Bull Yard was fire bombed on 22 October 1940* when 48 London Transport buses, which had been withdrawn due to wartime fuel savings, were lost including eleven of the twelve brand new TF class private hire coaches.
Thomas Tilling first occupied the premises in 1876. In 1905 they became the first motor bus garage in London, with motor buses running between Peckham and Oxford Circus (this is now route 12). In 1911 the bus garage was moved to Lewisham and the premises were used for vehicle building and as a maintenance base by Tilling’s.
After London Transport’s formation in 1934, the premises were used for storage by LT and by 1938 had been earmarked as a bus garage with a capacity for 200 buses until the Second World War intervened.
Peckham Bus Garage finally opened on 2 May 1951 with a capacity for 150 buses operating on routes 36 and 78 with an output of 68 buses Monday to Friday. (It also housed LT’s South East Divisional Medical Centre.) It took 18 years to reach anything like its operating capacity and that was achieved only by shutting Nunhead garage (1954), Old Kent Road garage (1958) and Rye Lane garage (1969) and transferring some of their routes and buses into Peckham.
The Peckham Bus Garage closed in 1994 as London Transport was being privatised due to what was called “roof problems” but being in the heart of Peckham, and with many bus routes being lost to private operators, its prime site sealed its fate. It was replaced with a “low cost unit” in the ex-council depot site in Blackpool Road.
The architects who designed Peckham Garage were Messrs Wallis, Gilbert and Partners working in association with LT’s own architect Thomas Bilbow. Construction was shared between Richard Costain Ltd and J. Jarvis and Co Ltd.