Old Bus Photos

A. H. Kearsey – Leyland 7RT RTL – KGK 797- 62

A. H. Kearsey - Leyland 7RT RTL - KGK 797- 62

A. H. Kearsey
Leyland 7RT RTL
Park Royal H30/26R

The London Transport RTL class, known to LT as the 7RT, appeared from 1948, and consisted of a modified Titan PD2 chassis frame to accord with features of the AEC Regent RT, enabling the interchangeability of bodywork between the two types. Though fitted with the standard O600 engine, the gearbox was the AEC preselective epicyclic of the RT class, a transmission option that was not a standard offering by Leyland to operators elsewhere. A total of 1631 RTL buses was made, though, as with the 4826 of the RT class, that number never ran together in service. The majority of RTLs had Park Royal bodies, though 32 were originally fitted with Weymann and 500 with Metro Cammell bodywork. To these were added 500 of the mechanically similar eight feet wide RTW class, all of which had Metro Cammell bodies. Under the LT Aldenham overhaul system, bodywork became swapped about between chassis on passing through the works, and tracing individual bodies to chassis during their London Transport lifetimes is complicated. With characteristic profligacy, LT went ahead with developing its new wonder, the Routemaster, from 1954, despite the fact that large numbers of brand new RT and RTL buses were then languishing in store without ever having turned a wheel in revenue earning service. Four years later these stored buses eventually took to the road in 1958, the year before the first production Routemasters began appearing in volume, and they then began displacing the perfectly sound earlier RTLs of 1948/49 after a service lifetime of a mere nine to eleven years, during which full chassis/body overhauls had been undertaken. These withdrawn RTLs, in fine mechanical and body condition, soon found favour with operators at home and abroad (many went to Ceylon) where they rendered years of reliable service. The former RTL 133, KGK 797, delivered to London Transport in February 1949, was sold in January 1959, despite having received a full Aldenham overhaul in 1956, when its original body was replaced with another, also by Park Royal. It was then bought by A. H. Kearsey of Cheltenham, together with RTLs 138/149, KGK 802/813, and all remained with that operator when it was taken over by Marchant’s Coaches in January 1968. In the August 1970 picture above KGK 797, fleet number 62, in Kearsey’s sombre grey and blue livery, is seen (if I recollect correctly, though hesitantly after half a century) in Bishop’s Cleeve. Marchant’s continued to serve this area right up to October 2019 when all its bus routes were withdrawn following issues with Gloucestershire County Council over funding. More Kearsey pictures may be found here:- www.flickr.com/photos/tags/kearsey/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

08/03/20 – 12:29

A minor correction to the details given here by Roger. The 500 Leyland 6RT, RTW class, had Leyland bodies and not Metro Cammell ones.

John Kaye

09/03/20 – 06:32

You’re right John. My error.

Roger Cox

09/03/20 – 06:33

Did some also have Cravens bodies?

Roger Ward

10/03/20 – 06:03

I think that there were some Saunders Roe bodied RT’s as well?

Andrew Charles

10/03/20 – 06:06

The Cravens bodies, as with the Saunders bodies, were on the RT class, A.E.C. Regent III.
RT1402-1521 had Cravens bodies, whilst RT1152-1401 and RT4218-4267 had Saunders bodies.

John Kaye

11/03/20 – 06:25

The bus has generous destination panels, yet, Kearsey left the bus completely ignore every one of them!
Marchant’s Coaches, Cheltenham, are still in fine fettle, with some 7 local school bus services, private hire and mystery tours, and regular day-out tours to places like Legoland. Nice to mention a well-established family concern not in trouble or to announce its demise.

Chris Hebbron

12/03/20 – 06:07

……though they recently pulled out of local service operation, citing too much bureaucracy amongst other issues. Until, I think, the 1980s, they had an amazing network of stage routes around the Cotswolds, worked from a base at Aldsworth, the timings of which they seemed to regard as a state secrets – the recently dropped work around Cheltenham had come from other sources, notably replacing the estimable Castleways when that concern closed.

Phil Drake

15/03/20 – 06:47

Those painted-over destination boxes bothered me as well. I grew up in a place and an era when the buses I saw displayed half a dozen via points on the front, back and nearside, and showed the destination front and back, and even now TfL buses have some route information on the front. So I’m baffled – how did Kearsey’s passengers know where the RTL was going? Was it only ever on one route, which was known to everybody who was likely to use it, or did the conductor shout from the platform “We’re only going to the Town Hall today, love, but we can drop you off at the shops if you like? No sir, we don’t go to the station, not on a Wednesday!”?

Don Davis

Like it, Don; good point well made. Mind you, there were good displays, but confusing ones, too. Portsmouth Corporation, in its middle years, had double-lettered routes. ‘A’ one way and ‘B’ coming back. there was never mention anywhere of this and folk would wait for an ‘A’ return journey and ignore the ‘B,s going by! And this at a seaside resort with lots of holidaymakers. I grew up with suffix letters on route numbers in London, although they never went very high,, but Portsmouth had one route, 143, which went from ‘A’ to ‘F’. ‘A’ was the whole route, then the higher the suffix the shorter the route. Much higher than ‘F’ and the route travelled would have been about a hundred yards!
Incidentally, Cheltenham, which historically only had numbered routes, now has some with letters. I’m surprised that Gloucestershire County Council, which controls bus route numbers, hasn’t forced a change.

Chris Hebbron

16/03/20 – 06:50


The mention by Phil Drake of Castleways of Winchcombe reminded me of this photo taken in November 1973 of their Leopard PSU3B/4 Plaxton Panorama C49F, apparently named Countess, new in November 1972 looking absolutely stunning in their dark blue and silver grey livery. Taken in Cheltenhams somewhat bleak bus station amongst the autumn leaves.

David Lennard

17/03/20 – 07:07


My delight with Castleways was seeing their Temsa Safari coach, which looked absolutely gorgeous in the black with gold band livery. (Photo by R Sharman).
On one occasion, I took their coach on their route to Stratford-upon-Avon. Cheltenham Bus Station, although the late 1940s reinforced concrete shelters have now been replaced by light metal glazed ones, is as bleak, draughty and lacking any comforts as it ever was. Not even a toilet. Perhaps the bus is too uncomfortably reminding them of the Great Unwashed!

Chris Hebbron

18/03/20 – 07:02

They used single deckers on their routes, and the double deckers on schools/factories and as duplicates on stage services.
They were well kept up until Marchants took over. They lost the ladies college work and other work to Castleways and started to go down hill. Marchants was always to be avoided if possible. Its only in the past 20/30 years that Marchants have improved.

A number of years ago Cheltenham and Gloucester used the same numbers, so country routes were adjusted to 3 numbers, and some renumbered, Cheltenham went to letters, Red and White forest routes renumbered.


19/03/20 – 06:39

Thx, Mike for that info.

Chris Hebbron

19/03/20 – 06:41

Chris Hebbron mentions Portsmouth’s confusing route numbers. Another seaside resort determined to baffle holidaymakers was Southport. Most routes were cross-town, and the route number went with the destination, so if you went from the town centre to Woodvale on an 11, you would return on a 10 bound for Preston New Road. Then when there was a timetable change, the routes would swap partners, and the 11 to Woodvale might return as a 2 to Marshfield!

Peter Williamson

19/03/20 – 06:52

Middlesbrough Corporation Transport used all the letters A – Z. That all changed when TRTB, MCT and Stockton were merged into TMT. Then they moved to numbers, as TRTB and Stockton used numbers. The "O" Bus or "0" ZERO was a joint Stockton/Middlesbrough Bus. 46 and 47 routes later. United then had to add a "2" so the 63 became the 263 to avoid confusion. Then it became Cleveland Transit, a disaster. Then Thatcher scrapped the buses!

Mr Anon

20/03/20 – 06:22

Castleways livery may have looked Black but was Trafalgar Blue.

Tim Presley

21/03/20 – 06:45

As my wife will testify, with a tut and a sigh, Tim, ("Do you think this colour suits me?") I’m colour blind!

Chris Hebbron

21/03/20 – 06:47

Morecambe managed without route numbers until the sixties as did Ledgard until the very end of the company.

Chris Hough

21/03/20 – 06:50

Checked to see if my comment came and then thought no that’s not right it’s Wellington Blue.

Tim Presley


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ex Guernseybus – Leyland RTL – KYY 647

Preserved - ex Guernseybus - Leyland RTL - KYY 647

 Preserved - ex Guernseybus - Leyland RTL - KYY 647-2
Copyright both shots Bob Gell

ex Guernseybus
Leyland RTL
Park Royal H29/23F

A couple of weeks back we had a question on the ‘Q&As’ page regarding front entrance ex London Transport Leyland RTLs. In response Bob Gell contributed the above shots which were taken at the North Weald Rally, 6 July 2008 and the following information of an ex Guernseybus converted RTL.
As can be seen it is now preserved and back to carrying its original London Transport fleet number of RTL 1004 but not quite the original livery. Bob is lead to believe that KYY 647 was converted by Guernseybus in their own workshops, for use as back up on inclement days to their open top RTs one of which was was RT 2494 registration KXW 123 with a Weymann body; it carried Guernsey registration number 54636.Preserved - ex Guernseybus - Leyland RTL - KYY 647 Guernseybus may have moved the entrance to the front, which I will come back to later, but as can be seen from the insert shot the staircase was only moved towards the centre of the bus and the stairs went rearwards.
The subject of the original query, JXN 366, the former RTL 43, new to London Transport in 1949 joined the A1 Services fleet in February 1958, owned by T & E Docherty of Irvine. A photo of that vehicle can be seen here. It is thought to have been converted ‘in house’ in this case, the staircase was moved to the front as per normal front entrance vehicles. In 1971, it passed to Duff, a fellow member of A1 Services, who operated it until December 1973. It is now in preservation.
Two questions arise out of this posting there is always at least one, firstly, KYY 647 carried two registrations 47312 and 995 during its time on Guernsey does anyone know why. Secondly whilst researching into these conversions other sites and documentation described the conversion of them to forward entrance not front entrance, Bob thinks that could spark a whole debate on its own, I think he could be right.

Photographs and Information contributed by Bob Gell

By common consent, Front entrance means just that – at the front, by the driver. Forward entrance means as far forward as possible – ie just behind the front axle (and engine) of a standard half-cab (or full-fronted) vehicle.

David Oldfield

I am guilty of using ‘front’ entrance for such vehicles but reading supports the use of ‘forward’ entrance. It seems that front entrance should be used for more modern vehicles, such as the Atlantean, Fleetline, etc. I think some confusion arises where fleet lists show anything not centre or rear entrance as a code ‘F’.

Scott Anderson

Not one, but two forward-entrance RTL’s from different sources. These were complete news to me. Thanks for the interesting post.

Chris Hebbron

The first picture gives the impression that the main object of the modification may have been one man operation – i.e. angled window on left hand side of cab, as was done to various half-cab single deckers by sundry operators.

Stephen Ford

I had quite a few enquirers regarding what the conversion of the rear entrance looked like, well, Bob obliged with the following shot.


KYY 647_rear_lr

Wow – art deco rounded glass at the rear – very expensive, I’d have thought. Better to see an off-centre rear view than full rear one, because the large rear pane of glass downstairs would be off-centre and the overall look quite asymmetric. Also the offside window ahead of the rounded one seems higher than its counterpart this side and the other side windows. In general, though, a neat job.

Chris Hebbron

Hi Chris I think the higher window you refer to is the new Emergency Door see the little shot inserted in the text.


Ah Yes, Spencer, I missed the little photo: the door isn’t so clear on the upper photos. Thanks for clarifying.

Chris Hebbron

06/07/11 – 07:21

The team of inhouse coachbuilders at the then operating Guernseybus were tasked with relocating the rear entrance forward in order to allow the company to continue to operate its entire fleet with just a driver onboard – which was standard practice on the island.
As for the registration number changes, between 47312 and 995, it’s mainly to do with a relatively lucrative market for cherished number plates in Guernsey, which has numeric only registrations. The number 995 may well have been sold (or indeed bought as an investment) by Guernseybus during the double deckers tenure in the island. 47312 would, as a registration number have very little value.

Neil (Guernsey)

31/03/13 – 07:52

You have a photo of my guernsey bus I restored this bus in 1984 the reg on it was JPA 81V as this was the year it came over from the island it was sold for £65 and then it cost £110 pounds on the fery. I got Swansea to give me a reg for it’s year 1958 it was then LSV 748. Hope you find this of use.

John Sergeant

14/09/14 – 07:21

RTL 1004 was the Lambeth Safety Bus in the 1970.
The Abbots Langley Transport Circle bought it from a scape yard in Essex near Ongar. We had the bus for a number of years. We had to sell the bus on when we lost our parking space, and was unable to find another close to our base in Abbots Langley Herts’.

Stephen Norman

23/01/17 – 07:30

I use to own this bus wondered where it ended up and what is it doing now.

Alan Ullmer


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 2nd December 2023