The much more important route that the 18 became from 1962 as a result of its role in the replacement of trolleybus 662 gave it a complicated over-lapping operational structure and eventually well spaced termini at Edgware Station and London Bridge, with a few peak hour journeys at the outer end to Aldenham Works. It was unusual in the later 1960s in fielding all four main types of standard double-deckers - Routemasters from Stonebridge and Middle Row, RT's from Alperton and RTL/RTW's from Willesden though I don't think they all operated at the same time. Here, Alperton's RT534 shares stand at Edgware with Stonebridge allocated RM301 in the summer of 1962. RT 534 may be on a duty finishing run as it is only going to Wembley. From there it is only a short hop back to its home garage
As you might expect, I have to start here, with the operator that was one of (if not the) largest in the world, and whose vehicles were known and recognised everywhere. Although I can just about remember a few STL's about, particularly the time I was able to help the conductor change the front via blind on a country area one on approach to Beaconsfield (I think I must have been about eight years old), and also have vaguer memories of other types including country area ST's in Watford and what I now know to have later been Q's on the 226, I grew up with the post-war replacement fleet of the RT family, RF's,TD's, GS's etc and of course the trolleybuses. These types therefore feature extensively on this site. I can only recall one tram ride, when my dad took me, shortly before the end in 1952 for a ride from Embankment through the Subway to the Clerkenwell area. I was a train spotter more than a bus one in the fifties but still got about a bit and particularly remember excited teenage sightings of the prototype Routemasters on routes 2 8 260 and 716 but I know that I never rode on them at the time
The tail-end of the trolleybus system came just within my photographic era (see more photos below). Here, in Kingston early in 1962 a reprieved L3, No.1511 glides under the railway bridge towards The Dittons. It was occasionally flooded under here which must have made for some interesting photos though I never saw it as such. In the background there's a helluva lot of people waiting to get into the cinema - I wonder what picture was being shown? Your Daily Telegraph will cost you £1.20 today. I make that a 96 fold increase in a little over 50 years!
Summer 1961, and I am patiently waiting to photograph a 662 trolleybus coming across the North Circular Road at Stonebridge Park en-route to Paddington, when along came CRL4. It caught me buy surprise and it's not a good photo but worth showing nevertheless. It is wearing a lighter shade of green here and some RF's were likewise treated at this time. Did I get the trolley photo? - apparently not!
Quite a few survivors of the original 151 RT's built in 1940 remained on the books as Trainers in the earlier 1960s. RT33 departs Chiswick Works, location of the Training School and the famous 'skid patch' in April of 1962. Now its over fifty years later and I drove past this site for the first time in over three decades recently - wow! where did it all go? There's now no sky to be seen as the whole frontage and area behind is full of modern glass and steel office blocks etc.
Its 7th November 1965 and on this day these modern upstarts have taken over the busy trunk route 24 from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico. Fifty of these Leyland Atlanteans were acquired as part of an evaluation of the suitability of rear-engine design for London operation and were put on an extensive comparison testing programme with 30ft long RML Routemasters. They proved to be far less reliable and economic than their conventional rivals and had only a few years service life in the capital being shipped en-bloc to Hong Kong in the early 1970s. By that time though the inevitability of embracing this layout was already well accepted by LT engineers (even though the engine was not where they might have preferred it to be!) they were beginning to embrace the design (albeit its Daimler Fleetline rival) in large numbers. Here we see XA12 is already in some sort of trouble at a rain-soaked Pimlico terminus and the Chalk Farm garage engineers have arrived to sort it out. XA 19 then arrives behind and two youthful passengers are eyeing the proceedings with interest. Were they, like me, enthusiasts out for a first day ride? If so and you recognise yourself please do contact me.
An interesting shot from 1966 showing the construction work of the last section of the M1 motorway which would take it as near as it would get to central London (Staples Corner) This is Mill Hill Broadway and RF 383 is working the 240A from Edgware to Mill Hill East. It was a single-deck operation (TD's till September 1962) because of old low railway bridges behind it here. These were replaced and the road excavated. Now, as we know there is a double-deck suitable bus terminal under these arches
Central Area RF442 shares the stand at Ripley with Country Area RLH 45
It was accepted by the early sixties that the Leyland units of the RT family would need to be disposed of much earlier than their AEC counterparts and arrangements were made late in 1964 to select 23 of their RTL number having their last overhauls to receive early RT10 roofbox bodies which had previously (except for a couple of prototypes) been restricted to the AECs. They were allocated far and wide around the system and moved frequently over their remaining 3-4 year operational lives. RTL453 was captured serving route 10 at Stratford Broadway in 1965. This bus survives today and was recently aired on a heritage run over route 22
RM664 is seen at Putney Bridge during its stint on the 220 and in the kind of weather that suited its décor (or lack of it!) admirably
In June of 1967 it was at last possible to start a proper service trial for the unique rear-engine Routemaster FRM1. I got wind of this and went to Tottenham Garage very early on the day to catch it on its first operational journey. It worked as 34B to Ponders End then went on to the 76. Here I asked the crew to pose and they are standing proudly with their charge although the Inspector obviously did not approve! Its first trip on the 76 was delayed by traffic and turned short at Waterloo. I think several photographers waited in vain at Victoria, however it did get there later in the day.
"A bus most peculiar mon ami" - as Hercule Poirot might have said. A small number of these odd machines operated a service to carry cyclists through the new Thames Tunnel at Dartford and were designed with rider accommodation on the top deck and cycle racks below. I do believe that one actually survives in preservation, but I doubt that applies to those smoking chimneys in the background.
BEA made good use for many years of the front entrance version of the Routemaster+luggage trailer for its passenger transport services to and from Heathrow.
The National Bus Company era of GreenLine
Not sure about this though it seems to be operating a railway replacement service c. 1968 for London Transport. Note the inspector standing by. I have a couple of other similar views and these were covering the part of the Northern Line from Finsbury Park that was non-operational during Victoria Line construction so perhaps this is what this one is doing. 515 EMJ was a Thames (Ford) coach owned by Ronsway of Hemel Hempsted
Seventy-six of these more or less provincial standard lowbridge type buses replaced all pre-war vehicles of this configuration in the early 1950s and lasted on both central and country operations until 1972. The 230 route required them as it had to pass under a low bridge at Headstone Lane, Harrow. Sometimes it became necessary to draft in a country area (green) example to Harrow Weald Garage for this route and here we see RLH 28 alongside 'normal' red RLH57 at Rayners Lane in about 1968. (a couple of years earlier they had RLH17 for a while). The route was converted to flat-fare standee type AEC Merlin single-deckers the following year as route H1
At the foot of Highgate Hill (Archway) under the imposing edifice of the former Whiitington Hospital RF346 is getting very wet
To close of this page here's a symbol of the modern age in London. This is a shot of the Croydon Tramlink in about 2005. Nowadays the cars seem to be anything but red and there are a few newer generation ones added too
LONDON'S LAST TROLLEYBUSES
Beginners luck! - This is it - the very first photo of a trolleybus I took. It's Isleworth depot in early May of 1960 after my friend and I had been to London Airport. Why o why didn't I take some more of them passing on the road and stopping a while to change crews etc? - we rode one back to the Seven Stars and changed to a 660. I was more impressed by the shiny new silver tube stock on the Piccadilly Line on that day, but the negatives I took of those have beeen long lost I'm sorry to admit. I happily spotted them whenever I could and managed to get to few not too far flung places on the system using the then new fangled Red Rovers c1957-58, however I was less interested for a while after that and was a bit slow to realise what was going on on the trolleybus scene. I think the disasterous 1958 bus strike (the lasting damage that this did would have transport repercussions in the capital for a generation) may have had something to do with that because I took to my bike a lot and gave more time to my other interests ( I became quite a competent archer and small-bore rifle shooting enthusiast in my mid-teens). Six and a half weeks without any buses or trolleybuses to spot seemed such a long time then - now it goes by in a flash!. I remember feeling quite intimidated by the pickets outside Cricklewood (W) one day and even stopped trying to collect the numbers of the idle buses. In the earliest days of 1960 friends got me back in touch again - I returned to pursuing diminishing trolleybus services wearing my spotters hat and can actually recall a ride from North Finchley to Wood Green on the strangely late surviving No.954 which, not long before, I had sampled for a short trip on the 660. Lady luck was with me that day for I later boarded No.829 (about the last surviving H1) at Wood Greeen working a 641 journey to Moorgate,though I only stayed aboard as far as Manor House. I also later went (I biked it!) all the way to Hanwell. We also visited Colindale scrapyard a lot and I got my one and only glimpse of a 'South African'.* No.1762 strangely survived there as a seat store well into May of 1960 some nine months after withdrawal although I subsequently learned that most of the type that remained until August 1959 were not delivered there for may weeks (until Jan/Feb 1960) after their finish - did they stay at the closed ID depot until then? - I've read somewhere that these buses may have been offered for sale for possible further use but there were obviously no takers. I specially recall early on, sightings at Colindale too of 829 and 954 again, after their days were over, and some other late disposal H1s including 773 and 774. I particularly remember also seeing 1001B and 1007B plus 1385B (one of West Ham's last on 26.4 60), and what I think was 1543B or 1545B. Later, in 1961, more and more Leyland K's arrived. The cab door of No.1111 was temptingly left detached one evening but (perish the thought!) it was far too heavy to cycle home with. It was sad to view the early demise of the K3's and P1's - 17xx numbers!! I later wished they had been allowed to run on the 657 to provide a bit of variety! Not sure why but I somehow managed to miss out on the Q1 withdrawals and knew nothing of their sale until the last had gone, and the silly thing was that 123 of them, over about three or four months, must have gone past Willesden Green Station (my nearest trolleybus serving point) in order to get over to Shoreditch (via Finchley, Wood Green and Stamford Hill) the nearest they would have got to the docks under power then - A crystal ball would have been useful for the person who arranged the overhead dismantling - a lot of effort could have been saved perhaps if the 647 wires had been left a while. Taken from the upper deck front of the following service trolley, N1 1636 seems to have come a cropper with a badly bent trolleypole. This was alongside St.Gabriels Church, Willesden Green, not far beyond the junction of Chichele Road and Walm Lane. There was a (by then) little used short working turning circle there and it could be suggested that 1636 ran too fast over the frog and de-wired. I know that at least one other photographer recorded this so what actually happened - anyone know? Note the virtually new concrete sodium orange light lamp standards which the council had installed because the pending end of trolleybuses meant the old bluish acetylene lighting on the traction poles would have had to go. By the time I got my act together and had just begun to think about the need for photographic records of London's trolleybuses it was well into 1960. The oldest and most interesting vehicles had largely gone to scrap and with them, in my view anyway, many of the most interesting routes, operating locations and services. There was much still to see but in my mid-teenage years I never seemed to have enough time or money to travel about the capital as much as I would have liked and never got to take my camera (initially it was only a Brownie 127!) to Hampstead Heath, Kings Cross, Parliament Hill Fields, Highgate Hill, Putney,Croydon, Uxbridge, Moorgate, Stamford Hill, Liverpool Street, Shoreditch, Nags Head, Manor House, Enfield, Waltham Cross, Holborn and countless other places that I could and should have done when the trolleys were still active. On my local area services I made only one trip to Barnet and a couple to Canons Park. I did wake up, photographically speaking, in early 1961 and took the camera, by now an Ilford Sporti (with newly acquired flashgun and bulbs, a recent 17th birthday present) to Wood Green on the night of 26th April when route 629 (among others) was due for the chop. However a combination of lack of understanding of film types (I tried to use a gifted roll of very slow Pan F) and the absolutely foul weather that those present will recall, denied me any usable record of the route as it ran its last. Some minor surface repairs to the yard of Stonebridge Depot in late summer 1961 caused a spectacular problem during at least one evening run-in. The uneven concrete caused, (to my recollection) at least five consecutive finishing duty trolleybuses to de-wire. I tried to photograph the first from a distance (no zoom lenses then), and when I moved nearer to get this shot the grumpy old sod in the foreground shook his fist at me and chased me off afterwards. I retreated to the 'safety' of the public footpath and just watched the following three or four come to grief the same way. By stages 11 & 12 I had graduated to a 35mm camera and got more active but still missed out on much of what I had the opportunity to record. I did better when the sad date for the end of my local services (660/666/645/662) came in earliest days of 1962, and for the final stage in May. I was denied the chance to see the daytime closing ceremonies in the Fulwell area and that famous run of the Diddler No.1 due to having to sit an exam (though I had by chance seen and photographed it earlier when it was brought out at FW depot for a visiting party from the PSV Circle.) I was determined though to see the last one home on the night of 8th May. I achieved that ambition because my Dad got me there, and back again afterwards, having to borrow a friends car for the purpose. Leyland K2 1334 at rest in Wood Green Depot 1961 Classic lower deck interior of a London Trolleybus - seats for 30 I was never one to study or learn much about the operational technicalities of trolleybuses, in particular the wiring arrangements which I wish I had taken more notice of at the time. Miles and miles and tons and tons of this stuff hung over our streets for decades and we gave little thought to it at all. Nowadays any attempt to re-instate such a cats cradle would bring howls of nimby protest! This is what they called a 'frog', basically a set of points like a railway but for the overhead trolleys to change direction by. At the time of removal this stuff had a considerable scrap value as it included much copper and brass. * Come to think of it I am sure I had actually observed the type before this. I had family living very near the Napier Arms terminus at Woodford and on occasions visited Ilford so although I cannot recall anything in particular must have seen them then.. The British Trolleybus Society has re-imported a surviving British built BUT double decker. No.589 was one of a batch exported to Johannesburg South Africa in the late 1940s as replacements for the wartime impounded vehicles that became part of the SA class of London trolleybuses. Much work needs to be done to get it operational again but the intention has been announced, because it bears a striking resemblance to the LTE SA3 class to paint it initially as a London SA3 vehicle. The originals were AEC's but these were no longer built post-war and there are a number of detail differences in the bodywork but this will no doubt be a great attraction when done. Now, here's a suggestion!! I expect its pseudo London number identity has already been decided but if not how about 1762? which was surely the last actual survivor - can anyone say otherwise?
I happily spotted them whenever I could and managed to get to few not too far flung places on the system using the then new fangled Red Rovers c1957-58, however I was less interested for a while after that and was a bit slow to realise what was going on on the trolleybus scene. I think the disasterous 1958 bus strike (the lasting damage that this did would have transport repercussions in the capital for a generation) may have had something to do with that because I took to my bike a lot and gave more time to my other interests ( I became quite a competent archer and small-bore rifle shooting enthusiast in my mid-teens). Six and a half weeks without any buses or trolleybuses to spot seemed such a long time then - now it goes by in a flash!. I remember feeling quite intimidated by the pickets outside Cricklewood (W) one day and even stopped trying to collect the numbers of the idle buses. In the earliest days of 1960 friends got me back in touch again - I returned to pursuing diminishing trolleybus services wearing my spotters hat and can actually recall a ride from North Finchley to Wood Green on the strangely late surviving No.954 which, not long before, I had sampled for a short trip on the 660. Lady luck was with me that day for I later boarded No.829 (about the last surviving H1) at Wood Greeen working a 641 journey to Moorgate,though I only stayed aboard as far as Manor House. I also later went (I biked it!) all the way to Hanwell. We also visited Colindale scrapyard a lot and I got my one and only glimpse of a 'South African'.* No.1762 strangely survived there as a seat store well into May of 1960 some nine months after withdrawal although I subsequently learned that most of the type that remained until August 1959 were not delivered there for may weeks (until Jan/Feb 1960) after their finish - did they stay at the closed ID depot until then? - I've read somewhere that these buses may have been offered for sale for possible further use but there were obviously no takers.
I specially recall early on, sightings at Colindale too of 829 and 954 again, after their days were over, and some other late disposal H1s including 773 and 774. I particularly remember also seeing 1001B and 1007B plus 1385B (one of West Ham's last on 26.4 60), and what I think was 1543B or 1545B. Later, in 1961, more and more Leyland K's arrived. The cab door of No.1111 was temptingly left detached one evening but (perish the thought!) it was far too heavy to cycle home with. It was sad to view the early demise of the K3's and P1's - 17xx numbers!! I later wished they had been allowed to run on the 657 to provide a bit of variety! Not sure why but I somehow managed to miss out on the Q1 withdrawals and knew nothing of their sale until the last had gone, and the silly thing was that 123 of them, over about three or four months, must have gone past Willesden Green Station (my nearest trolleybus serving point) in order to get over to Shoreditch (via Finchley, Wood Green and Stamford Hill) the nearest they would have got to the docks under power then - A crystal ball would have been useful for the person who arranged the overhead dismantling - a lot of effort could have been saved perhaps if the 647 wires had been left a while.
Taken from the upper deck front of the following service trolley, N1 1636 seems to have come a cropper with a badly bent trolleypole. This was alongside St.Gabriels Church, Willesden Green, not far beyond the junction of Chichele Road and Walm Lane. There was a (by then) little used short working turning circle there and it could be suggested that 1636 ran too fast over the frog and de-wired. I know that at least one other photographer recorded this so what actually happened - anyone know? Note the virtually new concrete sodium orange light lamp standards which the council had installed because the pending end of trolleybuses meant the old bluish acetylene lighting on the traction poles would have had to go.
By the time I got my act together and had just begun to think about the need for photographic records of London's trolleybuses it was well into 1960. The oldest and most interesting vehicles had largely gone to scrap and with them, in my view anyway, many of the most interesting routes, operating locations and services. There was much still to see but in my mid-teenage years I never seemed to have enough time or money to travel about the capital as much as I would have liked and never got to take my camera (initially it was only a Brownie 127!) to Hampstead Heath, Kings Cross, Parliament Hill Fields, Highgate Hill, Putney,Croydon, Uxbridge, Moorgate, Stamford Hill, Liverpool Street, Shoreditch, Nags Head, Manor House, Enfield, Waltham Cross, Holborn and countless other places that I could and should have done when the trolleys were still active. On my local area services I made only one trip to Barnet and a couple to Canons Park. I did wake up, photographically speaking, in early 1961 and took the camera, by now an Ilford Sporti (with newly acquired flashgun and bulbs, a recent 17th birthday present) to Wood Green on the night of 26th April when route 629 (among others) was due for the chop. However a combination of lack of understanding of film types (I tried to use a gifted roll of very slow Pan F) and the absolutely foul weather that those present will recall, denied me any usable record of the route as it ran its last.
Some minor surface repairs to the yard of Stonebridge Depot in late summer 1961 caused a spectacular problem during at least one evening run-in. The uneven concrete caused, (to my recollection) at least five consecutive finishing duty trolleybuses to de-wire. I tried to photograph the first from a distance (no zoom lenses then), and when I moved nearer to get this shot the grumpy old sod in the foreground shook his fist at me and chased me off afterwards. I retreated to the 'safety' of the public footpath and just watched the following three or four come to grief the same way.
By stages 11 & 12 I had graduated to a 35mm camera and got more active but still missed out on much of what I had the opportunity to record. I did better when the sad date for the end of my local services (660/666/645/662) came in earliest days of 1962, and for the final stage in May. I was denied the chance to see the daytime closing ceremonies in the Fulwell area and that famous run of the Diddler No.1 due to having to sit an exam (though I had by chance seen and photographed it earlier when it was brought out at FW depot for a visiting party from the PSV Circle.) I was determined though to see the last one home on the night of 8th May. I achieved that ambition because my Dad got me there, and back again afterwards, having to borrow a friends car for the purpose.
Leyland K2 1334 at rest in Wood Green Depot 1961
Classic lower deck interior of a London Trolleybus - seats for 30
I was never one to study or learn much about the operational technicalities of trolleybuses, in particular the wiring arrangements which I wish I had taken more notice of at the time. Miles and miles and tons and tons of this stuff hung over our streets for decades and we gave little thought to it at all. Nowadays any attempt to re-instate such a cats cradle would bring howls of nimby protest! This is what they called a 'frog', basically a set of points like a railway but for the overhead trolleys to change direction by. At the time of removal this stuff had a considerable scrap value as it included much copper and brass.
* Come to think of it I am sure I had actually observed the type before this. I had family living very near the Napier Arms terminus at Woodford and on occasions visited Ilford so although I cannot recall anything in particular must have seen them then..
The British Trolleybus Society has re-imported a surviving British built BUT double decker. No.589 was one of a batch exported to Johannesburg South Africa in the late 1940s as replacements for the wartime impounded vehicles that became part of the SA class of London trolleybuses. Much work needs to be done to get it operational again but the intention has been announced, because it bears a striking resemblance to the LTE SA3 class to paint it initially as a London SA3 vehicle. The originals were AEC's but these were no longer built post-war and there are a number of detail differences in the bodywork but this will no doubt be a great attraction when done.
Now, here's a suggestion!! I expect its pseudo London number identity has already been decided but if not how about 1762? which was surely the last actual survivor - can anyone say otherwise?
..........and, to round off this introductory section, here's an example of a Tower Wagon' that was used to gain access to all that overhead stuff. It is nicely preserved and kept by the London Transport Museum nowadays and is seen here on a visit to The East Anglia Transport Museum in 2012
....and these two rather less satisfactory efforts, both in more or less the same place (at Shepherds Bush, either side of the Hammersmith & City Line over-bridge) were the only other Q! shots I got........................
I'll kick off here with most of the rest of my earliest efforts. Not very commendable I admit. The first few are my only record of this group of services. They must have been taken before 26th April 1961 as route 659 is included, near Tramway Avenue and Edmonton Depot. Sadly this indicates that I missed the 679 and 627 completely even though they were passing this spot. The 649 soldiered on till July. These early shots show that, notwithstanding the above, I had to learn to use my camera by trial and error. Not to take moving trolleys with the single slow speed shutter, not to take pictures against the sun and to remember that even with a square format I didn't have to settle for upright fronts, etc etc.
Despite showing the full extent of the northbound route on its blinds 1187 is heading down Tramway Avenue to the depot. Just another staff cut I suppose.
The only shot on the road I got of a K3. No. 1677 stands awaiting its crew at the top of Tramway Avenue Edmonton. Seems I didn't get one of a P1 at all
The foolishness of youth! - One summer evening in 1960 I went to Camden Town taking my usual ride to North Finchley, thence on to Wood Green where I jumped on a 629. I actually took the camera this time. I had only about four exposures left on my roll of film and thought I'd try and capture a couple of views of that route. Unfortunately a certain bright and shining modern vehicle in the shape of CRL4 came into view and, so excited was I, that I snapped three shots of it - one of the results will appear elsewhere on this page soon. Thus I was left with just one shot and I snapped (from quite a distance - this is only a portion of the negative) this approaching 629 which was actually about to be my conveyance back to Wood Green - but look! - see which trolleybus it just happened to be. Little was I to know then that a dozen years later, and right through to 1987 I would be seeing it virtually every day in the course of my work and could not have dreamed that I would be able to take a ride on it again at Carlton Colville in 2006. Now, something over fifty years after the above, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I took a lengthy ride in service on No.1253, which fate was to save as the Museum of British Transport's and later London Transport Museum's preserved example. As for Route 629, well, apart from a failed last night attempt I never rode on or pointed my camera at one again and, guess what? - I can still photograph CRL4 (RMC4) today!
Oh! the foolishness of youth !!!
.......the rest were of my local area services
1602 sported a Charlton made route number blind till the end
1378 was, as I seem to recall, the best of the four L2's that came to Stonebridge early in 1961. It lasted in service until the November.
Too fast! - 1644 speeds along Willesden High Road. In 1960. Like all others this largely Victorian construction High Road consisted of many traditional shops, not wall to wall pound shops and clones of chain stores as today. I can remember the Scottish Dyers and Cleaners which I used a few times, a Dolcis footwear shop with an early 'magic eye' type automatic door opener, and another I recall was Metro Radio by the Willesden Library stop that 1644 is approaching - an independent pre-Currys/Comet era store for TV Radio and Music. Almost washed out behind the left hand side of the trolley in the photo is the Spotted Dog public house which I passed by last year for the first time in over three decades, and saw that it was abandoned and derelict, but a more recent internet search has revealed that there are plans to extend and convert it into luxury apartments. On the right in the far distance was the small premises of M Fagot (pronounced Faygo) manufacturing chemist who also had a branch at Preston Road Wembley and later marketed various photographic accessories and materials under the PHAGO brand name. Nearby was Thomas Charkham, bespoke mens tailor ( whose suits I could never afford so always went to Burtons!) He had TC1 on his car number plate and got good publicity by complaining one day when Tommy Cooper used it without permission on one of his TV shows.
No.1621 approaching Willesden Green Station stop towards Hammersmith in 1960. The lack of traffic and absence of any parking restrictions is notable. Across the road the large canvas blinded store was, if memory serves me correctly, Waltons Greengrocers. Typical of the time, the special design push-bike with delivery basket stands outside. At the right hand roadside is what became known as a 'bubble-car' You climbed in and out by lifting the whole of the hinged front away from the body. There were about three different types, all German I believe, and this was I think a BMW-Isetta of which apparently about thirty thousand were sold in Britain. Others were by Heinkel and Messchersmitt, two names hardly likely to win a lot of favour from many people at this time, only fifteen years after the end of WWII. I may be wrong but I think the BMW had no reverse gear as I was once told that a friend of a relative got trapped inside when he drove his too far into his garage and could not open the front!
Less usual view of 1617 entering the depot at Stonebridge. I should have ensured that the whole of its poles was included
In the opposite direction to 1644 this Finchley L3 heads north. The flashy parked car is a Vauxhall Cresta whose owner then would have been quite well-heeled. Two-tone paint schemes and white-wall tyres were very popular then and the former has made a limited comeback lately with the latest incarnation of the ubiquitous Mini
There are other Colindale scrapyard views further down this page, but this rainy day one, from late in 1960, includes, second from left late H1 withdrawal No.773
TROLLEYBUS SERVICES WITHDRAWN 7th NOVEMBER 1961
This was actually the first photo of a trolleybus I took with my new 35mm camera, an Ilford Sportsman. The next trolleybus to come along here, (next view) at Wood Green, was a 643 which had only days to go, so this is dated to July 1961.
.......and this was a little further along the reel. Obviously due to inexperience I had loaded the film incorrectly as part of No.1264's negative is recorded over the film sprockets. I have included this image here as it is the only one I took of an earlier stage, services actually withdrawn,including the 643 in the summer of 1961.
No.1311 has put on the notches to climb Jolly Butchers Hill at Wood Green but its driver will have come off the power pedal a little at this point as he is about to pass under the frog taking a set of wires into the depot. Many dewirements resulted from passing this type of overhead junction too quickly.
There was, strangely, not a similar facility for those coming the other way. No.1252 is having its poles lowered by the conductor in order that it can enter the depot from the north, either on gravity,for there was a good gradient here,or battery power. This negative is 52 years old and until now had never before been shown in the positive.
Early inexperience with the new camera meant that I sometimes took shots like this, however, although I should have ensured that the poles and wires were completely within the frame the shot does display an angle of view not often recorded. This is a Leyland K on route 641 in Wood Green.
No.1246 is at Turnpike Lane Station. This bus, apparently due to wartime damage, had a roof profile flatter than that of the rest of its class. The shallower front dome is noticeable here
Nos 1252 and 1251 share the front line at Wood Green depot with a Routemaster dressed for the service that had not long before replaced trolleybus service 629
No.1353 treads unfamiliar territory for its type working an enthusiasts tour. It is under the 645/660 wires at Cricklewood Lane near the Broadway (forever AEC territory!) and the date is a murky afternoon of 5th. November 1961. The frog here was set for the right turning 645s to Canons Park so the conductor is pulling the lever to set it for a run accross the Broadway into Chichele Road to follow the 660 routeing. Perhaps it has already visited the two inner London terminii due to lose their trolleybuses in a couple of days time, namely Moorgate and Holborn. Where did it go from here? I think the tour was under the auspices of the PSV Circle so its itinerary will be a matter of record
L3 1460 is at North Finchley. Its driver is approaching to take it on a run to Holborn Circus
A less common view of the nearside of a standard London trolleybus is afforded by No.1488 resting, poles down, between 609 runs to and from Moorgate
TROLLEYBUS SERVICES WITHDRAWN ON 2ND JANUARY 1962
It's a typical summer day of 1961! and here we see (top) N1 1600 terminating, possibly because there is no crew to take it on to Sudbury, however it seems likely that one was found because sometime later (second photo) I snapped it, presumably en-route to Paddington, the other direction. 1566 is poles down and perhaps has the same problem. Staff shortages were chronic in the 1960s
N1 1559 heads a couple of others at rest within the confines of SE depot in the summer of 1961. Not sure whether it had been withdrawn. It stands at the front of what was a wiring circle around the depot which had extensive grounds and which, I think, was used for training purposes here until a year of so before the end. If I was a learner I'd have been a bit wary of attempting to squeeze through that gap, though the tin shed does look fairly new here and may not have been there at the time
L3 1462, in the early stages of a leisurely 645 run to Barnet, seemingly with little custom, as it arrives at the stop outside Colindale Depot. This is a late 1961 Sunday and the route has barely a couple of weeks to run. Just out of view on the right is the service road leading to the scrapyard which many of its sisters will use after 3rd January, however 1462 was to transfer and survive until near the very end at Fulwell. Colindale depot and its extensive grounds was very quickly disposed of and demolished to be replaced by a modern towering office block that still stands today though it is by all accounts now empty and unloved. You can still make out where the depot entrance was as it serves today as the entrance road to the block. The small car sales showroom still serves that purpose today, albeit, not surprisingly after 50+ years, under different ownership.
N1 1582 sweeps into Colindale depot yard having come from the Barnet direction. The road right through the depot to turn round and come back ready to depart was a long one requiring more than one frog pull, so often the poles would be lowered and a battery turn would be effected.This was a Sunday and I think there were some scheduled short turns here on this day.
N1 1615 makes the turn across the then relatively quiet Edgware Road at the Edgware terminus to ready for a return to Hammersmith (666) or Canons Park (645). It cannot be discerned which it is working on here, probably the former although there are those who will, I am sure, know from its running number CE21. From my observations at the time it seemed that when it came to the east London exiled N1 class, Colindale (CE) had most of the lower numbered ones, i.e in the 1556-1599 series while Stonebridge had most of those in the 16xx range. An exception was 1615 allocated to CE. I seem to recall that they also had 1605 for a while.
It's autumn of 1961 opposite Tally Ho, North Finchley terminus and AEC chassisless M1 No.1540, an east end survivor of the April 1960 final cull at West Ham, has just arrived, probably from Hammersmith. Behind it is what appears to be an N2. This suggests that it must be another 660 as I don't think any of the remnants of that small (25 units) class that migrated 1956-60 from their original east-end haunts were allocated to Finchley or Colindale to posssibly operate any other route.
Late summer 1961 - a typical Stonebridge evening run-in sees four vehicles, three of which were on duty finishing runs on the 662/660 or 666. The unidentified N2 second in line strikes out for Sudbury and will return at least to Craven Park to turn as there was no facility to finish and run in from the Sudbury direction. Interestingly this shot gives a clear view of the small neatly tended mini-cenotaph style war memorial in front of the depot offices dedicated to the employees of MET tramways and LPTB who gave their lives in two world wars. On 2nd January 2012 I drove my car into the yard of the long closed depot and parked for a while to remember that I'd been there on the trolleybuses last day exactly fifty years before - see the photos below, and I noticed that the memorial was gone. I sincerely hope that it has been kept and not just smashed up. I have similar concerns about the large plaque that was on an outer wall of Hendon (AE) bus garage as that building was completely demolished many years ago. Does anyone know anything about it?
Same place, another day. No.1373 was one of four L2 class vehicles that initially finished their working lives at Highgate depot in January 1961 but were retained as spares. A number of Stonebridge's N1/N2/L3 vehicles were falling by the wayside at this time and the four (the others were 1370 1377 and 1378), though older, were drafted into there whence they saw about another 8-10 months of service, finally keeping their delayed date with the scrapman between August and November. They almost always seemed to be rostered to the 662 although I personally rode all four at different times on the 660 or 666.
December 1961 and N1 1570 heads for Edgware on a Sunday working of the 666. The 666 travelled the same route and shared the wires with the 660 from Cricklewood Broadway to and from Hammersmith, however my recollection was that the 666 was the less frequent. The premises of the Phoenix Telephone works,along with a Taxicab manufacturer and the Fridgidare factory behind are now all but memories having been replaced by modern business premises a considerable number of years ago
Three or four weeks before the end of services in my area I determined that I wanted to capture a record of the last rites at SE depot but had had little previous success with flash photography. I set out to have a practice run and chose a wild wet and windy night in early December. The previous two views are from a dozen or so taken then which showed me that I could achieve something when it would really matter on 2nd January 1962. Of course I could not at this time envisage the even worse weather that was to see out the trolleybuses here.
STAGE 13 - THE MEMORABLE FINAL DAYS
As I started the re-writing of this page in the first week of 2010 we were in the midst of one of the coldest spells for many a year - snow is a foot or more deep in our garden and I could not help but be reminded of the conditions that prevailed for the last three days of operation of trolleybuses in the north-west London area. Sunday 31st December 1961 saw heavy arrivals of the white stuff driven by bitter strong winds. I personally did not venture out on this day knowing that I intended to make special efforts on the Monday and Tuesday. I now wish that I had. The conditions continued on new years day 1962 and, to a lesser extent, on the following day which was the last day before Routemasters were set to take over. Not for nothing did the LT staff magazine later refer to this stage as 'snowy thirteen'. Valliant efforts were made by all concerned to maintain services in the face of appalling weather conditions which caused some serious technical problems, not only for the aged rolling stock and equipment, struggling to end its role withn some dignity, but also for the replacement Routemasters which were getting frozen while being prepared in the garages! Apparently LTE did not use anti-freeze then! These were conditions that the London trolleybus would not live to witness again and they presented a great opportunity for photographers. Here's just a few of my efforts - I'll add some others in due course. Numerous other photographers made more of this occasion that I was able to and other views can be seen in the numerous books published in recent years. There's also some excellent cine film included on the LTPS/Online Video DVD London's Trolleybuses Part II
Monday 1st January 1961 and the weather has closed in with a vengeance. N1 1627 has seemingly reached Craven Park on the 662 but its blind is set for Stonebridge Depot. Any 662s working short from Sudbury direction into the depot would normally go an extra mile to here as there was no wired routeing to access the depot from that direction. Given the appalling conditions here 1627 faces a hazardous sharp hairpin left turn just ahead where it will then proceed about three hundred yards along Craven Park Road to a turning circle atop Church Road to get back into the Harrow Road to reach the depot. Not long after the large house in the background was demolished to permit the construction of a link road for traffic to access the westbound Harrow Road from the Willesden direction
At Harlesden Jubilee Clock stops on 1st January 1962 N2 1661 is on the 660 and has already taken the outer set of wires here to enable its right turn at the clock to make for Hammersmith. Another N2 follows on the 662 as the frog (seen above it) will reset for it to keep to the inner wires and turn left for the Paddington direction. Not long afterwards the planners took advantage of the trolley-less situation and made this stretch of road one-way in the opposite direction. If you wanted to shop at Woolworths or British Home Stores here and you came on a replacement (for 662) 18 bus this none too clever bit of highway engineering gave you a long walk back as buses in the Paddington direction had to go via Manor Park Road. A 660 replacement 260 bus could get you a little nearer. Such was the way of early traffic management schemes such as this which seemed only to consider what would be best for vehicles and ignored other factors.
Meanwhile No.1641 sets out past the depot fan to try and get to Sudbury (the previously referred to war memorial is just out of shot to the right). There being no other trolleybus services along this road prospective passengers will know that (for just over another 24 hours anyway) this is a 662, but they might just have to guess whether it was going all the way! There were some appalling gaps that day to all destinations
On the following and last day much of the snow seemed to disappear only to be replaced early on by the murkiest of fogs for a while. These next two scenes on the 662 tell all.....................
All in all a pretty awful photo, though arguably any record now over half a century old is worth keeping. From the upper deck front window of N1 1602 at Sudbury Swan stand I snapped N2 1657 just arriving at the terminus. I've included this because later on, when it was all over, I acquired the front destination blind from this bus and still have it today!
N2 1658 circles the small roundabout at 'The Swan' its blind already turned for the long hike back to Paddington
Back at Craven Park, 1529 was the highest numbered of the 150 L3 class of AEC chassisless vehicles. On the last day 2nd January it is here at seemingly defiant to the end. It looks quite smart, maybe because it was the last of the type to be overhauled (probably in 1959), however this would not save it as after any further operation that day its next trip was to be to the scrapyard. It was one of a handful that were fitted with sliding window vents in a rather unusual configuration instead of the normal drop type - the nearside upper deck had three openers. In fact it went on to operate until very near the end that night and was photographed entering the depot, working ( presumably) one of the last 662's from Paddington Green at the head of two unidentifiable followers. 1666, the last 660 may have been one of them as the photo below comes from the next negative on the strip. Sisters 1521 1522 1523 1524 1525 1526 1527 and 1528 were among those that migrated westwards to serve at Fulwell for several more weeks.
Meanwhile, around the corner N1 1633 is in similar pose, however this time the crew can be seen sitting inside. again, As it is set for route 666 this must have been on a starting run from the depot as here it would gain access, either way to its proper line of route. Perhaps, too, this was a mechanical/electrical problem. I expect someone knows - please tell all.
Also on the last day N1 1644 rests in a traffic jam between Craven Park and Jubilee Clock. It has been turned short, probably by the Craven Park Inspector for late running and will only now go as far as Paddenswick Road a mile or so before the Hammersmith terminus. The spirit of British enterprise 1960s style is evident here as Mr J A Fowler, a lawnmower engineer(!) goes about his business.
..........and the end finally came - in north-west London anyway)
N2 No. 1666 does the honours at Stonebridge Depot in the early hours of 3rd January 1962 to close the near-25-year reign of the 660. As my friend lived very near to here and I could stay with him afterwards this was the last one home choice we made though there were I suppose similar ceremonies at Finchley and Colindale Depots for their particular 'lasts'. We did consider earlier in the evening trying to get along to Colindale using a 112 bus and a 645/666 but given the (even then) notorious normal weather unreliability of the North Circular Road service were afraid we might not get back very easily. This was well after 1.00am though. A little afterwards I removed a front destination blind from N2 1657 in the depot and scribbled on its end at the time 1.57am 3rd January 1962. It's in the attic somewhere and you can still read this. No other photos of this occasion appear to have been published in the plethora of books on the subject down the years so maybe this, and two others I have as she entered the depot for the last time, are unique. It's a sobering thought for me that I was just seventeen when I snapped this - now its spring 2014, fifty-two years since - old age creepeth on!
Actually I did witness and record some further movements. Odd vehicles were being dispatched, presumably to Colindale during the evening. These very poor images showing 1558 and 1621 were underexposed and I have never thought them worth considering, so the negatives have not been looked after, however modern scans and editing techniqes have given viewable results. In between on the strip of negatives is a poor one of 1529 going to Paddington. I also captured it arriving back very late (not very far ahead of 1666) so it ran one of the last 662's.
.................and, a rather large image taken at Fulwell early in 1962, interestingly showing some members of the stage 13 rolling stock standing forlornly in the fading winter sunshine. I have never been quite sure why they were taken here instead of straight to Colindale for scrap, unless of course Cohens had not cleared the backlog from November (stage 12) and there was no room there at the time. The point was that (to my recollection) they started to take down the wires to and from Hammersmith very soon so were they all towed back for scrap? It is known that at least one of them (an N2, not sure which) did actually have a short reprieve and was put into service by FW. I also heard it said that some may have been offered for sale(!). Anyway, they all went the same way in the end. TROLLEYBUS SERVICES WITHDRAWN ON 8TH MAY 1962 THESE WERE LONDON'S LAST
.................and, a rather large image taken at Fulwell early in 1962, interestingly showing some members of the stage 13 rolling stock standing forlornly in the fading winter sunshine. I have never been quite sure why they were taken here instead of straight to Colindale for scrap, unless of course Cohens had not cleared the backlog from November (stage 12) and there was no room there at the time. The point was that (to my recollection) they started to take down the wires to and from Hammersmith very soon so were they all towed back for scrap? It is known that at least one of them (an N2, not sure which) did actually have a short reprieve and was put into service by FW. I also heard it said that some may have been offered for sale(!). Anyway, they all went the same way in the end.
TROLLEYBUS SERVICES WITHDRAWN ON 8TH MAY 1962
THESE WERE LONDON'S LAST
Just two depots remained after early January 1962 to service the routes that were to continue till May in the south-west suburbs. Isleworth was very small and operated only the 657 from Shepherds Bush to Hounslow. For its last fifteen months or so it lost its smart postwar BUT Q1's which were sold to Spain and made do with selected remainining examples of the older but still quite serviceable Leyland K types dating from 1938-39. I had my first colour slide film as an eighteenth birthday present with strict parental instructions not to 'waste' it on buses or trains. I almost did as I was told and used only the last five or six frames of which this was by far the best. 1274, seen here at the Hounslow terminus, later went on to be the very last 657 to run into Isleworth depot on 8th May.
1058 heading for Hounslow rounds Youngs Corner Chiswick - the point where it joined route 667. At this late stage it was not quite the lowest numbered trolleybus running even though numerically it was only the fourth member of the large 'K' class, as 1057 was also an Islewoth resident at this time. 1055/56 were I think scrapped in 1959.
Another of the photos my mother forbade me to take! 1117 has just arrived at the Shepherds Bush Green terminus of the 657 and will to head back after a few minutes towards Hounslow. Here it stood under a row of dark run-down Victorian four-storey houses which have long gone now. The site today is that of a major shopping precinct.
Nowadays we are all used to seeing and using flyovers, underpasses and ring roads etc to get about but they were rare indeed at the beginning of the 1960s. Here we see the dying breed of London trolleybus passing under the then virtually new flyover at Chiswick. No.1271 heads for Hounslow in April 1962. Note how the overhead wires are in steel trunking.
............. and this is what it looked like from the top. Taking my life into my hands I climbed the ramp road here to the main flyover carriageway to take this shot on a cold damp late April 1962 morning. Slow 25ASA film meant that I could not use a fast enough shutter speed to properly arrest the vehicle movement. Seems funny that you could get away with this then ( I certainly wasn't the only photographer to try it!) - you would be arrested before you got there today!
Mid-summer 1961 saw me minding my own business taking an upstairs ride to Malden on this 604 when, a couple of seats behind me, there was a sound of shattering glass. All quite accidental as the passenger in the seat concerned had leaned hard against the glass as the trolleybus cornered resulting in the break. 1435 was taken out of service and along with the other passengers I boarded the next one along to continue my journey. There were for sure a good few spare trolleybuses around (delayed deliveries to Cohens for scrap) at this time and such an incident as this might have been just the excuse needed to dispose of 1435, but it seems it survived to live on until the very last day
1445 is at Teddington in typical British weather. I remember that there was, at this time, a slogan adopted by the then publicly owned electricity boards which conveyed the message 'BETTER THINGS ARE ELECTRIC' Someone had got hold of a sticker stating this and placed on the rear window of 1445 and maybe others too.
That same wet day sees 1516 arriving in King Street Twickenham. Immediately to the right and out of view in this photo was the turning circle used by terminating 601's
1526 rests at Fulwell Depot
1493 is also at rest in FW depot. Little did I know when I snapped it in the early months of 1962 that it would be the one on which I would, on 8th May, take my last ever in service LT trolleybus ride when it performed the last 667 journey from Hampton Court to Fulwell.
On a wet and windy day sometime just before the end 1514 leaves Fulwell Depot to take up a run to Malden on the 605. If anyone knows who the cine camera user seen here is please let me know. I photographed him filming 1514 and he probably filmed me photographing 1514 and him! I'm sure that, like me, he'll be a getting on a bit now.
Another view of the Stanley Road entrance to FW depot, this time with 1502 going the other way, about to complete the last leg of a run to Twickenham on the 605
At the Wellington Road end 1462, ending its life here after transfer from Finchley back in the January sets off to Hampton Court on the 667
Unlike the seemingly haphazard allocations for motorbus deliveries of the time it was usual policy with trolleybuses to obtain a continuous registration series to match or closely reflect proposed fleet numbers. When the time came to register the 150 new L3 class deliveries 1380-1529 (in 1940) the FXH mark was reserved but it was found that the FXH 380 had (presumably) already been allocated and the first of the class had to make do with the unique FXF. No.1380 survived into the last few months of operations but I never managed to photograph it in service use. Not long before the end though it was off the road and parked up in the depot yard, perhaps awaiting its long last run to the scrapyard.
.....and here's sister 1381,the first of 290 with FXH marks ( including classes N1 N2 M1 and experimental No.1670) basking in the early evening sunshine. It looks in fine fettle here but whilst the general condition of these 21 year old L3 survivors was remarkably good, it was not as good as this photo of 1381 might have us believe.
1401 rests at the Tolworth 'Red Lion' terminus of Route 603
Good Friday 1962 (20th April) I was in Kingston in thankfully much better weather, and decided to take a trip to the Dittons when this 602 came along. We hadn't got far, in fact only to the junction of Eden Street when 1521 lost it! Not sure why, unless it was going a little too fast over the frog here. I dashed out to photograph this animated scene, not having any clue then that I was recording an interesting episode in the dwindling service life of the vehicle which would turn out to be London's ceremonial last trolleybus and ensure its place in history. Interestingly the elderly looking conductor seems not to have to attempted a re-poling, and it's up to a passing inspector to have a go. The driver (who has forgotten to change the destination blind perhaps following a previous run on the 603) is only just leaving his cab! With power restored I continued to the destination (actually The Dittons) where photography was no good due to bright reflecting sun.
Today, of course, 1521 survives and can still be ridden on, at the East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville Lowestoft, hopefully though without too many mishaps such as this. Since writing this in mid-2010 I have been at Carlton Colville more than once to see her running well as usual and was able to take a couple of rides around the short circuit there.
TUESDAY 8TH MAY 1962 - EVENING...............
Wot! only twenty pages -my, how times have changed. Still it was only 3d (just over 1p) then and Gordon Brown was just a young schoolboy so it could not expend countless pages villifying him and others, flogging countless bargain cruises or grossly overdo the importance of food,fashion and sport.
I asked the vendor to pose for this and he agreeed
.............AND YES. THE END WAS DEFINITELY GETTING NEAR
I think it was rag week for local colleges and this little procession signalled the imminent arrival of London's Last Trolleybus at Fulwell. Before all this though, scores became hundreds and hundreds became a few thousand well-wishers gathered at the gates of the depot to witness the end (for,as it has turned out, about thirty-five years anyway) of electric street traction in London. A few shots which record the memorable scenes of the last hours are reproduced here................. They are placed more or less in the order that they were taken and show some of the last service buses on each route arriving at the depot
I made two separate trips to Hampton Court during the evening. On the earlier one I caught 1395 laying over at the stand still with at least one trip to Wimbledon to complete
Back near to FW this 667 driver thinks as he belts along, if I go fast I'll finish sooner. Just one more Hammersmith and back maybe?
Can't recall the exact timing here but, of course, the 604 ceremonial last run was, in fact, just that and 1521 is leaving to go to Wimbledon (?) to start it. Its driver, not in regulation uniform here was one of the oldest then employed and, I think, retired that night.
This driver is in uniform, including his white topped cap. A late 667 journey to Hampton Court
I got some good exercise that night running along South Road to and fro between Wellington Road and Stanley Road to be at the two exits of the depot when necessary. Here 1411 heads along the latter for Tolworth. It was the last 601 to that destination.
I heard someone say this was the last 603 but I'm not sure. The main destination screen still says 'VIA KINGSTON' though it appears that there had been some fiddling the route number one.
1472 was another of those with sliding windows. On this last night however it was out of use and had clearly already had its day
......and so, it seems had this row
.........and this trio
I think this was the last 601 from the Twickenham direction
One of the last service 604s from Wimbledon
1493 performed the last journey by a 667 from Hampton Court to Fulwell. 'Enthusiasts' are seen in the lower deck removing bulbs and one was trying to get a seat cushion!
I rode this back to Fulwell
.....and here it is - I quickly jumped off to take this shot. The conductor was clearly not intent on hanging around. It was fully ten minutes after this that it dawned on me that I had just taken my last ever London trolleybus ride, or so I thought, for even an enthusiasts wildest dreams then could not have envisaged what we later experienced on tours elsewhere, and now enjoy at the operational museums. I still have the ticket that was issued to me on this memorable journey and will reproduce it here sometime soon
and here is 1411 again arriving at the depot. It is a pity that my flash was so direct for it has obliterated much of the scrawling on the front which reads
"THE LAST 601 FROM TOLWORTH"
Souvenir hunters had already left their mark
.......and yes, the end was now very near
Don't know who the bow-tied gent was buit he was clearly enjoying the occasion. A new Routemaster heralds the imminent arrival of 1521
..........here she comes
Last minute scramble. The inspector is almost overwhelmed - I didn't try to get on
THE END - and it had started to rain! - 1521 very slowly was allowed through the gates and it was all over. It was time to find my dad and the borrowed car, and it was home to bed. I treasure these memories of 50 plus years ago to this day
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons once sang 'Big Girls Don't Cry'. I don't know about that, but I'll bet that a few big boys did on being confronted by scenes like this.
If you ever saw this you may now shed a tear.......again
This was the sad fate of all but the nine London trolleybuses that escaped the cutters torch to be (to this day) safely preserved for us all to enjoy. We can today see and in some cases still ride on Nos. 1 260 796 1201 1253 1348 1521 1768 and 1812. I believe that one or two of the Q!'s are still extant in Spanish museums too.
Early,to mid-1950s withdrawals were seen off by a variety of breakers, notably Birds of Stratford-on-Avon and about fifty including, incidentally, famous prototypes 61 62 and 63 were even taken all the way to South Wales. When the conversion scheme was underway a yard at Charlton in SE London was used. Under the name Penhall Road this had also seen the breaking and burning of many London trams a decade earlier. However the bulk of the job was carried out by George Cohen's '600 Group' contractors, initially at their own yard at Canning Town then at the rear of Colindale Depot from early-1959 to mid-1962 where over a thousand met their unceremonious ends.
These AEC/Park Royal N2's, easily recognised by their wide upper deck front window pillars, ended their days at Stonebridge in January 1962. No doubt 1666, the last 660 (see above) is in their midst somewhere
You could rarely see much or get a good photo unless you were prepared to trespass, get your feet, and usually the turn-ups (remember them?) of your trousers very muddy!
These are AEC chassisless construction M1's that stayed at Finchley after stage 12 but met their end after traffic on 2nd January 1962. I knew nothing about this form of construction then but had I taken the time to gaze into that void at the front of No.1554 I might just have learnt something
Hemmed in! - L3 1476 awaits its fate
The barbed wire was typical of measures designed to keep people like me out, however access to the area was a mastered art at this time and we always seemed to find a hole in the fence somewhere. At times there was a nightwatchman to contend with who had a rather fierce and noisy dog, though he thankfully always kept it tethered
After the end of April 1961 Edmonton's P1's and K3's started to arrive
Four in a row - ex-Edmonton buses
No more will I see Waltham Cross sighs Edmonton's 1336 as she waits on the access road to the yard. Some of the higher numbered Leyland K's were allocated to this depot and were scrapped out of turn. Those that remained to see out route 657 at Isleworth in May 1962 were generally lower numbers - I may be wrong but I don't think it used many 13XX's. I suppose though that late survival was all down to overhaul dates and the most recent ones to get the treatment were those that lasted to the end.
A comparison here between two shots of the same vehicles stored near the back of the yard and used for a while for storage of seat cushions. Cohens sold complete seat frames & cushions by advertisment in Exchange & Mart for about 7/6 (371/2p).* Interestingly the vandals work has revealed that triplex type glass was used in the windows. I don't think that this applied to many of the thousands of panes presented to Cohens breakers at this time (NB please see the guestbook for informative comments about trolleybus glass by Brian Watkinson). In the second shot, taken sometime after they had been maliciously set ablaze it can be seen in the background that there are no poles or wires in the depot yard so this must have been after January 1962 when the premises was closed. Cohens took until September of 1962 to complete the scrapping task here and the last vehicle to be sdisposed of in this way was one of the above mentioned N2's that ceased use in January. Why this happened after all those that had finished at Fulwell in May I do not know. If anyone knows the numbers of these trolleys (I'm sure someone does) please let me know.
* You could actually still sit on an ex-trolleybus seat well into the later 1960s. Mostly just the cushions, but a couple of the frames were also employed complete with the standard green pattern moquette at the small cafe that was situated off the booking hall of Sudbury Town Piccadilly Line station.
The land was cleared not very long afterwards and a huge modern design office block was erected on the depot site. Called Merit House today it still stands. The rear land viewed here apparently became an electricity sub-station, and I think continues in the role today
A regimental line-up of Leyland K's after their time was up at Wood Green
This is where I earlier saw 1001/1007B and eventually 829 and 954 however this is a mid-1961 shot so is likely more Leyland K's
Any old iron? I don't seem to have any photos at all of the stage 14 final withdrawals in here - can't recall but I suppose I lost heart after the end of service running and could not bear to go again. For quite a while after 8th May 1962 they were dumped in rows in the Fulwell depot yard. I think they may even have been there after the wires were removed entailing and even longer than necessary tow to north-west London
I recently got to thinking what might have happened if the superb Q1's, sometime described as 'The Rolls Royce of Trolleybuses' had not after all gone to those sunnier climes. Once upon a time we had all hoped that LT would stick to its original intention and keep the Fulwell/Isleworth operated services going for a few more years to see these fine post-war fleet additions to the end of their economic lives, however as we all know, this was not to be due to their virtual give-away sale to several Spanish operators early in 1961. I personally believe that LT had got a momentum going and would not have resisted finishing the job during 1962, albeit perhaps a little later than May though. If they had really wanted to stick to the original plan they wouldn't have offered the Q1s for sale in late 1960 would they?
But what else might have happened ?? If the Spanish deal had not existed or fallen through who, if anyone might otherwise have been tempted?
Few British trolleybus operators (there were over twenty towns and one company operator with systems operational early in 1961) by this time though felt that they were likely to be using them in the longer term. I seem to remember a rumour that Reading Corporation had expressed interest, perhaps when they were needing to buy those late Burlingham bodied Sunbeams (they would not have needed many) but this may have been just that - a rumour. Wouldn't they have looked nice in Huddersfield's fine colours though. Given the waste of ratepayer money arising from the very short lives given to some of the new bodies they bought, they might have been better off c1960 further maintaining existing ones and then having some Q1's to run from 1961-66, albeit not for the Newsome route without modification. Three-axle designs were otherwise not generally favoured by any remaining users that might have needed short term replacements. Both Newcastle and Glasgow had five plus years to run and already operated more or less identical vehicles, but their fleets were then good enough to last so I think there would have been precious little in the way of other takers, at any rate here in the UK. They would, I'm sure, have been a little too big for Tees-Side which could have otherwise avoided another expensive re-bodying exercise only to scrap them when only five or six years old.
RT FAMILY SELECTION
new photos being uploaded - please keep looking
RT1734 enters New Marylebone Road in 1964. As can be seen traffic jams are far from being a modern phenomenon. Griffith House LTE offices form the background here behind which at this time there was considerable demolition (beyond the Underground lines and station) in progresss for construction of the Edgware Road flyover
This early shot of RT211 at Golders Green in summer 1962 is interesting. I had been given a strange roll of colour-slide film made by Eastmancolor and was warned that it needed a special filter to use it. I obtained this, with a pale brown hue, and it produced this strange result. In sunnier weather though the results were better and I have others, albeit far from correct, which are of more accurate colour appearance.
Photographed in the summer of 1968, just a few weeks before the second stage of the infamous 'Re-Shaping Plan' was to make far reaching changes in much of this area of west London. RT1322 soldiers on covering a busy duty on the 55 setting down and picking up at Acton Town Station
Much in demand here in Romford on a Saturday, though apparently empty suggesting it may well have just started and not come from Collier Row, RT1564 is on a run to Harold Hill on the 66A. This kind of demand in our town centres was typical before the mass car ownership and out of town shopping centre age. I remember buying at least one suit from John Temple Men's Tailors!
Uxbridge Station in late 1962 after I had started work at LT's Hillingdon Traffic Audit department offices
Until around 1964 a large number of the original 151 1939-40 first series RT's, known as RT2's or 'pre-war RTs' were employed on training duties. RT55 is here about to enter Chiswick Works where was located the Training School. The presence of trolleybus wires above (for routes 657/667) dates the shot to around March 1962
Many older RTs found themselves by the early/mid 1960s downgraded to Staff Bus work. An early RT3 body is fitted here to RT 323 waiting its next turn at St. Albans garage
Saunders bodied RT2289 is at the top of Dog Kennel Hill on route 184. The bus is about to start the steep descent which in tramway days necessitated two sets of tracks in each direction so that no two trams needed to be ascending or descending at the same time. In early days, c.1912 a serious accident caused by a runaway necessitated this. Motor buses however could apparently look after themselves
This photo is memorable for me as the very first taken with a brand new camera. In 1963 I paid nearly two months salary to acquire the wonder of the time, a Japanese Single Lens Reflex. By later standards it was basic indeed but still cost me over £64! RT2681 stands at Putney on the day that Routemasters began to take over operations on route 14
RT1752 at a somewhat under-developed London Airport in 1961 - the Heathrow tag came later.
Crystal Palace Parade c. 1963 sees RT1776 readying to depart
A slightly unusual view of what to all appearances is another standard RT, however all is not what it seems with RT4333 at Bourne Avenue Hayes stand of route 55. The Engineering department at Chiswick liked to experiment and often allocated its guinea-pigs to nearby Turnham Green garage. RT4333 was known by crews as the 'one-legger' being fitted with experimental semi-automatic transmission similar I suppose to that of Routemasters but no doubt with some extra quirk.
RT1648 much in demand at The pre-Victoria Line Angel Islington on Route 38A
Snapping of RT4343 at Stonebridge Garage forecourt from a prone position produced an unusual view
RT2776 was one of the trio of RT type buses that undertook a major tour of the USA and Canada during 1952. It was the main bus that was used to give rides at places along its route that it visited and was fitted, uniquely with the front roof dome ventilators shown which it retained for almost all its working life. The buses also kept their original bodies though 2776, due to an early 1970s mix up lost its one during overhaul and has not survived today. 2012 celebrated the 60th anniversary of this great undertaking and accompanying tour sister RT2775, in the care of the London Bus Preservation Trust, received a major restoration in time to commemorate the event. Almost all its post-tour working time was spent in the east end and it was most often to be seen pounding up and down the 86. It is caught by the camera here at Stratford Broadway.
RT2748 is seen opposite Sidcup (SP) garage on the long 21 route on the day in October 1968 when OMO Merlins took over the southern part of the route
Arnos Grove Station - 1967. RTs 1676 (34) and 3553 (84) The latter shows the common practice then of extending central area operations well into areas served by the country bus network
RT4534 at Forty Hill terminus
"Excuse me sir, have you lost this?" - fortunately for this just disembarked pair their wallet/purse seems to have been located by the conductor before the bus runs in to the garage at Bromley. He is able to hand it back as RT4720s access is impeded by departing RT2712 heading Londonwards.
Quite an early one for me - RT3 bodied RT550 was snapped at Golders Green in late 1961/early 1962 about to depart on a Route 13 run to London Bridge. Route 13 was one of the earliest candidates for Routemaster operation once the needs for trolleybus conversion had been met and consequently this is one of only two shots that I obtained of the route with RTs
RT 711 is here a recent arrival to Route 28 having been allocated to Middle Row (X) after overhaul in January 1966. It is seen at Golders Green alongside Wandsworth (WD) bus RTL 1435.The Leylands were being withdrawn all over but RTL 1435 had some time to traverse the route as it did not leave WD until spring of the following year. My thanks to Brian Watkinson (see Guestbook) for providing details to correct my original caption here
Saunders bodied RT1359, a Palmers Green allocation completes a short working run to Stonebridge Park at the last alighting point before it turns left ahead to go to stand on the forecourt area of Stonebridge garage. The driver has already set the blind (badly) for the return run. The full extent of this unreliable route was, via the notoriously congested (even then!) North Circular Road from Palmers Green to Ealing Broadway, the RT allocation of Palmers Green (AD) shared with Stonebridge (SE) RTLs. It is doubtful that Palmers Green workings ever went further than here though.
If memory serves me correctly The 'New Vaudeville Band' sang a song with a catchy tune about this terminus!!, though quite why it attracted the writer I don't know. Green Street Green was then a quiet Kent community well beyond Dartford and deep into the LTE Country Area sphere of operations, however the start point of route 51c was way back in central operations area Woolwich. RT 2183 awaits custom to head back in about 1965.
A trio of scenes recorded just before the start of the Re-shaping Plan which began with the Wood Green Scheme on 7th September 1968.
Photo (1) shows RT 2953 (231) and RT3549 (217) at the Alexandra Park Hotel stand.
Photo (2) shows RT4278 on the 212 at Finsbury Park. Some Express buses were operated on this route and they had blue blinds. The route included a long steep hill to access the Broadway at Muswell Hill which worked the buses very hard - the conductress's headgear is noteworthy - probably wouldn't be allowed for today's lady drivers!
Photo (3) shows Saunders bodied RT2343 on the 233 descending after just passing the Alexandra Palace. I have long wished that I had taken some shots a few hundred yards behind this because the 'Ally-Pally' was later seriously damaged by fire and its roofline changed noticeably, still, I did record it briefly on cine-film at this time.
Trouble on't 80A! - RT807 arrives at Walton-on-the-Hill having made what must have been hard work of its journey from Tooting.
A shot from 1966 at the time that RM's were the staple fare on the 16 so RT843 was perhaps a substitution. The graceful 1930s 'art-deco style' lines of Sudbury Town station make it quite plain why it and others on the Underground designed by Holden just have to be left untouched.
A hurried mid-sixties shot at, I think, Islington shows Saunders RT 1677 on a weekend variation of the 141 which differed by starting at Finsbury Park (Saturdays) and joining its 'parent' via Highbury and Islington at Aldersgate for the run to Grove Park. What was probably someone's weekend fun transport follows behind, though at this time it could well also have been their daily means of avoiding the bus.
A small convoy of RT's heads southwards along Vauxhall Bridge Road in summer 1967 whilst RTW322, now relegated to a trainer role sails past not having to worry about picking up those darned passengers!
I didn't use very much colour film before the mid-1960s when I reverted to large format roll-film and regularly bought 120 size transparency film for a few years. Here's a small selection of my 1960s/1970s colour work
This looks like RT1836 - about to enter Aldgate Bus Station in 1964
Saunders bodied RT220 crosses Berresford Square Woolwich in 1964 where a dozen years earlier some of London's last trams had ventured. At this time some redundant track was visible on the road surface
Roneo Corner Romford - RT2294 is Dagenham bound - 1965
RT1168 leaves Whitehall and is heading round Trafalgar Square
RT1783 with Saunders body rests in the sunshine at Ruislip Station
Identical RT3108 is at Uxbridge Station
The end was getting near when I was in the east of London in autumn 1978. A very down at heel RT1114 is on the 87 in late 1978, one of the last routes operated by Barking, the last garage to use the type
The next time I was there was the penultimate day of RT operation. A great era was coming to an end and on Friday 6th March 1979 it rained, and it rained and it rained. Just over ten years before I had joined a large number of enthusiasts to ride the last RTL revenue service journey but I was older now. I took a full ride on RT1301 (which had already lost its bonnet plate) and this was to be my very last on a service RT as I could not muster the enthusiasm to go back over from north-west London to see the closing rites on the following day
About a decade earlier I'm at Cricklewood (W) Garage at about the time a major rebuild was being undertaken. RM's had long been the normal for the 16 road but Saunders bodied RT352 appears to be resting from its hard slog to Victoria and back. Strange to think that the £1million plus spent then has all been thrown away and the premises has been changed out of all recognition now in the Metroline era.
This was perhaps eastern rather than northern but it was still north of the Thames. Greenline Coach services to Essex started from Aldgate Bus Station and were worked by an always smart set of RT's which never carried external advertising. They quite possibly had different gear ratios to their central cousins and also saloon heaters but were otherwise more or less standard. RT4498 is ready for a run to the Thames estuary town of Grays
RT4547 is at the gates of Harperbury Hospital near Radlett. This was a mental institution which,thankfully, like most others of its type has long since been closed down. This was a Sunday in summer of 1963 when, I suppose, there was a requirement for a service for visitors though there appears to be no demand here.
RT1013 is just setting off from Uxbridge Station for Hemel Hempstead. It apears to be 'homeless' without a garage code but was probably from Garston (GR). The area to the right and for some distance behind was for meal relief and other layovers (central and country area services) as there was a staff canteen building behind the RT on the 204. All has now gone and a modern bus garage has appearted on the site built to replace the former Uxbridge garage which was a mile or so out of the town.
RT608 with early RT3 type body is resting at Harlow garage in 1963
RT3508 climbs the hill around the walls of Windsor Castle
Normally a bus allocated for GreenLine work RT 3609 is doing a duty on the 321. It has arrived at the extremity of the route, Luton, which was the only location served by London Transport where there were municipal operations. Luton Corporation ran its own services with a mixed fleet of dark red buses until 1970.
In about 1965 LTE was considering ways to reduce the cost of its usually highly comprehensive destination displays. A somewhat half-hearted experiment was conducted on country services routes using Watford which offered nothing to would be passengers than the service number. I recall this caused quite a stir - I even wrote a letter against it myself to Modern Transport magazine. As we all know eventually they settled (central and country) for a very large route number and no longer provided destination or via point information at the rear
RT1043 stands ready to depart from Stevenage. This was a post-war 'new town' and its bus terminals were conveniently situated with the main shopping area
RT3175 stands outside St. Albans (SA) garage
Green RT4726 sets out from the Chiswick Training School in 1962
A nice starting shot shows a line up at Dorking Garage
RT's 628,3656,4487,974 and 4199 on parade
An early shot (1961) of RT972 opposite Guildford Garage
RT4497 is at Redhill in 1968 shortly before the introduction of OMO Merlins into the area was to change things considerably
RT4768 is in Dorking town centre
RT3124 is at West Croydon Bus Station
Over to Kent for a selection at Bromley,Dartford and other places
RT971, bound for Sevenoaks (there were really seven there then!) passes Bromley (TB) central area services garage
..and RT998 is at Bromley North station
RT4552 awaits a crew at Dartford Garage
In 1965 Northfleet garage saw a temporary influx of several red central area liveried RT's to operate local services. RT 1077 is on a busy 495 journey
NB My thanks to Barry Nunn (see Guestbook) for correcting this and one other stated photo location in this section. My memory of this distant time is obviously wanting
RT4554 is passing through Dartford
One of a number of RTLs fitted at overhaul with RT10 bodies 1964/5 - At Stratford Broadway 1965
The 226 was one of my local routes when I lived in London. A Willesden RTL is seen at Golders Green Station in September of 1966. (another shot from my old Agfa Billy) I can just recall Q type single deckers at Cricklewood Broadway on this service, and also the day the route was extended (1953?) using RTs from Cricklewood (W) from there to Harlesden going past my primary school in Anson Road. I could shorten my walk home with a four-stop 1d ride to Gladstone Park.
Laying over at Waterloo - 1966
Victoria Station forecourt in 1967. Before the roof was fitted and then taken down again
Hampstead Heath stand 1964. I wish I'd had a camera when I spotted trolleybuses here in 1958,
'The show is not over till the fat lady sings' so it is said. Those who remember these particular 'fat ladies' will know that they had a distinctive song from their transmission and flywheel particularly when decelerating. The show is almost over for RTW's on route 8 - it's January 1965 at Old Ford and the all-conquering Routemaster is making an appearance to begin its takeover.
RTW11 on Route 176. this service was the last to be operated by Leylands of the family in 1968 though RTW's succumbed in 1966 so it was with RTL's - Marylebone Road 1964.
Follow my leader - a pair of RTW's near Liverpool Street. Threre is a processing fault on this negative
Just to confuse historians - two garage views (Brixton and Clapton*) showing services not normally allocated RTW's
* Thanks to Brian Watkinson (see Guestbook entry) or pointing out my error - I originally recorded this location as Putney Chelverton Road Garage
Islington 1965 - RTL68 was the lowest numbered of the 23 members of the class to receive an RT10 roofbox body at overhaul in 1964. Previously all RTL buses (apart from the prototype RTL501 and two others that were all sold quite quickly) had only carried standard bodies.
A few more shots of them follow below:-
RTL384 was another - seen here working the Rotherhithe Tunnel service 82
Near Stockwell Garage 1965 - The difference between the 'roofbox' style RT10 body and the standard (front) can be seen
RTL409 AT Victoria
Hackney - 1965
Acton Green - 1964
Aldgate c 1965
Laying over at Cricklewood (W) Garage
RTW1 was retained in service until the last days, operational from Brixton Garage outside where it is seen awaiting a new crew
Into the sun. RTW182 approaches Camden Town en-route to Chelsea
After final service runs in 1966 RTW's continued to have a useful role as trainers for a couple of years or so though I will always wonder how many would be recruits were put right off the job by the notoriously hard steering of the class.
De-licenced RTW 372 is copped by young spotters leaving Tottenham (AR). Route 76, which used the type there has gone over to newer things having been part of the 1965-67 experimental comparisons between XA Leyland Atlanteans and the larger RML Routemasters,so perhaps 372's days are over. If lucky it would live on as a trainer, if not so it would be shipped to Ceylon to be quite quickly run into the ground in the way that only the Ceylon Transport Board knew how!
RTL 551 bearing the registration KGU1 was the first of several hundred such buses bodied by Metro-Cammell. It is seen cornering at speed near Camden Town in 1965
RTL 1557 heads owards central London at Butterwick Hammersmith c.1964.
This bus has a special claim to fame, albeit for an ignominious ending. In an episode of the comedy series 'On The Buses' Driver Stan and his conductor have to take out 'Old 666' the garages unloved spare and, having a smoke at the terminus somehow manage to set the bus alight and it is completely destroyed, though not before Inspector 'Blakey' tries to rescue the situation and ends up falling off a ladder into a pond.
When I and a few friends had learnt that the last RTW would run in LT service on route 95 on a Friday night early in 1966 we went along to see RTW476 home to Brixton Garage, but were more that a little bemused that some were on the road again the next day. The final rites duly occurred that evening, the honour falling to stablemate RTW467 and this is why it, rather than 476 has survived for posterity. When the turn of the last RTL's came I thought that the washing of RTL543 at Willesden (AC) garage after the scheduled last run might mean that history would be repeated and that it would be going out again tomorrow, however on this occasion the type did not and route 176 saw the Leylands out on 29th November 1968. In company with a full load of enthusiasts amid sadness tinged with merriment and the singing of sometimes bawdy songs I rode this all the way from Lewisham that night. As this was to my local garage I could walk home afterwards.
ROUTEMASTERS IN THE 1960s
Hampstead Heath South End Green stand and RM1595 looks ready for its long Sunday haul from well north of the Thames to Chipstead Valley in deepest Surrey. This is c.1964 and one or two of the cars in view would be sought after collectors items now
There was only one situation that caused the operation of Routemasters on a trolleybus service. After Highgate lost its last trolleys in April of 1961 it still had a small Sundays only allocation for the 609 which was set to continue operation to November mainly from FY depot which still retained the electric vehicles. I knew about this but somehow didn't get around to photographing it until the last moment. This shot at North Finchley was late in the afternoon of Sunday 5th November, the last such day on which this would happen, for the 609 itself bit the dust a couple of days later being replaced by the first RML's as route 104.
This is on 3rd January,1962, the day after the last day of my local trolleybuses. Newly arrived RM1059 stands at Stonebridge Depot alongside one of its victims, N2 AEC/Park Royal trolleybus No.1667 which is perhaps awaiting a driver to take it to Colindale scrapyard. I'm sure they kept the current on for a few days as apart from those sent direct to scrap, many stage 13 vehicles, maybe including 1667 later turned up in the yard at Fulwell, possibly kept as standby's in case of problems there for the last four months or so of services. This incuded a number of N2s like 1667. Was it hoping that those rather dodgy looking sliding doors will fall on it and delay its worse fate.
Also on the last snowswept day of trolleybuses at Stonebridge, RM2 put in an appearance. It carries no 'L' plate so it was not, I think, on training duties
Its Wednesday 3rd January 1962 at Sudbury (Swan) and Routemasters have taken over the workings of the 662 trolleybus as an extended Route 18. Most of the heavy snow is disappearing fast but the roads still have to be treated with respect. This will be uppermost in the mind of RM1030s driver on perhaps his first working duty behind the wheel of a motorbus. It won't be long before the dismantling crews happen along to take down the now redundant wires which had a not inconsiderable scrap value
Later in January 1962 - RM1048 lays over at North Finchley on the 245 replacement for trolleybus 645. Neatly set blinds, rear wheel discs, a gold underlined transfer, ventilated front wings, registration number set into the radiator grill and, not visible, probably a rear offside number blind all represent how the Routemaster should always have looked.
c 1964 at Stratford Broadway.The trolleybuses that were once a familiar sight standing here are now but a memory. RM55, one of the earliest production models looks still to be original in appearance. It still carries a body with non-opening top front windows and has ventilated front wings.
Interesting study at King Street Hammersmith of the rear ends of these classic buses at the time when RM1612 was very new. RM1080 (left) had probably worked up and down the trolleybus 667 replacement service for more than three years at this time
In late April 1962 veteran 1931 Diddler trolleybus No.1 was towed from display at the Museum of British Transport, Clapham to Fulwell to be readied for its planned ceremonial run on the last day of trolleybuses a couple of weeks later. I happened to be there when it was brought out and posed alongside RM1078. I recall I was in the middle of exams then and unfortunately missed the ceremonial run on 8th May, although I stayed up to see the last one in that night.
Leyland Atlanteans were on the 76 in 1967 but were always less reliable than Routemasters. Here we can see that one of the latter, RM1818 has crept onto the allocation for this day. Seen at Victoria Station
Liverpool Street - the whole film of which this was part seemingly had a processing fault as can be seen
RM1001 allocated to Finchley (FY) waits at Edgware terminus of route 221 an extended replacement for trolleybuses 521/621. This was the only Routemaster to carry a No.1 registration (unless you count RM2001 which was blessed with ALM1B) and sometime later I heard a rumour that some bright spark at LT HQ thought it might be a good idea to transfer the registration of this bus to the Executive's Chairmans car 1 Chairman London Transport. Thankfully this didn't happen and the bus survives in preservation
overhead wires are gone Early RM40, probably an original November 1959 intake for trolleybus replacement at West Ham Garage works the former 669 and stands at North Woolwich a few years later. The street furniture, the cobbles and a complete absence of other traffic lend an olde world aura to the view but of course the forever.
Hornchurch Garage operated RM1823
RM1797 at Camden Town on Route 269 which replaced trolleybus 629 in April 1961
The so called 'silver lady' (RM664) was an unpainted experiment to see whether costs could be reduced. Suffice it to say that it failed. It was doing a stint at Cricklewood on trunk route 16 during 1964-5. It is caught on camera at Neasden (Dog Lane) stand with a then disappearing example of London's first eight-footers, an RTW behind on route 8. It does look rather smart here but I fear the camera is telling a lie, for most of the time it was a scruffy abomination and I, for one, was glad when it was finally painted. I just hated the thought of hundreds more like it on the capitals streets - heaven knows the Underground trains were bad enough, and that was before the graffitti epidemic!
A dozen or so years later (1977) it was the Silver Jubilee of HM Queen, and twenty five sponsored Routemasters were again silver, though this time spray painted. I didn't make any effort at all to record these and got this one only because I was at Aldgate when it was working on Route 15.
RM1776 at West Hampstead on route 28. This time the Routemaster allocation is a replacement for RT's
RM1719 at an open air Victoria Station stand in pre-Victoria Line days. Route 16 had, by this time started terminating at its Cricklewood Garage base, having reliquished the stand at the Crown Cricklewood which had been in use since horse-bus days
Route 143 is imminent for OMO conversion. RM508 waits its chance to continue its journey while perhaps MB 336 is on delivery to Hendon in preparation for the takeover
RMC coach on Greenline Service 719 at Watford Junction c 1965. The smart Edwardian hotel in the Background remains today (only as a pub I think) but the general area has otherwise changed almost beyond recognition.
Brand new and awaiting delivery at the Park Royal works of their bodybuilder are RCL's 2225 and 2232. They share the scene with, in the background, a Regent V or Bridgemaster for South Wales Transport.
Too big, too late! Coach version of the RML at Romford in 1965 when very new. Introduced at a time when Green Line usage was rapidly declining and the service pattern was rather outdated. Double-deck operationn on the GreenLine network finally ended in 1972.
At least one of the RMC coaches ended its days rather ignominiously as the resident Skid Bus at Chiswick.
A 1978 shot within the confines of Chiswick Works of RM1368 which was converted thius after, I believe, having its top-deck destroyed by fire. It was not for passenger use but used I think by the Experimental Department. In this guise it survives today as a preserved curiosity. In the background RM2 sports the trial livery for the OMNIBUS 150 celebrations being planned for the following year. A 'wounded' Metro-Scania brings up the rear.
RM1743 departs Tottenham (AR) garage on route 171
The first RML's on the road in the country area went to Godstone (GD) and Reigate (RG) Garages in 1965 for the 409/410/411 group of services. There were initially not sufficient green ones available so a red ones were drafted in to start the new operations off. RML 2304 stands at the entrance to Godstone and, as can be seen, most if not all of the initial allocation appears to be central area examples.
BEA front-entrance Routemasters in their first (of three) and best livery. Cromwell Road West London Air Terminal
I'd rather catch a 659! - Holborn Circus 1967
RM19 would probably have been one of the first used on trolleybus replacement duties from Poplar garage in November 1959 but is seen her a few years later post first overhaul. This is at Camden Town I think.
The 1000th Routemaster seen at Putney Bridge Station. It's now preserved although I doubt whether any of its component parts are the same ones it had when new.
This was 1987 I think. A rather tired looking RML2505 slogs it out on the 88 passing open-top converted RM 752 at Parliament Square
RM 226 has a spot of trouble while working the 18 at Edgware Station and exposes an interesting view of its powerplant
Walm Lane Willesden Green 1967. Why is RM487 on the 260 (former 660 trolleybus route) turning right here??
THE APPARENT LACK OF ANY PARKING RESTRICTIONS IS INTERESTING, IN THIS VIEW, EVEN FOR THESE RELATIVELY CAR-LESS TIMES. SEE HOW THE YOUNG MOTHER WITH CHILD IN PUSHCHAIR HAS HER LINE OF SIGHT FOR ON-COMING TRAFFIC COMPLETELY BLOCKED ON THE ZEBRA CROSSING BY THE VAN DELIVERING TO CLARKS BAKERY. THE LARGE CAR TO ITS RIGHT IS OBVIOUSLY PULLING AWAY HAVING ALSO BEEN WRONG SIDE PARKING TOO. THE SHOPS HERE ARE MEMORIES FOR ME. NEXT DOOR TO THE BREAD SHOP IS SAINSBURY'S, THEN ONLY A SINGLE AISLE STORE WITH ATTENDED COUNTERS ON EACH SIDE-NO SELF SERVICE THEN! THEN CAME ROBERT DYAS IRONMONGERS, STILL IN BUSINESS TODAY BUT PROBABLY NOT THERE, AND ON THE CORNER, OFF CAMERA, A LARGE BRANCH OF W. H. SMITH . WOODCOCK'S DRAPERS, OPPOSITE, WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING A FEW YEARS BEFORE, BREAKING SOME OF ITS WINDOWS.
Explanation here. Routes 260 and 266 turned right into Chatsworth Road, left into Lydford Road, crossing the Metropolitan, Bakerloo and GC London extension by a different bridge, left into Dartmouth Road and right onto line of route again about four hundred yards further along Walm Lane. This all added some distance and time to the run and occasionally an RT was put on the 260 by Finchley Garage. I captured some of the antics during this period on cine-film.
I thought of placing this image in the ODDS & ENDS page but it might never get viewed there so here it is as a tailpiece to the Routemasters paragraph. Its actually a photograph of the side of a storage box which my wife bought for me. I don't suppose it was ever anywhere near Tower Bridge but the questions is --- 'Was this an actual vehicle that has been somewhat re-built or is it just a piece of image reversed digital jiggery-pokery? This would have been an entirely appropriate design to replace the trolleybuses!
THE UBIQUITOUS RF
Surely one of the best loved of London bus designs of all time - a true classic. The RF came along early in the 1950s to provide a lasting and eminently suitable vehicle to replace all those worn out pre-war single-deck buses and coaches that still lingered on into the new decade after the end of hostilities
Availability of rolling stock to meet individual service needs often led to red central area RF's doing turns in all parts of the country area, and, to a lesser extent green ones plodding on central area streets. In January 1965 RF369 was working route 336(a route more normally at this time associated with lowbridge RLH's - indeed the previous departure was by one such) and is seen on a busy Saturday in Clarendon Road Watford.
CENTRAL ROAD SERVICES
Leaving Harrow Weald Garage. The letter 'E' was missing from the name for quite a long time I recall. This premises is now a base for major private operator Metroline
RF427 was one of a number of red central area RFs to work in the country area in the mid/late 1960s. This looks like Redhill. Note how rather difficult to read via points on the destination blind are! They have been size-sacrificed to allow for a larger route number
c.1965 within Aldgate bus terminus RF390 seems to be on some sort of private sortie. Interestingly it has a Shephers Bush 'S' garage allocation plate
I did rather overdo my photography of route 210 at Golders Green, but not a lot in colour. This just happened to be a day when I would have been better using monochrome
RF504 is just leaving Moor Lane by the now closed Staines West Station to return to Kingston
In about 1969 there was a spell of no fewer than thirteen green RFs working central area service 210. One of them, RF 570 is seen about to depart from Golders Green. Thanks are due to Peter Osborne (www.red-rf.com) for information here
RF357 at Golders Green
"Well Bert - What Do We Do Now?" - "I guess we need a 'Swinger' Charlie."
Patient queue awaits transport to the bank holiday c.1966 fair at Hampstead Heath. The then necessary use of single-deckers on route 210 meant that this lot would have required at least three departures, and there's none in sight! The Heath was only a mile or so from here but it's uphill all the way!
It all looks fairly quiet but this must have been a bank holiday for this 210 is working a short to Hampstead Heath (Jack Straws Castle) for Fair traffic. Crews ( who, understandably were not fans of them) and Inspectors referred to these operations as 'swingers'
Early days of the Harrow on the Hill service - Leaving South Harrow Station
Outside Norbiton Garage
This is really a photo of RLH45 with an RF standing alongside but is included here. A wet day at Ripley
I think the 80A at this time was double-deck RT operated Monday to Friday and one-man RF on Saturdays
RF 325 is at Crystal Palace awaiting a departure to Chiselhurst on the 227. Many changes have occured in the fifty plus years since this shot of mid-1961. I've not been here, probably siince the 1970s and I think there is now a purpose built off-road bus terminal point here replacing the roadside stands in Crystal Palace Park Parade and the then derelict High Level SR railway station opposite is, I believe, to be brought back into use in due course.
Watch out - motorway coming! This 1966 shot shows some of the mayhem created by the extension of the M1 to its logical end on the northern outskirts of London. Those lovely old bridges near Mill Hill Broadway, beloved of those of us photographers who remember the TD's on this last service operated by the class were soon to be no more. Here the road was excavated so that double-deckers could negotiate it and afterwards buses actually terminated under the new motorway.
RF413 turning to the stand at Finsbury Park station. This shot was taken on 7th September 1968 whilst I was waiting to photograph one of the new Merlins on a Wood Green Scheme flat-fare service that had started that morning. Clearly shown here is that these then crew-operated central buses had no doors. I wonder when EFE will be persuaded to modify their well-milked mould - I'm sure a doorless version would go down very well!
I always fancied having MXX1 as personal number, however it was not until about eight years after this photo that I bought my first car. RF359's chassis was at Cobham for a while I think
COUNTRY BUSES & GREENLINE
This shows he effect of an attempt to 'modernise' the appearance of the class which was undertaken on a number of the class in the late 1960s. Seen at the top of Whitehall about to cross over towards Trafalgar Square c.1971
Later members of the class had registration numbers to match their stock numbers. RF620 is seen in 1965 at Crawley Bus Station.This photo and the one which follows were taken a few years earlier than the one above and were on Kodachrome 25 or 64, relatively slow films by later standards which were apt to play tricks with the rendering of greens and blues which, as here, showed up much darker than actual
Reigate - c1967 - Reigate country buses garage was just down this road.
More astute enthusiasts will know the date, however what I can say is that this was the last day of operation of the 727 Express and RF70 is seen at Golders Green. Come to think of it this may well have been the very last journey.
............ and here it is from the rear - a view not often recorded of RFs
This one does look rather as if its garage bus washer had taken the day off!
The RF is perhaps most fondly remembered for its role as a GreenLine coach. Vehicles for this had more comfortable seats, luggage racks and different gear ratios. This early sixties shot of RF 197 is at Eccleston Bridge Victoria, the main London terminus.
At the same time, also at Eccleston Bridge is RF 73 working on a Limited Stop Express journey of the 705 to Windsor. This type of service sported white destination blind lettering on a blue background
Modernised and upgraded for GreenLine service RF56 is seen c.1978 seemingly demoted to bus work on a St Albans local.
Resting in the sunshine at St Albans Garage is RF664 aset ready for a journey on the 365
I was never one to study routes and services in any depth. I do recall however that the 333 served a place called Bengeo and was at times GS operated. The 333B was obviously a variation, maybe on Sundays, for this was the day that this shot was taken
In Dartford I would think
RF349 - I think this must be Hertford - 1963
Redhill - 1968 or 69 prior to the era of the Merlin
Crawley Bus Station c.1965
..and another. Note the different styles of destination blind for route 426
See below also - I must have enjoyed getting wet in the pusuit of my photography. RF125 picks up some custom at Hammersmith Butterwick
St Albans Garage forecourt
At Biggin Hill Air Show c 1970
..and back to the central area
I think this was about 1963. RF's 350, 357 and 355 looking a bit unloved, de-licenced at Edgware Garage yard.
The previous year had also seen the end of operations by the Leyland PS1 Mann Egerton bodied TD's. Although of similar age to some RT's they somehow seemed more like a link with an earlier generation - must have been those crash gearboxes! By early in 1962 they had more or less been banished from Kingston area services leaving just a few to operate one short service from Edgware Garage, route 240A (Edgware to Mill Hill East). These few shots are from near the very end of their time.
During the middle part of 1961 a few TDs were serving out their last days on Kingston area services. They were disposed of soon after I saw TD9 and TD12 resting, apparently not required for service at the time. Many lower numbered of the class were here and Edgware generally operated the higher numbered ones.
The old railway bridge here (and another, adjacent more traditional brick arch one) carrying the Midland main line at the approach to Mill Hill Broadway would, within about four years, be demolished and replaced by a modern structure as part of the works here to bring the M1 motorway alongside the lines. The road would be excavated to create more headroom and this would allow double-deckers onto the 240A for the first time.
TD104 (which I think may still be in existence) is at Mill Hill Broadway. I drive through here often when in London nowadays and a parking place is as rare as hen's teeth. This amazingly empty scene with no yellow lines shows just how few cars were about even in a prosperous area like this in 1962. The shops are all closed though so this was almost certainly a Sunday.
Just departing Edgware Station forecourt
For such a low-traffic route it seemed odd that three buses could be together at Edgware Station
A look inside reveals the standard LTE seating except perhaps the single seat at the front offside, probably to aid circulation for boarding and alighting.
GUY SPECIALS EVERYWHERE
When they were in regular service I never specifically sought out these little gems on my travels, although they were to be found in all corners of the pre-1970 LT country area system so occasionally came into my viewfinder. They dated from 1953 and were replacements for pre-war Leyland Cubs etc. At the beginning of the 1960s the class of 84 units was, I think, intact although later in the decade some were sold off and many became staff buses - one even became the LT St. Johns Ambulance! It is good that several have survived into preservation and can often be seen performing at various running days at 55 years old.
Hertford - 1963
Harlow Garage - 1963
Orpington - 1965
Datchett - c 1966
Dorking I think - An early shot in dull weather (1961). Sensitive browsers should not look too closely at the rear nearside passenger who is making a rather rude gesture!
Knebworth - 1963
Harefield - 1968. GS57 is setting down passengers just prior to turning ahead to go on to the Hospital
Stevenage 1963 - We rode this one for quite a while at some speed through pretty sparsley populated lanes. It was notable as I recall that the driver, though needing to change gear quite often, did not use the clutch once!
I think this is at Rickmansworth. The reason for the 'blotchy' state of this photograph is noteworthy - It is from a 9cm x 6cm (120) negative, part of a rollfilm that was left in the camera for about ten years before it was developed!
NOT SO MAGIC MERLINS & NOT SO SWIFT SWIFTS
This type of vehicle, actually first put into service in April of 1966 when they introduced Londoners to the 'Red Arrow' concept of a 6d (2 1/2p) flat fare limited stop central London service with the 500 route (Victoria Station - Marble Arch) which, I particularly remember, worried London's cabbies so much that they even petitioned the Queen!
Like, I suspect, many enthusiasts at the time I can well remember being quite enthusiastic about the 'satellite' schemes later proposed. The much vaunted 'Reshaping Plan' for central buses was seen as a saviour at a time when there were seemingly unending serious problems of ever increasing costs, staffing shortages, traffic congestion and falling passenger numbers. That all this was not properly thought out and went very wrong in quite short order is a matter of record for historians to spout about and apportion blame, but one thing the operating management could not have forseen was that the new generation rolling stock was simply not up to the job. Its legendary poor quality and unreliability just twisted the knife further into an already gaping wound. Compared to the then current generation of vehicles I could, after a while, find little enthusiasm for the new range of single-deck standee configuration buses, and took comparatively very few photographs of them. Here's just a some................
The big day dawns - I had volunteered to help the PR effort at Wood Green on 7th September 1968, the first day of the new scheme for services in that area, however, also making its debut on that day was the new Cross-Hampstead conventional OMO service 268 from Golders Green to Finchley Road covering in part roads in Hampstead previously unserved by buses. I wanted to go on the first one but a longer than anticipated wait for a 260 to get me to the Golders Green Station start point meant that I had to settle for a photograph and ride on the second departure. MBS 147 is seen readying to set off. As I was working I took virtually no photos in the Wood Green area that day but went back the following week. I used a roll-film camera mainly and these negatives are more difficult to get printed nowadays so the views will be added as and when I can get them sorted.
MB18 was the first of the second generation batch to go into service on the original Red Arrow route 500. Having had difficulties with the quality of work on the original batch's Strachans bodies, other builders were entrusted with all future orders.
All-over advertising on single-deckers somehow never did look so good but this colourful effort on behalf of Chappell's Music Store was popular.
The introductory page to this website has a view of XMB15 just starting off on its premier journey from Tring Garage to Aldbury Pond in February 1969. Here we see it after arrival at that point
LOW HEIGHT STANDARDS
After about 1953 London Transport was able to standardise its fairly small requirement for low-height double deckers on 76 more or less identical examples based on the provincial type AEC Regent III chassis to which they had fitted an adaption of a standard Weymann 53-seater body. These were used in both the central and country areas of operation and lasted until about 1972. This is just a starter offering as I will upload other views in due course
Onslow Street Guildford Bus Station in about 1962 - I'm fairly sure this was a Sunday - just look at the loadings!
RLH13 sets out from Staines West Station (now closed) on route 461 to Addlestone. Judging by the smoke from the station chimney there was a welcoming fire in the waiting room for the very few passengers using it that day.
Empty this time - Onslow Street Guildford again
RLH64 approaches Northwick Park Station in 1967. The road traversed from the main road to reach this point was called Rushout Avenue. I doubt that RLH's ever took this corner in any kind of a hurry! It was the 230 that I travelled on most as my grandmother lived near Kenton Library in the 1960s. If I sat on the offside downstairs I almost always managed to bang my head on the sunken gangway protrusion above - you might wonder why a bus enthusiast did not learn to avoid this! The route was replaced in 1969 by flat fare service H1 using AEC Merlin MBS type 36ft long single-deckers
Stratford Broadway c 1969. This was originally a 6x6cm colour transparency and was one of a number which I allowed LT Publicity to make prints of for sale in its shops. It has not scanned too well here and I'm sure it can be enlarged and improved so will try again with it sometime. On the original image the Drivers recruitment side advert is badly torn and the image was re-touched (what would the person who did this make of today's Photoshop?)
WHERE'S THE ENGINE?
The rear engine front entrance bus was certainly not new when it first began to pound the capital's streets.Provincial operators had been making good use of type for five or six years. Realising that it had to look to the future although there was still two or three years of Routemaster deliveries to come London Transport acquired a batch of fifty standard Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland Atlanteans for experiments and trials. On a wet and windy 7th November 1965 the first of these were put to use on the trunk 24 route from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico. A comparison trial was set up to compare the RML Routemaster's operational performance with these
I have been wanting to add this paragraph for sometime. My visits to central London are few and far between now and I take hardly any photos when there so what I can show of the post-1986 era will not be very comprehensive. Still, I think there are about a hundred different types now and I have to admit that in most cases I do not know one from another. If I do recognise one I have to look twice at it as each model seems to be available and in use in several different lengths! Any captioning information here will be the result of a careful look at Ken Carr's LONDON BUS GUIDE which is a really useful publication. I might still get it wrong however so please be patient. Here'sa selection, in no particular order from all parts of the capital.