Carshalton Belle

Page last updated 6 January 2014


Five Carshalton Belle coaches in line along St Helier Avenue at the Middleton Road junction.  The first three carry Burlingham Seagull 60 bodies from 1960 - apparently these were prone to leak through the raised central roof section. The first, UAW999 is a Thames 570E, new to Whittles of Highley; the other two are probably Bedfords (the third is probably 829AOX, photographed by Alan Cross on the 151).  The last two coaches have Duple bodywork.
Photo © Norman Hunt


With thanks to Norman Hunt, we can provide a little background to local (to us) coach operator Carshalton Belle, which enters the LT scene by having run on route 151 during an overtime ban in 1966.


The owner was Norman's father, John E G Hunt, as shown on the rear of Bedford SB GFB328, pictured right.   The company base was 459 Green Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, but the company had no yard and all coaches were parked in streets around the Green Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, and Lillieshall Rd, Morden, often infuriating local residents.  The company lasted for approx 4/5 years from c1962-66 and at its height had five coaches.


Norman recalls that his father worked for some time at United of Balham, L Adnams of Clapham Junction and Blue Belle of South Wimbledon, all of which which formed part of United Service Transport.  He remembers travelling with his father as a child on a Dennis half cab, a Bedford bull nose, Bedford Duples and others.  United Service Transport of Clapham Road, SW9 (and Merton, Balham, Stockwell, Southfields and Clapham) dated back to the 20s and was acquired eventually by the George Ewer Group (Grey Green) in 1965; another subsidiary was HJ Phillips and operations also included transporting newspapers.  More about the group appears in Tom McLachlan's 'Grey Green and Contemporaries, book 1'.


Based on the pictures provided by Norman, we can identify that the Carshalton Belle fleet, at various points, included the following:


LRU883      Bedford SB, Gurney Nutting body, new approx 1950?

GFB328      Bedford [?], Duple Vega, new approx 1956?

UAW999     Thames 570E, Burlingham Seagull 60, new to Whittles of Highley 1960

?                   Bedford [?], Duple Vega, new approx 1960?

829AOX       Bedford [?], Burlingham Seagull 60, new 1960?

830AOX       Bedford [?], Burlingham Seagull 60, new 1960?

?                   Bedford [?], Duple Vega, new approx 1963?


We do not claim any knowledge of 1950s and 1960s coaches - can anyone tell us more?


Returning to LT route 151, Norman remembers collecting fares on the route, of which Carshalton Belle worked the section from St Helier Avenue Middleton Road (ironically the location of the line-up pictured above, close to the home of the business) to the Mullards factory in Culvers Avenue, Carshalton.  The route ran along part of Green Wrythe Lane, so was very local to the business.


Union protest at cuts in Central Area bus mileage introduced in January 1966 led to an overtime ban, causing a number of routes to be suspended from Wednesday 26 Jan 66 to Friday 25 Feb 66.  A public outcry led London Transport to agree to other operators operating over sections of road with no service, provided they charged standard LT fares.  Philip Wallis in 'London Transport Connections 1945-1985' reports that Carshalton Belle operated the St Helier Avenue to Hackbridge section of the 151 from 31 Jan 66 to 26 Feb 66 inclusive, although another source says they ran Monday to Saturday rather than daily.  Working with either one coach or two, a frequency of 15 or 30 minutes was provided, compared with the LT weekday frequency of 7-10 minutes over the Hackbridge section.


No more pictures of Carshalton Belle, but here is an early United Service Transport coach, apparently when new.  YE9650 is a Leyland LSC from around 1927/28, probably the PLSC1 version which usually seated about 32 (thanks to Dick Gilbert for the details.  He says the style of 'convertible' bodywork was the latest fashion at the time).

Photo Chris Stanley collection