London Transport
Green Line Coach Routes 701–703

Last updated 22-12-09.

Green Line plates are very sought after nowadays and not easy to find, and are especially interesting as there are so many variations of wording. The “E” plates which show destinations were a feature of Green Line coach stops from the early days, but particularly from the early 1960s onwards when declining patronage forced London Transport to make a greater effort to market the coach network. Unfortunately, with so many of the traditional Green Line coach routes, there is no sign of them left today.

Laurie Akehurst writes: “My researches show that the stops were provided with destinated plates in two phases. The earlier ones at the more important points involved the use of the word VIA. On a route such as 716 this would be at points such as Finchley Road Station and Golders Green Station, for example. Having destinated the major stops they then turned their attention to the other stops along the route, by which time the plates had been modified to include another intermediate point instead of the word VIA. Some examples of newer plates with the word via are to be found. This is probably where they have been used to replace earlier plates, perhaps through weathering or damage.
In the spring of 1976 it was announced that with the withdrawal of route 716A from 15th May 1976, all the stops along the route (with the exception of combined bus and coach stops within the LT area) would be converted to the then-new National Bus Company-style stops. This included any coach-only stops in the LT area. They actually erected NBC-type flags at the former coach-only stops along the route, including Marble Arch amongst others! London Transport apparently objected to this and the LT-style coach stops were reinstated fairly quickly, but not before I photographed the examples at Marble Arch.”


Starting in June 1946 route 701 ran from Gravesend to Ascot via Northfleet, Swanscombe, Dartford, Crayford, Bexleyheath, Welling, Blackheath, New Cross, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle, Millbank, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Turnham Green, Brentford, Hounslow, Bedfont, Staines, Egham and Virginia Water. Except for a three-year period in the mid-60s when the 701 was split into two sections on weekdays (Victoria–Ascot hourly and Gravesend–Hammersmith every 30 minutes) there were no chages to the route until its withdrawn in October 1975. It is astonishingly rare to find “E” plates for this route (and certain other early casualties), especially destinated ones.

The route number was reused in May 1978 when London Country started a new 701 from London to Windsor via Hammersmith, the M4 motorway, Heathrow Airport, Langley and Slough. During the summer season journeys were extended to Windsor Safari Park and Legoland. In 1982—in conjunction with Alder Valley—the 701 was extended from Windsor to Maidenhead via Ascot and Bracknell. When Alder Valley was split in 1986, the route passed to Bee Line, which eventually became First Berkshire & The Thames Valley. The 701 is now only a weekday peak-hours service to Bracknell.

Route 702 is described below.

701
701
Route 701 “E” plates with white numbers are rather uncommon as the route was such an early casualty.
701-702
Route 702 was a companion route to 701, running to Sunningdale instead of Ascot and operating in tandem for the bulk of its length from Virginia Water all the way to Gravesend.

E A S T B O U N D

WESTBOUND
701 GRAVESEND VIA DARTFORD
The chip on the left side of this plate is as a result of it being a very heavy and thicker-than-usual plate, and therefore a very tight fit into the stop flag runners. It sold on ebay for a very respectable £440.
701 GRAVESEND
701 STAINES VIRGINIA WATER ASCOT
This is an especially attractively destinated “E” plate.
1969 route 701 • 702 timetable
◀ A 16-page timetable and fares booklet for routes 701 & 702 between Gravesend and Ascot/Sunningdale dated 1st November 1969.
Green Line leaflet for services 700 through 704 and 753 in the Windsor to London corridor, dated 27 April 1985. ▶
1985 route 700–704 & 753 timetable

Route 702 commenced service the same day as the 701, and ran hourly between Sunningdale Station and Gravesend via Virginia Water, Egham, Staines, Bedfont, Hounslow, Brentford, Turnham Green, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Kensington, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Elephant & Castle, Old Kent Road, New Cross, Blackheath, Welling, Bexleyheath, Crayford, Dartford and Swanscombe. In 1965 Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Victoria and Gravesend. In 1968 the weekday service was further reduced to two peak-hour journeys, and early morning and late evening trips were eliminated on weekends. In 1971 Saturday and Sunday service was completely withdrawn, and a year later the weekday service was cut in half. The 702 was a very early casulty, being completely withdrawn in July 1973 with no replacement, although nowadays Sunningdale is served by Dicksons Travel’s route 500.

In 1977 the 702 returned as a new daily service between Walthamstow Central Station and Bishop’s Stortford via Chingford, Loughton, Epping, Harlow and Sawbridgeworth, replacing parts of routes 718 and 720. In the early 1980s the 702 was withdrawn between Harlow (Bus Station) and Bishop’s Stortford. In 1984 it was renumbered to Essex County Council service 502.

The number 702 has since been reused for the London (Victoria) to Windsor (Legoland) express service. It now runs daily between London and Bracknell via Hyde Park Corner, Kensington High Street, Hammersmith, the M4 motorway, Langley, Slough, Chalvey, Windsor and Ascot.

Route 703 is described below.

702
702
702 STAINES VIRGINIA WATER SUNNINGDALE
“E” plates for route 702 are astonishingly rare, and it is one of the most difficult routes to find destinated plates for.
702 - 703
Routes 702 and 703 ran together in central London between Hyde Park Corner and New Cross, and this plate could have come from any stop between those points. This is, however, a rare route pairing on an “E” plate, the usual practice being the pairing of routes with much longer parallel sections such as 701/702, 704/705, 706/707, 709/710 and 712/713. It dates from before 1965 by which time the 703 had been withdrawn. It sold for a remarkable £896.89 in December 2007, just £1.10 less than the current ebay record for highest-priced “E” plate.
This eastbound timetable for Green Line routes 701 and 702 dates from 1967. ▶
701-702 timetable to Gravesend

Although “E” plates for route 702 are difficult to find, tickets are not, as demonstrated by this nice selection of (mostly high-value) CS15 (Coach Single service 15) tickets issued in the mid- to late 1940s. They are a mix of the earlier type without stage numbers and of the later type with, all bearing stage names from Sunningdale through to Gravesend.

Tickets courtesy jrs232.

2&frac12d CS15 ticket 9d CS15 ticket 9d CS15 ticket 1′- CS15 ticket 1′5 CS15 ticket 1′6 CS15 ticket 1′8 CS15 ticket 1′9 CS15 ticket 2′- CS15 ticket 2′3 CS15 ticket 2′4 CS15 ticket 2′6 CS15 ticket 2′8 CS15 ticket 2′9 CS15 ticket 2′10 CS15 ticket 3′7 CS15 ticket 3′3 CS15 ticket 3′7 CS15 ticket 3′11 CS15 ticket 4′2 CS15 ticket

Route 703 was introduced on 3 April 1946 as part of the post-war Green Line re-instatement programme, running initially from Wrotham to Baker Street via Swanley, Sidcup, Eltham, Lewisham and New Cross. It was extended the following year to Amersham via Harlesden, Wembley, Harrow, Pinner, Northwood, Rickmansworth and Chorleywood. On 3 November 1964 the route was withdrawn, the southern section being replaced by extending the 717 from Victoria to Wrotham.

In 1974 the route number was resurrected to replace the southern ends of routes 712 and 713 when they were curtailed at Victoria. This 703 ran from Baker Street to Dorking via Victoria, Stockwell, Clapham Common, Tooting, Morden, Epsom and Leatherhead. It was withdrawn in 1976.

In 1977 route number 703 was resurrected a second time for a new route from Bishops’s Stortford to Waltham Cross via Old Harlow, Harlow and Epping. This service lasted less than a year.

703
703
For which incarnation of the 703 was this “E” plate made? It was acquired in 1978, so it could be for any of the three, but it is my belief that it dates from 1977. The plate is late in manufacture as there are no black lines on the top and bottom edges, and the white numbers are printed proud of the green background rather than the reverse. It would likely have come from a stop somewhere between Epping and Waltham Cross.
1932 route “I” timetable
An April 1932 time- and faretable leaflet for Green Line route “I” between Farningham and London (Poland Street Coach Station). By 1936 Farningham was served by route “B” (Wrotham Aylesbury), and service “I” operated between Abbots Langley and Crawley.
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