185 (F602GVO) was new to Trent Barton back in January 1989, and entered service in Mansfield on January 2nd, 1989. It would be numbered 602, and would be part of the first batch of ten Volvo B10M Citybuses, with registrations F600-F611GVO. It arrived in an allover red livery, with ‘Trent Buses’ applied on both sides of the bus.
The whole batch would be withdrawn by Trent in the middle of 1999. 185 would then be sold onto Plymouth Citybus, along with F600-F607GVO, and G612OTV, G614OTV, G615OTV, G621OTV & G623OTV throughout late 1999 and 2000. 185 arrived at Milehouse on Thursday 23rd March 2000 along with 183, 184 and 186. 185 entered service on Friday 31st March 2000. The main reason for their purchase was to replace the remaining Leyland Atlanteans. 185 would enter service along with many other sister vehicles on the 46 and 47 routes, and occasionally escaped onto school runs and the Park & Ride services.
Despite initially entering service in Trent Barton’s livery, 185 would receive her repaint into what was the standard Citybus livery on Wednesday 6th December 2000; a red roof, white in between the upper and lower decks, with a red line in the middle. Below the lower deck windows was red too, with the Citybus logo applied in white, with a grey skirt. The final repaint of 185 would be completed on Thursday 9th June 2005 into the yellow Student Link livery, and it would carry this livery up until the end, operating the network of school routes.
Up until November 2012, 185 would be commonly seen operating on the 127 to Tavistock, which returned as a duplicate 28B departing Derriford at 17:18, together with other school routes such as the 112, 29S and 128.
It was thought at the time that the remaining batch would all be withdrawn on July 19th 2012. This was because at that time, Plymouth Citybus announced they would be withdrawing all school bus services, following a cut in Council funding. However, with a new MD Richard Stevens at the helm, nearly all of the school services were able to be saved. Consequently, there wasn’t time to find enough suitable replacement vehicles and refurbish them in time for the new school year in September 2012, so the Ex-Trent Volvos would amazingly soldier on for another year.
In her last year, from November 2012 until May 2013, 185 was ‘officially’ assigned to the Service 142 from Tamerton Foliot to Sir John Hunt, Whitleigh. In the afternoon, this returned as a Service 42A departing Tamerton at 16:22 and Derriford at 16:43, that upon reaching the City Centre ran out to Plympton as a Service 21 departing Royal Parade at 17:20 and returned as a 21A at Chaddlewood, so it was only Chaddlewood that benefitted from this extra journey.
From November 2012 to May 2013, 185 would also commonly appear on several duplicate services Citybus operated on busy routes. Two buses were required to operate these duplicates, which despite being down as two Low Floor deckers, at least one of these two buses was near enough every day a B10M!
These trips were as follows: One bus did the 07:17 from Devonport 34, the 07:50 from Derriford 28, and in the afternoon operated the 16:15 from Royal Parade 28, that then went onto the 17:07 from Derriford 34 duplicate. Another bus did the 07:47 from Devonport to Derriford 34, and returned as the 08:23 42, then in the afternoon did the 16:10 from Royal Parade 26, followed by the 17:15 from Royal Parade 21A.
185 was the first of the six remaining Ex-Trent Volvo B10Ms to go, with 185 being finally withdrawn on Monday 20th May 2013 after performing what would be her last ever service; this being the 15:45 from Plymouth High School for Girls 127 School service to Tavistock, Bedford Hotel. It would remain parked down the Lower Yard at Milehouse along with its withdrawn sisters until it was officially acquired by the PCTPG on Wednesday 18 September 2013. Eleven days later, on Sunday 29th September, at 13:05, 185 left Milehouse for the last time to take up her new home at Colebrook.
Written by: Tom Michaels - January 2014, with thanks to Gareth Ruby, Jason Beverley and Laurence Mayhew for the photos.