[Source: Nick Catford]
The date of this photograph of the small forecourt of Exbridge Vine Street station is, through interpretation, is sometime between 1931 and 1933 or very shortly after. Waiting outside the station is 'General' Dennis Dart DA 22 (GK 5441) on route 506 to Staines via Cowley and Wraysbury. 'General' was the fleetname of The London General Omnibus Company which had originated way back in 1855, staff and the public typically referring to the company as 'The General' while the full title was abbreviated to 'LGOC'. LGOC was to eventually become part of The Underground Group or, in full, The Underground Electric Railways of London Limited which was a holding responsible for the then extent of what are today the Bakerloo, Northern and Piccadilly Lines. It was the origin of the now official name 'Underground' which went on to become today's London Underground Limited. LGOC, having swallowed-up competitors along the way, was in 1933 to become a major constituent of The London Passenger Transport Board, better known for decades thereafter simply as 'London Transport'. The LGOC Dennis Dart buses were introduced in 1930 with the first batch DA 1 - 20 for operation on routes 505 (Uxbridge - Ritchings Park), 506 already described and 507 (Uxbridge - George Green - Slough - Windsor). The Darts had 18-seat (17 in a few cases) bodies built at Chiswick and were designed for One Man Operation and indeed operated as such - One Man Operation of larger vehicles being illegal at the time. Apparently the Darts for the Uxbridge services were garaged at what was then Hanwell garage, some distance away. The garage plate on DA 22 (below the first window bay) is unreadable. Photographs of the DA class in service are not common but a photograph of one the first batch working the 506 survives and clearly shows an Uxbridge garage plate. Uxbridge garage was then actually located at Denham and had for a time been used by Thames Valley Traction, which had been founded in 1920. The first batch of DA class buses differed from later batches, mainly in body design but also carried radiators somewhat reminding of those fitted to the Austin 7 car. The class eventually totalled 45 examples, all with petrol engines. Livery was red with white window surrounds, silver roofs, black mudguards and trim; standard LGOC livery which, silver roofs aside, was carried over to London Transport and was the origin of the red bus livery still with us in London today albeit much simplified. The DA class was to have a short life as the onset of WWII rendered small petrol-engined buses uneconomic and they were replaced initially by the CR class rear-engined Leyland Cubs. The 506 route became, not too long after this photograph was taken, the 224 route thus bringing it into London Transport's central area route numbering scheme but the present day (2018) 224 bears no resemblance whatsoever to that which had been the 506 and operates Wembley - Neasden (St. Raphael's Estate) via Alperton, Park Royal and Harlesden. A number of bus routes today link Uxbridge with Staines but none follow the route of the old 506. The scene at Uxbridge almost a century ago was almost another world; on the one hand there was and still is the Metropolitan and Piccadilly services into and beyond Central London while on the other there was the Vine street branch (and High Street branch) for which an autotrain or railcar sufficed for much of time along with quaint little 18-seater One Man Operated buses serving the semi rural fringes of West London.
Photo from Jim Lake collection