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

02/11/16 – 05:55

In Ken Blackers book he does mention that the option of electric power was considered,although given that by this times sentence had been passed on the trolleybus.
The trolleybus route 630 was intended to be worked from Thornton Heath and crews from there were provided with a staff bus whilst waiting for the wires to reach into Surrey which they unfortunately never did.
Trolleybuses should be the environmental public transport vehicle of choice, cheaper and more flexible than Trams

Patrtick Armstrong

03/11/16 – 06:20

Not quite sure, Patrick, what you mean about "the wires reaching into Surrey which, unfortunately, they never did". Croydon and Thornton Heath were in Surrey until 1973. Even Mitcham was, if I recall rightly.

Chris Hebbron

03/11/16 – 14:45

WLT 334

Here is another shot (rather less clear – it was taken in a heavy thunderstorm) of a Routemaster under the trolleybus wires at West Croydon. This is RM 334, taken into LT stock on 12 May 1960. If there ever was a project to make a trolleybus version of the Routemaster, it must have been abandoned early in the development programme, since the decision to abandon London’s trolleys was absolutely cast in stone by 1954, the year in which RM 1 appeared. On the subject of trolleybuses running in Surrey, parts of Croydon may well have been in the postal district of Surrey (some fell within the London SW postal area), but it was a self governing County Borough from 1889 until 1965 when it was incorporated into the GLC. Thus, trolleybuses never did run in the county of Surrey proper.

Roger Cox

04/11/16 – 06:16

With apologies to Chris H, he is right. Mitcham was a municipal borough in Surrey from 1915 to 1965, so yes, trolleybuses on route 630 did just enter the very northern tip of that county.

Roger Cox

06/11/16 – 09:52

That’s a lovely shot of RM334, Roger, ploughing through rain. I like evocative photos like this, as my recently-posted one of Morden Tube Station forecourt, in driving snow, testifies.
Apologies graciously accepted about the 630 route going through Surrey! I had kept some of my powder dry to mention the Fulwell Depot trolley routes 601-605, some of them working their way through Kingston to Tolworth and Wimbledon. Kingston-upon-Thames was only a borough, albeit a Royal one (I’m on one knee as I type this)! I’m old enough to recall travelling from Raynes Park to Kingston/Hampton Court) on the ‘Diddlers’ that frequented the 604/605. Poor things, sound chassis but frail bodies, even when extensively rebuilt, they creaked their way around and were replaced none too soon. I’d hazard a guess that they were the most worn-out vehicles London Transport ran at that time, lasting from 1931 to 1948. But I digress (again)!

Chris Hebbron


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Northern General – AEC Routemaster – EUP 405B – 2105

Northern General - AEC Routemaster - EUP 405B - 2105                Copyright Ronnie Hoye

The Northern General Transport Company
AEC-Park Royal Routemaster
Park Royal H41/31F

Pictured at the Seaburn Bus Rally, this 1964 Routemaster has been beautifully restored to its original livery and is now part of the North East Bus Preservation Trust Ltd collection; it was one of the second batch to be delivered. I know the two batches differed slightly, but I’m not sure if it was only that the first ones had rear wheel spats. Prior to the Routmasters, the last front engine half cabs to carry the Northern name were the 1958 PD3’s with Orion bodies ‘Sunderland District’s were rear door Burlingham bodies’ before the Routemasters arrived on the scene their were then three or possibly four batches of PDR1 Atlanteans with both MCW and Roe bodies. Northern ran a lot of longer routes alongside United, when they introduced the front entrance Bristol Lodekkas Northern decided it was time to replace the rear door Park Royal bodied PD2’s on these routes with a more modern vehicle, but rather than use Atlanteans they bought the Routemasters specifically for the purpose. I think reliability may have been a factor as the early Atlanteans were ‘A tad temperamental’ Northern specified the Leyland O600 engine and the same gearing as the Green Line RMC’s, as far as I’m aware they gave excellent service and reliability was never a problem. Our depot didn’t have any so I must be one of the few drivers at Percy Main to have driven one on service, I was on the number 1 which ran between Whitley Bay and Lobbly Hill Gateshead, my bus ‘an Atlantean’ broke down at Team Valley and a replacement was sent out from Bensham depot, it turned out to be a Routemaster. I only drove it for a couple of hours but found it a very nice vehicle to drive.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

13/05/12 – 08:41

…..and I spent many a happy hour driving AEC and Leyland engined ex LT RMs in Reading for Reading Mainline. I now have the occasional charge of a preserved green RML. Still nice to drive but unfortunately, like most RMLs, re-engined.

David Oldfield

13/05/12 – 18:49

What make was/were the replacement engine(s) and did the conversion entail any gearbox/transmission changes, David? In the back of my mind, Iveco comes to mind.

Chris Hebbron

14/05/12 – 07:43

There several experiments using Cummins C (Javelin 8.2), Scania (9.2), DAF (?) and IVECO (7) engines. DAF never got beyond the one experimental, the others went into "mass" production. I don’t know the numbers, nor how it was decided to allocate which engines to which (batches of) vehicles.
These vehicles tended to keep their AEC/LT (semi)automatic gear-change. The vehicle I regularly drive – and will be doing so next week in Slough – is a 1966 RML with IVECO engine with original gearbox which still operates in either semi or fully automatic modes.
From the cab it is very obviously a re-engine although, surprisingly, from the saloon it sounds more like a "proper" vehicle. I can only surmise that this is because it still has the original gearbox. It does not, however, have the performance of an AV590 or 0.600 – nor the real sound.
The last refurbishments, however, were also made to comply with "Euro…" regulations and have the Cummins B (5.9) engine and Allison fully automatic gearbox both found on the Dennis Dart. They are therefore cruelly, but aptly, known as "Dartmasters". The latter have also totally changed the character of the cab.

David Oldfield

14/05/12 – 09:29

Thanks, David, for that interesting background information. It’s also interesting that the original engines performed better than their replacements. Maybe some of it is strapping the engines up with ‘save the world’ technology, understandable, but not conducive to performance or fuel consumption!

Chris Hebbron

14/05/12 – 14:57

As a P.S. to my comments above. It’s all speculation, but given the reputation for build quality and reliability that the Routemaster built up with Northern, I think it’s safe to assume that if the RML had gone into production AEC would have loaned a couple to Northern for evaluation purposes, then who knows?

Ronnie Hoye

14/05/12 – 18:30

Ronnie; do you mean RML or FRM? The Northerns were front entrance RMLs (or RMFs in London language). FRM1 was the rear-engined prototype which Leyland knocked on the head because it competed with its own new Atlantean.
There should have been three prototype FRMs – one of the other in Sheffield Transport colours. Alan Townsin said that both Yorkshire Traction and Northern General had already shown an interest in the new model "off the drawing board". Having tested it for "Bus and Coach" in August 1967 he concluded that "…..the general impression was of a vehicle which made everything previous seem out of date, in much the same way as the RT in its day."

David Oldfield

14/05/12 – 18:46

It’s an age thing David, I did mean the RMF

Ronnie Hoye

15/05/12 – 07:34

It’s an age thing for most of us who use this site! What day is it nurse?

David Oldfield

15/05/12 – 07:36

I wish I’d been issued with fingers instead of thumbs, FRM, the one that Leyland couldn’t wait to kill off, in much the same way that they did with the Fleetline, as the Americans say ‘if you can’t beat them, buy them’

Ronnie Hoye

15/05/12 – 07:38

Chris, can I just point out that David’s comment about the performance of replacement engines was specific to IVECO, which was the smallest of the units in the original experiment. I recently had a ride on an RM with a Scania engine and it went like a bat out of hell! It also made some nice traditional sounds which were entirely compatible with the RM’s transmission.
As regards FRM1, this still exists of course, and it is very special. I once had the pleasure of riding on it, and it felt like meeting the Queen!

Peter Williamson

15/05/12 – 13:31

Very interesting comments, David, on the FRM. I never saw the ‘Bus and Coach’ article, (yes, I ought to have seen it!), and have never seen any pictures of the prototypes, but it sounds as if it had great potential. Leyland, as Ronnie points out, were eager to kill off anything that competed with a Leyland product. Operationally, the Fleetline was a far better bet than early Atlanteans, being more economical and less expensive to maintain, and it would have been a boon to the industry to have had an AEC alternative, too. Leyland’s arrogance, which manifested itself in many ways at that time, was a tragedy for the whole of the British motor industry.

Roy Burke

15/05/12 – 18:00

There were other interesting possibilities which Leyland killed at birth. The only really decent and successful rear-engined single-decker was the Bristol RE. It eventually had the option of Leyland engines (which I approve of) but another option "on the books" which was neither promoted nor taken up was of the AH691 AEC engine. Ulsterbus (and all offshoots) had shown a great interest in the AEC option but were dissuaded by Leyland from taking it up – just as later, New Zealand were "persuaded" to take the Leyland 510.

David Oldfield

16/05/12 – 07:47

In some ways fitting a Scania engine into a Routemaster is the supreme irony. The Routemaster started life with AEC, they in turn became part of British Leyland ‘not to be confused with Leyland Motors’ At the time of the ‘merger’ AEC had designs for a new vehicle, but BL in their wisdom or otherwise decided not to go ahead with it, all the plans ‘including those for a new engine’ were sold to Saab and the result was the 80 and 100 series and every vehicle since, so I suppose you could argue that by using an AEC designed Scania engine in a Routemaster the wheel has in effect turned full circle

Ronnie Hoye

22/09/13 – 07:51

Regarding the allocation of re-engined Routemasters in London, the rough rule was by operating group: South London and London General got Iveco re-engines and everywhere else got Cummins. The reasoning was, the DMS buses also had Iveco engines at these garages.
I used to like the Routemasters on the 130 from Newcastle to Sunderland as a boy.


22/09/13 – 14:35

When were the last of these vehicles withdrawn and what happened to them afterwards?

Chris Hebbron

23/09/13 – 05:57

The answer to the first question is that Northern last used them in service on 16th December 1980. Someone else will have to answer the second bit!

Dave Towers

25/09/13 – 18:18

I have a Classic Bus magazine from 1994. The article must have been about the late 1950s, when they were in the process of creating the Atlantean. In it were clear, side by side pictures of the two prototype Leyland’s running on a route for evaluation by a bus company. One had the engine in front of the front axle, with a front wheel drive. It made the steering very heavy & would tilt up without the conductor on the rear platform. During tests they always made sure they had a conductor on. The other type had the engine on the rear platform & a full front. There is also a rear view picture of a top secret third type, which from memory only got to the test track at night, but was later broken up & the parts used on a conventional layout. If anyone would like further information I will read it again for more accuracy. If anyone would like the magazine, you can have it, for postage costs only.

Andy Fisher

26/09/13 – 06:30

I drove a Routemaster just once, at an LT Open Day – OK I paid a few circuits "on" so had a few laps. Compared to the PD3 on which I did my PSV training the Routemaster felt like a real driver’s bus – everything light to the touch and set up just right, although the horizontal gear-selection gate felt odd to start with. However, I’d take a PD2/3 over a Lodekka anytime – for me the Lodekka’s driving position, with that raked steering-wheel, was just uncomfortable/awful.

Philip Rushworth

26/09/13 – 14:53

Philip, don’t forget that the horizontal gear-selection gate was probably specified to replicate the pre-selector used on the many thousands of RTs with which all LT drivers would have been familiar (to say nothing of the many municipalities who operated pre-selector Regents).

Stephen Ford

26/09/13 – 14:53

The disposal details of all 50 Northern General Routemasters (2085-2134) are to be found at www.countrybus.org/RMF/RMFa.html  
This site, Ian’s Bus Stop, has full life histories for most London Tansport classes and closely related classes, e.g. London Country Leyland Nationals. Well worth a visit.

Dave Farrier

28/09/13 – 16:14

Thx, Dave F.

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 06:30


Whilst on the subject of the Routemaster, has anyone seen a photo of the Chinese Youtong-built vehicle destined for Macedonia, designed with more than a nod at London’s Transport’s ubiquitous product!
(Copyright unknown).

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 10:45

Oh – if only Colin Curtis could see this!!!!!

Michael Hampton

01/10/13 – 17:46

The Youtong vehicles were ordered as an up to date version of the buses that Skopje took second hand from LT in the early 1960s. Those of course were RTs but they have always been regarded as something special in the minds of the citizens and, obviously, the authorities. As they didn’t buy any second hand Routemasters at the time LT were withdrawing them, the new vehicles can probably be regarded as competing with the Borisbus in terms of using old shapes and ideas in a modern format. Neither would win a beauty contest but both are at least interesting and controversial. Just a pity that no British manufacturer could cater for Skopje’s needs.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/10/13 – 17:47

Yes, he only missed out on the news by a few months.

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 17:48

Is this going straight into the Uglibus section?


26/10/13 – 17:11

I was very interested in your section on Routemasters, particularly in the Tyne and Wear, County Durham areas 1970’s. One of your correspondents notes the 130 route, Newcastle to Sunderland. I can remember this being route 40 prior to 13O and continuing to Hartlepool or Middlesbrough. I am interested in obtaining any further info on this. I am also keen to bring back some more memories of routes south of the Tyne from this period and can recall a lot of them but would like to see a list. Do you have any idea where I can access such detail?

Dave Alcock

27/10/13 – 16:12

The 40 was a rather hybrid route, dating historically to the owners of various parts of it before ‘grouping’. From the thirties until NBC days it was really two overlapping routes; United’s 40 ran from Middlesbrough to Sunderland via West Hartlepool, and that of Northern / SDO ran from West Hartlepoool to Newcastle via Sunderland. The overlapping section was a joint operation, with all of the companies running journeys from West Hartlepool to Sunderland to give a more frequent headway.
The United / Northern territorial boundary was at Easington Village, where passengers had to rebook, and United would run further short workings within their section, as well as frequent duplicates to fit in with mining shift times. In the same way Northern had short workings between Newcastle and Sunderland.
The United timetable only showed the Newcastle journeys as brief details, and the Northern timetable ignored the Middlesbrough section altogether (indeed anyone travelling from Sunderland to Middlesbrough would have found the Durham District routes D1 / D2 to be quicker.

David Todd

EUP 405B_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

31/12/13 – 07:20

It’s great reading all your comments,I was a conductor on the trollybusses in NW London 1958-1961 then went onto the RMs we changed overnight. The RM was a wonderful bus but in those early days some of them were experimental. We had RM 1134 at Stonebridge Park and the first time I took it out as a driver I pulled into a bus stop applied the brakes which came on then went off I braked harder and was nearly thrown through the windscreen. Then we had different suspension Dunlopillow was one where after a short while the conductor was sick because the rear of the bus just kept bouncing up and down all day. All garages were told to drive the bus in different ways we were told to drive in automatic at all times, Cricklewood were told to drive in manual it was supposed to save on fuel, I found that when the bus was fully loaded in the rush hour because the gear change from 1st to 2nd was so quick you lost all power so I used to pull away in auto click into second manually gun it then back into top. I last drove an RM in 1965 when I left, I am now 72 and have the chance to climb back into that wonderful bus for one more run {only on the test track at Canvey Island Essex} but I am looking forward to it you never forget how to drive them.

Bix Curtis


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London Transport – AEC Routemaster – ALD 924B – RM 1924

London Transport - AEC Routmaster - ALD 924B - RM 1924
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

London Transport
AEC-Park Royal Routemaster
Park Royal H28/36R

Here is a nice action shot of a standard Routemaster, and it’s probable out accelerating the mini next to it. This particular vehicle had the Leyland O600 9.8 litre diesel engine and it would of had a throatier sound than the AEC engine. This was due to the fact that London Transport did not use air filters for some reason and it was the air entering the Leyland engine rather than the exhaust that produced the throaty sound. If memory serves me correct I think the London Transport practice of not fitting air filters meant that the RT had that lower bonnet line than the Provincial Regent.
The main reason for posting this shot is I visited Southport recently and found an excellent second hand bookshop that had a good selection of bus books and was lucky enough to get a copy of ‘Blue Triangle’ by Alan Townsin. One thing I noticed in the chapter for the Routemaster was that the prototypes had the radiator and fan positioned under the floor behind the engine bay. This explains how the first RM prototype achieved engine cooling when having no radiator just a solid panel with a London underground type logo on it, I have searched high and low for a shot on the internet to no avail I’m afraid. But fortunately by the time the first production model RM 8 appeared in 1958 the radiator and fan had been moved back to the normal position in front of the engine. This meant that the bonnet length had to be increased by 4 inch though to accommodate them and the good looking Routemaster that we all know came to be.

A full list of Routemaster codes can be seen here.

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.


London Transport RM1 STL 56
Photograph taken by Colin Tait in 1955                                          

Here is a photo of RM1 SLT 56 with the solid front plate and bullseye motif, it’s worth observing that this prototype had no opening windows in the upstairs front.
Photograph courtesy of the London Transport Museum.

Chris Hebbron


The final design was far more balanced, and arguably more attractive, than the original.
There was an interim design of grille which had the LT bulls-eye on the round protuberance (just visible above the grille in the first photograph) and no "AEC" triangle at the top of the grille divider.
The final version (shown) had the LT bulls-eye but not the letters "AEC" on a triangle in the usual place.
There were, over a period of time, variations in the depth of the ventilation grille beneath the destination/route number indicators. (RM 1 is shown with standard route indicators – which it did not carry originally).

David Oldfield


Your comment about the throaty sound of the Leyland-engined RMs brought back fond memories of riding on one or two of them while I was on a week-long course at CAV in Acton in the early 80’s. The induction roar was absolutely gorgeous, and all the more audible as you say, due to the lack of an air filter. West Yorkshire Road Car had some Bristol RELH coaches (ECW and Plaxton bodies) fitted with 0.680 Leyland engines, which always sounded grand on the road. However, they had a similar induction roar when being tested on WY’s dynamometers at Central Works, as they were tested without air filters. I used to love running such engines in, and then fully bench-testing them on the dynamometers after overhaul. It was lovely (and quite addictive) to hear that roar – even with ear protectors on! The Routemasters had a lovely ‘song’ whether AEC or Leyland powered, as the accompanying melody from the transmission was so gentle and tuneful. Sadly, the tune went off somewhat when they were re-engined and re-gearboxed later in life, but at least it kept them running. P.S. Does anyone else think that someone has lost the plot somewhere with the ‘Borismaster’?

Brendan Smith


Simple answer – "Yes"
I drove for Reading Mainline on a casual basis.
Everyone knows I’m an A(mbassador) for E(xcellent) C(oaches) – and buses – but our two "Leyland" Routemasters were great fun and didn’t half shift (especially up – and down – Norcot Hill).

David Oldfield


22/04/12 – 07:34

Brendan, I’m so glad someone else is clearly so addicted to the Routemaster "melody". I fell in love with the Routemaster sound as a young lad and, some 40 years later, I am still totally absorbed by the unique harmonies of the engine (has to be AEC or Leyland) and the various parts of the transmission.

Mike Wakeford


22/04/12 – 16:10

What engines were used to re-engine the RM’s? I understood at one time that they were Italian, but would like to know if this was so.

Chris Hebbron


23/04/12 – 05:44

Chris, some of the power units used to re-engine the Routemasters were indeed Italian, these being of Iveco manufacture. Iveco is owned by FIAT, but I seem to recall it collaborated with Magirus and Ford to produce a range of commercial vehicles in the 1980s/90s. (The Ford/Iveco EuroCargo truck springs to mind). Other engines were also fitted to the Routemasters in later life, notably by Cummins and Scania. It was rumoured that Ken Livingston had planned to have the original Routemaster engines replaced with Gardner units at one point, as they had an excellent reliability record, were very economical, and were of British manufacture. The cost of the programme was said to have been too great however, given the perceived extended lifespan of the RMs/RMLs at the time, and so mass-produced engines were used instead. One also wonders if Gardner would have been able to fulfil an order for over 500 engines in time. Their engines were all hand-built from start to finish, and as well as building bespoke engines for the automotive industry, Gardner also built engines (plus gearboxes and pumps) for marine use. Therefore it would probably have been difficult to increase production simply by speeding up the various processes, or transferring production from marine to automotive. Such a shame though that we were cheated out of hearing the sounds of a ‘Gardner Routemaster’. I’m sure Mike and I would have found such a gentle beast just as delightful to the ear as the original AEC and Leyland-powered ones had been.

Brendan Smith


23/04/12 – 05:45

Chris. Three different engines were originally tried out and used to re-engine RMs. Cummins C (ie 8.3 Dennis Javelin), Scania DS 9 and IVECO 7.7. There was at least one DAF tried as well. The majority were Cummins, minority Scania, IVECO somewhere in the middle. IVECO is Italian (FIAT), but most of their PSV output is made in Spain. Later re-engines (like the "Heritage" RMs in Central London) have the Cummins B (5.9) as in the Dennis Dart and are know – less than affectionately – as Dartmasters.
The well preserved RML that I drive regularly has the IVECO engine – not a patch on the AEC or Leyland originals.

David Oldfield


23/04/12 – 05:46

I heard they (or some of them) were "Fix It Again Tomorrow’s."

Stephen Ford


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