London Transport – AEC Routemaster – WLT 339 – RM 339

London Transport - AEC Routemaster - WLT 339 - RM 339

London Transport
AEC Routemaster 4/5RM5/4
Park Royal H36/28R

The 630 trolleybus route took over from the former South Metropolitan tramway that ran between West Croydon and Mitcham on 12 September 1937, and was extended northwards over ex LCC tramway routes to a destination that, on the vehicle blinds, rather indecisively declared itself to be “Nr. Willesden Junction”. It was actually about half a mile short of that point, and, many years later, the displayed destination was amended to “Harlesden”. The 630 trolleys ran speedily, quietly and reliably for 23 years, until the cheapness of diesel fuel against the price of electricity, coupled with the costs of overhead maintenance, spelt the doom of the trolleybus, not just in London, but nationwide. The 630 route fell victim to the diesel bus after operation on 19 July 1960, and brand new Routemasters on rebranded route 220 took over the following day. Here is RM 339, delivered to LT on 16 May 1960, approaching the West Croydon terminal point shortly after the introduction of the 220 route – the trolleybus overhead wires are still in situ. Today, the Croydon transport scene has changed beyond recognition, and route 220 no longer serves the town.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

23/10/16 – 13:37

As we know, hindsight is a exact science, and it was probably a mistake to get rid of trolleybuses. They were quick, clean and quiet, but they were restricted to where they could go by the overhead wires, they were capable of traveling short distances when disconnected, and had they been allowed to advance, its quite possible they would now be able to store energy and travel quite long distances when disconnected. They could use a pantograph instead of poles which could be dropped at the push of a button, thus allowing them to overtake each other, or go away from the wires altogether, and a single wire would probably be sufficient. Given the world we live in today, the biggest problem would probably be cable theft, or am I just being cynical?

Ronnie Hoye

23/10/16 – 13:37

I bet a lot of people wish the trolleybuses had stayed, given current concerns over pollution in towns, not to mention fluctuating fuel prices. They were quiet, comfortable and electricity could be generated in many different ways.

David Wragg

24/10/16 – 07:15

How would a trolley with pantograph and a single wire work without a return to earth. Surely a conducting strip rubbing on the road surface wouldn’t work.

John Lomas

24/10/16 – 07:16

I have seen photos of early trolleybuses, where the vehicle had a half-cab layout and even a representation of a radiator. Seeing this one under the wires, I wonder why I looked for the poles on the roof!

Pete Davies

24/10/16 – 07:18

And it’s a further irony that this section of road supports the overhead wires of the Croydon Tramlink.
The wheel has turned full circle, but I do regret the passing of London’s fabulous trolleybus system.


24/10/16 – 07:19

The 830 route reminds me of my having a girlfriend who lived in Croydon and I used to catch the last trolleybus across to Mitcham – they could do 60mph across the common, according to a driver, with a lot of shuddering! I’d then get a 118 to Morden and walk the last two miles home. It will cause no surprise to learn that the relationship was short-lived! We did go to the Majestic Cinema at Fair Green a couple of times.
London’s trolleybuses were quite sophisticated, with regenerative braking and many had chassisless bodies, not repeated until the Routemaster. LTE had to pay a wayleave on each pole, unlike municipal operators. Also, much of the electrical infrastructure dated back to the trams and was worn out, as were the trolleybuses by the 1960’s. Electricity costs (already mentioned)and limited flexibility with route changes or new, expensive suburb extensions sealed their fate. However, to ride on them with their silence, amazing acceleration and hill-climbing ability was exhilarating!

Chris Hebbron

24/10/16 – 08:58

I think I’m right in saying that in the initial stages of design of the Routemaster there was the possibility of a trolleybus version being made.

David Chapman


Leicester City Council – Karrier Q25 – PBC 734

Leicester City Council - Karrier Q25 - PBC 734

Leicester City Council
Karrier Q25
Readings C14F

PBC 734 was new to Leicester City Council in 1956. It is a Karrier Q25 with Readings C14F body. If the note in the PSVC listing for 2012 is correct, it did not join the Transport Department, so was it some form of welfare vehicle or school bus? It’s 15 July 2001, a soggy day in Lord Street, Fleetwood, where it is visiting the Tram Sunday event.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

20/10/16 – 06:15

We all know what people mean when they describe a certain generation of minibuses from a certain manufacturer as ‘bread vans’, but this looks like an ice cream van to me.
Mind you, not bad looking for a tiddler.

David Wragg

20/10/16 – 06:17

Not sure what Leicester City Council originally used it for but the Coventry Museum acquired it in 1980 as a donation from the Leicester & County Mission for the Deaf. It was restored in its original livery by the Museum workshops in 1988.

John Wakefield

20/10/16 – 09:18

The vehicle was taxed regularly until the cessation of the Coventry Festival of Motoring in 2014 and is stored in their vehicle overflow storage unit that formed part of the now closed Coventry Transport Sandy Lane Garage

Roger Burdett


Maidstone & District – AEC Reliance – 251 BKM – SO251

Maidstone & District - AEC Reliance - 251 BKM - SO251

Maidstone & District
AEC Reliance 2MU3RV
Harrington B42F

By the mid 1950s, bus patronage was beginning to show signs of serious decline, and the Traffic Commissioners were empowered to grant dispensation for the use of buses with more than the traditional 20/26/30 seats on (what was then called) OMO operation. The first large saloons bought by Maidstone & District specifically for OMO were eleven Harrington Contenders of 1955 powered by the distinctive TS3 two stroke engine. Then, having gained experience with the all conquering AEC Reliance on coach duties, this chassis became the firm M&D choice from 1957 for OMO saloon work. Initially, the selected bodywork supplier was Weymann, then Beadle, before Harrington was chosen to build the bodies on a batch of twenty five in 1958. Here is 251 BKM, SO251 in the M&D fleet, seen in July 1973 after disposal to the dealer, Trevor Wilcox Brown, the proprietor of Tillingbourne Bus Company. This Reliance, a 2MU3RV model fitted with a Harrington B42F body, was never operated by Tillingbourne, but was quickly sold on to another dealer in Middlewich. I undertook the delivery run from Gomshall to Middlewich, and was impressed by the alacrity with which the machine tackled the hills around Amersham – I always skirted round to the west of the Great Wen – though the top speed was understandably rather modest on the motorway. The picture shows the bus somewhere around the Chipperfield area in Hertfordshire (if my high mileage memory is still functioning). En route on the motorway, I was somewhat disconcerted to find that the accelerator ceased to return to shut down the engine speed, so I pulled in at the next service area and investigated. By lifting up the inspection flaps in the floor, I established that the return action was provided by a simple coil spring linking the throttle rod to a lug on the chassis. The locating loop on one end of this spring had just snapped off, mercifully leaving the remaining part hanging down. I scoured the ground around the lorry park to see what I could find to effect a rudimentary repair and was rewarded by the discovery of a length of rigid but pliable wire. This I managed to force between the last two coils of the broken end of the spring, bent it round to secure it, and then made a loop with the other end before fatiguing off the surplus length (all done with the fingers – I had no tools with me). That bit of Heath Robinson engineering got me safely and uneventfully on to my Middlewich destination.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

17/10/16 – 07:26

Smart, purposeful looking bus.
Perhaps the Middlewich dealer sold it on to an unsuspecting operator, who may have run it with your rudimentary bit of wire doing its job, for many years, Roger!

Peter Murnaghan

17/10/16 – 09:10

255 BKM

A member of this batch, 255 BKM, was sold to Clynnog and Trefor Motoer Services in North Wales, where it lasted for many years.

Don McKeown

18/10/16 – 08:00

253 BKM was saved for preservation in 2008 after festering in Somerset for many years.
Now safely stored inside "somewhere in Sussex" pending restoration.

Malcolm Boyland


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Monday 24th October 2016