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Route 39
9 April 2005

That the 39 is a mere local midibus service in the Wandsworth area is an accident of history. In 1933 it was a major route indeed, running from Edmonton via what is now the 259 to Holloway, via the 29 to Trafalgar Square and Victoria and then via approximately the 239 and 39 routing to Southfields Station. The section north of Warren Street was in direct competition with tram number 27, and the arrival of the trolleybuses finished it off north of Camden Town.

There was a short lived Monday to Friday peak and weekend extension to Parliament Hill and a Sunday afternoon variant running to Waterloo via Horseferry Road, but then the wheel came full circle and the 39 was used as part of the trolleybus replacement package, ironically replacing some of the trolleybuses that had replaced it! The routing was a bit different this time, however, with buses running via Oxford Circus and Albany Street to Camden Town, Holloway, Finsbury Park and Tottenham. The Sunday service was lost over the whole route and there was no Saturday service north of Victoria.

Indeed the service north of Victoria has now been abandoned without replacement, but, at the other end, has been extended to service more of Southfields and continue into Putney. The route has also been split in two at Clapham Junction, with the service between Clapham Junction and Victoria becoming the 239.

The 39 and 239 were converted from 12 May 1990 to midibus operation, in the form of Alexander bodied Mercedes 811Ds. Later, spare 8.5m Dennis Darts cascaded from the 156 effected an upgrade, subsequently joined by similar, but 9m, Darts from routes 295 and 211. But contract renewal prompted new 10.2m low floor Darts to enter service during Autumn 2002, combined with a welcome frequency increase. These followed something of a lull in single deck orders for London General most requirements for single deckers recently have been met by double decking busy routes. Here, LDP 233 (SK52 MRO) conveys a heavy load through Wandsworth, in Buckhold Way, towards Clapham Junction on Tuesday 5th April 2005.

Photo © John Nicholas Bennett.

See also routes 239, 259, 29, 156, 211, 295

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