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Route 215
25 March 2010

This update will be rather focussed on East London, as there was major upheaval with many routes changing operators as a result of re-tendering from 6 March 2010. The smallest of the routes involved is the 215, which uses just 4 buses, and changed from First London East to East London. As with most of the routes involved, I have been supplied with several photographs, so here are two. The first was taken on the first day of East London operation at Chingford Mount, and is of 15126 (LX59 CLV), not actually part of the 215 batch but one of an earlier intake for routes 48 and 56.

Photo © Mark Adoko.

Photo © Brian Creasey.

The second photo shows sister vehicle 15147 (LX59 CNY) departing the recently re-modelled and expanded Walthamstow Central bus station on Wednesday 10 March 2010. One unusual feature of the 215 is its seasonal extension to the Lee Valley Campsite during the summer. Previously only one bus an hour was extended, but (after not operating in 2004) the whole service now runs there. The display above reflects the winter variation; it will be interesting to see what is shown for the summer variation, as the previous operator had a display which reflected both the normal terminus and the extension "LEE VALLEY CAMPSITE VIA YARDLEY LANE ESTATE."

The route number 215 has not been in use for all that many years, although the current alignment from the edge of civilisation in Sewardstone Road into central Walthamstow has been running for rather longer: trolleybus routes 697 and 699 were replaced by bus route 249A and 249 respectively, Victoria & Albert Dock to Chingford Mount, with the buses continuing to Chingford station via route 38 (current 97 route). From 1962 a 249B was introduced, similar to the 249 but running to Yardley Lane.

Meanwhile, new route 278 replaced first the 249A on Mondays to Saturdays, then from 1965 the 249B. Opening of the first Walthamstow bus station (which has been re-modelled several times since!) in 1969 saw several routes split in two, the 278 being one, with the Walthamstow Yardley Lane section becoming 276, exactly the same as the present 215. The 276 ceased in 1982, being replaced by an extension of the 212 (then following much the same route as now), making this a giant U-shape. It was soon realised that this slightly pointless link-up was not so clever, and the route was therefore divided into its former sections again in 1988. However, the 276 number having been re-used, the new section was numbered 215 perhaps being more memorable to passengers who had got used to the 212 number anyway.

The incumbent London Forest division of London Buses got into well-known difficulties over driver pay and conditions following re-tendering of the Walthamstow network including the 215 culminating in the loss of all its routes to other operators. The 215 was one of the first routes to go, passing to Capital Citybus on 14 September 1991 (initially using a batch of noisy ex-South Yorkshire Metrobuses), and it held onto the route until this year, although with several vehicle type changes in the interim and quite a lot of variety generally!

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See also routes 48, 56, 257, 123, W8, 25, 97, 158, 212

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