London Transport
Country Area Routes 490–499

South of the Thames

Last updated 26-2-10.

490 490 FARE STAGE

At its longest, route 490 ran between Gravesend (Clock Tower) and Ash (White Swan) via Southfleet, New Barn, Longfield, Hartley, Church Road and New Ash Green.

Martin White adds, “For most of its existence the route terminated at a small green (where it could turn ’round) near Hartley Church and did not proceed to the White Swan in Ash via New Ash Green. In fact, I believe New Ash Green did not exist until the early 1960s. Both the 490 and 490A had C-type buses until replaced by GSs some time in the early 1950s. C-types also ran the 451 from Gravesend to Hartley via Betsham and Longfield.”

Gordon Mackley continues, “New Ash Green was a 1960s development. The turning point referred to at Hartley was the traditional terminus throughout the post-war LT era, and was known on the blinds as HARTLEY COURT. The route which served Ash (White Swan) was at this time the 489. The 490 was a GS-operated route during this period (as was the 450), because of some very narrow sections of New Barn Road. The 489 was usually the haunt of RFs (as was the 489A).”


Route 490A ran between Gravesend (Clock Tower) and Ash (White Swan) via Southfleet, New Barn, Longfield, Hartley and New Ash Green.

Again from Martin White, “The 490A followed the same route as the 490 from Gravesend to Southfleet but, instead of proceeding to New Barn, followed the same roads as the 489 to Longfield. Then, instead of going on to Hartley, the route followed the Longfield Road up to Longfield Hill where it terminated. Incidentally, either the 490 or the 490A or both began their journey at Singlewell, not Gravesend in itself.”

490A

491
491 FARE STAGE
The number on this “E” plate had been officially painted over at some point, possibly so that the plate could be used for a different route.
491 - 492 HORTON KIRBY
I believe this “E” plate came from a stop in either Burnham Road or Victoria Road, Dartford.
1968 route 491 fare card

Route 491 ran daily between Lower Belvedere or Belvedere Station and Dartford via Northumberland Heath, Barnehurst, Perry Street and Crayford, and was extended Monday to Saturday to Horton Kirby (Westminster Mills) via Wilmington and Sutton-at-Hone in parallel with route 467. The route was withdrawn in the late 1970s.

◀ A card fare table for routes 491 and 467. Route 491 is printed on one side and route 467 on the reverse. These fares charts were displayed behind a glass panel at the rear of the lower saloon by the bench seat next to the staircase. This one is of the larger size designed for RT and RF type busses and is a bit grubby and creased from use. It is dated 1968.

1980 route 492 timetable

Route 492 was originally a Monday-to-Friday route running from Gravesend (Clock Tower) to West Kingsdown via Southfleet, Betsham, Westwood, Longfield and Fawkham Green. It was withdrawn at the end of the 1950s. Graham Johnson adds, “I remember as a child [it] used Guy single-deck buses.”

The number 492 was later used for the renumbering of route 467, and ran from Sidcup Station to Horton Kirby (Westminster Mills) via Foots Cray, North Cray, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Wilmington and Sutton-at-Hone. The renumbering was to save the drivers from changing two number blinds when the buses switched between routes 491 and 467 on vehicles that had three-track number blinds.

This “E” plate could have been used for either version of the 492. ▶
◀ Route 492 timetable from 1980.
492

493 RAMSDEN ESTATE

Originally numbered 854—London Transport’s highest-numbered Country Area route—the 493 was an Orpington local service runing between Orpington (Ramsden Estate) and Green Street Green via Orpington Station and Chelsfield Station.


Route 494 ran between Oxted and East Grinstead via Tandridge, Lingfield and Felcourt.

494

495

Route 495 ran daily between Northfleet and Christianfield Estate via Waterdales, Perry Street and Gravesend (Clock Tower).

Graham Johnson adds, “The 495 originally terminated at King’s Farm Estate with the 496, running via upper Sun Lane and Whitehill Road to the Echo Square. It only had a separate terminus at Christianfields Estate when this was built c. 1952. This route was served by STDs in the late forties and then by RTs.”

Gordon Mackley continues, “The route was diverted from Christianfields to Kings Farm Estate when the MBA class replaced RT vehicles in 1968. This was because the 36-foot long MBA vehicles could not get ’round the Christianfields turning circle.”

The MBS-class Merlins were politely referred to as “Autofare Buses” when first introduced, as noted in this 16-page booklet that was issued when Gravesend routes 495 and 496 were converted to one-man operation on 15 March 1968.

1968 route 495+496 leaflet

Route 496 ran daily between Northfleet and Kings Farm Estate via Perry Street and Gravesend (Clock Tower).

Graham Johnson writes, “There were some special variations to the [two] routes. A works version of the 495 and 496 ran an extra journey on weekdays from Birch or Pier Road to Christianfields and Kings Farm respectively for workers at the Imperial Paper Mills, Bowaters or Harmsworth Printers who wished to have lunch at home. This left at about 1.05 pm and returned about 1.45 pm. The 495 was also extended to the Plough at Northfleet from Northfleet Church (its usual terminus) for football specials. I can also remember the 496 being extended as far as Dartford on summer Sundays in the late forties.”

496

497

Route 497 was a Gravesend school service, operating between Gravesend (Clock Tower) and and Northfleet (Dover Road School) via Darnley Road. It ran unchanged for many years, and was withdrawn in 1972 or 1973.

Gordon Mackley was kind enough to bring to my attention that “whilst in the 1960s the route was double deck (using RTs from the 498 allocation), the original vehicles to operate on this route were the 4Q4 type and there is film footage (now on publicly available DVD) of one of these on the route. For any bus modellers, Graham Orchard’s Model Bus Company does a nice set of 497 blinds in 4mm scale for a 4Q4.”


Route 498 was a local service in Gravesend and ran from Gravesend (Clock Tower) to either Coldharbour Estate or to Northfleet (Plough) via Painters Ash Estate. It was operated by Routemasters for many years.

Graham Johnson adds, “I can remember the 498 being introduced, in the early fifties, I think. Originally it ran to Coldharbour Estate, and was only extended to Painter’s Ash when this estate was built. Like the 497, it started close to the Clock Tower in Gravesend and ran via Darnley Road and Dashwood Road towards Coldharbour. As I recall, the route was only extended to the Plough at Northfleet at a later date.”

498

499 499

Route 499 was a Kent local route in Dartford, running daily between Joyce Green Hospital and Downs Estate via Temple Hill Estate, Dartford and Fleet Estate. It was operated from Dartford garage [DT] by RT double-deckers for many years. Variously serving Bow Arrow Lane (1963) and Joyce Green Hospital (1969), the route (by now extended to Gravesend) finally succumbed to rationalisation in 2005.

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