Old Kent Road garage reunion

6 September 2010

RF486 recreates the 202.  This is Rotherhithe New Road.

Photo © Peter Larkham


Old Kent Road garage (P) was a bus garage from about 1906 until its closure in 1958.  Prior to that, it had been a tram depot since 1874, passing from London Tramways to LCC, then as a bus garage to Vanguard and to LGOC in 1908.  The garage was located to the south side of Old Kent Road, just west of the (now demolished) canal bridge, in Bowles Road.  Like the garage and the canal, Bowles Road no longer exists, having vanished under retail re-development.

In the period after the war, the garage operated, at various times, all or part of routes 1, 4, 13, 17, 21, 53/A, 78, 89/A, 153, 159 and 202.  It also worked the Inter-Station night route and hosted part of the Private Hire fleet.  The garage closed after the disastrous bus strike in 1958 that led to a significant reduction in services.
On 6 September 2010, a small group of former Old Kent Road crew revisited old haunts including runs over the 202 (in RF486) and the 89 (in RT1702).  All had moved by 1958, mostly with the routes to New Cross garage (NX) on closure of Old Kent Road.  By then, NX had long-since converted to buses from trams, for which it had been London's last home.  A tour of New Cross garage and a visit to the (unrecognisable) site of Old Kent Road were part of the day.  One of the crew members was the late Alan Neale, whose memories of bus work are recorded here.
These pages provide a photographic record of the day.  The accompanying pages feature:

 o   the garages

 o   route 202

 o   routes 89 and 160.

RF486 arrived at New Cross for the 202 in March 1959, six months after Old Kent Road closed, and stayed until overhaul in October 1961.
Photo Peter Osborn collection
For more on the area, see the Pathe News video of Old Kent Road in 1970 and the Bermondsey Boy site for lots more pictures and videos.