Kingston termini

Page last updated 27 December 2018
Kingston, 1970s-style.  Bentalls for shopping, RFs galore, but not for much longer.  It is September 1976, and in a week's time only the 218 and 219 will still keep the RF class alive in the town.  RF389 provides the north-of-the-river route to Staines. 
Photo © John Parkin
To accompany his articles on Kingston’s bus routes in London Bus Magazine nos 49 and 50 (summer/autumn 1984), the late Brian Bunker wrote about terminal arrangements in Kingston in the London Historical Research Group Bulletin no.71 (December 1984). His LHRG article (with subsequently published additions and corrections), the late David Ruddom’s detailed route records and LGOC plans from Malcolm Payne, plus recollections of Kingston crew members Ian Hogben, Paul Wheeler and Graham Burnell together form the basis for this piece. The story is updated to Deregulation Day (26 October 1986) with brief notes on subsequent developments leading to today's two bus stations. As ever, corrections and additions will be welcome.
Early days
The first motor bus operation to serve Kingston was the Kew Bridge to Surbiton service of New London & Suburban, running via Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston. This replaced a horse bus service by the same operator between 1 April and 20 October 1905, before reverting to horse bus operation.
Electric trams commenced service in Kingston on 1 March 1906, operated by London United Tramways, but also did not terminate in the town. The same applied to the trolleybuses that replaced them, these operating the ‘Kingston loop’ via Park Road and Kings Road in place of the Kingston Hill tram terminus.
Market Place, Druid’s Head
Kingston Market Place, with the Druid's Head Hotel on the left. A horse bus on the Esher service has turned and is departing to the south, c1900.
Postcard, Royal Borough of Kingston collection.
Horse buses to Kingston terminated in the Market Place. This was the terminus used in 1911 by London Central (successors to New London & Suburban) for their new motor bus routes to Thames Ditton introduced on 11 November (via Surbiton, later route 71) and 18 November (via Portsmouth Road and three weeks later extended to Esher, later route 79). These were based at the company’s Ceres Road garage west of the railway station (Ceres Road was later renamed Wood Street). Within weeks, the Surbiton route had been extended to run from Richmond (Kew Bridge on Sundays) and no longer used the Market Place. London Central routes were taken over by LGOC in 1913 and the Ceres Road garage closed.
The Market Place is situated at the north end of the High Street, south of Clarence Street, and would be a natural terminus for routes arriving via Portsmouth Road. The stand was outside the Druid’s Head, on the west side of Market Place a few yards from the junction with Eden Street. On departure, buses turned in Market Place. On 20 and 27 July 1921, route 79 was joined here by new LGOC routes 115 to Guildford and 112 to Weybridge, both via Portsmouth Road and worked by Putney Garage (as by then was the 79).
Kingston Bus Garage
On 4 January 1922, LGOC opened its new bus garage situated in Cromwell Road, close to the railway station. New routes 61 (later 217) and 62 (later 218) were introduced from there on that day. Routes 79 and 112 were combined as 79 (later 219) and operation and the terminus moved to the new garage, as was 115 (later 215).
(Right) The 1921 plan of the LGOC Garage. Note the empty area between the garage and Richmond Road (post-war, this section was renamed Clarence Street) and the 'line of future extension'. No access is shown from the garage to the 'concrete road' marked - see also elevation below - but a more detailed 1927 plan shows a sliding door from the garage onto the concrete road, so access from the garage may have preceded the building of the Bus Station.
Plan © TfL, not to be reproduced without written permission, granted for use on this web site only.
(Above) The 1921 elevation drawing, showing the northern elevation on Cromwell Road. The western elevation (of the mess room) to Richmond Road does not show the set-back side of the garage.
Plan © TfL, not to be reproduced without written permission, granted for use on this web site only.
Routes arrived via Richmond Road (this section was later renamed Clarence Street), setting down there and/or in Cromwell Road. On departure, buses turned left and left again, picking up in Cromwell Road and/or Richmond Road. Market Place no longer served as a terminus, buses continuing from Portsmouth Road and High Street along Eden Street and Richmond Road to the garage.
In November 1923, S265 turns from Cromwell Road to enter the bus garage, closely followed by a 62. The S-type had recently replaced the B-type on the route.
Photo © London Transport Museum.
Horse Fair, The Old Ship
The General served Kingston before London Central, but only with summer Sunday services to Hampton Court, from Easter 1910. These used the main east-west route through Kingston at the time, from London Road or Richmond Road via Clarence Street to Kingston Bridge. When General first introduced a route terminating in Kingston (a Sunday extension of Kings Cross to Putney route 30 in 1913), the terminus was The Old Ship in the Horse Fair, immediately to the north of Clarence Street (roughly where John Lewis is today, the dual carriageway under which has adopted the Horse Fair name). The Horse Fair terminus was operated anti-clockwise, with buses arriving via Wood Street and departing via Thames Street.
After the Sunday operation of route 30 in 1913, the next use was by route 85 from Putney Bridge, extended on Sundays from 18 January 1914 and daily from 2 November that year. Apart from a Sunday extension in 1921, the 85 used Horse Fair daily until May 1922, when it was extended daily via Leatherhead to Guildford for the summer. Deep in what we know as the Country Area, the Leatherhead to Guildford section was replaced in November by East Surrey route S6B (later to become the 408) in a major extension for that company, under its recent agreement with LGOC. For summer weekends in 1923, the 85 went to Dorking; otherwise the terminus remained at Horse Fair daily until the new bus station opened on 7 November 1928.
From 28 September to 9 November 1919 only, a new Sunday route 90 from Charing Cross terminated at Horse Fair. The 85 was next joined at Horse Fair by former route 71 (by then numbered 105 and later to become 65B then 65) on 21 January 1920 when it was shortened from Surbiton. New route 113 to Lower Kingswood via Sutton was added to the terminus on 7 September 1921, as was the 39 to Victoria from 14 April 1922 (weekends for that summer only) and 73A (later 173) from 23 August 1922.
Fairfield West
A final pre-bus station terminus was devised when new route 171 (later 214) to Chertsey via Walton started on 25 April 1928. The terminus and stand were in Fairfield West, arriving from and departing to the south via Knights Park, but, despite efforts by Reg Westgate, it is not known exactly how the 171 terminated or exactly where the stand in Fairfield West was. This route also transferred to the Bus Station on 7 November 1928.
Kingston Bus Station
The LGOC bus garage in Cromwell Road had been used since 4 January 1922 as the terminus of routes 61 (later 217), 62 (later 218), 79 (later 219) and 115 (later 215). This continued in use until 1928, when Kingston’s famous Bus Station was built on the Richmond Road side of the bus garage. For some weeks prior to the official opening on 7 November 1928, some terminating buses stood at the Bus Station. The 65B was shortened to the Bus Station on 17 October 1928 at the start of the winter schedules, with the 85, 113 and 173 moving from Horse Fair and 171 from Fairfield West on 7 November.
The bus station was built as a lay-by, with service buses entering from the north and leaving to the south, and also provided the exit from the garage as shown on the plan.
The newly-opened Bus Station in 1928, showing the 'lay-by' layout.
Photo © London Transport Museum
The September 1928 plan showing the 'covered bus stand' - the two openings provide the exit from garage, replacing the western door to Cromwell Road. Note the 'island' on Richmond Road between entrance and exit; a later more detailed LGOC plan shows a 'tram standard' in the centre of this.
Plan © TfL, not to be reproduced without written permission, granted for use on this web site only.
Kingston Railway Station
East Surrey reached Kingston on 14 April 1922, when the S6 (renumbered under Bassom rules in 1924 as 406) was extended from Epsom to terminate at the Railway Station. The railway station was used as the country bus terminus for 13 years, with the 406 being joined by the 418 on 28 February 1934, at which time the terminal working was ‘set down at 27 Ceres Road, turn on Station forecourt, reverse and stand outside 23 Ceres Road’. Note that the station layout was quite different at that time.
On 13 May 1935 the stand was revised to the Central Area Bus Garage, setting down opposite Kingston Bus Station, proceed via Cromwell Road to appointed stand for Country Buses, return via Cromwell Road and pick up outside Bus Station. It seems likely that this move was to permit rebuilding of the station by Southern Railway, as part of which the station entrance moved to the corner of Richmond Road.
The thirties
Bus station
On opening in 1928, the Bus Station provided the terminus for the following routes (3 October 1934 numbers in brackets):
Arriving via High Street, Eden Street, Richmond Road (being the only routes to pass Market Place); departure by the same roads: 61 (217), 62 (218), 79 (219), 115 (215);
Arriving and departing via Petersham Road, Richmond Road: 65B (65);
Arriving and departing via Fairfield West, Richmond Road: 171 (214);
Arriving and departing via London Road, Richmond Road: 85 (85), 113 (213), 173 (Saturdays, last operated 27 May 1933).
In 1928, no routes using Kingston Bridge terminated in Kingston.
New LGOC services to serve Kingston over the next few years also terminated at the Bus Station. On Good Friday 29 March 1929, the 115 was double-decked at weekends and renumbered 620 (20). In order to avoid the low bridge at Ditton Marsh, it travelled from High Street via Brighton Road and Hook. Between 20 May 1931 and 2 October 1933, new route 170 to Hook ran via Fairfield West, Fairfield South and Villiers Road (the route then also taken by 171), replaced in 1933 by an extension of the 152.
On 1 January 1933, new route 198 (216) from Kingston Bus Station to Staines commenced, running via Clarence Street and Kingston Bridge. This competed with the Sunshine Saloon Coaches service from Kingston Station to Ashford, an independent operation commenced sometime in the late 1920s. That service was supported by the department store Bentalls, and was acquired by LPTB on 30 December 1933. On 21 June 1933, the 171 (214) was rerouted via Clarence Street and Kingston Bridge, using the new Hampton Court Bridge to reach Walton, and was replaced along Fairfield West by the 105 (201) from Hounslow, extended via Surbiton to reach Kingston. Meanwhile, a temporary service not mentioned by Brian in the LBM articles was a special service for the Bath & West Counties Agricultural Show, operated for four days only from 24 May 1933 via London Road to Coombe Lane (Kingston By Pass), possibly numbered 253.
Route 14, which had summer Sunday extensions to Hampton Court but otherwise did not reach Kingston, gained a single afternoon journey from 4 October 1933 to “Kingston Station”. It is thus described twice in Traffic Circulars, even though at that time no other Central Area routes terminated at the Railway Station. When the journey was withdrawn, from 17 July 1935, the Traffic Circular referred to journeys from “Kingston Bus Station”. It is possible that the terminus moved to the Bus Station in May 1935, when the Country bus routes moved from the station forecourt.
From 4 March 1936, three Monday to Friday morning peak journeys on route 73 from Stoke Newington were extended from Richmond to Kingston Bus Station, via Petersham Road. From Good Friday 10 April 1936, route 112 from Palmers Green was extended on summer Sundays to operate to Kingston Bus Station via Petersham Road; this extension operated until 1938 only. On 27 May 1936, route 152 was withdrawn between Hook and Kingston and replaced by Kingston short workings on route 65 extended to Hook.
In this pre-war view, Turnham Green's ST662 sits in the Bus Station as a Scooter leaves on the 213 towards London Road. The STL in the background is a Country Area front-entrance bus on the 406.
Photo Lloyd Rich collection
From 28 December 1936, the Country Area routes 406 and 418, which had been setting down and picking up outside the Bus Station en route to and from the garage, started running via Cromwell Road and through the garage to terminate in the Bus Station. It is possible that this marks the point at which the Bus Station arrangement changed from lay-by to the more familiar line of buses facing the street, although a 1937 LT drawing shows a proposed layout for this including islands within the bus station, which did not materialise. It notes that the pavement island between the old entrance and exit would need to be removed 'and reposition bus stop sign'. Whenever this did happen, buses then entered the garage in Cromwell Road and ran through one of the two doorways to the Bus Station on Richmond Road. This pre-war photograph shows this layout.
With the arrival of the green buses in the Bus Station at the end of 1936, all routes terminating in Kingston now terminated there, i.e. 20 (withdrawn October 1939), 73, 85, 112 (until 1938), 201, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217 (withdrawn October 1937), 218, 219, 406, 418. This marked the only period in which all routes terminated together.
Kingston in 1940, before rebuilding started. Horse Fair is just east of the river, between Clarence Street and the school.
Map © Collins Bartholomew, from
1940 to 1963
This period with all routes terminating together came to an end with increased service frequencies during the second world war. Before this, the routes listed above were joined on 15 May 1940 by journeys on the 14 to Hornsey Rise, but the 73 journeys were withdrawn after 13 May 1941. The 214 was double-decked and renumbered 131 on 29 October 1941.
Arrivals at the Bus Station
On 9 September 1942, the inbound workings for routes arriving from the west (131, 216) and east (85, 213) were changed to arrive via Wood Street (setting down there) and via Birkenhead Road, Queen Elizabeth Road, Cromwell Road (setting down there) respectively, instead of turning north from Clarence Street or London Road into Richmond Road.
Inbound buses to the Bus Station from the south (201, 214, 215, 218, 219, 406, 418) turned right after the Bus Station into Cromwell Road to run through the garage.
About to turn into the garage from Cromwell Road is Q8, all ready to return to Cobham on the 215.  In the background is the coal-yard.  The bus carries minimum fare boards, a device used on many routes leaving Kingston to discourage short-distance passengers on longer routes; they also applied to Country Area services.
Photo © Alan Cross
Brian Bunker reported John Wooden, who lived in Kingston at that time, vaguely recalling childhood memories that for a while, possibly late in the war, the 213 laid over in Cromwell Road and did not enter the Bus Garage but picked up passengers on departure from an “island” in front of the Bus Station. If this memory is correct then presumably this was done to relieve lack of space in the Bus Station when the single-deck routes had their frequencies increased; by that time, there was however no fixed island in front of the Bus Station.
Hardman Road
On 2 April 1941, route 418 was extended to Guildford, replacing route 432, and its Kingston stand was changed to a new terminus in Hardman Road (which is first right eastwards up Cromwell Road). The stand was reached clockwise via Cromwell Road, Queen Elizabeth Road and Hardman Road (westbound), and was located outside the Bentalls property facing north. On departure into Cromwell Road, the first stop was just past the garage entrance.
On 13 June 1941, a Country Area Traffic Circular notes a requirement for 'buses leaving Kingston' to pick up at the compulsory stop outside the Bus Station. On 27 June 1941, a further Traffic Circular describes the terminal arrangement for Kingston as Hardman Road, indicating that the 406 would now join the 418 on that stand, and reiterated the need on departure to serve stops both in Cromwell Road and in Richmond Road outside the Bus Station. On 12 December 1941, conductors were instructed that passengers be allowed to board on the stand and destination blinds should be suitably set immediately on arrival on stand. In that circular, the 3d minimum fare on the 406 on departure from Kingston was announced, effective 1 December.
The Hardman Road terminal working was repeated in the Traffic Circular on 9 July 1943. No change is recorded in the intervening period, so the significance of this item is unclear.
A view of the parking area adjacent to the Kingston Station lay-by, taken from platform 1 during a strike at Kingston Garage.
Photo © Alan Cross
Kingston Station
Since 1935, no buses had terminated at the railway station. However, Alan Cross records that he saw single-deck LTs parked there in December 1943, so it appears the long-standing overflow parking adjacent to Wood Street dates from before then. On 22 May 1946, the 216 terminus moved to the Kingston Station lay-by. This was west of the newly rebuilt station building, to the north of Wood Street and lay alongside platform 1. On departure, the route continued to use Richmond Road past the Bus Station.
Effective 6 January 1947, the 406 and 418 moved to terminate at the lay-by, facing east. An earlier Traffic Circular, which described an anti-clockwise use of the lay-by to stand facing west from 1 January, was cancelled; it is not know whether it had been put into effect between 1 and 5 January. The routes now ran past the Bus Station in both directions without stopping. The Traffic Circular specifically states that conductors are to call out at Eden Street and Fairfield West (respectively) "Next stop Kingston Southern Railway Station (Wood Street)".
An LT scheme for the Kingston Station lay-by dated August 1948 for 'proposed shelters and boundary wall'. These were never built, neither was a roundel erected, but the lay-by layout was as shown. The area to the far left was used post-war for bus storage.
Image © TfL, not to be reproduced without written permission, granted for use on this web site only.
As an aside, the stand in Hardman Road clearly remained available for a while, as Alan Cross recalls trolleybus tower wagons and wire lubricators being parked there regularly in 1947/8.
Kingston's LT1103 in 1948 at the set-down stop in Cromwell Road, outside the coal yard and just before the garage entrance opposite. The 201 ran to Feltham until 1951.
Photo © Alan Cross.
On 11 January 1950 the 131 moved to join the 216 and Country buses at the station. When the 264 from Walton-on-Thames was extended to Kingston on 27 June 1951, it also terminated at the lay-by, arriving via Wood Street and departing via Clarence Street as for the 216.
Bus station
The 131 was replaced in the Bus Station on 11 January 1950 by new route 71 to Richmond, the number reappearing after a gap of 36 years. Turning north gave a difficult right hand turn across the traffic, particularly awkward for the first few weeks when passengers were not allowed to board in the Bus Station but were required to wait at the 65 stop opposite. Between 1959 and 1964, when the 71 was extended to Sunbury on Saturdays, its return journey via Wood Street included entering the Station lay-by to serve the bus stop.
On 14 May 1952, new route 265 replaced 65A between Chessington Copt Gilders and Kew Bridge Station, terminating from the south on Sundays at Kingston Bus Station. From 17 March 1954, buses ran north from Kingston only in Monday to Friday peaks and on Saturdays, otherwise terminating in the Bus Station.
After the 1958 bus strike, on 26 November, the route 14 Monday to Friday journeys were withdrawn, but instead the route was extended to reach Kingston Bus Station on Sundays; from 1959 to 1965, the route was further extended on summer Sundays to Hampton Court.
New route 286 to Belmont arrived at the Bus Station on 3 January 1962, using the same routing as 213, having replaced the western part of the 200 between Copse Hill and Raynes Park.
It is notable that on bus blinds, the destination 'Kingston' was just KINGSTON in LT days, when most other places had more detailed qualifying points.  It saved a lot of aggravation when the terminals moved around. In London Country days, the 406 and 418 started showing Kingston Station on newer King & Flack blinds.  But that was later...
One-way system
All change
Like the trams before them, the trolleybuses never terminated in Kingston, despite it being the centre of the longest-running part of the network. However, with their loss on 8 May 1962, replacement route 282 did terminate at the Bus Station on Sundays, having run round the Kingston Hill loop in both directions. It last ran on 30 December 1966. Other changes to bus services included the extension of the 131 to Wimbledon, so it no longer terminated in Kingston.
The new craze for one-way systems could now be satisfied, and the change which came on 14 July 1963 led to widespread alteration in terminal arrangements. Clarence Street in front of the bus station became one-way southbound, flow continuing west along Clarence Street to Bentalls and north then east via Wood Street. Running through the centre of this block is Fife Street, which became one-way northbound. To the east, Cromwell Road and Queen Elizabeth Road became one-way eastbound/ southbound, with the western part of London Road becoming westbound only.
July 1963 Kingston one-way system, courtesy Surrey Comet
This resulted in buses from the east (14, 85, 213/A, 286) moving terminus to the Kingston Station lay-by, arriving via Clarence Street and Wood Street and departing via Cromwell Road and Queen Elizabeth Road. This displacing the inhabitants of the lay-by (216, 264, 406/A, 418), which arrived from west and south, to the Bus Station, the Country buses now making the circuit of Clarence Street and Wood Street. These routes set down in Wood Street (the timetable for the 418 alone now showed the final timing point as Kingston Bus Station), then ran in to the Bus Station via the Cromwell Road garage entrance. Routes 215/A, 218, 219 were revised inbound to run from Eden Street via Fife Road then (via a right-turn only filter) into Clarence Street, where the terminus moved to the roadside south of the Bus Station. The 71, 201 and 265 were the only routes to remain at the Bus Station and these too now made the circuit of Clarence Street and Wood Street on arrival or departure as necessary (Brian Bunker incorrectly stated that the 71 moved to the station).
The next new arrival was the 111 on 4 July 1964, extended from Hampton to Kingston on Saturdays to replace the western extension of the 71 on that day. It too set down in Wood Street then ran into the Bus Station. It was temporarily replaced by the 211 between 23 August 1969 and 10 April 1971, and became daily from 27 January 1978.
The 286 was withdrawn in two stages in 1964, replaced on Monday to Saturday from 29 January by the 57 to Stockwell. The Sunday service ended on 15 November 1964, but was not replaced until 31 October 1965, by an extended route 200 to Wimbledon; the 200 last ran to Kingston on 24 January 1971. Both 57 and 200 terminated in the Station lay-by.
A Sunday in January 1966. The Station lay-by, showing part of the overflow parking for Kingston garage.
Photo © Richard Cripps.
On 15 May 1966, the 215/A, 218 and 219 were re-routed inbound via Clarence Street and Wood Street instead of Fife Road, necessary to permit access to Cromwell Road to terminate in the Bus Station. Last set down was Kingston Station. This ended what must have been an unsatisfactory arrangement of terminating in Clarence Street. At the same time (or the next day), the 406 and 418 moved termini again, back to the Station lay-by.
The Bus Station now hosted all the RF routes (201, 215/A, 216, 218, 219, 264) and 71, 111, 265 and short-workings on 65. The Station lay-by had 14 (Sundays until the end of 1970), 57, 85, 200 (until 24 January 1971) and 213/A.
This change now set the pattern for the next twenty years. Brian Bunker recalls 'a respected source' reporting that the 218 spent a period in the 60s or early 70s in the lay-by while the 216 spent a time in the same period running from the lay-by on Monday-Friday and from the Bus Station the rest of the time. I can find no trace of this, and cannot recall a photograph of either of these routes in the Station lay-by in this period.
On the last day of 1966, the 265 was replaced by 65A, which also replaced the 65 at weekends; this marked the start of a period of instability for the 65 and 71. The 65A ran until, on 30 November 1968, the 71 was extended south to Leatherhead (and no longer terminated in Kingston, except for a new Sunday service from the south) and the 65 was reintroduced at weekends. On 2 December 1969, the Fairfield routes (65, 71, 201; 418 had been re-routed via Eden Street in 1964) were re-routed northbound via Hawks Road, Albert Road to join London Road, instead of entering via Fairfield South and Fairfield West.
On 18 September 1971, a new 211 was introduced from Kingston Station to Walton-on-Thames. It was extended beyond Kingston on 28 January 1978 to run from Tolworth via Berrylands, replacing the 418 over that section. From the late 1970s, budget cuts at Surrey County Council resulted in wholesale amendment and retraction of the network south and west of Kingston. On the same day, the 264 was withdrawn, being replaced between Hampton and Kingston by the 111, now daily. Also replaced was the 206, by a completely recast 215, now running only from Esher and entering Kingston via Fairfield. On this day, the 201 was rerouted away from Fairfield to run via Eden Street, but was in turn withdrawn on 26 September 1980. The 418 ceased operation on 27 October 1978 and was replaced by routes 478/479; it was reinstated replacing 479 on 27 January 2001.
The 'new' 211 to Walton. SMS560 heads for Kingston Bridge with the well-known Bentalls building in the background, well before construction of the present day John Lewis store. The original Horse Fair terminus was around the block behind the bus, Horse Fair itself opening onto Wood Street opposite Bentalls.
Photo © Richard Cripps.
More change on the 65/71 corridor came on 31 March 1979, when the 265 reappeared running daily to Leatherhead and replacing the 71 south of Surbiton. Its terminus on Monday to Saturday was Kingston Bus Station. This version of the 265 lasted until 26 September 1980, when it was replaced by the 71 as far as Chessington Zoo. This ran via the main road in Chessington until the 65 was withdrawn south of Kingston on 7 February 1987, whereupon the current route via Copt Gilders was adopted.
On 28 January 1983, route 219 was withdrawn and replaced by London Country Bus Services route 437 to Kingston Station, leaving only the 218 of the original Esher routes. This lasted until 25 July 1997, when it was replaced by London & Country routes 481, 491. Also on 28 January 1983, the 211 was replaced by an extension to Tolworth of the 216. On 12 November 1983, new RM-operated 'Shoppers' Express' routes K1 (from Chessington) and K2 (from Tolworth) were introduced, setting down in Wood Street and picking up at the Bus Station. These lasted until early 1985.
A view of Cromwell Road and the garage entrance on the last day of RF operation. RF512 takes a wide swing at the doorway.
Photo © David Jones.
Kingston garage and bus station
The closure of Kingston garage (but not the Bus Station) on 13 January 1984 seems the appropriate time to pause the chronology and look at operations at the garage in the 1960s and 1970s.
Kingston garage was unique in being cheek-by-jowl with a busy bus station, all of whose services had to enter through the garage. The garage was far too small for the job it was doing, leading both to the use of the bus station for overnight parking and significant overflow storage both by the railway station and in the famous coal yard in Cromwell Road. The bus station was used only by terminating buses - all others served stops outside.
Ian Hogben (Kingston driver 1970 to 1984) has kindly sketched the layout of the bus station, together with a series showing how the bus station was transformed each evening into a bus store.
Ian Hogben's sketch of the Bus Station layout in the 1970s. Due to shortage of space in the garage, the Bus Station was used to park buses overnight, necessitating complex run-out and run-in, described by Ian Hogben on the attached sketches:
(i) Overnight arrangement. The front rank always overhung the pavement/ramp due to lack of space. On Sundays, more buses were stored in the coal-yard (across Cromwell Road) than on weekdays.
(ii) Part way through the morning run-out. The exact formation of the run-out would vary slightly from day to day but was generally roughly the same. At this point, the running shift would now bring buses across from Cromwell Road where they had been parked overnight. These (coal-yard) buses would then depart next. The ones left in this diagram would be the last to go (other than those in the garage area at the back, which had been held back for minor defects).
(iii) Daytime, with layover buses parked against the back wall
(iv) Late evening 'lay-by' format. Late services would stand across the forecourt (in no particular route order). As buses came off the fuel pump and wash, a shunter would bring them through the gaps from the back and reverse them against the wall, gradually filling up the space from the back to the front, finally filling all the gaps. See Ian's explanation for the "bullet-holes" on the back of Kingston RFs.
(v) Final shunting. The shunter would wait for the last service bus (216 to Sunbury) to depart before pulling the remaining refuelled/washed buses across the main road and backing them up to fill up the rows.
All diagrams © Ian Hogben
The garage was also (improbably) an art venue. The canteen included a 1950 Victor Pasmore mural (below) - the Tate says 'drawing on the influence of Ben Nicholson (in 1950 on the invitation of Nicholson, Pasmore visited St. Ives, which was seen as a centre for landscape-derived abstraction) and on his own abstract collages of 1949, this mural signalled the direction of Pasmore’s work towards three-dimensional non-figuration'. However, the Kingston Garage Art Critic reports that the mural was ruined the last time the canteen was decorated. 'The abstract shapes were originally all painted in pastel colours to calm the observer down and make for a relaxing break from work. This was maintained right up until the last repaint of the canteen when some idiot decided to paint them all in much bolder colours (as seen in your picture) and destroyed the whole ambience. I'm glad the comfy chairs I used to sleep in were below this piece of art so I couldn't see it, otherwise it would have disturbed my slumbers.'  The modified mural was reportedly rescued by the developers of the site in 1999.
Returning to the buses. Once the bus station had been opened through from the bus garage (by 1936), entry to both has been through the Cromwell Road entrance and out direct to Clarence Street. OPO buses always dropped passengers before entering the site - usually in Wood Street - but terminating crew buses (on the 65 and 71, and possibly other routes) carried passengers through the garage and into the bus station to alight.
The exception was buses terminating at the garage, which would not (necessarily) run through into the bus station, and they dropped off passengers onto the pavement at the entrance to the garage. As Paul Wheeler puts it 'you could get a queue of buses waiting in Cromwell Road while you emptied a full bus in the entrance and cause quite a jam'. This was stopped in about 1982, with the introduction of Kingston Richmond Road as a destination to identify buses that finished in the garage; these set down at a stop outside the ABC cinema, north of the railway bridge.
Because of the shortage of space in the garage, the bus station was used every evening to park up buses, in the 1960s and 1970s mainly RFs plus the early run-out on the 65 and 71; Kingston's RTs in the main being kept in the coal yard. Paul Wheeler says: 'The late run in and preparation for the morning run out was quite complicated and time consuming for such a small garage. Much of the allocation had to be driven round the town's one-way system, involving lots of sets of traffic lights, to park in the coal yard. This was particularly true of the early evening run-in as the bus station needed to remain operational throughout. At around 2100, the garage part at the back was not accessible and buses entered from the front and stood parallel to the road, rather than facing the road as they did in the daytime. Once the last departures were gone it became a frenzy to fill the front of the bus station with buses; by this time they had only one entrance useable because the back line of buses against the wall had already been positioned earlier in the evening. Filling up the rest of the bus station meant driving through from the back and straight across the lanes of traffic outside and then reversing back into the required position.' All this activity was carried out by the Kingston night staff engineers and cleaners. Ian Hogben's sketches show the process in more detail.
It is reported that Kingston was the only London Transport garage without an automatic bus wash so that, until closure, all buses were cleaned by hand.
Richard Cripps' view of Kingston Bus Station on Christmas Day 1975 - when no services ran - gives a sense of the storage challenge. The RMs are borrowed from Norbiton, ferried over for the Boxing Day run-out. The RF with the blank blind may have been used by the ferry crew.
The need to park up three rows of 30'-long RFs facing the road meant (a) that they were parked touching - and the place RFs touch front to back is the spindle of the nearside wiper, hence the dents in the backs of RFs - and (b) that they overhung the pavement.
The final RFs left Kingston on 30 March 1979, with a major change the next day as the allocation for the 218 and 219 was moved to nearby Norbiton garage and swapped for 13 RMs on the 65, previously operated by Norbiton (but with Sunday loans to Kingston). This became Kingston's second crew route, the 71 having arrived on 30 November 1968 when Twickenham garage closed. The remainder of the 65 moved across from Norbiton on 4 September 1982, when all OMO work moved to Norbiton. Kingston had gone from being all single-deck in 1968 to all double-deck in 1982. It was not to last, and the 65 and 71 moved to Norbiton on the closure of Kingston as a garage after 13 January 1984.
The Bus Station saw several more generations of buses, including the Westlink Metroriders seen here in 1994.
Photo © John Law
Illustrating the impact of deregulation - London Country South West took over the 218 in 1986 and a Greenway National accompanies the Metroriders in the early 1990s.
Photo © Paul Featherstone
A new bus station
The late 1980s saw dramatic changes to Kingston's bus services and terminal arrangements. Bus service de-regulation outside London on 26 October 1986 brought new services into Kingston from south and west, many not staying the course. This article does not attempt to cover the services that came and went from 1986 onwards.
Whilst it was clear that the Bus Station's days were numbered, it was the Station lay-by that was the first location to be replaced. The lay-by had received two final extra routes on 27 June 1987, when 285 was cut back to Kingston Station and 152 extended from New Malden in its place.
On the opening of Fairfield Bus Station on 21 November 1987, most Kingston Station routes including 57, 85, 213 and 406 moved in, but 152 and 285 (and 131 short workings) were deferred until 16 January 1988. The new bus station was also served by routes running westbound along London Road. London Transport briefly referred to the bus station as Cattlemarket Bus Station from September 1990, but the name didn't last.
Fairfield Bus Station in 2003. Boarding stops are on Fairfield North, to the left of the ventilation towers.
Photo © Julian Walker.
Change to one-way system
The next major upheaval, on Sunday 30 July 1989, was the pedestrianisation of Clarence Street between Fife Road and Wood Street, to create the layout that we would recognise today. Roads website SABRE now says 'The Kingston One-Way System is probably the most effective of London's many gyratories and one-way systems in the cunning art of not letting you visit the town it is in'.
Since the closure of the station lay-by, a new bridge under the railway had joined Kingsgate Road on the north side with Wood Street. Further west, the new Horse Fair had opened (under the soon-to-be-opened John Lewis store) in October 1988, so eastbound traffic from Kingston Bridge now ran via Horse Fair, Wood Street, Kingsgate Road, Sopwith Way, Richmond Road, Cromwell Road, Queen Elizabeth Road to London Road, as it does now. Clarence Street outside the Bus Station reversed its flow to become northbound, with westbound traffic from London Road running via the new Fairfield North (which replaced part of London Road from 1989), Clarence Street and Wood Street. In order to serve the shopping area, buses from Fairfield Bus Station and the east made a loop via Ashdown Road to access the northbound stops in Eden Street.
Services terminating in Clarence Street Bus Station now stood in Cromwell Road in the evening and on Sundays, at a set of stops served by all passing routes. The impact on routes from Kingston Bridge varied. Initially, the 111, 216 and 285 continued to use the Clarence Street Bus Station, but from 29 September 1990, the 111 and 216 changed to terminate in Wood Street, followed by the 285 in July 1995.
The Kingston terminus for short-working 71s moved on 30 July 1989 to Fairfield Bus Station, but on withdrawal north of Kingston on 29 September 1990, the terminus moved back to Clarence Street Bus Station, replacing route 65 which switched to Fairfield Bus Station. The 371 replacement for the northern part of the 71 also terminated there. On the same date, the terminus for the 406 and 479 moved from Clarence Street Bus Station onto Cromwell Road.
Another new bus station
The second of the new bus stations, in Cromwell Road, finally replaced the original 1928 bus station. Opening on 15 July 1995, the bus station is built on the site of the old Kingston coal yard. The bus station was unique in London in having twelve nose-in stands. Although common throughout the UK, this had never before been allowed in London.
Most routes from the old bus station moved over, but the 285 joined the 111 terminating in Wood Street; the 216 moved from there into the new bus station along with 411 (which had replaced 131 west of Kingston on 29 October 1994), 440 and X55. The remaining Wood Street routes moved into Cromwell Road Bus Station on 29 June 1996 (285) and 31 August 1996 (111).
In September 1999, the Bus Station is closed, the historic lettering has been taken down (I wonder who has that now?), but London United (Westlink) still makes use of the site for a Dart on the K3, Volvo Olympians on the 57 and Metrobuses on the 411.
Photo © Man of Yorkshire
The old bus garage and bus station was not quite finished, however, as Westlink and London United continued to make use of it until 17 May 2000 when they relocated to Tolworth garage. The site was demolished and replaced by the Rotunda Complex, plus a contra-flow bus lane in Cromwell Road (from January 2003) to permit buses heading west from the bus station to avoid the gyratory.
Cromwell Road Bus Station, with the Rotunda (on the site of the old Kingston garage) in the background.
Photo © LFaurePhotos.
The situation today (2018)
The allocation of routes between the two bus stations reflects much the same factors as governed the split between the Station lay-by and the old bus station, namely the practicality of the terminal workings round the one-way system and routes' ability to serve the main traffic objectives in the centre. Thus routes from the east (57, 131, 213) terminate at Fairfield Bus Station, then depart via Eden Street and Cromwell Road Bus Station. Routes from the west and south (71, 111, 216, 285, 406, 411, 418, 465, 481, K1 and non-TfL routes) terminate at Cromwell Road Bus Station. 
However, two bus stations are no longer sufficient to handle the increasing number of buses serving Kingston, so since 1997 the 65 has terminated in Brook Street (except now at night, when it runs to Chessington) and the 85 (since 2008, at the request of the Council to improve links to the Guildhall area) and 371 (since 1997) in Kingston Hall Road.  The 131 terminated in Brook Street from 1995 to 1997 and Arriva's 415 in Wood Street between 1997 and 1998; both then moved to Cromwell Road Bus Station. 
And through routes (which otherwise don't get a mention here) don't serve either bus station in one direction, except the K5 which serves Cromwell Road Bus Station in both directions, but twice on its journey from Ham to Morden.
The final termini which should be mentioned are those used by 'mobility' services. In the period between 1992 and 2003, a number of routes accessed Union Street, which is a cul-de-sac, penetrating the largely pedestrianised area; the stop is still used by Dial-a-Ride. The last remaining mobility service, the 965, had since 2008 terminated at Sury Basin, to the north of the railway off Richmond Road, until withdrawn in 2017.