The failure of the many proposals in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to bring the railway to Farnborough would have left the village at a disadvantage compared with neighbouring towns, particularly Orpington. Salvation came in the form of the Omnibus.

Thomas Tilling Ltd’s motor buses started operation on route 47 between Shoreditch and Bromley on 20 July 1912, replacing a horse bus route from ‘The City’ to Lewisham. Joint working with the London General Omnibus Company, London’s principal bus operator, began in 1908, and came to route 47, by then extended south to Farnborough in 1913.

This first timetable has the title "Country Breezes for City Workers". There were no less than 15 fares to choose from. From Farnborough a journey to Locksbottom cost one halfpenny, while the fare for the whole route was 11 pence. 

The service interval was about 8 minutes.  Unfortunately there is no indication how long the journey was expected to take.

Alternate buses coming from London continued to Farnborough, and for many years before and immediately after the Second World War the route was further extended on summer weekends to Knockholt Pound.

The 47 operated continuously with minor changes in route through to 1980s, from when the terminus was gradually cut back from Farnborough to Bellingham. It was replaced by new routes 208 and 261.  These photos were taken of buses on the 47 route in or near Farnborough at various times from introduction through to the 1970's.

photos: Bromley Borough Local History Society

photos: London Transport Museum

Farnborough was also the terminating location for Route 51 from its introduction in April 1949. The destination point was at various times, Sidcup, Blackfen, Charlton and Woolwich. In 1977 the terminus for route 51 was changed to Green Street Green, and is now Orpington Station.

It was replaced ib Farnborough firstly by route 229, and then from 1982, by route 261. This was a new route created to replace routes 47 and 51.

The former bus turning area in the centre of Farnborough was landscaped in 1985.

The only route through the village today is the 358 from Orpington via Farnborough, Bromley and Beckenham to Crystal Palace, see photo below.  This started in 1992 replacing routes 261 and 361, providing a more frequent service through the village.

Night Buses and Green Line

Since 1985 there has been a night bus route N47. Between 1989 and 2000 this came through, but never terminated at, Farnborough. 

It currently runs from Trafalgar Square via Bromley and Orpington to St. Mary Cray, but in 2015 was renumbered N199

There was also a very longs standing Greenline 704 coach service through the village.

This was replaced eventually by the 402 Country bus service heading up from Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks to Bromley North station. 


Since 2017 this has terminated in Sevenoaks so no longer serves Farnborough Village.
See Farewell buses


Thanks for the Memories

This has brought back a lot of memories about the buses, especially the dear old 47. When our family moved to Farnborough in 1939 we depended a lot on the 47 bus and when I started at secondary school, the 51 as well. The 47 took my Dad to Bromley South station every day during and after the war, until he retired from his job in the city. It took us to Bromley and Lewisham for the larger shops like C & A and Chiesemans, also linked up with the 119 if we wanted to go to Croydon.

I can remember the queues of people waiting in the village after a day out in Farnborough fields, for the 47 to transport them home. And cyclists with bunches of bluebells tied on the back of their bikes at bluebell time.

In 1945 when I started secondary school the 51 bus, that also terminated in the village, was my transport to Charterhouse road and school. And finally when I started work in London in 1950 it was of course the trusty 47 that carried me into Bromley. There would be a few of us waiting for the 47 at the bus stop at the green in the mornings, and we were sometimes surprised by a bus with an outside staircase!

The first shop at Farnborough Green was the sweet shop run by Ivy and Maud Waller, and there was a time in its existence when they served teas and cold drinks. I can remember The Cosy Nook tea room by the pond in the village, and the dozens of cyclists who gathered outside waiting for their refreshments. But I am glad you mentioned The Birds Tea Room because that house was always a mystery to us. A house that stood in its own piece of land, but who lived there? We never knew and I cannot remember it ever being a tea room. Did it belong to Plumridges? I can remember that name because it was where my Mum used to go and queue up for plums and other fruit along the main road. Or as it was called then the New Road.

Thank you for the memories.

Mary Scullard.

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