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10 UK bus liveries we really, really miss

First London

The UK bus scene in 2016 is the most colourful you’ll find anywhere in the world. There are some truly stunning liveries to be found adorning vehicles in and around the country’s towns and cities at the moment, but what about those which are no longer with us?

Whether the operator simply went through a rebranding exercise or has sadly been consigned to the dustbin of history, some achingly beautiful liveries have been lost from the streets over the years. Time to take a trip down memory lane…

10. First London

First London TNA33371 (LK53EYO)

Let’s face it, all buses in London look the same these days. It wasn’t always so. First had arguably the most attractive livery of the lot during TfL’s ‘80% red’ era.

9. Wilts & Dorset

Wilts & Dorset Optare Spectra 3120 L120ALJ at Showbus

This past Wilts & Dorset livery is reminiscent of an 80s business suit with its black shoes, white shirt and thinly-lined red tie, complemented of course by a thick, black moustache.

8. First ‘Barbie 2’

First Northampton 38098, J298GNV.

OK, we’ll admit it – we’ve included this one here for sheer comedy value, really. A truly dreadful colour scheme which First used throughout the 2000s to single out its oldest, most dilapidated vehicles purely for the purpose of making them look even older and more dilapidated.

7. Blackpool Transport

Leyland Atlantean/East Lancs 353 UHG353Y Blackpool Transport

A timeless green and cream classic coupled with that unmistakably unique logo, adorning Atlanteans, Olympians and Optare Deltas in many forms throughout its reign. How about bringing it back for 2016?

6. Mainline

25. KWA 25W: Mainline

Mainline’s bold, brash red and yellow certainly stood out against the backdrop of the Steel City.

5. Harrogate & District

Harrogate & District 2953

Local, recognisable identity at its best; a real Yorkshire institution pictured here during the red and cream years.

4. Badgerline

1988-04-10 BNE 737N Daimler Fleetline-Northern Counties 72 of Badgerline, Bath

Badger badger badger badger badger badger, mushroom mushroom

3. North Western

North Western Leyland Olympian / ECW 607 (A146OFR)

It’s said that no two North Western vehicles ever had the same livery applied, because nobody could quite decide on the angle of the white band across the front which had the job of separating those bold, contrasting red and blue colours. Compare a few shots on Flickr and you’ll see what we mean…

2. Stagecoach Stripes

Stagecoach stripes in the sun...

The one we all miss unanimously and arguably want to see back the most. Long live Stagecoach stripes.

1. GM Buses, Manchester

8697 - A697HNB

Harking back to the days of GM Buses and SELNEC before it, orange is a colour which will be forever associated with Manchester, but is sadly no more. Oh, how we miss it.

So, that’s our ‘top 10’ – which liveries would make your list? We’d love to know – write in the comments below, or drop us a tweet @transportdsn.

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12 Responses

  1. Marc

    How about Northumbria buses (now part of Arriva)? East Midland/Mansfield & District/Frontrunner pre-Stagecoach ownership? Northern bus? London & Country?

  2. Andrew

    First Eastern National green & yellow, Western National with the red & blue ‘flags’ down the side. Blackpool Transport’s Metro Coastlines scheme, London & Country…

  3. Pingback : 10 UK bus liveries we really, really love - Transport Designed.

  4. John Ashmore

    Love the league tables! One livery that goes even further back that always looks simple but distinctive, was the traditional ‘argyle blue’ and cream of Blue Bus Services (Tailby and George) of Willington Derby. This was a class above most fleet liveries of the time, and was distinctive and classy. In the 60’s it wasn’t fussy, and didn’t have to shout out ‘look at me’, you just did look, and felt reassured that there was ‘a good bus company’. Even rear engined double deckers looked properly proportioned in the colours then, and the colour mix would still stand out with current vehicle designs, obviously with the help of the current small crop of design specialists in the field.

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