Route 51A - the origins, workings & dates.....
Thanks to Bob Laird & Craig Berry for entire research
Route 51A has existed since the 1930s. It used to go by North Strand, Philipsburg Ave. and Grace Park Rd. to Beaumont Rd. the pre-war routing up until it's withdrawal in 1942 was : EDEN QUAY, Beresford Place, Store St, Amiens St, Portland Row, Summerhill Parade, Ballybough Road, Richmond Road, Grace Park Rd and terminating at the junction with Collins Ave, 3 or 4 journeys every day were extended to the Convalescent Home. At this time it ran from every 15 to every 40 mins depending on time of day, interestingly, the last bus on Weekdays to Beaumont was 2350 and 2355 on Sundays. Richmond Road and the City end of Grace Park Rd never regained bus services after it's war time cancellation.
Back in the 30's in a nutshell, the DUTC went through a period where by totally unrelated routes were given the same number but with a suffix, the 51A is the last of this group, although it is odd that the 51A number was retained after it was restarted after the War. A another famous left over until the creation of the 130 was the 44A, other examples were 45(Bray)/45A(Beaumont), 50 (Crumlin)/50A (Cabra), the 52 and 53 had a similar arrangement but in these cases the divide was more east & west, the 52 (Oxmanstown Rd), 52A(Griffith Ave), 53(East Wall), 53A (Knockmaroon then later Glasnevin).
The original 51a went to Boot Inn, and was renumbered 60 in 1936. Route 51a to Beaumont started in 1936. The timing is odd, because clearly the policy of not using higher numbers had been abandoned if route 60 was used for Boot Inn. Yet 51a was used for a route that bore no relation to the 51, and presumably could have been given a different number.
It was stopped in 1942 due wartime shortages, but resumed in early 1949 with four N class single deckers from Clontarf.
It went double deck in the early 1970s, having been the last TPO single deck route in Clontarf. The three Ps on the 51a in the late 60s were unique to the route, and rarely was anything else seen on it. When they went, double deckers went on the 51a.
When CIE at the time tried to make it OPO in 1986 (when OPO double deck operation was starting) they could not get agreement, so they withdrew the route. One week later, it restarted as an OPO route, now going by the present route via Summerhill, and Drumcondra to Beaumont Hospital. There was still an all day schedule with three buses. But use of the route declined and in recent years it is a one bus one driver route, which carries very few people. Story is that Dublin Bus tried to withdraw it years ago, but had some lobbying from a then rather powerful politician in the Drumcondra area. I would be surprised if it survives the cuts that are now being forecast to happen soon.
The routing from 1949 to 1987 was city centre (see below), Beresford Place, Amiens St., North Strand, Annesley Bridge, Fairview Strand, Philipsburgh Ave., Griffith Ave., Grace Park Rd., Beaumont Rd. Terminus initially at Thatch Rd. but later at corner of Coolatree Rd. Return was from Griffith Ave. via Marino (same route as 24), emerging to Fairview initially by Fairview Ave., but later by Marino Pk. Ave.
The route was reinstated about February 1949. Four buses were required. They would have been Ns at the time. Normal terminus was corner of Thatch Rd., with 4 services a day extended to Convalescent Home.
From 1952, all journeys went to Convalescent Home. The route was now served by three buses. The Ns would be replaced by P type single deckers soon after that. Peak frequency was 12-14m., offpeak 20-25m, Sunday 20m but every 35-40m on Sunday morning.
By 1960, the offpeak was reduced. There were now 5 crew duties for 3 buses, with one "bogey" split shift. This was to continue until 1984.
In 1963, Sunday service was reduced to one bus, every 40m all day with a 2 hour gap in evening for crew break.
A new timetable in 1967 gave somewhat longer journey times. This was not changed again until 1984. By 1967, the three regular buses were P250, 262 and 266. These were the only Ps in Clontarf, and the 51a was the only TPO single deck route. When the Ps were withdrawn in 1971, the route went double deck.
With the 5.4 day week in 1975, and reduced Sunday service all around, 51a lost its Sunday morning duty, and first departure was at 1540!
In 1984, the route was reduced to two buses, with a 25m peak service. Sunday service was cancelled.
Minor changes to allow more peak running time were made in 1987.
The following year the route was withdrawn when marked-in crew refused to convert to OPO. The following week it was reinstated with the new routing through Drumcondra, and terminus at Beaumont Hospital. The logic of this was quite good. Beaumont was a newly opened hospital, and it got good service from the northeast of the city with the 27a, 101 and 103; also 103 from Finglas. But there was no route from Drumcondra area.
The new 51a had an increased allocation of three buses, giving a 20-25m peak service and about every 30m offpeak. Sunday service was reinstated, approx. hourly. City terminus was now Cathal Brugha St. Route was now KC operated.
While the 51a always came down Grace Park Rd. between Collins Ave. and Griffith Ave., at different times it took THREE different routes after that. Initial route in late 1930s was straight on then left to Richmond Rd., Ballybough and to city. Terminus was Eden Quay. From 1949 to 1987 it turned left at Griffith Ave., then through Marino and North Strand (outbound by Philipsburgh Ave.). Since 1988 it turned right then left to Drumcondra, Clonliffe Rd. and Ballybough.
City Centre terminus up to 1963 was Eden Quay, inbound by Lr. Abbey St., turning through Marlboro St. (Abbey Theatre). From 1963, inbound via Talbot St. to set down in Nth Earl St., pick up in Lr. Abbey St. at stop shared with the 24 (just west of the junction with Marlboro St.). Inbound route changed to Cathal Brugha St. when Nth Earl St. pedestrianised.
There was talk at the time to merge the 51A and 24 on OPO conversion thus creating a route connecting Beaumont Hospital and Heuston Station. Another possible routing which never occurred but was discussed is a little more complex.
At the time of the Coolock route reveiw circa 1994/1995, there was a proposal to merge the 27b and the 20B a develop the 51A into a high frequency Imp service.
The new routes were as follows, 27B/20B: Castletimon - Beaumont Hospital Beaumont Road, Skelly's Lane, Kilmore Road, Ardlea Road and then via 27B route to City Centre/ St. Stephen's Green.
The 51A would leave Beaumont Hospital, turn left onto Beaumont Rd. Then after the Hatch shop (the one where people wait to be served on the path), it would turn right into Elm Mount Estate, onto Elm Mount Road, Celtic Park Road and then right onto Collins Ave (westbound). It would then turn left onto Grace Park Road and continue into City Centre via the current routing. However there were numerous complaints from residents complaining about additional traffic through narrow roads and people in Collins Ave area towards Donnycarney who would be denuded of a regular service. As a result nothing was done until the 51A was eventually butchered as a service.
Yes there was a proposal to "merge" the 24 & 51A routes with the route operating from Conyngham Road - with a M/S PVR of 7 and a Sun PVR of 5. The section of Griffith Avenue between Philipsburgh Ave and Malahide Road was to be discontinued with route 24 travelling via Griffith Ave and Grace Park Road to Beaumont Hospital.
Schedules were produced & it was virtually agreed but the TPO/OPO problems with the 51A came into play again and the plan was rejected by the 51A busmen. There were resident objections to that proposed change of the 24 along Griffith Ave/ Marino.
The C class were regulars on the late evening service on the 51A being taken from the 27/27A allocation.
The 1988 timetable was still in operation 10 years later. But sometime between then and 2001 it was cut back to the basic one bus peak only service that has lasted as the theoretical timetable to the end.
As of Sunday the 16th April 2001, the 51A was to be discontinued with the introduction of the new 103 and 104 services. However, Bertie Ahern TD stepped in and the route continued servicing an area which had been advised that the route no longer ran and serving stops that said it had been withdrawn. It continued on its old timetable for a short while, though by the June 2001 it had changed to its final peak hour timetable.
The route has been WV operated for many years. But the 0700 from Abbey St. is a Harristown based Euro duty, which continues onto route 27c & Dublin Bus ALX400 AV 280, in wedding bus livery was a regular performer on the route, changing to a VG in 2009, with VG16 being the allocated bus. The Harristown bus, after dropping off at Beaumont Hospital, continued onto Clonshaugh Industrial Estate ( unofficially still in service ) where it would drop off workers, before heading special to Clare Hall to operate the 08.00 route 27C ( Clare Hall via route 27 City Centre & terminating at Leeson Street Bridge ), which also operated route 27/27C in the evening of this bogie duty.
Route 51A was last operated by Clontarf Garage WV 44 on the 24th April 2009.
( thanks to Bob Laird & Craig Berry for all text above )