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Happy Birthday, Ash Grove

Ash Grove Depot, home of HCT Group’s largest operation, marks the 40th anniversary of its opening this Sunday. Time for some bus history…

Posted: 23 Apr 2021

On 25 April 1981, the newly-built Ash Grove depot was opened with due ceremony by Dr David Quarmby, Managing Director (Buses) of the London Transport Executive, who drove the official first bus into the garage – and operations began three weeks later. 

The depot provides accommodation for 140 buses under cover, with space for another 30 in the open, plus engineering and office spaces. A special feature of the depot is the construction of the roof, which includes 10 triangular steel trusses, each weighing some 35 tons and believed to be the largest trusses of the type ever installed in Britain. 

Today, the depot is shared between ourselves and Arriva, but Ash Grove has had an interesting history. There have been highs and lows – it was closed between 1991 and 1994 – and again between 1998 and 2000. It has been used to store collections for the London Transport Museum and as a base for heritage Routemasters. It was the operating centre for Arriva’s articulated buses on Route 38 (either a high or a low, depending on your view of bendy buses – we kind of liked them). Ash Grove was also the home of the eight prototype New Bus for London vehicles (or Boris Buses) the first of which entered service with Arriva in February 2012.

HCT Group – then Hackney Community Transport – moved to the depot in 2000 when we started our very first London red bus route for Transport for London – Route 153 – and it became our head office for the next decade. Even as we’ve grown our operations across London and the rest of the British Isles, it remains our largest operating centre and has a special place in our hearts. So, happy birthday, Ash Grove.

We’d have loved to mark the occasion with an event, but with times being as they are, we’re looking to do something to mark the anniversary in the autumn.