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Route 27
23 April 2013

Although reduced in length from its heyday, the 27 remains a major trunk route across inner west London, and is relatively long by modern standards with an end to end timing approaching 1˝ hours. Following a 5 year term with First Centrewest, the route reverted to London United operation from 12 November 2005, using SLE class Scania double deckers with East Lancs Omnidekka bodywork. A new contract from November 2012 was initially awarded using the same vehicles, but following some high profile publicity about pollution levels along the Euston Road it was decided to convert the route to full hybrid operation.

Photo © LondonBuses72.

The bulk of the allocation is thus now made up of Alexander Dennis E40H vehicles with Enviro400 bodywork. ADH32 (YX62 FJV) is seen at the new western terminus at Chiswick Business Park, built on the site of LT's famous Chiswick works. The route was originally meant to be extended here in 2005, but developer funding had to be channelled through Hounslow Council (on whose patch the Park lies), which refused to pass it on due to concerns about driver changeovers at Stamford Brook garage! But the issues were at last resolved just in time for the next new contract.

Joining the new hybrids are two earlier vehicles that were part of the original evaluation programme, in which small numbers of hybrids were tried on various routes in parallel with conventional gearboxed buses. These were the first hybrids that were entrusted to replace conventional vehicles – previous hybrid allocations had all been in additional to the regular allocations, in case of reliability issues and breakdowns. They retain the rather more prominent hybrid branding and enhanced livery, which can be seen as the bus passes Chiswick Lane on Chiswick High Road.

Photo © LondonBuses72.

The destination display of “Chalk Farm” introduced in 2005 proved controversial as the route does not actually make Chalk Farm itself, terminating instead at the Morrisons (formerly Safeway) store, which is halfway between Camden Town and Chalk Farm. The original reason for the lack of any qualification was simply that the final name for said store had not been decided at the time the blinds were ordered, although new TfL policy to simplify blind information meant that this became the normal display anyway. The Chiswick Business Park display on the previous photograph demonstrates the more pragmatic approach.

The 27 was one of the few routes to get a significant increase in conjunction with phase 2 of the congestion charge zone, with an increase from 6 to 8 buses per hour during the Monday to Saturday daytime. Most of the routes involved only got very small increases or short extensions, but the 27 was the main exception, having in a way missed out the first time round!

The traditional route of the 27 was from Hounslow to Muswell Hill, via current route 281 as far as Twickenham, thence via Richmond and Kew to the current route at Turnham Green. At Camden Town buses ran to Archway and Muswell Hill. The end to end time was just over two hours – not bad for a route nearly 3 times as long as it is now! A bewildering array of garages provided buses – AV (Hounslow), AB (Twickenham), V (Stamford Brook), R (Hammersmith Riverside), X (Middle Row), CF (Chalk Farm) and J (Holloway).

There was also a route 27A running from Hampton Court (Vrow Walk) to Archway via Bushy Park, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham and the main 27. Indeed after the 33 was extended from Richmond to Hounslow in March 1937 the 27 became Sundays only with the service north of Archway thus lost. The numbers were swapped over in the 1950s, so that the 27 became the main route once again, and the 27A to Hounslow disappeared shortly afterwards. The route was cut back to Richmond on Mondays to Fridays in 1970, with a new localised 270 (which later became the R70) replacing the service to Teddington, although the weekend service continued to run through until 1982. The route was finally cut back to Turnham Green and Camden Town in 1992, with the new 391 indirectly taking over the Richmond service and no replacement for the Archway section. The short extension to Chalk Farm Safeway took place in 1995.

See also routes 281, 33, R70, 391

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