|Bus Services (updated 24 May 2011)|
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:
Mann's Travel (operator
of buses on behalf of KCC)
Kent County Council
Support for bus services
Source: Freedom of Information Request. Figures are for the year ended 7 December 2004.
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
For more information see: James Carley "The Meopham Community Bus" (Meopham, 1999)