SAM 0746 - London Bus Photos – Route 16

Route 16 – Victoria to Neasden

The previous post in this series featuring the 237 was published in January 2018 – thus it seemed about time another was published! The other posts have been about central/south bus services thus this is the first to feature a route to the northern parts of London. The venerable 16 has been a long standing one with barely any changes on the core route between Victoria and Cricklewood (apart from the terminus being either The Crown or Cricklewood Garage.)

The current 332 route from Paddington is actually a mirror of the old 16 service for it retains a link between central London (Zone 1) and the Tesco superstore/IKEA at Brent Park, thus its somewhat of a boon for those living in the districts along its route because of its convenience for those two large shopping venues. It was in fact the opening of the Neasden Tesco superstore which prompted the 16 to be extended from the centre of Neasden a couple or so more miles westwards along the North Circular Road to the new terminus.

As in the previous posts this again is a collation of bus photos and notes I made in a series of photograph albums during the 1980s covering many of the Routemaster services converted to one man operation in that decade. The 16 didn’t receive much attention compared to other routes on their final day of RM operation – for by then many of its services had been switched to Metrobuses. However it was fortunate for me and a few others that the very last service from Victoria to Neasden Tesco’s and back was actually RML operated.

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Its a surprise how long it has been since the old Victoria bus station has been gone! This is a view of the new iteration in September 2008 from Google Streets

Whilst the 16 once had a permanent stand at Victoria bus station these days its not the case. It simply drops passengers down and then makes off for the bus stands in Vauxhall Bridge Road. On the return journey passengers are picked up in Wilton Road previously it was somewhat further back, however with a new road layout introduced in 2020 buses are able to pick up passengers from a new bus stop right opposite the Apollo Victoria theatre.

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Judging from my photographs the overall roof was removed about 2003. This is one of my last pics to show that.

The 16 (along with the 6, 46, 98, 187 and 414) were temporarily diverted along the Regent’s Canal in 2003. Here’s a view of the 16 in a rather unusual setting! as will be seen the buses by this time were Dennis Trident Alexandras – this was just after a brief flirt with Volvo Olympians which ended in 1999. The Dennis buses stayed on the route for nearly a decade.

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Running alongside the Regent’s Canal! This was over a couple of weekends during November 2003.

Route 16 in the 1980s….

Finally here are some photos from my albums compiled during the 1980s of Routemaster conversions to One Person Operation – as was the practice with my other London bus posts a mix of full pages with their notes included and crops of pictures is presented here.

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My introduction to Route 16 as it was at the time – Victoria to Neasden.

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The prototype LT1 entered service on the 16 in 1929.

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The 16a was a twin to the 16 except it went to Oxford Circus instead of Victoria.

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The 16 depicted at various locations. It can be seen by this time (August 1987) Metrobuses were in use on the route – four months before they took over completely.

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Scenes outside Cricklewood garage – including passengers switching buses.

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Neasden Lane shopping centre was the route’s terminus late evenings and Sundays.

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Southbound Routemaster (RML 2517) climbing Crest Road 18th November 1987.

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Scenes at Tesco’s, Neasden, on the same day (18 November.)

The modern day version of the 16, the 332, has on its destination blinds ‘Brent Park Tescos.’ Its probably a personal choice as to what the actual location is but Brent Park was in fact the location as it was known in 1987! Thus the 16 was somewhat an oddity by way of its describing the location as Neasden. A bit like the 36 to ‘West Kilburn’ which was in fact Queen’s Park no more and no less! It must be said Neasden tube station (and railway depot) is just behind Tesco’s itself which is possibly why this naming was used.

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The final 16 Routemaster (2646) to Neasden on 20 November 1987. Just a handful of enthusiasts were on it as I was to Neasden and back to Victoria. By this time practically all the 16’s services consisted of Metrobuses. This (and the previous working which was operated by RML 902) were in fact the last RM services. RML 902 worked to Cricklewood before being taken out of service there. That left RML 2646 with the honour of being the last from Victoria to Neasden Tesco’s, back to Victoria and finally to Cricklewood garage.

Its clear the idea was to ensure Crickelewood Garage had its full allocation of Metrobuses by the end of the day. In this particular case (and as also happened on some of the other RM to OPO conversions) Routemasters were taken out of service immediately as they passed their home garage and driven away immediately either to a new garage or storage. Ironically this procedure didn’t happen with the 16a. As I personally observed the 16a remained 100% RML operated right up to the end of its services around 9pm!