Arriva’s St John’s Road bus garage closes its doors for the final time

Tunbridge Wells depot

The last bus has left the Arriva bus depot on St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, after more than 80 years of the garage serving the town’s passengers.

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

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

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

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.”

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 Tunbridge Wells team operates nine main routes and seven schools services.

“Our temporary move was a logistical and operational challenge, but one that was achieved without any disruption to services,” said Oliver Monahan.

“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.”