Arriva’s Tunbridge Wells garage closes its doors

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Arriva’s St John’s Road bus garage in Tunbridge Wells has closed its doors for the final time, after more than 80 years of serving the town’s passengers.

The operator has moved its 48-strong local fleet to a temporary facility at Cannon Lane, Tonbridge, ahead of its permanent move to a new base on Kingstanding Way, North Farm, which is scheduled to open in the spring of next year.

Planning permission has been granted for the development of a new care home on the St John’s Road site.

The upper part of the old depot fronting St John’s Road was built and opened in 1937, but the lower part of the building, most recently used for bus maintenance and accessed via Woodbury Park Road, is thought to have been built in the 1920s and was taken over by Maidstone & District Bus Company in 1933.

Under Arriva’s ownership it was home to 90 drivers, three managers, four supervisors, six engineers, seven shunters/cleaners and a storekeeper.

The honour of driving the last bus to leave the depot – the 281 to High Brooms – on Monday, October 16, fell to Paul Linstead, who joined Arriva as a driver in Tunbridge Wells in 1993 and is now an inspector.

Oliver Monahan, Area Managing Director at Arriva, said: “This is a momentous time for Arriva which has had its home on St John’s Road for many years.

“We move with a mixture of sadness and excitement; sadness that we leave the old garage behind, and excitement at the prospect of having a new, modern and purpose-built depot from which to serve our routes across West Kent.”

“Our temporary move was a logistical and operational challenge, but one that was achieved without any disruption to services. All routes have been operating well from our new home and it is business as usual while we plan the details of our final move to Kingstanding Way in 2018.”