Old Bus Photos

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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Tyneside – Leyland Titan – GTY 163 – 39

Tyneside - Leyland Titan - GTY 163 - 39

Tyneside Omnibus Company
Leyland Titan PD2/12
MCW H32/26R

GTY 169; 39, one that Chris Youhill will no doubt recognise, but not in this livery. It was one of nine H32/26R MCW Orion bodied Leyland PD2/12’s delivered to Tyneside in 1954, GTY 169/177 numbered 39/47. Shortly after they were delivered, the number plates were moved from the radiator to the front panel under the windscreen, so the photo must be 1954. They remained in service until 1966, and all of them had a second life.
39 – Samuel Ledgard
40 – Wells of Hatfield, Peverel
43/44 – Paton Brothers, Renfrew
41/2/5/6&7 remained with the NGT Group.

GTY 175

Four of them became Driver Training vehicles.

GTY 177

But 47 was turned over to the engineering department. It was cut down, and at first it became a mobile workshop/towing vehicle, it later became a ’tree lopper’ and was still around in 1980.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

23/06/14 – 11:17

Thx, Ronnie, for the interesting photos showing the story of their lives.
I’m intrigued about tree-lopping. This always seemed to be done by bus companies originally, witness the number of tree-loppers around in past times, but I don’t know who does it now, if anyone at all, by the looks of some deckers’ front domes! Was there originally any statutory requirement for bus companies to do this and what is the current situation?

Chris Hebbron

23/06/14 – 16:30

About twenty years ago Luton & District did it, under contract, for Buckinghamshire C C. I believe this is where tree lopping ended up but with cut backs (pun not intended) money dried up in local authorities and I suspect this is the reason for the dire condition of buses now – because no-one takes responsibility. I think it still lies with local authorities but an operator friend of mine said that anyone was entitled to cut back trees overhanging the public highway – even when they were growing on private property, often behind fence or boundary lines. He always carried a pair of strong cutters on his coach. [He operated new, expensive, coaches in a rural area.]

David Oldfield

24/06/14 – 07:42

David, I think you’re correct: where trees over-grow private or public land then the owner or any member of the public has the right to cut back over-hanging branches to the boundary . . . as long as they offer any severed wood back to land-owner on who’s land the tree stood.
According to James Freeman’s history of King Alfred Motor Services the company were, after a rather too enthusiastic/dramatic session, prohibited from lopping trees in Winchester by the local authority – after which the tree-lopping vehicle was lain up within the depot.
Within my locality of the old Aireborough UDC there is evidence of tree-lopping, but I’ve never seen anybody doing any . . . and I can’t believe First or Centrebus/Yorkshire Tiger would bother to keep the resources themselves.

Philip Rushworth

24/06/14 – 07:45

The current legislation concerning the obstruction of the public highway by trees may be found in the Highways Act 1980. The responsibilities lie with the Highway Authorities, but there may often be a delay in the carrying out of remedial action. Clearances should be 2.4m over a footpath and 5.3m over a roadway. Even trees covered by a preservation order are required to comply, but only the very minimum amount of pruning is acceptable in such cases. In the past, many, if not most of the larger operators kept their own tree cutting vehicles to minimise the expensive damage to roof domes, but, in the aggressively profit driven bus industry of modern times, this "avoidable cost" has long since been expunged from the P/L account. The big groups of today seem to have no pride in fleet presentation.

Roger Cox

24/06/14 – 13:49

And, Roger, there’s the ever-present "Safety Elf", who says it isn’t safe for company staff to do the work, even without the operator’s legal advisers who worry about being prosecuted by the trees’ owners!

Pete Davies

26/06/14 – 14:10

Most modern double deckers now have tree guards on the nearside (or on both sides) to protect the front windows and bodywork from damage by trees.
There are now vastly more trees near roads (and railways) and little attempt seems to be made to keep them cut back.

Geoff Kerr

27/06/14 – 07:05

Geoff. This was the problem which Network Rail had with the big storms last Winter. Trees on embankments were falling like mad and trains were having to move slowly to avoid accidents causing chaos. In steam days, trees were cleared to avoid sparks setting light to them.
And grass verges seem to be getting overgrown now. The other day, on a bypass, foliage was brushing the side of my car and I was 12" away from the kerb!

Chris Hebbron

27/06/14 – 13:32

There is another aspect of overhanging trees and bushes not being cut back by anyone (owners, local authorities, highway agency of bus companies). That is the fact that at road junctions, road signs and / or traffic lights are being hidden from view until the motorist is nearly on them. If driving on an unfamiliar road, and looking for directions, this can be particularly hazardous. Sometimes I wish I had access to a certain company’s Guy Arab tree-loppers, and take a crew along some of our main roads. (I refer to Southdown 460/461 – the only way this modern day comment can count as being relevant to this site!).

Michael Hampton

28/06/14 – 14:22

Yes, Michael, the Guy Arab tree loppers. I also recall they had a Queen Mary one and a Bristol VR the latter in yellow with blue trimmings (genuine Freudian slip, this!). Sad that Portsmouth Corporation never had need of one. Wonder what they would have converted if they had? I’d have wanted one of their TSM’s!

Chris Hebbron

28/06/14 – 14:59

Chris – Your dreams have come true. Portsmouth Corporation did have a TSM tree lopper. 80 RV 1143. The vehicle was stolen from Eastney depot, and driven through the Fareham Railway arch. I have vague recollections of it attending to the trees in Stubbington Avenue around 1950.

Pat Jennings

29/06/14 – 07:15

Now THAT really is news to me, Pat – wishful thinking come true! I wonder if any photos exist of it in that state. My post of one of CPPTD’s TSM’s, in the second photo, shows 80 in original condition.

Chris Hebbron

17/12/15 – 07:41

Reading the various comments about tree lopping brings to mind an incident I became involved in on the A591 alongside Thirlmere lake about 1975 a section of road very much in the news at present where 9 landslides occurred as a result of the very heavy rain. I was a haulage contractor at the time operating a Foden S80 cabbed 8 wheel bulk animal feed blower which had a high box body with catwalk down the middle. Early one morning travelling through the Lakes to a farm in the Ulverston area I was flagged down by a Ribble driver and an inspector parked hard against the tree covered mountainside. They asked if they could climb on top of my lorry and try and cut off a broken low hanging branch that had been striking double deckers on the 555 service. They had thought they could stand on the roof of the Marshall bodied Leopard they had and cut the branch off but found they could not scramble onto the smooth curved roof from the high roadside embankment. Elf n Safety at its best !! However I took the bushman saw they had and knowing where to tread on top of my load was soon able to reach the branch and quickly cut it off. Just another episode of driving lorries and buses through the lakes.

Gerald Walker


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London Transport – AEC Regal IV – MXX 21 – RF 379

London Transport - AEC Regal IV - MXX 21 - RF 379

London Transport
AEC Regal IV

There were always a few places around London where red and green buses were seen together and this photo was taken at Uxbridge in 1974. Green RF 53 registration LYF 404 was a former Green Line vehicle, as shown by the twin headlights. Alongside is RF 379 registration MXX 21 whilst in the background is RF 406 registration MXX 294, which has survived into preservation. The RML hiding behind is probably about to start the long journey to Shepards Bush on the 207.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Tony Martin

17/10/13 – 006:57

Do we have a date(s) on these? I would guess 1953, but the twin headlamps didn’t come into vogue until later?


17/10/13 – 08:40

RF 53 wasn’t modernised into the form shown until 1967, so the picture must postdate that year.

Roger Cox

17/10/13 – 11:42

What would the emergency service be? Underground replacement, perhaps?

Geoff Kerr

18/10/13 – 17:10

My favourite, and the best, AEC single decker until the 6U3ZR Reliance. They accepted mid-life refurbishment and still exist in preservation 60 years on. [I know all of Rogers arguments about too many LTE buses in preservation, and LT practises – and I don’t necessarily disagree – but lets be happy that these gems survive even if we regret the passing of other types without the benefit of the preservation movement.]

David Oldfield

19/10/13 – 17:31

Tony’s caption says the photo was taken at Uxbridge, in 1974.

Pete Davies

19/10/13 – 17:32

The Uxbridge single deck routes lost their RF buses in favour of higher capacity double deckers in 1961-63, after the low bridge at West Drayton was modified. These routes got RFs back (in "one man operated" mode, which these seem to be) in January 1971.
Far more on red RFs at www.red-rf.com  
The destination display "Railway Emergency Service" was used on LT blinds until the 1970s when it was changed to "Special Railway Service" – this tended to be used for both planned and emergency rail closures.
I’m not sure we should read too much into it being shown here – it’s possible that someone had just not wound the blind far enough to show the full ‘Private’ display. The old Uxbridge garage was up the Denham Road, this bus may have been a substitute for a service bus, or being used for crew shuttle purposes.


31/12/13 – 07:20

I moved from London to Aylesbury Bucks in 1965 about 1972 my young son became a cub with our local group one day I was asked if I would like to come and see their ex London bus I said no thanks but after a few times I agreed being an ex London bus driver. When I saw it I said words to the effect where did you buy that rubbish his reply was it was only £320 I said did they pay you to take it away. It was ten different colours the windscreen was smashed there were no panels on either side the air doors wouldn’t work, no rails on the steps, the indicators were small bubbles front and back the switch was an old brown house light switch with a cloths peg to keep it central for off. I was hooked. I was a lorry driver so on Monday I went to our store at Hatfield then into the bus garage next door, just said the bus was for the scouts, they no longer had RF buses and the foreman told a fitter to give me every spare part that they had, he took an indicator switch of an RM gave me the ears then the chrome wheel nut covers and discs for the rear wheels then said that when I come next week they would have made up a brand new fog lamp for me this went on at every garage that I called at as far as Dunton Green, Thamesmede, Lewisham, Kingston, Hemel Hempstead gave me a gallon of Lincoln green paint and had a small tin of just enough duck egg blue for the window beading and so after two years of every evening and weekends the bus was put back as she should looked even with her old rear lights but for driving had a pair of light on the back from a DMs the problem with the doors was when I removed the head of the air compressor there was only one piston in it the other one was in bits in the sump, I found one in a scrapyard near Ongar when I got there the bus was just a chassis with the compressor hanging on one bolt I got it for a £1 so the vehicle was then complete they took it to Wales twice each time returning with body damage they then said that they could no longer afford to run it and asked me if I would sell it for them, I got a sale with a bus preservation group for £950 with all the spares and manuals, it later turned up with Dave English foreman at Luton bus garage and I was pleased to see that it is with several other RFs at Kentish Buses listed as original but not running it was RF197 MLL 584 I have photographs before and after which I will forward as soon as I sort them out. In the 1980s I gave all my railway books and hundreds of photographs and negertives of buses in London and all the RMs leaving Park Royal Vehicles.

Bix Curtis

31/12/13 – 12:05

Interesting story, Bix. It was definitely a "good deed" to run around for parts to get the bus back on the road for them and very satisfying that it went to a good home in the end. You should have a Scout badge for bus restoration!

Chris Hebbron


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 13th December 2018