Old Bus Photos

London Transport – AEC Reliance – 497 ALH – RW3

497 ALH

London Transport
AEC Reliance 2MU2RA
Willowbrook B42D

497 ALH, AEC Reliance 2MU2RA with Willowbrook B42D body, dates from 1960. She is, of course, better known as seen here in London Transport’s RW3 guise, although she spent some time with other operators – notably Chesterfield with her two sisters. She’s seen at the Alton Rally on 21 July 2013.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

29/03/15 – 17:36

Given the widespread use of this combination within the BET empire, was it just the apparent "not designed in Chiswick" attitude that stopped this type from becoming the successor to the RF in both London Country and Green Line service.

Phil Blinkhorn

29/03/15 – 17:36

This is another example of a manufacturer’s standard type that didn’t last long in London Transport service despite giving good service to many other operators across Britain. Rochdale to name one had some virtually identical vehicles that had full service lives.
Where London Transport’s operating conditions so much different from the rest, particularly in the outposts of the Country area, that they seemed unable to sustain vehicles that ran happily for years with other operators?

Philip Halstead

30/03/15 – 08:04

Phil and Philip,
I suspect you are both right. I’m sure Mr Cox will have something to say on this!!!

Pete Davies

30/03/15 – 08:05

There is already a post of RW1, when in service with Chesterfield Corporation and a very useful post by Roger Cox explaining why it was not popular with London Transport. It’s recorded that the engine/fluid flywheel/gearbox, being mounted in one piece, suffered from overheating problems. Obviously, this was overcome by either LTE or Chesterfield Corp’n, for these vehicles to have had such long subsequent lives. However, removing the unsuitable centre-exit was an expensive option for just three vehicles, hence LTE’s likely disposal, although they could just have been disconnected!
LINK: http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/?p=584

Chris Hebbron

30/03/15 – 08:06

These buses have been discussed on OBP before – see Chesterfield Corporation – AEC Reliance – 495 ALH – 18. The three RW buses joined the London Transport (Country Buses & Coaches) department at the same time as I did – in August 1960. They were LT’s first experience of dual doorway buses, and drivers strongly disliked the feature. On rural routes, where stopping points were often just hard standing cut beck into the hedgerow at the stop post, the central door opened to reveal an impenetrable barrier of vegetation. They were tried out all round the Country area to a universally stony reception, not just from the operating staff but from the engineers as well. At this time London Transport ran a fleet of totally standardised, bespoke vehicles tailored to the rigid Chiswick/Aldenham maintenance system. LT bus garages did not have "engineers" in the sense understood by Company and Municipal operators. LT employed "fitters". If something went wrong with a vehicle at LT, the offending component was removed and sent to Chiswick, and a fully overhauled part fitted in replacement. The RW buses were London Transport’s first experience of the new breed of AEC wet liner engines, and garages just lacked the knowledge and skills required to remedy the faults that arose in daily operation. The traditional ‘send the part to Chiswick’ mentality couldn’t apply. LT simply capitulated to its absurdly inflexible maintenance system and got rid of the three RWs. However, a virtual carbon copy of the whole sorry saga took place again in 1965 with the Reliance RC class of Green Line coaches. Nevertheless, the ponderous maintenance system still persisted, later showing its deficiencies with the DM/DMS Fleetlines, deemed "unreliable" by LT despite being of a type that ran entirely successfully with everyone else in the land. The MB/MBS/MS/SM types suffered similarly. Strangely, the only exception in this sorry tale proved to be the original eight XF Fleetlines operated by the Country area from 1965. These ran until 1981, proving the soundness of the basic design (i.e. free of LT meddling modifications). They outlasted all the other ex LTE types in LCBS service. The scandalous squandering of public money by London Transport was a national disgrace.

Roger Cox

30/03/15 – 08:06

There are some thoughts here: http://www.countrybus.org/RW/RW.htm   Overheating is mentioned, together with difficulties with the centre exits in rural locations.

Peter Williamson

30/03/15 – 14:34

I remember these 3 buses coming to Chesterfield for use on one man services however it was common for them to be used as crew buses. I remember this one was no20 I conducted it one day on the Barlow routes.

Ken Wragg

31/03/15 – 06:53

It’s rather surprising they bothered with the centre exit for the country area. Even taking on board all Roger points out, single door vehicles for the country routes, a dual purpose equipped single door version for Green Line and a dual door version for the central area would likely, with any other operator, have been seen as ideal. Instead they spent money and kept the drawing office busy by updating the RFs.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/03/15 – 10:12

Thank you, gents, for your further thoughts on this shambles. As Roger says, it has been discussed at length in the past. It was not just LT who didn’t like the DM/DMS Fleetlines, however. Readers may recall that a fair number came down to Wilts & Dorset and Hampshire Bus. Stagecoach bought Hampshire Bus and decided that the Southampton area was not profitable enough, so they sold it on to Solent Blue Line, along with the allocation of vehicles.
Among that allocation were Fleetlines. The then manager of SBL decided he didn’t want them, and arranged an exchange with the former Ribble "high" Bristol VR fleet at Carlisle. One of my friends was among the SBL drivers on the exchange visit. He told me at the time it was the fastest the Fleetlines had ever moved, so eager were the local drivers to do the exchange.
Following on from that, we had VRs with Cumberland and Ribble fleet names trundling around Southampton for several months, for the legalities to be sorted out. I was told that not a single one of the Fleetlines moved away from Keswick Bus Station until a scrapper removed them, but the appearance of an EFE model in the ‘deregulation’ Hampshire Bus livery but with Carlisle fleet names suggests otherwise.

Pete Davies

31/03/15 – 15:55

10 DMs and 8 RMs went to Cumberland in part exchange for the highbridge VRs in 1987. The DMs retained their Hampshire Bus numbers 1917-1926 and as far as I am aware most if not all received the attractive CMS Cumberland livery of ayers red and oatmeal. They were placed in service in Carlisle and survived until October 1988 when Stagecoach replaced them with new Olympians. There were also 4 ex SYPTE Ailsas involved in the deal which were not popular and only lasted a couple of months or so. I have never seen a picture of one of the Ailsas in service so perhaps these were the buses that languished at Keswick Pete?

Update on those liveries after trawling the web. It seems the DMs entered service in Carlisle in a mix of poppy red(?), Hampshire Bus blue, white and red, and in CMS ayers red. Its a pity EFE didn’t choose the latter! There are also a couple of pics of the Ailsas working so that doesn’t explain the Keswick conundrum either!

Mike Morton

01/04/15 – 06:22

Thank you, Mike. So that’s where the Ailsas went! I did wonder. I have a photo of one of them in HB livery in Southampton. If you’d like one, I’ll send it to Peter and ask him to forward it. It, clearly, isn’t suitable for this site!!!! I see the captcha code is MW49, or is that MW4G – a bit under-powered, perhaps!

Pete Davies

02/04/15 – 06:26

Whatever the merits or otherwise of these Reliances, surely the point is that LT didn’t actually need any more single deck buses at this stage, being full up with RFs. Agreed, the RFs were very heavy and thirsty and perhaps a case could have been made for some replacement by lighter and more fuel efficient buses, but even that seems unlikely.
Was this more a case of a manufacturer trying to interest its customer in something than the customer actually having a need for something new? LT didn’t actually buy any more single deck buses (as opposed to Green Line coaches) until the Merlin/Swift era.

Richard Delahoy

02/04/15 – 06:27

I wonder why LT specified quarter-lights. I see that Chesterfield painted over them.

Geoff Kerr

02/04/15 – 16:51

Peter, would love to see the Ailsa. Much appreciated.

Mike Morton

03/04/15 – 05:36

Chesterfield did not paint over the quarter lights.

Ken Wragg

04/04/15 – 06:36

Must be an optical illusion, Ken. Other photos show them still in use.

Geoff Kerr


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London Transport – AEC Regal IV – MLL 971 – RF 334

London Transport - AEC Regal IV - MLL 971 - RF 334

London Transport
AEC Regal IV

Here is another of the Uxbridge allocated RF buses, seen in the summer sun of 1971, the year in which UX garage saw the welcome return of these stalwart performers, having lost them previously in 1962 in favour of RT double deckers. RF 334, MLL 971 stands at Heathrow Central on route 223, in the close company of RT 4182, LYF 241, on route 140. I know not the identity of the bohemian gentleman who seems to be reflecting upon the sanity of someone wishing to photograph a bus. Tillingbourne operated five ex London Country RF buses between 1971 and 1973, RFs 233, 254, 595, 680 and 699, and these I drove at weekends. Acceleration from rest in second gear was rather sedate, and the cab was a bit restricted (the RF was 7ft 6ins wide) but the vehicle felt like a true thoroughbred. The RT and RM families suffered the derating of their engines to 115 bhp, but I believe that the RF retained full engine power, which, in the case of the 9.6 litre horizontal A219, was 120 bhp.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

11/12/14 – 06:39

I was once told by the owner of a preserved RF that, according to the drawings in his possession, they are actually only 7ft 4ins wide.

Peter Williamson


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London Transport – AEC Regent III RT – JXN 46 – RT1018

London Transport - AEC Regent III RT - JXN 46 - RT1081

London Transport
Weymann H56R

Here is a view of JXN 46, RT1081 1018 (see below) in full London Country NBC livery. She’s on parade in the Weymouth rally on 1 July 1979. She dates from 1948 and has a Weymann H56R body. At the time of the photograph, she was still in service – mainly on training duties – but is now preserved.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

17/02/14 – 07:57

I have been privileged to drive for a number of years for Peter Cartwright and Amersham & District on their running days. The Watford – Hemel section of the 302 has featured regularly for the annual August Hemel Running Day. March 30 sees the first Watford event. I’m hoping to be driving in the afternoon. Say hello if you’re there.

David Oldfield

23/02/14 – 15:24

Think you’ll find that JXN 46 is RT1018 not 1081. Used to drive it when I worked out of Tring in the early ’70s. It used to belong to Mike Lloyd of Wigan. Not sure if he’s still got it.

Keith Williams

24/02/14 – 07:46

It is indeed RT 1018, not 1081. I bought it in September 1981, and yes, I do indeed still have it. That photo was taken at Weymouth Bus Rally 1st July 1979. This was the bus’s first-ever rally and it was still owned by LCBS at the time. We rallied it from Hemel Hempstead Garage for a couple of years, then when it was withdrawn, I bought it. Of course, I didn’t live in Wigan in those days.
It is currently having a bit of re-restoration, which it is entitled to after 32 years in preservation.

Mike Lloyd

25/02/14 – 06:54

Hi Mike. Pleased to know you’ve still got 1018. Can you tell me if you’re going to rally her again after her re-restoration. If so ,where? Love to see her again after all these years. Seems we’ve all moved north as I’m in Crewe now.

Keith Williams

26/02/14 – 12:08

Appologizz for the triping eeroar! I must check more carefully in future.

Pete Davies

15/09/14 – 06:57

I was just doing a bit of research on this bus, my late father Barry Neave was pictured with it sometime back in the 80’s I believe. Was just really interested in where it was and what it was doing, is it still being restored?

Celina Neave

18/09/14 – 07:50

I don’t visit this page often, so sorry for delayed reply to Keith. When she is back on the road I shall certainly take her to rallies now and then; however, restoration is proving long-drawn-out because of time constraints so I can’t say when it will be. The bus is kept at the North West Museum of Road Transport at St Helens these days but is not on display, obviously, because it’s in the workshops.

Celina – very sorry to hear that Barry is now "the late." He was a part-time driving instructor at Hemel Hempstead and RT 1018 was "his" bus for that purpose. He was a great help, visiting other bus garages and scrounging spare parts for the bus, some of which I still have. I have loads of pics of the bus working as a trainer, but not sure if Barry is in any of them because normally he would be sitting in the saloon giving advice and instruction to the driver, so you couldn’t see him in photos. I may possibly have one of him at a rally somewhere, although he didn’t always accompany us. See above for where the bus is now, and yes, it is still under restoration – mainly things I had not restored previously, of course. Rest assured, she’s in good hands. I wouldn’t part with her for anything, having known her since 1959.

Mike Lloyd

22/09/14 – 07:12

Thank you so much for the reply Mike it meant a lot to hear some more information about dad and the busses, it was his life. If you did have any pictures of dad with the bus they would be more than gratefully received, my mum Gloria had the picture we have as I think she accompanied dad on the rally? I’d love to come and see the bus, or maybe when it’s on rally again. Thank you so much again.


04/11/14 – 17:21

RT 1018

Looking at this posting of RT 1018 sent me scurrying to an old photo album where I found this photo taken in the yard beside Victoria Garage [GM] round about 1950/51 when this RT had worked a relief Green Line in from St.Albans. I cannot swear to it being 1018, it could be 1013 as the writing on the back has faded plus I am standing in front of the number plate but thought it might be of interest.

Graham Crockett

26/11/14 – 06:18

JXN 46_2

This is the picture I have of dad with the bus.


16/01/15 – 09:03

JXN 46

Here is a photo I took of RT1018 possibly at a Cobham rally in the 90’s.

G Crockett

19/01/15 – 12:11

Re the photo taken of the RT at Victoria (GM) Garage Yard around 1950/51. 04/11/14 – 17:21 posted above by Graham Crockett.
It would be RT 1013 as the batch RT 1005-RT 1014 were allocated from new to St Albans (SA) RT 1005-RT 1011 had roof route boxes whereas RT 1012-RT 1014 had the route number box in the lower down position. I was living in Albans at that time.

M Horan

21/01/15 – 15:17

JXN 46

Picture taken of RT 1018 in 1980 at possibly Southend Rally.

G Crockett

29/03/15 – 18:01

Celine Neave
Your dad was a well respected by all. When I first started at Two Waters he was helpful to me and I have never forgotten that.

David Jenkins

JXN 46 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

07/06/15 – 06:27

I also remember 1018 from it`s days at Tring in the 70`s. I was there until it closed in `77, then went to Amersham. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember we had an RT that had an RF type steering wheel, and I think it was 1018. I also remember David Jenkins, especially when he was made up to inspector.

Brian Keating


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