Leicester Transport Heritage Trust

Leicester Transport Heritage Trust

Researching, preserving and promoting our local road transport heritage

General Hospital Bus Route 55 – 70th Anniversary

Route 55 General Hospital

The first bus service to Leicester General Hospital was introduced on 14th April 1930. This was a connecting service from the East Park Road tram routes and only ran between Gwendolen Road/East Park Road junction via Gwendolen Road to the General Hospital, operating just at times for the hospital visiting periods on Thursdays and Sundays. When the bus routes were given numbers on 4th June 1936, this became route number 35. The 1949 renumbering programme saw this route renumbered 48 from 14th March 1949.

It wasn’t until 6th November 1950 that the service was extended to run to and from the City Centre. Now a full-time service and numbered 55, it started in Humberstone Gate East and ran via Humberstone Road, Nedham Street, Hartington Road, Shelbourne Street, St Saviours Road and Broad Avenue, terminating at a bus turning circle at the top of Broad Avenue. This routing didn’t last long, however, and it was changed to run via Humberstone Road and the full length of St Saviours Road (which at that time had a junction with Humberstone Road) from 16th April 1951.

The history of the route from this date was remarkably uneventful and the next route change didn’t occur until 23rd April 1961, when certain journeys at hospital visiting times were extended from the bus turning circle at the top of Broad Avenue to the main hospital entrance. From 3rd February 1964, the outward route was changed to run from Humberstone Road via Spinney Hill Road and Mere Road to St Saviours Road, due to problems on a narrow section of St Saviours Road due to the longer buses being used.

A new issue of destination blinds in 1968 had an unfortunate consequence – ‘General Hospital’ was the first destination on the blind while ‘Stocking Farm’ for linked route 54 was almost at the other end of the blind (with 52 other destinations between them!). Crews started to show a white blank instead of ‘Stocking Farm’ when working from General Hospital to route 54. A small number of buses (all Renowns to my memory but maybe someone can confirm this?) were fitted with holders in the downstairs nearside front window for a ‘Stocking Farm’ slipboard.

From 28th December 1968, route 55 was diverted (on most journeys) from St Saviours Road to run via Copdale Road and Crown Hills Avenue (this was to replace route 35 Goodwood which had run via Copdale Road and The Langhill between St Saviours Road and Coleman Road but was now re-routed via St Saviours Road and Broad Avenue). This also lasted only a short while and the 55 was re-routed back along St Saviours Road from 5th April 1970, when it was also converted to one-man single-deck operation.

In the service changes on 14th May 1972, the number of journeys which extended through to the main hospital entrance was increased to be all the main-day services (to 2000) on Mon-Sat (except early on Sat morning) and afternoon visiting time services on Sundays and these were now advertised to show route number 55H. From 17th September 1972, all journeys were extended to the main entrance and therefore became simple route 55 again.

From 18th February 1973, Mon-Fri peak period services (including at mid-day) were extended from the General Hospital via Coleman Road, Goodwood Road, Whitehall Road, Spencefield Lane and Welland Vale Road to Downing Drive (‘The Dove’), returning via Downing Drive to Whitehall Road – this meant that route 55 Evington operated the opposite way round the Evington loop to route 67 Evington. This extension was to replace peak hour only service 69 Evington which was withdrawn.

The biggest change to route 55 was in the service changes on 16th February 1975. It was completely re-routed between the City Centre and St Saviours Road to follow the same route as service 35 from a new barrier in Charles Street via London Road, Highfield Street (outward) or Sparkenhoe Street, Swain Street (inward), St Peters Road, Chesterfield Road, Evington Valley Road and Gedding Rd. From the General Hospital it continued via Coleman Road to Goodwood Road from where buses returned inward via route 35 (similarly, outward route 35 worked inward via route 55). The extension of route 55 to Evington was discontinued and transferred to a new Mon-Fri peak period route 68 Evington which also followed the previous 55 route from the City Centre via Humberstone Road except that it ran via Broad Avenue, The Langhill and Coleman Road instead of General Hospital Drive – this was changed back after just one week!

New destination blinds introduced in Autumn 1975 included the new destination ‘General Hospital and Goodwood’ for route 55.

From 1st August 1976, the outward route was changed to be via Swain Street and Sparkenhoe Street like the inward route. As routes 35 and 55 were also re-linked to route 25 Southfields Drive, the central barrier was moved to Horsefair Street, operating outward via Halford Street and Charles Street and the inward terminal point was in Rutland Street (the 25 central barrier). Route 35 was diverted along Ambassador Road and now showed ‘35 Rowlatts Hill’.

The central barrier moved again from 9th September 1979, this time to Humberstone Gate West due to the re-linking of routes 35 & 55 with route 18 Braunstone.

In a case of history repeating itself, from 5th October 1980 routes 35 and 55 were extended through to Evington during Mon-Fri am and pm peak periods via Whitehall Road, Spencefield Lane and Welland Vale Road to Downing Drive (‘The Dove’), returning via Downing Drive to Whitehall Road. This was to replace peak period route 68 which was substantially reduced (the pm peak service being withdrawn completely). So that passengers knew which route was being taken on journeys from Evington, inward route 35 via Rowlatts Hill showed ‘18A Braunstone’ and inward route 55 via General Hospital showed ‘18B Braunstone’.

With the introduction of the Leicester CityBus network on 7th October 1984, routes 35 and 55 remained cross-city linked with route 18 Braunstone. The 35 was cut back to terminate at Goodwood at all times while route 55 was extended through to Evington at all times (including evenings and Sundays). Route 35 became new route 16 Goodwood – City Centre – Braunstone (buses continued to show ‘Rowlatts Hill’) and route 55 became new route 18 Evington – General Hospital – City Centre – Braunstone. The new route 18 operated the opposite way round the Evington loop to route 55, running via Downing Drive, Welland Vale Road and Spencefield Lane.

From 29th September 1985, the Mon-Sat evening and Sunday services on route 18 to Evington were withdrawn and a new service 16A replaced routes 16 and 18 at these times, operating to Goodwood but via the General Hospital then Coleman Road, Green Lane Road and Wicklow Drive. Then, from 26th October 1986, all route 16 Goodwood journeys were re-routed via the General Hospital and became route 16 (the use of 16A being discontinued). The Mon-Sat daytime route 18 to Evington continued unchanged.

From 26th February 1989, a Sunday service through to Evington was re-introduced with ‘Little CityBuses’ working a new route 16A City Centre – General Hospital – Goodwood – Evington (replacing route 16 on Sundays), but this was withdrawn after operation on 11th June 1989 with route 16 to Goodwood (via General Hospital) being re-introduced the following Sunday.Route 18 to Evington via General Hospital finally bit the dust after operation on 28th October 1995, being replaced by route 72 to Thurnby Lodge and Scraptoft which operated from the City Centre via Regent Road and Evington Road so can’t be regarded as any descendent of route 55.

Route 16 between City Centre and Goodwood via General Hospital continued, although there were changes to the Braunstone side of the route over the next few years. The service was shortened to terminate at the General Hospital main entrance from 5th September 1999 (with a terminal loop via Broad Avenue, Coleman Road and General Hospital Drive back to Broad Avenue being introduced soon after, from 11th October 1999). The cross-city link to Braunstone was finally broken on 17th June 2007 when the route was split and the City Centre to Braunstone section became route 18.

From 27th October 2013, route 16 was linked with route 70 from City Centre to Blackmore Drive and became 16 General Hospital – City Centre – Blackmore Drive (although Blackmore Drive was only served during Mon-Sat daytimes) but was once again cut back to be City Centre – General Hospital from 28th August 2016 and since that date has interworked during Mon-Sat daytimes with route 74 Anstey but without having a ‘through’ route number.


31st Dec 1951 (needs confirmation)

54 Stocking Farm – 55 General Hospital – 54 …

5th April 1970

Mon-Sat daytime: 12 Anstey Lane – 55 General Hospital – 16 Glenfield Road – 27 South Knighton – 12 … (from 26th October 1970, routes 11/75 Anstey Lane circulars replaced some route 12 journeys in this linkage during Mon-Sat peak periods and Sat daytime)

Mon-Sat evenings & Sun: 16 Glenfield Road – 55 General Hospital – 16 …

14th May 1972

27 South Knighton – 55 General Hospital (and later Evington) – 27 …

16th February 1975

19(out)/20(in) Imperial Avenue – 35(out)/55(in) or 55(out)/35(in) – 20(out)/19(in) Imperial Avenue – 39 Northfield or Humberstone Lane – 19(out) …

1st August 1976

25 Southfields Drive – 35(out)/55(in) or 55(out)/35(in) – 25 …

9th September 1979

17(out)/18(in) Braunstone – 35(out)/55(in) or 55(out)/35(in) – 18(out)/17(in) Braunstone – 57/72 Mowmacre Hill – 17(out) …

5th October 1980

17(out)/18(in) Braunstone – 35(out)/55(in) or 55(out)/35(in) – 18(out)/17(in) Braunstone – 54 Beaumont Leys – 17(out) …

12th December 1982

During Mon-Sat evenings and on Sundays, a large link of OMB services was introduced – routes 35/55 Goodwood still came from inward route 18 Braunstone but now continued to route 72 Mowmacre Hill

31st July 1983

The Mon-Sat evening and Sunday link was revised – routes 35/55 Goodwood still came from inward route 18 Braunstone but now continued to routes 38/39 Northfield or Humberstone Lane