London Buses route 39

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London bus route 39.jpg
Operator London General
Garage Waterside Way (PL)
Vehicle Dennis Dart SLF 10.2m / Alexander Dennis Pointer
Peak vehicle requirement 15
Night-time No night service
Start Clapham Junction station
Via Wandsworth
Putney Heath
End Putney Bridge station
Length 5 miles (8.0 km)
Level Daily
Frequency 8-12 minutes
Journey time 23-52 minutes
Operates 05:00 until 01:45

London Buses route 39 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Clapham Junction and Putney Bridge stations, it is operated by London General.


Route 39 was at one time a major South West - North East London trunk bus route. It became a victim of the Victoria line, declining after the opening of that line in the late 1960s. Today, route 39 is a local midibus service within the London Borough of Wandsworth. Interestingly, Route 39 was used on the first section of road in London to have "fixed bus stops". The stops were erected between Camden Town and Seven Sisters Corner in 1937. Previously, buses could stop almost anywhere on a fixed route. The bus stop experiment was used to prove that savings could be made in fuel and rubber costs. The bus stops were successful and became the norm all over London.

Today's route 39 commenced operation on 16 November 1921 running as a Monday - Saturday route between East Sheen and Moorgate via Putney, Wandsworth, Vauxhall, Southwark Bridge and Bank. This was the third time that the Route number 39 had been used.

The Routing wasn't very lucrative and by 1924 had settled down as a daily Edmonton to Southfields route via Finsbury Park, Camden Town, Victoria and Clapham Junction. The purpose of the route was to provide a link from the Tottenham and Edmonton areas that penetrated into the West End. All of the frequent trams from these areas terminated at the periphery of the central area. In the days before the Piccadilly line Cockfosters extension, route 39 also served to bolster route 29 between Manor House and Victoria. For a few years in the late 1920s and early 1930s route 39 was replaced by a Sunday only Route 130 on that day, which also ran from Southfields to Edmonton and then on to Chingford (Epping Forest). After the disappearance of the Sunday 130, the 39 was extended on Sundays from Southfields to Raynes Park via Wimbledon.

Towards the end of the 1930s, the coming of the trolleybuses to North London as replacements for the Trams, heralded changes for the 39. On 16 October 1938, with the withdrawal of the bulk of the Trams by Trolleybuses on the Waltham Cross Routes via Tottenham, the opportunity was taken to eradicate duplicate mileage between Electric and Diesel services, by re-routing the 39 at Manor House to teminate at the newly opened Turnpike Lane Bus station.

The continuing Second World War saw changes to route 39, mainly by reducing duplication, but also to cover other services that were withdrawn as a Savings measure. For a time, route 39 was even extended to Hackbridge to cover the withdrawn, long standing route 77. Though by the end of the war, the 39 had retreated and had been cut back to its main section between Camden Town and Southfields.

From the 1950s there was a short lived Monday to Friday peak and weekend extension to Parliament Hill and a Sunday afternoon variant running to Waterloo via Horseferry Road. In February 1961 the wheel seemed to have come full circle, when route 39 was used as part of a trolleybus replacement package, when it was extended again to Parliament Hill Fields. This was not very long-lived as in August 1963, route 39 was used to replace route 276, a very underused trolleybus replacement route. This change took the route away from Parliament Hill Fields, but extended it again to Tottenham garage. The routing was also amended at this time, with buses running via Oxford Circus and Albany Street to Camden Town, Holloway, Finsbury Park and Tottenham. The Sunday service was lost over the whole route and there was no Saturday service north of Victoria.

By the beginning of 1970, the opening of the Victoria line, left its mark on route 39. The route was cut back to Oxford Circus in January 1971, and in July 1972 was converted to one person operation.[1]

The service north of Victoria has now been abandoned without replacement, but, at the other end, has been extended to service more of Southfields and continue into Putney. The route has also been split in two at Clapham Junction, with the service between Clapham Junction and Victoria becoming route 239. Both were converted on 12 May 1990 to midibus operation, in the form of Alexander bodied Mercedes-Benz 811Ds. In October 1994 Dennis Darts cascaded from route 156 were introduced, followed by larger Darts from routes 211 and 295.[1]

After being re-tendered, on 14 September 2002 London General introduced new Plaxton Pointer bodied Darts. In January 2007, route 39 was transferred to London General's new Waterside Way garage. London General commenced a new contract in November 2009.[1]

Current route[edit]

Route 39 operates via these primary locations:[2]


  1. ^ a b c London Buses Route 39 London Buses
  2. ^ Route 39 Map Transport for London

External links[edit]