35 YEARS IN SOUTHAMPTON
As First leaves the southern city, DAVID JENKINS looks at the history of competition there
Just days before Hampshire Bus’s Southampton operations passed to Solent Blue Line in October 1987, former South Yorkshire PTE Volvo Ailsa/ Van Hool McArdle 1936 has just left Central Station on its way to Thornhill, a location served by Blue Line ever since. The conductor stands in traditional position alongside the driver.
Southampton City Transport before deregulation was highly standardised, and had purchased no less than 175 East Lancs-bodied Leyland Atlanteans. A 1982-built example is seen in Portswood in October 1987. The livery later gained more red, before becoming allover red.
The closure of First's operations in Southampton brings to an end a battle between two operators that has endured since the early days of deregulation. Ownership may have changed along the way, but the business which has most recently traded as City Reds can trace its origins back to 1879, when the first trams ran in what was still a town at that time.