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The H9 and H10 are unique within London in being a genuinely circular route, operating from Harrow to Harrow via Kenton, Wealdstone, North Harrow and South Harrow. This is different from routes such as the 138 and 288 with a loop at one end, as buses operate in both directions. To help passengers, especially those waiting for a bus at Northwick Park Station and Northwick Park Hospital, where buses serve nearby stops in both directions, different coloured blinds were used. Unfortunately there was no guarantee that the correct colour would be used, even after the directions were separated operationally, so a separate route number H9 has now been introduced for the anticlockwise direction.
Seen setting off from Harrow last month is freshly repainted SDP 514 (V514 JBH) of London Sovereign, as yet without logos as decisions were being made about their design. This is the new TfL-imposed standard red based livery for both London Sovereign and parent London United, replacing in both cases far more attractive liveries. The fleet number designation of SDP was chosen rather the DPS, the London United equivalent, as many of the buses share the same numerical part with LU vehicles. The S stands for Sovereign rather than short, and there are apparently some technical differences from LU-specified DPSs.
|Photo © Joshim Nur.|
Also of note is that the bus, despite leaving Harrow, is showing Harrow as its destination – not a case of the driver having forgotten to change the blinds, but an effect of the circular nature of the service! The use of DDA compliant blinds, even though these buses are old enough to be exempt from the regulations, means no via points can practicably be displayed, compounding the problem.
The route has got through several numbers over the years. It started off as the 230, operating between Northwick Park station (not Harrow itself) and North Harrow via Kenton. Later the 230 was extended from North Harrow (which is actually almost due west of Harrow!) to Rayners Lane station where it met up with route 114 which at that time covered the southern leg via South Harrow. It was then renumbered H1, and meanwhile the 114 swapped southern terminals with the 158 (now 258) so that Rayners Lane – Harrow was served by route 158.
This route was in turn replaced by the current circular service, but then numbered 201, and latterly with Harrow Buses using Leyland Nationals. Buses now ran between Northwick Park Hospital and Rayners Lane daily, extended except Sundays to Harrow from both ends. In 1991 it was re-numbered into the Harrow area H1x series as the H10, now running daily throughout. The H10 was operated from the start by Sovereign using Mercedes minibuses, but was upgraded to dual door Dennis Dart operation in 1999.
The route has most of its roads to itself. From Harrow, buses still deviate via Northwick Park Hospital before running to Kenton, then the route is unparalleled through Wealdstone and North Harrow to Eastcote Lane. Even between South Harrow and Harrow the route has a section to itself, as the trunk routes 114 and 140 now divert via Porlock Avenue. But as well as linking these residential areas to their main town centre the route provides useful links: when in South Harrow once I was asked by someone if there was a bus from there to North Harrow, as that would be easier than the Z-shaped journey on the underground necessitating changing at Rayners Lane and Harrow-on-the-Hill — and, indeed, the H10 fulfilled his requirements. However, he had to be careful to catch a bus via Rayners Lane, rather than going into Harrow where he would have had to change anyway!
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