‘001 and ‘005. These three were new in 2002 to the brand new RV1 route, then operated by First London, which saw the then-two door Mercedes Benz Citaros connecting Tower Gateway railway station with Covent Garden. 64002 was even replicated in model form by Creative Master Northcord in 2005.

The Citaros did not last long at Hoeford. With Berkshire’s Bracknell depot having just closed, but a large number of the ‘home’ Berkshire fleet of Citaros having just received a modern day Beeline livery, the conundrum of where to send the buses was up in the air during Autumn 2005. A good number of Citaros had recently been painted yellow, orange and purple, but now the network was withdrawn and the buses spare. Could they re-introduce Beeline at Hoeford, over a decade after a few Dennis Darts (with the bouncy castle ‘Wright Handybus bodywork’) had moved to Hoeford in similar colours? The answer was no – they were rejected, repainted into standard ‘urban’ fleet livery and shuffled on to Southampton, where they actually replaced a number of things, including Volvo B7RLEs that were younger than them.

The issue of local brands, and the subsequent requirement to repaint vehicles in and out of those brands, may yet raise its head in the coming years. It continues the never-ending discussion of whether a standard fleet livery, such as urban or Barbie, is best, or whether a local brand is best. Although Stagecoach and Arriva are still very much a national brand – especially Stagecoach, where it was felt there was too much variety with the brand prior to the introduction of the new livery – Go Ahead, Transdev and now First continue to refine local brands, placing the importance of a local network and increasing ridership figures.

With the First Hampshire, Dorset & Berkshire fleet, all four key locations – Slough, Weymouth, Southampton along with the Solent region – all have four key distinct brands. The Wessex, Jurassic Coaster and Portland Coaster liveries are now prominent in Dorset. Southampton has been a fleet of 100% red Streetlites for over a year now. Slough use a corporate base livery, with key coloured corridors, whereas in the Solent region, the base livery is still the 2012 urban colours, albeit with the Eclipse and Star brands for key corridors. Those local to the Solent region will have noticed that many of the bus stops now adorn the new Solent branding, either for the route numbers, timetables or advertising displays. Will there be a new Solent local livery, or will this be merged in with the arrival of the expected Eclipse replacements early next year? Time will tell!

  First Hampshire & Dorset vehicle movement and news  


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The two Volvo B7TL double-deckers loaned by First West of England since May have remained in the area into the Autumn.  Both retained their BRISTOL fleetnames initially but these have now been replaced by SOLENT vinyls.  Additionally, 32093, seen here at Gosport on 25 October, has had its FirstGroup Blue skirt extended forwards across its white flanks.

Photo by Chris Richardsen


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