Dalston Garage and Havelock Motors

The Havelock Arms in Albion Drive, opposite Dalston Garage, from where Havelock Motors started in the 1920s.  RF467 passes on route 236 on 3 April 1971, the last month of RF operation.  The pub sign also appears here.
Photo © John King
Dalston Garage was built on the site of a barracks by The Motor Bus Company, who ran as Pilot, and opened on 31 Jul 1906.  It was situated at the junction of Albion Drive and Shrubland Road, by London Fields.  The garage passed by amalgamation to Vanguard in 1907 and then to London General Omnibus Company in 1908.  Apart from garage workings (route 9 worked in service from Liverpool Street via Kingsland Road and Dalston Junction, the 11 via Bethnal Green Road and the 47 and 78 via Hackney Road), the only service serving the garage was the 236 (originally started as the 263).  Due to capacity problems, this was not even operated by the garage until 1971.  The garage closed after service on 24 Apr 81 and the site is now a housing development.  A page of pictures taken in 1981 is here.
Opposite Dalston Garage was The Havelock Arms pub.  From the yard at the back of the pub, one of the early independent operators that challenged the London General Omnibus Company was born - Havelock Motors Ltd. 

The independents became known as "pirate" bus companies because of the size and influence of the L.G.O.C.  Blacker, Lunn and Westgate in 'London Buses volume one. The Independent Era' give details of Havelock Motors Ltd.  This began shortly after the First World War when Charles Daiber and Frederick Ernest Mallindine purchased two buses and entered into an arrangement with the licensee of the Havelock public house, Louis Solomons.  The arrangement was that Daiber and Mallindine could garage their buses at the rear of Solomons' premises, where they had a job-masters business (renting horses - and perhaps motors?) entitled Havelock Motor Works. 


The Havelock buses first appeared on London's streets in December 1923 and operated routes 6A (Kensal Rise to Hackney Wick) and 42A (Finsbury Park to Camberwell Green), using two Dennis 4 ton buses with Dodson bodies painted red (or crimson) and white.  In 1925 the company was expanded when Louis Solomon became majority shareholder.  Five additional buses - all Dodson-bodied Dennis 2½-ton, painted chocolate and white - joined the fleet, three starting work in June 1926 on new route 263 (Albion Road to Leyton), which had been started two weeks earlier by ARO Omnibus, and two more joining in December.  He is also recorded as having operated 3 AEC B-type coaches.


Havelock Motors' main route was the 263 (later 236).  Dodson-bodied Dennis 2½-ton YO8392 shows the destination Finsbury Park Empire.
Photo David Ruddom collection

The Reinohl collection at the LT Museum lists Havelock as working at some time or other on the following routes:

 9       Richmond - Liverpool St, Sundays, 31 Dec 23 to 1 Dec 24

 38B   Victoria - Woodford 08/02/24, until 1 Dec 24

 11     Shepherds Bush - Liverpool St, from 1 Dec 24

 138A  Victoria - Woodford from 1 Dec 24

 76     Victoria - Edmonton Angel, 16 Feb 24

 15A   Ladbroke Grove - East Ham, from 25 Mar 24

 47A   Shoreditch - Farnborough, from 23 May 26

 555   Leyton (Essex County Cricket Ground) - Clapham Common, from July 1926

 263   London Fields - Leyton Essex County Cricket Ground, from July 1926 (sic),

         extended Finsbury Park Empire - Leyton Essex County Cricket Ground from 1 Jan 27 (sic).


Thanks to David Ruddom for the Reinold research, and the photo.  David notes that Reinohl was contemporary, but suggests that some of these operations were short-lived and perhaps exploratory.


Solomons sold the bus operation to London Public Omnibus Co ('Public') in June 1927 (but continued operations until the completion of negotiations in August) and the lease for the garage to Empress Motors Ltd, who used it as a workshop for their fleet of coaches (Empress also operated buses, from their Canal Sidings garage, which came into the LT fleet when the bus services were taken over in 1934).  Solomons returned to his trade as a publican and he employed Daiber as a manager in the Havelock.


The garage was destroyed by bombing during the war and the site was built over by flats.  The Havelock Arms closed in 2002 and the site has been redeveloped with more housing.


The East London & City Beer Guide 1983 produced by the East London & City branch of the Campaign for Real Ale had this to say:

'Havelock Arms, 113 Albion Drive.  Whitbreads.  Friendly side-street local near housing estate. Hot & cold snacks am & pm/Live piano singalong Fri-Sun eves.'  By 1986 it read 'No handpumped beers!'


London author Iain Sinclair recalls the Havelock in 'Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire' (2009): "London Fields ... Going west, I dodge through the stutter of evening traffic and into Shrubland Road, at the point where it splits off into Albion Drive. A French culture pundit, digital camera in hand, tracking across from the nearest Underground station – which is not so near – was excited by the faded sign hanging outside the doomed public house, the Havelock. Plenty of Hackney old-timers, I discover as I conduct interviews for this book, navigate their memory-terrain by way of pubs. Do you remember? Being on firstname terms with the vampire landlady? Crowblack fright wig, purple talons, heavy gold manacles on thin wrist. Villainies of yesteryear: smoked ghosts propping up afternoon bars, sentimental about dead gangsters, shoplifting grannies. Holloway Nan. Shirley Pitts. Or revived literary societies in back rooms? Politics, conspiracies, pool. The Havelock is an anachronism. The coalfire fug, dirty glasses and recidivist linoleum. These old brown boozers are London fictions in embryo, waiting for the right ventriloquist: Patrick Hamilton, Derek Raymond, T. S. Eliot. Listening is also writing. First the pubs, then the petrol stations: they are declared redundant."

Little by little, London's history slips away.