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Southampton's Red Buses - The End
   
On the 29th November 2022 First Hampshire & Dorset announced that they would be closing down their depot and network of city bus routes (branded as City Red) in Southampton on Saturday 18th February 2023.  This therefore ends a connection of continuous bus operation by the Corporation and various successors since 1919 thus ending 104 years of ‘red’ buses in the city.  Prior to 1919 the Corporation had operated trams in the town since 1879.  First still operate their ‘Wessex’ brand in Dorset and ‘Solent’ brand in Gosport and Fareham.  The independent transport videos cameras have recorded this historic event from the beginning of 2023 up to and including the final day of services.  The final allocation of First vehicles consisted of a large fleet of Wrightbus Streetlight DF single-deckers in two lengths, 10.8m and the Max version at 11.5m.  Also a small fleet of Wright Streetdeck double-deckers cascaded from First Leeds.  We have covered most of the operational area and have included some of the Go South Coast ‘Bluestar’ buses which is the operator that will replace the ‘red’ buses in the city. 
   
The first part of this two-hour feature programme covers areas in and around the city featuring the ‘red’ City Red operations.  These locations include Hamble, Woolston, Itchen Bridge, Bitterne Park Triangle and Cobden Bridge as well as Hedge End and the city centre.  We take a brief ride on Wright Streetlite 47595 (SN14 FEU) with Driver “Chalky” White who will be retiring after 49 years service driving buses in Southampton! Further locations include Calmore, Totton, Lordshill, Aldermoor, Shirley and Portswood concluding with a brief look at the Empress Road depot, which First will be vacating. 
   
The second part of our programme was filmed on the final day – Saturday 18
th February 2023.  We begin in the city centre and see Xelabus’s superbly restored former Southampton Corporation 401 (KOW 909F) a 1967 AEC Regent V with a Neepsend H70R body that was doing tours of former Southampton Corporation routes during the day.  Our cameras take a ride on Streetlite 47595 again, but this time on route 8 to Bitterne.  Here we change to Streetlite 47605 (SN14 FFK) on route 13 to Harefield estate in the capable hands of driver Rob Symms, a bus driver of some 22 years in the city.  Rob returns us to the city centre for our cameras to ride on another Streetlite, this time it is 47611 (SN14 FFS) on route 2 to Woolston.  With some more filming completed here we take route 3 to the Central Railway Station and ride again with “Chalky” – a man with a sense of humour on his last day – look at the destination screen on Streetlite Max 63055 (SK63 KJU)!  Plenty of action here as there are a number of rail replacement services operating with buses from the First Hampshire & Dorset Solent fleet, Damory, Stagecoach, Xelabus, Portsmouth City Coaches to name but a few!  Our final ride on a City Red bus is again with “Chalky’ on 63055 to the city centre where we film 401 again and City Red buses in their final hours of service.  All City Red buses were turned out immaculately for their final day as well as all of their drivers and staff being professional to the end. 

The final shots are taken at Empress Road depot as the final buses arrived in just after midnight led in by preserved former Southampton Corporation Leyland Titan PD2A, 335 (335 AOW), a fitting end.



 
 Filmed :  2023
   
 Duration :  122 mins
   
 Price :  Within UK - 16
   Rest of world - 18
   
 Format :  DVD -R
   Picture Aspect 16:9
   
 Order Ref :  D423

 

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