Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Out of town in 1978 / Fareham routes then & now

From the 1978 Southampton public transport guide I found the other day, here's how the routes beyond the city's borders used to run:

Here's a close up of Eastleigh's bus network in 1978:

...and as a comparison, this is how it looks now:

A commenter to the previous post asked for the 1978 timetables of routes serving Fareham and Gosport from Southampton. Happy to oblige. We start with the equivalent of today's First X4, which back in 1978 was the limited stop Solenteer X71 running all the way to Southsea via Locks Heath and Fareham. Today's X4 only runs as far as The Hard in Portsmouth, but the rest of the route is fairly similar:

There was no direct motorway express service to Portsmouth in 1978, as that stretch of the M27 still hadn't been built. Today, the motorway bus to Portsmouth is long gone, but the motorway is still there and you can get to Portsmouth fairly quickly with National Express. Plus there's always the train.

For Gosport, you'd use First X5 today, which runs via Fareham. Until recently, buses to Gosport were more direct and that was certainly the case in 1978 with a dedicated express route, the X70 via Bitterne and Locks Heath:

For Fareham, the options are far simpler now, a combined 15 minute daytime frequency on First X4/X5. In 1978 however, you also had the 78 and 80 stopping services running via Woolston and Locks Heath:

The 80 route number was still in use on this very stretch, albeit with a few tweaks, by First until April 2014.

In 1978, you had another two routes running to Fareham, the 53 and 76, both via Bitterne, Hedge End and Botley, where they split with the 53 continuing via Curdridge, Shedfield and Wickham and the 76 going via Park Gate and Catisfield, both terminating in Fareham.

Bluestar 3 is the direct modern day equivalent as far as Botley. To go further, you could have caught First 26 between Hedge End and Fareham via Park Gate until it was withdrawn in January 2015. Now that part of route beyond Botley is unserved. There be dragons!

Any more routes from 1978 you'd like to see?


  1. Marchwood and the rest of the Waterside would be appreciated.

    I had a copy of that timetable too. If I remember rightly, it was only ever issued once, with the two operators then reverting to their own publications

  2. With regards the Southampton to Fareham corridor of routes at this time, the 53/76 services were one of the last strongholds of crew operated Bristol Lodekka's in that area, that all ended with the introduction of MAP... i believe the last srvice 53 out of Southampton was worked by a Grosvenor Square crew and the bus would terminate in Botley Square where through passengers would have to transfer to a short worked Fareham crewed bus for the remainder of the journey to Wickham and Fareham.
    Also at this time Fareham depot was allocated most if not all the dual purpose Leyland engined Bristol VR's which used to work the "Solenteer" route.

  3. How times have changed.Thornhill Park Road is a good example as to shrinking services.Once the road supported services to Moorgreen although limited,Bishop's Waltham again limited,three buses per hour to Thornhill Estate,an hourly service to Gosport,two buses an hour to Fareham, plus an additional one per hour to Botley only,two buses per hour to Hamble-Le-Rice,one via Kanes Hill the other via Hedge End.All the main services to Gosport,Fareham,Thornhill Estate,and Hamble-Le-Rice all ran on Sundays the whole day,as did the weekday services.All that's left now is the Bluestar 3 at just about one per hour with a very restricted Sunday operation.How our travel patterns have changed thanks to the advance of car ownership.The decline in bus use started in earnest in the mid 1970's and was helped along by the bus companies themselves at a greater pace,as when they were converting to one person operation,this caused mass cancellation of services due to staff shortages of crews during the conversion.The services became so unreliable,that those who had always used the bus,were left no other option in finding other ways to get to and from work,and that they did in their droves.Also at that time public reaction to one person operation on busy routes was not favourable a good example being the joint service 54 between Southampton and West End.For a time the council owned buses were one person operated, but the ones operated by Hants & Dorset were still crew operated,and it was common all day long for the Hants & Dorset operated bus to catch the one person operated council buses up and get in front of them.So instead of a 15 minute service, most of the day it became every half hour.There was no doubt this contributed to the stat of the decline of usage on Harefield, which has steadily continued over the years,and recently in the past few years not helped by First continualy tinkering round with the current operation

  4. Thanks for posting. I am surprised that the frequencies are just as good now as to 1978 especially Sundays

  5. Now lets see how different the no.18 was back then.

    1. It ran every 20 minutes between Central Station and Fairfax Court.

  6. Fascinating! Many thanks for publishing.

  7. Generous sunday service back then ,considering everywhere was shut on a Sunday!

  8. In those days people used buses in their thousans everyday, so although Sunday frequencies on out of town services were similar on many services after about 0900 until close of service,intown ones were not quite so frequent,but still reasonabaly high in particular after about 1300 until close of service.