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Topping's Coaches - 'Topp Line'/'Home James'
Topping's Coaches - 'Topp Line'/'Home James'
I’ve not noticed a post on this before but does anyone remember Topping’s/Home James who were quite a well known coach who later branched out into bus operation in Liverpool/the Wirral.

They had a office by Wavertree Clock Tower and ran coaches under the ‘Home James’ brand but with de-reg in 1986 they branched out into bus operation with the Monday-Friday peak X10 Rainhill Stoops – Liverpool City Centre with Leyland National’s, Bristol RE’s and a ex-Greater Manchester Leyland Fleetline of which they adopted a revised Greater Manchester orange, white and blue livery along with the ‘Topp Line’ fleet name. Not sure but was the X10 a Merseytravel contract/de-minis or did they operate that commercially?

They also began commercial services on the Wirral with the 16/17 Woodchurch/Ford Circular services and gained Merseytravel contracts for the 103 Aigburth Vale – Waterloo and the 106/116/140 via Edge Lane (evening/Sunday) from 1988-91 too. Topping’s along with PMT’s Red Rider seemed to muscle into Merseytravel contract’s in East Liverpool/Huyton and I wonder did they price out Merseybus or did Merseybus have no interest in running them?

Fleetwise they acquired a fair few Leyland Nationals along with ECW Bristol VR’s including a early ex-Ribble example and a handful from Brighton & Hove and in 1989 got a batch of brand new Leyland Lynx’s which mainly ran the Wirral services and sometimes saw use on the 106/116/140 too. Could be wrong but didn’t Topping’s have a yard/depot around the back of the Merseybus engineering garage at Carnegie Road (Green Lane) as I saw a couple of their VR’s parked up around there in 1990/91 unless they were getting work, MOT etc. at Carnegie Road or perhaps they were being sold/disposed of?

Topping’s bus operations disappeared around 1991 when the Merseytravel contracts were lost and/or Merseybus began running commercial evening/Sunday services on the Edge Lane corridor. Their Wirral operations along with the Leyland Lynx’s also got sold around this time to PMT’s Red Rider division who also acquired Wirral Bus and CMT’s Wirral operations around then too who kept the Lynx’s which looked nice in the PMT yellow/red livery too.

IIRC the Topping’s/Home James coach operations also ceased around or shortly after this time too. Didn’t they also have a rare double deck Plaxton coach as their flagship vehicle too?

Topping’s generally didn’t branch out too much apart from those commercial services on the Wirral and sort of seem a bit forgotten when looking back at that early de-reg period on Merseyside. I suppose the likes of Aintree Coachline, pre-1989 Amberline, Wingates etc. were quite similar to Topping’s back then with regard to their involvement with bus operation post de-reg too. Maybe if they’d have gone for more extensive commercial operation back then Topping’s may have been more remembered (successful?) but likewise they may have encountered more pitfalls and failed in ways the likes of CMT, Fareway, Liverbus, Liverline etc. didn’t. Also it's highly likely they'd have got hovered up with the take-overs and consolidation that happened in the mid-90's too!

I probably say this with biased nostalgia but Topping’s although not setting the world alight seemed a half-decent outfit who by and large ran their services as expected and seemed to have a fairly clean fleet too… although towards the end I did encounter a Bristol VR which had a Perspex nearside rear window and another (perhaps driver error) which tapped the rear of a Merseybus Atlantean at Great Charlotte Street traffic lights once too, so perhaps they weren't all that great either.

Here’s a selection of photo’s of Topping’s bus operations from that era from the Transport Library too.

https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/?route...h=Toppings
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RE: Topping's Coaches - 'Topp Line'/'Home James'
The "home james" brand was took over by supertravel if i remember correctly as im sure some of toppings ex drivers worked at supertravel too.
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RE: Topping's Coaches - 'Topp Line'/'Home James'
Thanks MM, forgot about the links Topping's had with Supertravel.
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RE: Topping's Coaches - 'Topp Line'/'Home James'
The X10 was commercial. I also remember they had the 275 Evening & Sunday contract between Prescot & Huyton (followed Merseybus 75A route). I seem to recall them using a minibus on this route that was quite clearly more suited to private hire work with the obligatory destination cards in the windscreen.
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