For the tenth part of this series, what makes a marvellous moquette?
The moquette of a bus seat fulfils two purposes. One is to project the bus operator’s corporate identity. Another is to make the bus seats look as good as clean, even if the seat has been sat on several times a shift.
This is why bus moquettes tend to be in elaborate patterns. A plain pattern shows too much grease or damp from the previous occupant (i.e.: takeaway food, spilt drinks, slightly defrosted frozen food packaging). Hence the popularity of swirls, tartan style checks (a la National Bus Company), spots, stripes, herringbone patterns, or cross hatching.
As detailed in our previous part, Camira Fabrics is one of the world’s famous makers of moquette. We said how the long established John Holdsworth and Company was absorbed into the same company.
Bus moquette can either be custom made for operators, or be the manufacturer’s own design. The latter is typical with leased vehicles or buses owned by smaller companies.
The most famous user of custom made moquette is Transport for London and its predecessors. Their moquettes varied from vehicle type to type, and from London Underground line to line. This is also true of the Docklands Light Railway and the Emirates Skyride cable car to Greenwich.
Each variation of a moquette pattern is known as a colourway. For example, Camira Fabrics’ Aura design has a number of colour variations, with red being used by Mayne’s Coaches or MCT Travel.
London Transport’s moquette design is iconic enough to be the subject of other spin-off merchandise. Besides its main usage, you can purchase a wallet from the London Transport Museum, made of moquette seen on their AEC Routemasters. Or a beanbag based on Misha Black’s District Line design of 1978. You can also wear sneakers made of recycled moquette, courtesy of Above and Below London (who fancies a pair?).
Seen below is a selection of the moquettes seen on London Transport vehicles:
- Barman: a mainly two tone blue pattern with red roundels. Designed by Wallace Sewell for refurbished Central Line trains. So-called after Christian Barman, who commissioned LT’s first designs for the Tube in 1936.
- Central: mainly red, white, and blue check with squares, lines and triangles. Designed by Jonathan Sothcott, 1992 for Central Line Tube stock.
- District: designed by Misha Black in 1978, the distinctive yellow, orange, brown and black Breakout style blocks were seen on District Line D78 rolling stock. They were also seen on Leyland Titans and MCW Metrobuses, inside and outside the M25 motorway.
- Metropolitan diamonds: used on the A Stock trains since early 1990s. Based around the line’s magenta colour, it has a succession of blue diamonds and magenta double diamonds.
- Metropolitan triangles: designed in the mid-1990s for Metropolitan A Stock trains with high back seats. Dark blue background with magenta and light blue right angle triangles.
- AEC Routemaster moquette: the Daddy of All the London Bus Moquettes and considerably better than the ghastly poached egg one! Designed by Douglas Scott, the tartan style moquette mirrors the bus’ interior trim and seat backs.
- AEC Regent moquette: for a time, the most abundant moquette with its black, sky blue and red colour bars. Again, as with the AEC Routemasters, the colour is derived from the vehicle’s interior trims and seat backs.
- Straub blue check: the two tone blue moquette was a standard feature on Ralph Bennett’s Londoner style DMSs. With bits of green blocks and shades of blue, it was designed by Marianne Straub in 1969. A version of which was seen on British Rail carriages, particularly early Mark 2 rolling stock.
- New Routemaster (Camira Fabrics BVH018): designed by Thomas Heatherwick for the NBfL, the moquette, in red and grey check with white piping respects the contours of each seated passenger.
There is a wealth of moquette designs that are used on buses outside of London. The only problem is, they are not as well documented as our London equivalent. Well, at least till now we think. Apart from the bus owning group’s own styles, there is a number of generic styles seen on the buses of smaller companies.
Most of Britain’s buses use moquette by Camira Fabrics whose serial numbers are quoted for your information.
- Vigor BAU309: from Camira’s range, this graffiti style design is seen on many local buses. For some reason, often seen on Dennis Darts (I think JPT had a few buses with that moquette).
- Vigor BAA309: BAU309’s cousin has a more cubist style, with multicoloured flashes reminiscent of a 1980s nightclub.
- Vigor BAE309: blue hatching on a with multicoloured lines. Seen on a fair number of minibuses.
- Vigor BKA315: multicoloured splodges used to denote centre of person’s seat with grey pebbledashing. Popular on private hire minibuses.
- Aura CAA324: popular on coaches, the red version of Camira’s Aura range of moquette is seen on Mayne’s vehicles. Best identified by the cream spots and the semicircular Spirograph circles. Also used by MCT Travel on their latest Solo SR hybrid minibuses.
- GMPTE ecobuses: seen on TfGM owned electric hybrid buses, particularly Optare Solo SRs. It is a sober scheme with colours inspired by the green livery of their electric hybrid minibuses and midibuses.
Moquettes by operator past and present
- Stagecoach Group (beach balls): the ‘beach balls’ on the Stagecoach moquette comes under serial number BDL332 for the standard blue backgrounded version.
- Stagecoach Group (1980s): ah yes, the infamous scorched tyre with the flaming broad herringbones. Their serial number is BER398.
- London General: before being recovered into standard Stagecoach beach ball moquette, JPT Travel’s 52 reg Alexander Dennis ALX400s had the ghastly geometric diamonds (BJT357) from the previous owner’s buses. The colours are more akin to pixellated puke.
- Arriva Bus (boxes): BOX231 and DHB400 are the present moquettes seen on their modern vehicles
- Arriva Bus (swirls): BDV381 and BDW381 were the previous versions to the boxes moquette.
- FirstGroup (flying Fs): the violet and cyan scheme shows the array of flying Fs in herringbone formation (DDU659, DDL648, BCC343).
- Tyne and Wear PTE: a bespoke moquette featuring front views of their Leyland Olympian buses and Metro trains.
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For the eleventh part of this series, who knows…? Feel free to add your anecdotes on the moquettes or add a few more designs to the mix (better still with serial numbers).
S.V., 22 January 2016.