London Country Bus Services
London Country Bus Services was a bus company that operated in South East England from 1969 until 1986, when it was split up and sold under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government bus deregulation scheme.
London Country Bus Services Ltd, trading as London Country, was set up in response to the Transport (London) Act 1969, when on 1 January 1970 London Transport's (LT) green Country Area buses and Green Line cross-London express coaches were transferred to the National Bus Company (NBC), at the same time as the red Central Area buses passed from the London Transport Board to the Greater London Council.
Staff who were in service before 1 January 1970 retained free travel throughout the original London Transport area. This arrangement continues today, with free pass wording changed to account for bus deregulation.
The company was NBC's biggest subsidiary, starting life with 1,267 buses and coaches. The fleet was very elderly, being mainly 484 RT-class AEC Regent double-deckers and 413 RF-class AEC Regal single-deckers, with eight Daimler Fleetlines, three Leyland Atlanteans, 209 AEC Routemasters, 14 AEC Reliances and 109 AEC Merlins. 
Steps were taken to reduce the age profile and NBC quickly ordered 90 Leyland Atlanteans, delivered in 1972. In 1970–71 London Transport's last Country order, for 138 AEC Swifts, was delivered. The Atlantean soon became London Country's standard bus, and by 1980 there were 293 in the fleet. Most were bodied by Park Royal, with some by Roe to the same design and 30 Metro-Cammell bodied Atlanteans, diverted from a Midland Red order. There were also 11 Leyland-engined, Godstone-based Daimler Fleetlines diverted from Western Welsh, becoming the first NBC-ordered buses in the fleet, just before the Atlanteans. The only other London Country double decker in the 1970s were 15 Bristol VRTs, rare highbridge Eastern Coach Works bodied examples. These were allocated to Grays Garage in 1977 but were quickly moved on.
There was also activity in the single decker fleet. Some of the RFs had been refurbished in the 1960s, with twin headlights, curved windscreens, new side mouldings and improved interiors, mainly allocated to Green Line services. There were 14 Willowbrook-bodied AEC Reliances at Hertford Garage, which had been bought by London Transport in 1965. By 1975 they were on bus work, which some thought was idiosyncratic when vehicles twice as old were still on Green Line work.
The Green Line services were largely operated by Routemaster coaches and RFs. NBC ordered 90 AEC Reliances with 45-seat Park Royal bodies, which were originally in Green Line two-tone green but were quickly repainted in NBC local coach livery. For the orbital 725 service between Windsor and Gravesend, 15 AEC Swift buses with Alexander W-type bodies were purchased, but were soon demoted to Gravesend local services.
In 1972, the Leyland National, NBC and British Leyland's joint project, became the standard in most NBC fleets. London Country bought over 500 examples, the world's largest fleet. They mainly replaced RFs, RTs and Routemasters. Some RFs were kept in areas where smaller, lighter vehicles were needed, until NBC decided on its smaller standard bus, the Bristol LH. London Country bought its first examples of the type in 1973, with more batches bought up until 1977.
Throughout the 1980s NBC had had large numbers of double-deck Leyland Olympians delivered. From 1982 until 1984 these were purchased with Roe bodies, but from 1985 they had ECW bodies to the same style. London Country operated 75.
London Country was split into four on September 7, 1986, named London Country North East, London Country North West, London Country South East and London Country South West. The central workshops were sold as "Gatwick Engineering".
These companies were privatised during 1988, among the last of the bus privatisations. The purchasers were
- London Country North East: AJS Group, which split the company into two, County Bus and Coach and Sovereign Bus and Coach. County was sold to its management in 1990 and eventually became Arriva East Herts & Essex, part of Arriva Shires & Essex. The Grays depot was transferred to Arriva Southern Counties in 2002. Sovereign was sold to the Blazefield Group in 1991. These operations are also now part of Arriva Shires & Essex, except for the St Albans depot which was sold to Centrebus but then passed to Uno, with the operation transferred to Hatfield.
- London Country North West: Luton & District Transport, now Arriva the Shires, part of Arriva Shires & Essex.
- London Country South East, renamed Kentish Bus: Northumbria Motor Services (through its parent company Proudmutual Ltd), itself sold to British Bus Group in 1992 and now part of Arriva Southern Counties.
- London Country South West: Drawlane Ltd, which became the British Bus group (sold to Cowie - now Arriva - in 1996), and now part of Arriva Guildford & West Surrey, although many routes passed to other companies, notably Metrobus and what is now Abellio Surrey which is part of Nederlandse Spoorwegen.
In May 2010, Arriva was acquired by Deutsche Bahn AG, the German national railway.
- Transport (London) Act 1969 c.35 s 16(2) "...the part of the Board's undertaking commonly known as country buses and coaches... shall on the vesting date be transferred to, and by virtue of this Act vest in, such company, being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bus Company, as the Bus Company may by notice published in the London Gazette designate for the purpose"
- "Notice is hereby given that the National Bus Company... pursuant to the provisions of section 16 (2) of the Transport (London) Act 1969 by this notice designates its wholly owned subsidiary called London Country Bus Services Limited to be the designated company for the purposes of such Act." The London Gazette: . 25 November 1969.
- Ampyx Web World - "London Country Bus Services" Accessed June 24, 2008.
- Hansard 18 April 1988
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