Stoneleigh is a very nice 1930's suburban housing estate near to the Great London (formed 1965) and Surrey meeting point and is near to Ewell, North Cheam and Worcester Park. It was built on what was farmland and is served by South West trains on the Epsom to Waterloo line. The railway line divides Stoneleigh into two parts - the Broadway side and the side leading to Ewell Court as development took place on both sides. These two sides are joined by a covered bridge at Stoneleigh station and by a footpath serving an arch which perhaps was originally built for farm workers and animals. Stoneleigh has always been served by buses, but at its edges (the 293 Epsom-Morden route on the London Road side and the 406, Epsom-Kingston on the Kingston Road side) and of course, these run today. For years it was not possible to have a bus route actually running through the middle of Stoneleigh, but this was to change.
Stoneleigh Station Pedestrian Bridge and Ticket Office 2005
In 1986, deregulation of local bus services came in, allowing local bus operators to tender for and to set up local routes - with strict conditions and requirements. Along with other new routes, Epsom Coaches saw the need for a route actually crossing through Stoneleigh and connecting into other areas. At that time, Epsom Coaches had started operating various local bus routes, mainly with 12 metre Leyland Leopards with Plaxton Supreme coachwork. These were superb luxury coaches of course and were not designed for stop and start bus work. They had an underfloor engine and luggage lockers plus boot at the rear. This meant a number of steps to board and alight from the coach and might be hard for some passengers. They were painted in Epsom Coaches smart livery of cream and red and were lettered Epsom Buses as the bus work side of the Epsom Coaches Group was now called. It was seen that smaller buses called midi-buses would be best on the Stoneleigh route where there are some quite sharp bends to be negotiated.
A Leyland Leopard Image courtesy Bourne Hall Museum
By 1988, Epsom buses were serving Stoneleigh Broadway with routes 2 and 3 - these were circular routes - Epsom to Epsom, calling near Stoneleigh Station and used smart Mercedes-Benz midi-buses with Plaxton Beaver bodywork in cream and red livery. Some route changes were made to bring in further stops and requirements and part of the journeys allowed 'Hail and ride' sections where it was safe to do so. The routes serving Stoneleigh later became routes K9 and K10, Epsom to Kingston with small changes running up to 2006. It was then that the K9 and K10 services were re-numbered routes E15 and E16 and operated from Epsom to Worcester Park only (Monday to Saturday) as a circular service. At the start Epsom coaches used the old type Setright ticket machines but later electronic ticketing equipment was introduced. In the early 1990's there also used to be another bus actually going through Stoneleigh. It was the 949 mobility bus operated by Javelin Coaches with a Mercedes-Benz welfare bus with Wadham Stringer bodywork. It ran from Epsom to Kingston on Tuesdays and Fridays and had a stop in The Glade. Today, we have the extremely good mobility buses operated by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council with Renault and Iveco vehicles painted white and operating daily on a demand basis and they can carry wheelchairs. This is RouteCall.
A Mercedes-Benz midi-buses with Plaxton Beaver bodywork Image courtesy Bourne Hall Museum
Returning to Stoneleigh routes E15 and E16, when they were set up in 2006, Epsom buses had been renamed Quality Line and a new bus type was running on these routes. They were Dennis Dart midi-buses with Plaxton Pointer bodywork, Quality Line also operating Darts with other types of bodywork. At this time, routes E15 and E16 ran hourly at Stoneleigh Station although service E15 was a special school service, with its own timings.
Cover of a 1988 Epsom Buses Timetable Image courtesy Peter Lemon
By 2014, operating costs had risen a lot as with all bus operators and there was now a need to allow local bus routes to be sustainable in the future. As a result, E15 had to be withdrawn and route E16 changed to operate every two hours both clockwise and anti-clockwise around the Stoneleigh/Worcester Park circuit. Route E16 is now run with a new type Optare Solo single-deck bus in distinctive silver livery and lettered Silver Service because it is a Surrey route. Example points served are Epsom shops, Ewell shops, the shops at Kiln Lane, Stoneleigh and Worcester Park stations. Passengers can use it for Bourne Hall, the park there and the health centre. It's very useful to have this circular route.
It's interesting to look back at some of the changes that have taken place in Stoneleigh close to the E16 bus route. In the 1980's and 1990's there was a problem with some private motorists driving cars too fast in a residential area and road "humps" or "tables" had to be built in some roads. Park Avenue West, Glenwood Road and Briarwood Road being examples. Also some private motorists were crossing this part of Stoneleigh to get from Kingston Road towards North Cheam avoiding the Organ Inn junction. On a happier note, a beautiful job was made of restoring the lovely brick arches spanning the pavements at junction of Briarwood Road and London Road. I've always thought of them as a welcome and important entrance into the Stoneleigh estate. Sadly, the pair of arches that stood at junction of Kingston Road and Park Avenue West had to be taken down and removed because they had been damaged by private cars a number of times while turning at this junction. Also, some roundabouts and kerbs have had to be reduced in size or taken away so as to give a little more room in roads and at paths. The road islands in Stoneleigh are beautifully planted out and are really colourful, and the flower beds are really nice.
It's interesting to note that at the time of writing, signatures have been given by Stoneleigh residents, shops and visitors, asking if Stoneleigh station could be made fully able to be used by everyone, including disabled people, elderly people and mums with buggies and heavy shopping to overcome the problem of the stairs up and down.