London Buses route 51
|Vehicle||Scania OmniCity 10.8m
Alexander Dennis Enviro400 10.2m
|Peak vehicle requirement||18|
|Length||12 miles (19 km)|
|Journey time||45-71 minutes|
|Operates||04:20am until 01:45|
Route 51 dates back to April 1949, when it was introduced between Sidcup and Farnborough. In 1958 it was extended to Blackfen during the peaks, although this was withdrawn four years later. A Saturday and Sunday extension to Welling in 1958 was followed by a further extension to Woolwich in 1963, and a year later this extension was made into an all-week operation. Another extension in 1964 saw the route run to Hayes. Some peak hour journeys ran to Victoria Way in Woolwich, but these were replaced by a new route 51A in 1968.
On 21 May 1977, route 51 was converted to one-man operation and extended during weekday peak hours from Woolwich to Charlton station. On the same date, the route was diverted to run to Green Street Green instead of Farnborough, this section passing to route 229. In 1982 it was again diverted to serve Orpington station. The Woolwich - Charlton section was withdrawn in 1982. In 1986 some Monday to Friday peak hour journeys were diverted back to Green Street Green, but these were withdrawn in 1989.
In August 1985 operation of the route was taken over by Kentish Bus with second-hand Leyland Atlanteans. These buses were purchased from a bus company in Glasgow and had green livery, in contrast to the standard London Transport red. The route remained with them for seven years, being won by London Central upon being re-tendered from their former Selkent garage at Bexleyheath in 1992. London Central introduced second-hand Leyland Titans onto the route; in 1995 they were replaced on re-tender by new Volvo Olympians. These were replaced in turn by low-floor Volvo B7TLs in 2003.
Upon being re-tendered, the route passed to Selkent in December 2008. In 2009 overcrowding on the route led to a knife attack on a Police Community Support Officer in Orpington. Four teenagers were arrested.
Route 51 operates via these primary locations:
- Woolwich Hare Street
- Woolwich Arsenal station
- Plumstead Common
- Welling station
- Sidcup station
- Foots Cray
- St Mary Cray
- Orpington High Street
- Orpington station
- London Transport Central Area Routes 50-55
- McLachlan, Tom (1995). London Buses 1985-1995: Managing The Change. Venture Publications. p. 99. ISBN 1-898432-74-0.
- Morris, Stephen (Autumn 1995). "Seeing Red: The New Bus Operators in London". Buses Focus: 61.
- Route 51 busesatwork.co.uk
- 'No redundancies' as Bexleyheath garage loses key routes The Clipper (London Central) issue 90 September 2008
- Bus Stop Aggression in Orpington - Londonist
- Orpington: Bus attack accused in court (From News Shopper)
- Tender News BusTalk (Go-Ahead London) issue 22 June 2013
- Route 51 Map Transport for London