Old Bus Photos

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

24/10/16 – 10:28

John, I don’t know the ins and outs of how it would work, but I’m sure its not beyond the bounds of possibility. Remember, in 1969, the Americans sent a man to the Moon with less computer technology than there is in today’s mobile phones

Ronnie Hoye

24/10/16 – 13:22

Ah, Ronnie, you’re referring to what my son calls a camera that makes phone calls!

Pete Davies

25/10/16 – 06:41

I don’t think a pantograph would work as the big advantage of trolley poles was that if a trolleybus had broken down, all that had to be done was to lower the poles and following vehicles could then creep past it – there was that amount of leeway in the system. As a matter of interest, the very early and very short-lived Dundee system used buses with single trolleys, with the current being returned to the road surface using a trailing metal strip.

David Wragg

25/10/16 – 08:07

Never heard of that method before, David W. Why was the system shortlived; for being quirky or some other?

Chris Hebbron

25/10/16 – 14:00

The use of a single trolley pole with a return via the ground was used in the early days of trolleybuses when operators were testing them on existing tram routes. The trolleybus took the positive feed from the single overhead tram wire and used a skate running in the tram track for the negative return. I am pretty sure it was only ever used as a temporary measure under trial conditions.

Philip Halstead

25/10/16 – 14:01

This Dundee link shows picture of the first Dundee trolley which seems to have double poles/wires. www.dmoft.co.uk/2011/04

John Lomas

25/10/16 – 17:02

The system was short-lived because of the damage the trolleybus wheels inflicted on the poor road surfaces and the damage the road surfaces inflicted on the trolleybuses. As John L writes, the image he refers to does show twin trolley poles, but ‘British Trolleybus Systems’ by Messrs Joyce, King and Newman says that the trolleybuses used the existing tram overhead. The whole concept was seen as a feeder to the trams, not a replacement, giving the impression that once traffic built up or the city’s residential area expanded, the trolleybuses would be replaced by trams.
The system operated from September 1912 to May 1914, so it was Britain’s first trolleybus system, and also the first to be abandoned.

David Wragg

26/10/16 – 06:16

David, perhaps the Dundee trolleybuses were the first to operate in Scotland, as the first trolleybuses to operate in the UK were those of the Bradford and Leeds Transport Departments in 1911. Both undertakings first operated their trolleybuses on 20th June 1911 on their respective inaugural runs, but whereas Leeds then continued to operate them in service from that date, Bradford’s entered public service a few days later on June 24th. The Bradford vehicles operated on a short route from Thornbury to Dudley Hill via Laisterdyke, and connected with the tram routes on Leeds Road and Wakefield Road at either end. Leeds decided to close its system in 1928, when the trolleybuses and electrical equipment were apparently in need of replacement. In contrast however, Bradford continued to expand its network over the years and operated trolleybuses very successfully until March 1972 – the system being the last to operate in the UK.

Brendan Smith

26/10/16 – 06:17

Birmingham used the Skate to travel between depots and their overhaul works probably at night I guess.

Patrtick Armstrong

26/10/16 – 06:19

Two of those Dundee trolleybuses went to Halifax for the Corporation’s only trolley route between Pellon and Wainstalls. They were joined by a new Tilling-Stevens machine, but the route operated only from 1921 until 1926, when trolleybuses were abandoned forever by Halifax. During those five years, the trolleys ran between Pellon and Skircoat Road depot by connecting the positive trolley boom to the tram overhead and dragging a metal skid in the tram track to give the negative return to earth.

Roger Cox

27/10/16 – 08:19

If you would like an idea of what a Routemaster trolleybus might have looked like go here www.britmodeller.com/forums/ to see one modeller’s ideas and how he developed the idea and the advice he received.

Phil Blinkhorn


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London Transport – Guy Arab II – HGC 130 – G351

London Transport - Guy Arab II - HGC 130 - G351

London Transport
Guy Arab II 5LW
Park Royal H30/26R

Here we have a Guy Arab II with a Park Royal H56R body, new to London Transport. This vehicle is part of the London Bus Preservation Trust collection, formerly at Cobham but now at Brooklands. Once more, we have a difference of information between Jenkinson and PSVC2012. Jenkinson says it has a UH56R body and dates from 1945, while the PSVC does not mention the utility element and says it dates from 1946. I’m sure that they cannot both be right, unless it was built in 1945 but did not enter service until 1946. Someone out there will know no doubt!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

03/03/16 – 15:02

It looks like a utility to me,although possibly one of the ‘relaxed’ utility batch judging by the number of opening windows.

David Wragg

03/03/16 – 15:04

According to Ken Glazier’s London Bus File, G351 was taken into stock on 5 January 1946. Bodies constructed in 1945 were to relaxed Austerity specification with rounded front and rear domes.

John Gibson

03/03/16 – 15:05

Pete, according to the excellent Ian’s Bus Stop website, many of these Park Royal/NCB Utility-specification buses (G319-G357) didn’t enter service until January/February/March 1946. G351 is documented as entering service in February 1946. There can be little doubt that they were in fact built in late 1945 to wartime specifications, but it depends on which date we prefer to use.

Paul Haywood

03/03/16 – 15:06

I seem to have omitted the location and date when I submitted this to Peter for consideration: Wisley Airfield, on 5 April 2009.

Pete Davies

04/03/16 – 05:53

The unimpeachable authority on this subject is Ken Blacker’s book ‘London’s Utility Buses’. The final LT consignment of Park Royal H30/26R bodies on Guy Arab II chassis was delivered in two batches. G319 to 357 arrived at Chiswick between 17 November 1945 and 3 March 1946. G351 itself was accepted into stock on 3 January 1946, which certainly means that it was constructed in the last weeks of 1945. G431 to 435, the final batch of these buses and London Transport’s very last utility Guys, were accepted between 18 and 30 March 1946, and probably were built earlier in that year. G319 to 339 retained the old sliding mesh gearbox with ‘back to front’ gear lever positions and the two plate clutch inherited from the pre war Arab model. Those from G340 onwards had the new constant mesh gearbox with conventional selector positions coupled with a single plate clutch, a specification that was carried forward into the postwar Arab III. The Park Royal bodies on these last LPTB Guys made no concessions in appearance whatsoever towards the relaxed utility specifications by then prevailing. Even the stark upper deck front ventilators were retained after Weymann and Northern Counties had abandoned this feature. In fact the only ‘relaxations’ incorporated were tubular framed (cushioned) seats and winding windows. The complete vehicle with its composite construction bodywork weighed 7 tons 5 cwts, compared with 7 tons 6 cwts for the last Weymann bodied London Guy utilities and 7 tons 13 cwts for the excellent metal framed Northern Counties Arabs. All the London Transport Arabs had been withdrawn by December 1952, the newest then being just over six years old, though the indifferent quality of construction materials was evident in bodywork deterioration. Upon its sale by LT, HGC 130, the former G351, went in 1953 to the very satisfied Guy Arab operator, Burton-on-Trent Corporation who had the bodywork refurbished by Roe. Burton then ran it until withdrawal in 1967, after which it thankfully found its way into preservation.

HGC 130_2

HGC 130_3

Here are some pictures of this bus taken during the HCVC Brighton runs between 1969 and 1972 by which time some sag in the body waistrail was beginning to become evident.

Roger Cox

04/03/16 – 06:44

Thank you, gents, for your thoughts on the true date of this bus.

Pete Davies

07/03/16 – 06:23

Age apart, it is one of the most attractive utilities I have seen, only those from Southdown come anywhere near. It just shows that a good livery can lift even a mundane design.

David Wragg


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London Transport – Leyland REC – FXT 122 – CR16

London Transport - Leyland REC - FXT 122 - CR16

London Transport
Leyland REC
London Transport B20F

FXT 122 is a Leyland REC with LPTB B20F bodywork. She dates from 1939 and is seen at Longcross, Chobham, on one of those occasions that “Wisley” wasn’t at Wisley. In the Jenkinson listing of 1978, the REC is translated as Rear Engined Cub, which may or may not be correct. According to Ian Smiths London Transport website the CR in the fleet number stood for Cub Rear

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

31/12/15 – 13:00

I believe the vehicle is rear engined and was the first rear engine PCV class.
I thought they were AEC rather than Leyland but would not wager any money on it.
The styling is Q related I think and was the Q single decker the first inclined mid-engined PCV?

Having looked on the internet it seems I would have lost my money as all references seem to be Leyland

Roger Burdett

31/12/15 – 13:02

FXT 110

I’ve been waiting for one of these to come up, here is a shot for the other side.

Mr Anon

01/01/16 – 07:04

Sorry, Roger. Definitely a Leyland. Perhaps even AEC weren’t brave enough!

Pete Davies

01/01/16 – 07:05

What was the gear selection system on these vehicles. Were they manual or semi-automatic. Also, were they one-man operated or crew. Two very interesting photos.

Norman Long

01/01/16 – 10:56

I cadged a brief ride that day at Longcross and I’m sure that the gearbox was a conventional 4-speed. The engine (indirect injection) sounded remarkably like a Perkins P4, with that characteristic combustion tinkle, and it has the same bore and stroke. The rear hubs fooled me: I guessed they must be double-reduction, but apparently they house universal joints at the outer end of each cardan shaft, as the axle is arranged on the de Dion principle, which doesn’t give independent suspension but does cut down unsprung weight by mounting the differential either on the chassis or in unit with the gearbox.
In the late forties on a visit to my aunt and uncle’s at Ealing, Mx, somewhere near Brentford(?) from the window of another bus I saw one of these vehicles, which looked very strange—even slightly creepy—to my 8-or-9-year old eyes.
Fine restoration job, and thanks to the owners for saving another rare bus, full of innovation and individuality.

Ian Thompson

02/01/16 – 06:45

Ian is correct in his description of the CR, which was built at Leyland’s Kingston factory (actually in Ham) which had once produced Sopwith aircraft. The six cylinder indirect injection engine, which had been developed for the later production Cub KPO3, had a capacity of 4.7 litres developing 65 bhp, and it was mounted longitudinally at the rear of the chassis frame. The radiator was also located at the rear. The engine cover inside the vehicle was equipped as a luggage rack. The gearbox was the standard Leyland four speed “silent third” – sliding mesh 1st and 2nd, helical 3rd. Given the limitations conferred upon the passenger capacity of this small vehicle by the engine layout, it was particularly galling for the LPTB to have to adopt a space wasteful front end design similar to that of the contemporary underfloor engined TF (Tiger Flat) Green Line coach model. Had the doorway been located in the logical position ahead of the front axle (as was the 5Q5 version of the AEC Q) then the Metropolitan Police would have insisted upon an open, doorless entrance. It is often stated that the production of the CR was curtailed by the outbreak of war, but this is not the case. Always prone to over ordering, the LPTB originally decided that it required 73 examples in addition to the prototype. Having redone the sums, this was cut to 58, and then to 48. All, except the 1937 prototype, were delivered after the start of the war, the last arriving in December 1939. Many of them saw service in the first year or so of the war, but then went into storage in 1942. Several went into storage in 1939 from new. They began to reappear in 1946 when their original function had largely been usurped by larger buses. Instead they were employed on Central Area routes with conductors to meet the pressures of post war demand, and proved woefully unequal to the task. Breakdowns were frequent and spares in short supply. By the early 1950s they had all gone.

Roger Cox

02/01/16 – 08:50

Another bus spotters’ delight…….and operators’ nightmare! Thx for your usual detailed information, Roger, especially the gearbox information which I’ve always wondered about and which even the London Bus Museum website doesn’t explain. Although Merton Garage had the odd one allocated to it (Sutton didn’t, to my knowledge), I never saw one around my area at all.
The Town & Country Act of 1947 rather ‘did’ for expansion of London (and other cities), where unbridled ‘ribbon’ development stopped, handicapped, in any case, by a lack of building materials. The ‘Northern Heights’ extension of the Tube’s Northern Line, plus some other Tube bits and pieces, were never completed and the CR’s intended feeder services never expanded.

Chris Hebbron

02/01/16 – 17:51

According to the Ian’s Bus Stop website, Merton (AL) did get at least 4 CRs in 1946/7 – including one in green livery – mainly for route 88, and Sutton (A) at least two for the 213 and latterly 93.
The 1 1/2 deck Leyland Cubs designed for the ‘inter station’ route and a number of single deck buses (including some pre-war Green Line coaches) also saw central bus service (on routes with a double deck allocation) around this time.
All were crew operated – the OMO agreement for central buses had by then lapsed, and the practical (and industrial relations) complications of having one or two OMO buses on a crew route would have been a bit too much to handle.
Operationally, I understand that the single deckers only ran on ‘spreadover’ workings (i.e. peak hours only) and I would have thought that if any garage had more buses than crews on any day, the single deckers would have been left in the garage.
Hired in coaches followed in 1947, and new Bristol Ks diverted from ‘Tillings’ companies followed in 1948.


03/01/16 – 06:11

Correction to my earlier comment! What I glimpsed at Brentford (?) all those years ago was probably not a CR but a TF, whose existence I’d forgotten all about until reading Roger’s reference to it. I recall the mystery bus as being of normal length. As I know practically nothing of what LPTB buses ran on which routes, perhaps someone—Chris H, perhaps—could say whether TFs did or didn’t go through Brentford. The combination of 8.6-litre Leyland engine and epicyclic gearbox in the TF must have made for a very tuneful ride.

Ian Thompson

03/01/16 – 10:43

CR’s and TF’s did have a generic likeness, Ian, and green CR’s did run in Central services and vice versa at times, adding to the confusion. The TF’s ran the Green Line services and you will be interested in that the 701 ran from Gravesend to Ascot, passing through Brentford, from 1946 to 1975, as did the 702 from Gravesend to Sunningdale from 1946 to 1973. I did travel on a few TF’s and they did exude an aura of understated luxury.

Chris Hebbron

06/01/16 – 16:37

Thanks, Chris H, for confirmation that TF passed through Brentford. The vehicle through whose window I snatched that one childhood sighting will have been a trolleybus on the 655 route. Incidentally, my only LT ride (on the long back seat for 5 upstairs where you can look down onto the staircase) was with the same Ealing aunt, and I’m sure the bus said “Hammersmith” on the destination box. Chiming gearbox and snuffly petrol engine that seemed to backfire occasionally; six wheels; straight staircase; what more could any bus-mad kid wish for? Up to what date could that have been? Thanks in advance for any info.

Ian Thompson

07/01/16 – 06:08

Probably 1949.
According to Ken Glazier’s book ‘Routes to Recovery’ (about London Transport in the immediate post war years) the last double deck LTs were withdrawn in January 1950, the last examples running from Upton Park garage on route 40 (which didn’t go anywhere near Hammersmith)
Apart from the last scheduled allocations, a number were spread around garages to supplement the scheduled allocation until late 1949.
From Ian Armstrong’s ‘London Bus Routes’ website –
Hammersmith (Riverside) garage had a fairly substantial allocation of LTs on routes 11 and 17 (London Bridge – Shepherds Bush – no relation to the later north London incarnations of the route number) and 73 until 1949.
Mortlake’s routes 9 and 73 had LTs until 1948 and 1949 respectively (some at Mortlake were initially replaced by green RTs as deliveries had got out of step with needs).


07/01/16 – 06:10

Many LT’s were based at Leyton, Loughton and Potters Bar Garages, on your side of London, Ian. LT’s mainly left those garages around 1947/48, but were still to be found in decreasing numbers ALL around London until the final deathnell came in February 1950. Even two of the first 150 open-staircase ones survived to the end by then some 20 years old. These were due to replaced in 1942, had the war not intervened. I had a lucky escape from an open-staircase one as a baby. An aunt of mine was climbing the stairs with me in her arms, when she slipped and lost hold of me. A passer-by at the rear of the bus, by chance, caught me in the nick of time. Of all the LT’s, my favourite was the last ones made, in 1931, called Bluebirds. See here: http://tinyurl.com/zllt7hk

Chris Hebbron

13/01/16 – 06:02

Thanks, Jon and Chris H, for the information on LT routes and dates.
Very nearly having my school cap blown off on the stairs of open-staircase Titan Reading 36 (RD 777) seemed exciting at the time, but that hardly compares with Chris’s extraordinary rescue!
Thanks also for the Bluebird link. LT741 is a very rationally-designed and handsome vehicle, and the superb interior shots answered all sorts of questions. Pity that no Bluebirds survived, but we can say that of a host of fascinating vehicles that live on only in tantalising photographs.

Ian Thompson

12/04/16 – 06:11

FXT 120

Here is a picture of CR 14, FXT 120, taken at South Croydon during the HCVC rally in May 1972. This bus was delivered in 1939 and went into service in Country Area Green livery at Windsor garage before being withdrawn into store along with the rest of the class by 1942. In 1947 it was overhauled and repainted into Central Area red livery, though the purpose of this expensive exercise appears somewhat elusive as it was only used by Chiswick as a training vehicle during 1948. Just one year later, in 1949, with characteristic profligacy, London Transport then repainted the bus back into Country green for service on rural route 494 between East Grinstead and Oxted via Tandridge, Lingfield and Felcourt, a route that then became a Guy GS operation after the the surviving members of the CR class were withdrawn entirely in 1953. CR14 was selected as an exhibit for the LT Clapham Museum, but, in 1967, it was sold off into private preservation. Although in the photo the vehicle is shown with route 12 destination blinds, the probability of a CR being used on that very busy route must have been remote in the extreme. However, it does seem that some examples of the class may have been used occasionally in the Croydon area for Relief duties on route 68 (South Croydon – Chalk Farm).

Roger Cox

30/08/16 – 06:46

I can confirm that red CR buses were indeed used on the 68 route. I used to often see “two of them” (numbers unknown) parked at Beulah Hill, junction with Spa Hill (Norwood) on my way to secondary school. I’ve no idea why there was need for two of them. My intelligent guess is that this would have been in the late 40s or very early 50s.


FXT 122 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

20/09/16 – 07:06

Among the first rear engined buses were the SOS REC type built by The Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Company, better known as Midland Red in 1935. The company didn’t find them successful and rebuilt them with underfloor engines.

Mr Anon

21/09/16 – 05:49

Since the CR vehicles were based on the Leyland REC chassis, Ian, was there any connexion between the SOS REC’s and Leyland’s, or was it merely a coincidence of titling?
Could someone come up with more information on BMMO’s SOS REC’s?

Chris Hebbron

22/09/16 – 07:12

Chris, there are some details of the SOS RECs on
There were four of them fitted with transverse mounted petrol engines so I think only the name was the same.

Gary Thomas


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