Sadly, the majority of books written about transport history have not had a long print run - it is a highly specialised market. However, they can still be found in transport libraries or through second-hand dealers, usually without great difficulty. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest, and we are supplied at the moment with new editions, and with new books which transcend the texts of former years. The Golden Jubilee of Green Line coaches was the spur to publish in the early 1980's, so why there should be a new influx of books from established authors at this point is puzzling. Maybe the fact that a decade of privatisation, which saw the end of London Country as we knew it, has now passed and with it almost every trace of the London Country bus. Here are a selection that I have in my library, that you should look out for.
I often wonder if anyone reads these pages, but I have received recent feedback from the authors of some of these works. This is abundant proof of my concept, but I hasten to add that I am only a student of London Country and an erstwhile, enthusiastic but poorly-informed passenger.
London Transport Green Line. Capital Transport (2005)
Although the similarly-titled book by McCall has led the field for many years, this new one by Laurie Akehurst has to beat it, not least for the quality of production on modern, glossy paper. The depth of research and the sheer enthusiasm and tenacity of the author shine from the pages. If you want to know about the earliest stirrings of the Green Line coach service, then this is the book for you. Without detracting from the favourable impression, I must say that it ends less happily than McCall, with a chapter headed 'Decline' and no coverage of the LCBS years, which were the ones I knew. It is to be recommended for students and enthusiasts alike.
I have received a polite rebuke from Laurie Akehurst, who pointed out that London Transport ceased to have responsibility for the Green Line coach network at the transfer to LCBS, and consequently it was never his intention to cover those years. The fault is mine, as I did not read the stylised title correctly. He goes on to say that the story of Green Line under LCBS is covered fully in the book on London Country in which he is the co-author of the second edition.
Akehurst, L. & Stewart, D.
London Country (Second Edition) Capital Transport (2001)
Quite simply the best, most colourful, thoughtful and informative compendium of LCBS and Green Line operation and vehicles ever published. No historical information is given about the origins of the London country bus, but that might be superfluous in view of the sensitive coverage of the LT legacy and the way that it shaped the newly-formed company. Buy this book today!
Note that this is the second edition of a book first published in 1984 (right). Not only has the text been brought up to date (many years have elapsed, and the breakup for privatisation has occured) but the illustrations are completely new and now in colour throughout, while the original was in black & white only. The closing chapter prepares us for the end of London Country as it had become at the end of the National Bus Company era.
London Country Buses in Colour. Ian Allan (1998)
London Country Buses, a Colour Portfolio. Ian Allan (2000)
Both very pretty and useful books, but photos of preserved vehicles detract slightly and tell us nothing much about the subject that we cannot go out and see for ourselves.
Barman, C. The Man Who Built London Transport, a Biography of Frank Pick. David&Charles (1979)
Blacker, K. Routemaster (Volume 1). Capital Transport (1991)
Routemasters were not the most numerous vehicles in the LCBS fleet, but their contribution to the Green Line operation was pivotal. This is (for me) the most interesting of the pair of volumes as it covers the development and technical issues of their introduction.
Blacker, K.R., Lunn, R.S., & Westgate, R.G. Londonís Buses, Volume 2,
The Country Independents 1919-1939. HJ Publications (1983)
Crawley, R.J.C., MacGregor, D.R., & Simpson, F.D.
The Years Between 1909-1969, Part 1 : National Omnibus and Transport Company.
Published by D.R. MacGregor, Hedingham, England (1979)
Donaldson, G. All Change on the Country Buses.
Published by Graydon Transport Publishing. (1998)
An amusing and informative, if personal, view of the LCBS years.
London Country in the 1970's. Ian Allan (2003)
This book is a gem, and a valuable reference. Steve Fennell worked in LCBS from 1974-8 at Reigate, in Traffic Planning and Public Relations. During that time he was able to observe from the inside both the daily operations and the organisational paroxysms required to cope with the evolving market place. It is principally concerned with the remnant LT stock and operations as the new company developed its own style. The chapters cover operations from each of the garages, which is an unusual and effective presentation. Well illustrated by the author and other heavyweight photographers. After all, who could fail to warm to a book that begins with an RF on a 364 at Moss's Corner, Hitchin? Good value for a slim hardback. Buy this book, NOW!
RF. Capital Transport (1991)
All you ever wanted to know about the RF, apart from mending one. This classic reference book complements the long-out-of-print volume on the RT, and contains a staggering amount of information on the subject of the single-deck, London bus in the post-war years. Everybody who loves the RF ought to read this book. It was the first bus book I ever bought. OK, Ken?
London Transport Garages. Capital Transport (2006)
If you want a really good book on a bus subject, it is important to get Ken Glazier to write it. This volume strides ahead of anything published on the subject of LT garages and plugs a major gap by including the country area establishment. He also surpasses the pictorial, garage-by-garage treatment we have seen before and writes from the standpoint of how the engineering staff had a requirement which had to be fulfilled by the provision of suitable premises. It therefore becomes simultaneously more enriching, but less easy to find the history of an individual garage. Lavishly illustrated from LT and other sources, this book must become the ultimate reference on the subject. Once again we are left on tenterhooks as the central and country areas go their separate ways at the end of 1969. Is there a sequel coming down the track?
London Country. Ian Allen (2006)
This book by transport professional John Glover is billed as the first detailed account of the history and operations of LCBS. Having said that, only 28 pages in the first two chapters are about the pre-LCBS years, but the scene is set adequately and from a standpoint of organisational issues which later came back to bite the new company. This is a very serious book, lavishly illustrated with photos, statistics and maps. So serious, in fact, that I am still reeling in shock at what it contained. As a young teenager, I was happy to wait at the New Found Out for my 303, or take a Green Rover at the weekend and imagine more or less cheerfully that this was something that had endured, and would be expected to continue. I remember a council of war in the Grammar School library when it was anounced that the 364 and the Stevenage TOWN SERVICE extensions to Hitchin would soon cease. Over thirty years have elapsed before I found that we were looking at the tip of an iceberg, and that without around 2 million pounds of support annually from Hertfordshire CC there would be almost no buses at all in the county. For an insight into just what it took to keep a service of any sort going in those difficult times, you should read this book. If you are an RT nostalgist, this is not for you. They were part of the problem - obsolete and life-expired at outset, but much-loved and capable of prodigious (if expensive) life-extension. Truly a book for the student or historian of transport economics.
Gray, John A.
London's Country Buses. Ian Allan (1980)
This useful book takes us on a pictorial voyage through the history of London Transport, companies that they took over and the formative years of London Country. Genuinely interesting photography is marred by the inability of Ian Allan to print good pictures at a price people could afford. Mind you, that was over twenty years ago!
London Buses around Surrey. Ian Allan (2004)
A very interesting and insightful book which includes many red vehicles, some of them electrically powered (sadly, there were never any green trolleybuses). This serves as a reminder that it was the interface between the country and central area buses that was most exciting and colourful. While Surrey was deeply rural in parts, it was also astonishingly metropolitan and this bus is like a green rover ticket to a distant land. Nice one, Roy!
Jones, D.W.K., & Davis, B.J. Green Line 1930-1980.
Published by London Country Bus Services Ltd. (1980)
LCBS's own commemorative version of the story at the Golden Jubilee, with useful and unusual coverage, including ticketing to the point of publication. Wish I'd bought mine at the time!
King, N. The London Country Bus Handbook. Capital Transport (1998)
A useful, but obviously outdated, snapshot of the outer London area's bus fleets, with details of the genesis of the operating companies.
Shades of Green and Red. Capital Transport (2006)
I was not anticipating this book, so when I saw it on display I was surprised. When I recognised Leathergead garage on the cover I was excited, and when I started to read it I was enthused. Rod writes well and with a wry intelligence - as he should, because not every bus driver is actually a radio engineer! Entertaining text, a long inventory of anecdotes and a good sprinkling of well-reproduced and topical photographs make this book a joy to read. I can't wait to meet Rod and let him try out SM106 again! A 5-star book, not cheap, but well-produced and ideal for a London Country bus enthusiast. Books about bus-driving by drivers are rare, so this is a must-read.
Green Line. New Cavendish Books (1980)
Probably the finest historical and contemporary work on a single coach company. Written by a dedicated insider (right). Includes detailed chapters on pioneering companies, organisation, routes, vehicles, tickets and ephemera. This large-format book also includes a very useful chronology, which is an excellent quick reference for historians. This volume is the only comprehensive work to take a complete view of operations from formation until publication.
London Buses in Colour:1970s. Ian Allan (1999)
Glory Days: Green Line. Ian Allan (2000)
Both are very pretty and informative picture-books, but provide no new insight. London Buses includes a wealth of excellent shots of country buses, and the whole volume has a very 'suburban' outlook. After all, some fine buses were painted red! The Green Line volume covers the subject from the earliest days to beyond privatisation, and includes interesting sections on the history of Reigate garage and a number of vintage preserved vehicles.
The London Merlin. Capital Transport (1980)
The London Swifts. Capital Transport (1985)
Objective and useful paperback textbooks of how a single vehicle class almost undid an operator, with informative views of the reorganisational changes within London Transport in the 1970's. The bible for students of AEC's last London bus, covering green and red area vehicles. I only discovered the Swifts book quite recently, and I was a little disappointed that it did not give the same detailed technical coverage and illustration of the interiors of the different vehicle types. But then, I am rather obsessive about such details, and not very many people own one!
Fifty Years of the Green Line. Ian Allan (1980)
The Motor Bus in London Country. Ian Allan (1984)
Useful introductions, in an unusual style. Good scene-setters, but short on comprehensive details. As with other books of this age, the picture reproduction is not brilliant. The author's intriguing, semi-geographical theme works well and these books carry more detail on the country area garages than can be found elsewhere.