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Route 125
8 January 2005

Following a short period of Metrobus operation the 125 has now gained new low floor double deckers, together with a substantial frequency increase – happily the latter did not result in single deckers being introduced! Due to an intention (now deferred indefinitely) to extend the 125 to Enfield, together with an allocation change from Edmonton to Enfield garage, the new timetable was delayed for a few months, and the new DAF/Presidents were introduced on the old timetable out of Edmonton. Here thus DLP 100 (LF52 URE), seen at North Finchley on 17 May 2003, carries EC codes on its side; the frequency increase occurred two months later, but the bus does not exactly seem bustling with custom in this view!

Photo © Matthew Wharmby.

The 125 has indeed had several allocation changes over the last few years. Grey Green took over the route in 1987, initially using second hand vehicles. Grey Green however built up a large fleet of Volvo Citybuses, and these took over operations on the 125. The service was based at Stamford Hill, not too efficient for a route from Winchmore Hill to Finchley — the nearest route point to the depot thus being around 8 miles away!

After Cowie, Grey Green’s owner, had purchased Leaside, they quickly economised and moved the 125 and its buses to Leaside’s Palmers Green, just a couple of miles from the Winchmore Hill terminus. The dedicated batch of Citybuses were repainted red. Subsequently, expansion of other routes at Palmers Green meant the route had to be transferred to a more remote garage once again, the ex-County Bus Edmonton garage being chosen this time. Rather than training Edmonton drivers on Citybuses, which are rather different beasts to most double deckers, it was decided to convert the route back to Metrobus operation, the Metrobus being the standard type at this garage.

Now, as mentioned above, the route has gained new low floor buses and has been re-allocated again. Enfield garage is closer to the route, although not as close as it would have been had the original intention to extend it to Enfield and Ponders End been proceeded with.

The 125 was a completely new route starting on 20 October 1937, using LT class buses from Muswell Hill garage, and the intial concept was quite short, running from Southgate station via Osidge and Whetstone to North Finchley (Tally Ho! Corner). Eleven years later, the route gained an extension from North Finchley over further new territory to Lullington Garth, which was quickly projected via Frith Lane to join the 240 route into Golders Green.

During the 1950s, certain journeys were extended from Southgate via the 244 route to Highlands Hospital, mainly for visitors. These proved to be the precursor to a wholesale extension on Sundays to Winchmore Hill via said route, which lost its Sunday service in the 1960s fad for different service patterns on Sundays (and, in some cases, Saturdays too). On the debit side, the section between North Finchley and Golders Green was withdrawn during evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday service was further modified in 1966 to operate to Oakwood, complementing the 29A and its successor 298A, which only ran on Mondays to Fridays. This Saturday variation was numbered 125A.

In 1970, the 298A was introduced on Saturdays, allowing the 125 to divert via the Sunday 125 to Winchmore Hill on a daily basis. The 244 was cut back to Highlands Hospital, and indeed to Southgate before long. The Monday to Friday section between North Finchley and Golders Green was reduced to peak hours only, cut back to Hendon ‘Bell’ in 1978, and then withdrawn completely in the September 1982 scheme, at last standardising the 125 as a daily route between Winchmore Hill and North Finchley.

1986 saw a curious extension from Winchmore Hill to Enfield, which lasted until 1992. Unlike the recent proposal, this involved a double run at Winchmore Hill. In February 1991, after the takeover by Grey Green, came a short extension from North Finchley to Finchley Central, to offset partially the withdrawal of route 26, the only other direct link between Whetstone and Finchley.

See also routes 240, 29, 298, 299, 326, 34, 149

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