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Bus Services (updated 24 May 2011)

423 at Chantry Avenue (June 2006)

St Johns Lane, Hartley - 423 Bus
Double deck 423 at St John's Lane (June 2006)

Church Road, Hartley, Kent - 1950s bus on vintage bus day 2004
1950s Guy Special bus at Hartley Court in 2004

Hollands bus at Longfield, 1930s
Hollands Bus in Guildford
Hollands Bus in Longfield and its later home in Guildford.

451 Bus (Gravesend to Hartley)
451 Bus

490A Bus (Gravesend to Hartley), 1952
490A at Gravesend, 1952

423 at Market Street, Dartford, 1950
423 at Market Street, Dartford, 1950

The black and white photos are published with the kind permission of Alan Cross, and are copyright

There following bus services operate in or near Hartley.  Click on route number for further details:







New Ash Green


Church Road

Arriva/Kent Top


New Ash Green


Church Road

Arriva/Kent Top


New Ash Green


Ash Road



New Ash Green

Sevenoaks Wildernesse School

Ash Road

Kent County Council


New Ash Green


Church Road

Lewis Travel


New Ash Green


Church Road

Clarkes of London




not via Hartley

Kent County Council

Contact addresses:

Telephone 0870 6082608 (7am - 9pm)

Mann's Travel (operator of buses on behalf of KCC)
3 Barrack Row, Gravesend DA11 0RT
(01474 358194)

Kent County Council
Passenger Transport Unit, Gibson Drive, West Malling, Kent ME19 4QG
(08458 247247)

Clarkes of London
Kangley Bridge Road, Lower Sydenham, London SE26 5AT
(020 8778 6697)

Support for bus services
The Monday to Saturday daytime journeys on routes 423 and 489 are run commercially, but the other routes are subsidised by Kent County Council, who puts the service out to tender.  As of January 2005 the running costs were:


Cost pa


Passengers (daily avg)


K14/K15 (Mon - Sat)





K14/K15 (Sun)





489 (5.10pm journey)










423/489 (Mon - Sat)





423/489 (Sun)





Source: Freedom of Information Request.  Figures are for the year ended 7 December 2004.

Concessionary Fares
People aged 60 and over, or those with disabilities are entitled to apply for the Kent Countywide Bus Permit, which allows bus travel free of charge after 9am.  If you live in Hartley or New Ash Green, you will need to apply to
Sevenoaks Council.  Those living in Longfield need to contact Dartford Borough Council (the Dartford site is much more helpful about the exemptions that apply).

Bus Usage
In the Parish Plan survey, 17% of households use the bus at least monthly, 52% of households without a car use the bus, but only 6% of those who do.

Scheduled bus services in Hartley have been around less than a century.  Before then people would have to make their own way to Dartford and Gravesend.  The local councillor in the early 20th century, George Day, used to walk to council meetings in Dartford from North Ash Farm.  Those who did not own horses would have to walk to Dartford or Gravesend.  With the coming of the railways many chose to walk to Longfield to catch the train to Gravesend.

Before buses the nearest equivalent was the local carrier.  Interviewed in 1939 Mary Ann Packman of West Yoke said while there were small shops in West Yoke and Fawkham, "but when new clothes or boots were wanted it meant a 9 mile walk to Dartford or Gravesend.  Later there was a carrier who went to Gravesend once a week to fetch parcels and papers and who carried passengers also.  The first of these was Mr Stephen Hills, and he drove a donkey and cart (listed in 1891 census as living in South Ash).  His successor was a lady, Miss Brooks, who drove a horse and van.  The fare was 1 shilling (5p) return, so that travel was not as expensive as one might imagine.  Mrs Packman remembered how excited she would be as a child when her mother dressed her in her Sunday best preparatory to setting out on a journey to that most delightful of places, a town" (Norris Willatt, Dartford Chronicle 1939).

When Charles Ellerby came to Hartley in 1912 he remembers another carrier, Mr Lovell, who went to Gravesend twice a week - "fourpence (1½p) I think it was for the privilege of a hard seat and packed with live poultry, wire-netting and roofing felt, dead rabbits and sacks of potatoes.  Or Mr Lovell would take your shopping list and bring back the goods - overall charge of one penny per shop (I think)".

From the Hartley Census records, we find Henry Outred of Stocks Farm listed as a carrier in 1891, and Thomas Whiffin of Whiffins Cottage (now Orchard House), Church Road in 1901.

The earliest bus service was provided by Mr Hollands of Longfield, which was certainly running by 1923.  The Dartford Chronicle of 27 November 1931 noted that locals were happy his "Grey Bus" had overcome opposition, because they remember he ran a bus service from Hartley to Longfield when the bigger companies weren't interested.  The service was limited to one daily round trip leaving the Black Lion at 9.15 am and returning from Dartford at 12.30pm, with a couple of other buses running on certain days of the week.  On Tuesdays and Saturdays the bus ran from Ash White Swan.  Fares to Dartford were 1/3 (6p) from Ash and 1/- (5p) from Hartley.  Mr Wells Thatcher in the parish magazine (Sept 1925) said Ronald Holland was a great favourite with passengers "but the chaff that flies about as he steers his way along the Ash Road makes it difficult for him to see ahead".

In 1925 competition came from Maidstone and District Buses who ran from Ash to Dartford (from 1 July 1925) and the Enterprise Bus which ran from Hartley Hill Cottage to Gravesend.  All local services were taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1934.  They came to an agreement with Maidstone Bus which Gravesend services each should run.  Initially this was not popular because the Longfield - Hartley fare rose from 2d to 3d (Dartford Chronicle 26.1.1934).  The fare to Gravesend was 11d.  3d is the equivalent of about 60p today.

LPTB introduced the route numbers we are familiar with today - the 423 (then from Longfield to Dartford) and the 489 from Gravesend to Ash and the 490A from Gravesend to Hartley Court - see September 1936 timetable.

Reorganisation in 1970 led to a new name appearing - London Country Buses, a subdivision of the National Bus Company.  In the 1980s the government broke up the National Bus Company; London Country South East which had become Kentish Bus in April 1987, and was sold to the British Bus Company on 15 March 1988 (further info).  British Bus was bought by Arriva (then called the Cowie Group) in 1996, who continue to operate most of the buses locally today.

The deregulation of the 1980s also allowed other operators to launch bus services.  For a while Transcity Link of Sidcup ran buses on the 423 route, while in 1993 Red and Green coaches of Chislehurst ran a commuter bus (route 301) from Longfield to New Ash Green.  Another company was Thames Weald (see article on the Independent Bus website) of West Kingsdown, who most ran services from Dartford to Essex, but also ran a school service from Hartley to Sevenoaks, and after deregulation they branched out into running additional evening commuter buses from Longfield to (as I recall) Hartley Social Club.

The routes themselves have undergone alterations over the years.  For a short while the 423 and 489 were renumbered the 16 and 10 respectively.  There have been experiments in routing the 489 via the Sainsburys in Pepper Hill and Waterdales in Northfleet, but it now runs on more or less its classic route.  The 423 has undergone drastic changes, and now takes a most roundabout route to Dartford, via the Darent Valley Hospital, Bluewater and then via the Fleet Estate and Park Road.  It now takes 50 minutes to get to Dartford, which is 6 miles by the shortest road route.

Fares have risen dramatically in recent years.  In 1981 the fare from Longfield to Hartley was 36p.  Now the single fare to Dartford and Gravesend from Hartley is now £2.60 and the fare to Longfield is £1.40.

Meopham Community Bus
This commenced between Meopham and Longfield on 25 February 1983, following the withdrawal of Maidstone and District's 311 route to Longfield.  Low usage led to the route being curtailed at Longfield Hill in 1986.  The route returned to Longfield in 1993, when Barclays Bank closed in Meopham, helped by a donation of £50 from Waitrose, where the bus turned round.  A Sunday service to New Ash Green market in 1988 was unsuccessful, and survey evidence found that a Hodsoll Street - New Ash Green service would not be used, so that idea was dropped.

For more information see: James Carley "The Meopham Community Bus" (Meopham, 1999)