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Route 199
16 November 2010

The 199 has had no less than three incarnations in the Lewisham area, which must be some sort of record. The planners didn’t seem to be able to make their minds up, and kept chopping and changing the overlaps between different routes along the Deptford – Lewisham – Catford – Bromley corridor.

The first 199 started in 1958 and replaced route 1 on Mondays to Fridays between Lewisham and Surrey Docks. For continuity it continued via the 1 to Elephant & Castle and Waterloo, while at the south end it continued to Catford, Bromley and Farnborough, allowing the 47 to be curtailed to Bromley garage on Mondays to Saturdays (the 199 ran Mon-Sat). However, such a splitting of routes was ahead of its time, and the status quo was restored in 1964, though with a slight change in that the 1 now ran all the way to Bromley garage.

By the second attempt, the 1 had been shortened again and ran only as far south as Catford garage. In 1985 the 47 (Bromley Garage to Shoreditch) was split as 47A (Bromley Garage to Surrey Docks) and 47 (Downham to Shoreditch), as a way of converting the southern end of the 47 to one person operation. However, that November the 47A was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays, and the 1 curtailed to Greenwich from the north, with replacment again in the form of Monday to Saturday only route 199, this time between Bromley Common and Trafalgar Square.

This 199 met exactly the same fate as the first 199, being replaced by an extension of the 1 to Bromley Common from June 1987. But a much shorter 199 was re-introduced from 27 April 1991, from Lewisham to Elephant & Castle, the section of the 1 to Bromley being covered by increasing the 208. This 199 differed slightly by operating via Pepys Estate, replacing the 108B, which was withdrawn. When the 180 was cut back to Lewisham in late 1994, the 199 was extended to Catford garage to maintain the link between Catford and Greenwich.

A re-shuffle of local services on 18 September 1999, when the Jubilee Line opened (or, in fact, a week before it opened), saw the 199 diverted to Canada Water station to feed into the Jubilee Line, rather than linking through to Elephant & Castle. This prompted severe overcrowding on the 1 which never really went away, despite extra buses being laid on the 1 – the 199 change was doubtless political rather than practical, though no doubt the interchange at Canada Water has its uses.

The last two incarnations of the 199 were both Titan worked, first from Bromley garage and now from Catford, but the Titans were replaced by new Dennis Tridents towards the end of 1999, to tie in with the Jubilee Line change. Selkent has passed back to Stagecoach, so I will try to update some of their routes as well before too much corporatism creeps in! Although the 1999 Tridents are still at Catford, later batches of Tridents are more common and little effort is made to separate either the different batches or the different lengths. Having said that, both buses featured here are the long wheelbase version, as should be. The first is an oddity, 17435 (LX51 FKJ), a solitary Selkent vehicle delivered at the end of a large batch for East London. It was photographed on Thursday 5 November 2009 in Lewisham High Street.

Photo © Brian Creasey.

The second is one from the last batch of ALX400 bodied Tridents built, before production switched to the Enviro400. They were intended for route 47, also based at Catford garage. 18494 (LX06 AGZ) has just started its journey from Catford garage, in Bromley Road, Bellingham, on 1 May 2009.

Photo © RNAM200.

ChronologicallyLine 1103
See also routes 1, 47, 208, 180

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