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Route 115
16 April 2008

Photo © James Fullick.

The 115 is essentially the suburban end of the 15, and is operated from Upton Park garage using Dennis Tridents. The original low height examples have mostly now moved on, and so an update to this page is due. Officially, the route should use long wheelbase versions, such as 17835 (LX03 BYL) above. However, as with most East London Bus Group garages, different vehicle lengths tend not to be distinguished in practice, and therefore shorter vehicles such as 17229 (X229 NNO) are commonplace. Both buses are fresh from repaint and presently devoid of adverts, giving them a clean appearance. Since this page was last updated there have been three livery changes – originally buses were all red, as now, albeit with Stagecoach logos; then came full Stagecoach London livery with blue skirt and blue/orange swoosh at the rear, then a simpler version without the swoosh; and following sale of East London from Stagecoach to Macquarie, buses have reverted to all-red, now with the traditional barge logo!

Photo © James Fullick.

As mentioned, the 115 was once part of the 15, although more recently the section to East Ham was numbered 15B. In fact there have been several changes of route number over this corridor over the years. Traditionally the 15 linked Becontree Heath, Dagenham and East Ham to Ladbroke Grove via Canning Town, Aldgate, Bank, St. Paul’s, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Paddington and Westbourne Grove, while the relatively infrequent 23 group of routes had a similar but slightly different function between Rainham, Gidea Park or Becontree Heath and Marylebone via Barking, East Ham, Canning Town, Aldgate, Bank, Holborn, Oxford Circus and Baker Street. The routes were subject to very many changes over the years, with their eastern ends being chopped off during World War II.

The first major cutback was in the 1960s, when the 23 was withdrawn west of the city. The route thus ran between Becontree Heath and Aldgate. It was later withdrawn completely by extending route 5 (East Ham – Clerkenwell via Canning Town, Aldgate and Shoreditch). Meanwhile, the 15 was diverted between Aldgate and St. Paul’s via the Tower and Cannon Street, this area surprisingly having been unserved previously. To maintain the service through the city a new peak hours only variant was launched, the 15B between Upton Park and Oxford Circus. Both routes were by now Routemaster worked.

The 15B gained a more prominent role in the central London route scheme of June 1992, when it was introduced on Mondays to Saturdays except evenings. It was diverted to East Ham but withdrawn west of Mansion House, but thereby maintaining the alternative routeing via Bank, but now using one-person operated buses in place of Routemasters, initially Leyland Titans but soon replaced by more modern Scania N113s. Meanwhile the 15 was cut back at both ends, losing the section between East Ham and Canning Town (except evenings and Sundays when the 15B did not run) and between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove/Westbourne Park (except on Sundays), the latter section being covered by new route 23.

Following the IRA bombing of Bishopsgate in 1993, the new security cordon meant that buses could no longer enter the city via Eastcheap, and the route had to be diverted via Fenchurch Street. The Sunday projection beyond Paddington was also removed. The routeing via Tower Hill was soon restored in both directions, but westbound buses had to go on a lengthy detour via Lower Thames Street instead of Eastcheap, an arrangement which remained in place until April 2006!

Later, the section between Aldgate and Mansion House was reduced to operate during Monday to Friday peak hours only once again, and then withdrawn completely in 1996, thus rendering it no more than one section of the parent 15. The suffix letter was finally eliminated when the Jubilee Line opened in 1999, with a straight re-numbering of the 15B to 115, although it was also increased in frequency and introduced on Sundays (but still not evenings) and the Tridents were introduced. The 15 was simultaneously cut back from Canning Town to Poplar and re-routed to the otherwise unused Blackwall DLR bus station, except in the evenings when it continued to run to East Ham to cover the 115.

The buses from the 115 were used on the 15 in the evenings (as they had been on Sundays), allowing the Routemasters (and their conductors) to be retired to the garage at those times. This also elimated wasteful duplication on the overlap between Poplar and Aldgate, which is unlikely to be too busy in the evenings; not that such considerations are of much consequence now! Cessation of Routemaster operation on the 15 enabled this arrangement to cease, and the 115 gained an evening service from autumn 2003.

See also routes 15, 23, 5

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