London Buses route 120
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|Vehicle||Scania OmniCity 10.8m
Alexander Dennis Enviro400 10.2m
|Peak vehicle requirement||16|
|Night-time||No night service|
|End||Hounslow bus station|
|Length||8 miles (13 km)|
|Journey time||30-65 minutes|
|Operates||04:30 until 00:53|
Route 120 commenced operating on 27 January 1926. The route initially ran from the Victory, The Green, Southall to the Hussar, Staines Road, Hounslow Heath, via King Street, Norwood Road, Heston Road, Lampton Road, Staines Road, Tivoli Road and Gloucester Road to a stand in Barrack Road, returning directly to Staines Road. On Saturday afternoons and evenings and all day on Sundays it was extended from Hounslow Heath to the Red Lion, Feltham via Staines Road, Hounslow Road, and High Street, Feltham. It was operated by two single-deck K-type buses (three on Saturday pm) based at Hounslow garage. The practice until 1934 was to use suffixes to the route number for different termini: Southall to Feltham was 120, Southall to Hounslow Heath was 120A.
On 28 July 1926, the route was extended northward via the Green and South Road to Cambridge Road, Southall. In March 1927 the single deckers were replaced by open-top double-deck NS-type buses. From 1 February 1928 buses also ran to Feltham on weekday afternoons.
Between 16 November 1928 and 6 February 1929 London Public Omnibus also provided buses for the route from a garage in Pluckington Place, Southall: two on weekdays and three on Saturdays. From 15 February 1929 the route was extended from Southall to Clarendon Road for Hayes station via the Broadway, Uxbridge Road, Coldharbour Lane, Station Road and Clayton Road (returning via Blyth Road). The longer route required six buses (nine on Saturdays). Buses from Hanwell garage were used for the Sunday service from 3 April 1931. The same garage supplied some Saturday buses from May 1931. Both garages were now using ST-type buses.
On 22 June 1932, the route was withdrawn between Hounslow Heath and Feltham. On 4 March 1936 it was withdrawn between the White Hart in King Street, Southall and Hounslow Heath, being replaced by new route 105. The shortened 120 was operated by 2 STs from Hounslow garage (3 on Sat). Hanwell garage took over weekday operation in April 1938, and the Sunday service was withdrawn on 8 May 1938.
On 12 October 1938, route 120 was reinstated between Southall and Hounslow Heath on Monday to Saturday. Route 105 continued to provide the Sunday service to Hounslow Heath until 15 October 1939, after which it was replaced by route 120, running between Cambridge Road, Southall and Hounslow Heath. The evening service between Southall and Hayes was withdrawn on 6 December 1939, but was reinstated on 15 May 1940. On 29 June 1941 the route was extended to Hayes on Sundays, but withdrawn again over this section on 1 November 1942.
On 26 October 1949, a new route 120A was introduced, running from Hounslow Heath to Southall, and thence via Lady Margaret Road and Ruislip Road to Greenford (Civil Engineer). Route 120 continued on weekdays but was withdrawn on Sundays. On 11 October 1950 Hanwell Garage (by now renamed "Southall") replaced its STL-type buses with new RTLs. A year later, on 17 October 1951, RT buses were introduced.
The heyday of the 120 and 120A was around 1953. There was a 6-minute headway in Mon-Friday peaks between Hounslow Heath and Southall, with 4 buses an hour going on to Hayes and 4 to Greenford, both with alternately 12 and 18 minute headways. Between the peaks buses ran every 7.5 minutes between Hounslow Heath and Southall, with projections to Hayes every 30 minutes and to Greenford every 15 minutes. The same pattern applied on Mon-Friday evenings until about 20:30 hours when it was stepped down to every 10 minutes south of Southall, every 30 miuntes to Hayes, and alternately 10 and 20 minute headways to Greenford. The combined service required 13 buses (8 on 120 and 5 on 120A).
On Saturday mornings the service was like midday Mon-Friday until around noon when it was increased to every five minutes to and from Hounslow Heath, every 30 minutes to Hayes, and every ten minutes to Greenford. On Saturday afternoons 18 buses (8 on 120 and 10 on 120A) provided 16 buses an hour between Hounslow Heath and Southall, with alternate journeys projected to Greenford and two an hour going to Hayes. On Sunday mornings buses ran every ten minutes between Hounslow Heath and Southall, with alternate journeys going on to Greenford. In the afternoon there was a 5-minute service from Hounslow Heath, and a 15-minute one to Greenford. In the evening there was a 6-minute headway on the trunk section, and 4 buses an hour to Greenford, at alternately 12 and 18 minute headways. The Sunday allocation was 12 buses, all on 120A. The running time between Hounslow Heath and Southall was 23 minutes, between Southall and Hayes it was 16 minutes, and between Southall and Greenford it was 9 minutes. Buses terminating at Southall ran via Hamilton Road to a stand in Avenue Road, and returned via Cambridge Road. Garage journeys—in service but not advertised—were via High Street, Southall and Uxbridge Road.
On 12 October 1955, new route 232 (Hounslow Garage to Greenford, via what had been part of route 111 to Vicarage Farm Road, then Hyde Lane, and Thorncliffe Road and then the route 120A road) took over most of route 120A's service between Southall, Town Hall and Greenford. Buses on route 232 were evenly spaced between route 120 journeys, except in Mon-Friday peaks, when route 232 ran every 12 minutes. Route 120A was withdrawn on Mon-Friday and Sunday, but continued on Saturday, running between Hounslow Heath and Southall,Town Hall, and on to Greenford during the afternoon. Route 120 was reinstated on Sundays, running between Hounslow Heath and Southall. On 16 October 1957 the 120A was withdrawn on Saturdays.
On 26 November 1958, the 120 was withdrawn between Southall and Hayes on Saturdays. On 9 November 1960 the Mon-Friday extension to Hayes was withdrawn, although some peak hour journeys were still run along the Broadway as far as the junction with Delamere Road. The main section to Hayes was replaced by new route 207A as part of the replacement for trolleybus route 607. By now 8 buses provided a service every 7.5 mins Mon-Friday peak hours (15 to Delamere Road), 13.5 mins off-peak Mon-Friday, and 20 mins Mon-Friday evenings. On Saturdays 8 buses provided a 12-minute service in the morning and evening, increased to every 7.5 minutes in the afternoon. On Sundays there were 5 buses and the headway was every 20 minutes until mid-morning, then every 15 minutes until noon, every 10.5 minutes in the afternoon and every 30 minutes in the evening. The Delamere Road journeys were withdrawn on 8 May 1963.
From 4 October 1965, route 120 was extended on Monday to Friday & Saturday from Southall to Greenford Red Lion. On Monday-Friday all day and Saturday shopping hours it was further extended to Greenford Station.
On 3 March 1975, the permanent closure of Gloucester Road at Hounslow Heath forced a diversion via Martindale Road and Corporation Avenue to Barrack Road.
The weekday service was extended on 14 August 1976 from Greenford station, via Oldfield Lane to the Lyons Maid Bridge Park factory. On 1 July 1979 the Sunday afternoon service was extended to Greenford Broadway. The Monday-Friday off-peak service was withdrawn between Greenford Red Lion and Bridge Park in September 1982, and three months later the Monday-Friday peak hour and Saturday daytime service was also cut back to Greenford Station.
Southall garage, which had operated the route since 1938, was closed on 9 August 1986, and operation was transferred to Hanwell garage. On 21 November 1987, after a 49-year gap, the 120's allocation was transferred back to Hounslow garage, using MCW Metrobuses.
On 28 November 1987, the route was extended at the Hounslow Heath end Monday to Saturday daytime, replacing the Beavers Farm Estate route 257. From Martindale Road buses ran in a loop via Beavers Lane, Salisbury Road, Green Lane and Staines Road, whence they continued via Hounslow High Street to Hounslow Bus Station. On the section of Staines Road between the Bell and Martindale Road buses ran both eastbound and westbound to both Southall or Greenford, and to Hounslow Bus Station. Moreover, alternate journeys ran direct between Lampton Road and the Bus Station, missing out Staimes Road and the Beavers Farm Estate loop. Buses serving the loop used black on yellow blinds.
On 24 January 1988, one-way street changes at the Bell in Hounslow forced a re-routing between Staines Road and Lampton Road via Chapel Lane and Bath Road. The section between Southall and Greenford was withdrawn and replaced by route 105 on 25 November 1988.
On 28 April 1990, the route was withdrawn from Staines Road and the Beavers Farm Estate, cutting the link between Hounslow Heath and Southall which had existed since 1926. The service now ran from Lampton Road via High Street directly to the Bus Station. On 24 March 1993 the route was extended from Southall to Northolt station via Lady Margaret Road, Ruislip Road, Church Road and Mandeville Road to replace the cut-back route 232. The 120 was one of the five routes in London to use the first fully accessible low-floor single deckers in 1994: it gained 10 Wright Pathfinder bodied Dennis Lance SLFs. These entered service on the route on 29 January 1994, making the route the first in Britain to be run entirely with low-floor vehicles; comparable vehicles previously delivered to Merseyside PTE and Tayside Buses had been used alongside step-entrance vehicles.
Upon being re-tendered, the route was retained by London United with a new contract commencing in June 2005 London United successfully tendered to retain the route with a new contract commencing on 23 June 2012 with existing Scania OmniCitys and new Alexander Dennis Enviro400s.
- Northolt station
- Yeading White Hart
- Southall Town Hall
- Southall station
- Norwood Green
- Hounslow Central station
- Hounslow bus station
- The Omnibus Society, London Historical Research Group Bulletin no 120, vol 6, March 1997.
- Timetable of Central Area Buses, Trolleybuses & Green Line Coaches, London Transport, 17 March 1954.
- Timetable of Central Area Buses, trolleybuses, & Green Line Coaches, London Transport, 10 May 1961
- Morris, Stephen (Autumn 1994). "Buses in London: The low-floor fleet". Buses Focus: 57.
- Brown, Stewart J. Buses in Britain 2: The Mid Nineties. p. 162. ISBN 1-85414-181-3.
- Bus tender results Route 120 Transport for London 20 December 2004
- Tender News BusTalk (Go-Ahead London) issue 12 October 2011
- Media related to London Buses route 120 at Wikimedia Commons