London Red Buses : Routemaster,AEC,Bristol,Leyland (i)

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London Buses - Post WW2

This is one of many illustrated classic London Bus guides I've created for the community. I hope you enjoy it. If you wish to find out more about the classic London Red Bus and Routemaster art featured in this guide please click here.

This guide features classic post-war London Red Buses, such as the legendary Routemaster.

RT - AEC Regent

The original RT design was completed by 1937 at Chiswick works and the first complete bus entered public service on 9th August 1939. Between 1940 and 1942 a total of 150 production models entered service. After the war the RT was updated and a further 4674 RT plus 1631 RTL and 500 RTW derivatives entered stock between 1947 and 1954. A programme of RT withdrawals began in the 1950s, starting with the pre-war type followed by the non-standard Cravens-bodied RTs. From 1958 onwards the standard RT and RTL vehicles were sold, at first those with the oldest chassis. RT withdrawals became a slow process however, with spare parts shortages and the unreliability of new vehicles leading to a reprieve until as late as 1979.

RF Type - AEC Regal

The RF type was introduced to service with London Transport in 1951. An operating fleet of over 700 with MCW bodies on the AEC Regal chassis, with a number of body variations gave "stirling" service until withdrawal in March 1970. All RFs had front entrances, which enabled them to be converted to one-man operation with thirty-nine seats in 1964. Referred to as the Regal Mark IV by the manufacturers, the model was fitted with an AEC 6-cylinder under-floor engine and fluid flywheel. Construction was semi-integral, with the body mounted on a series of outriggers long the chassis length.

RLH Type - "Low height" Regent

Another member of the RT family was the RLH type, which was a group of seventy-six buses divided into two classes, 1RLH and 2RLH and constructed on the standard AEC Regent Mark III chassis with 9.6 litre engines. Dating from 1950 to 1952, the RLH was designed for routes with low bridges and featured the Weymann low-bridge body. Mainly used on country routes, some appeared in red livery although LT policy was not to operate this type of vehicle unless absolutely essential as the sunken gangway on the offside of the vehicle made collection of fares difficult from the bench seats holding four people.

RM Type - Routemaster

The advent of the Routemaster was probably the greatest step forward in bus design, not only in London Transport's history but for the bus world in general. The first prototype Routemaster went into service in London on 8th February 1955. This bus seated sixty-four passengers and was a joint development specifically for London conditions by London Transport, AEC and Park Royal Vehicles. By the 1980s these buses were still providing the backbone service in London. Severely criticised when first introduced, the Routemaster justified its high initial cost, remaining part of London's landscape for over forty years.

MB Type - AEC Merlin

The Red Arrow "standee" bus had a capacity for seventy-three passengers with only twenty-five seated and appeared on special London Transport routes in April 1966. Based on the AEC Merlin chassis the vehicles were 11 metres (36ft) long by 2.5 metres (8ft 2 ½ in) wide. The body was constructed by Metro-Cammel-Weymann and utilized an EAC horizontal diesel motor. As part of LT's envisaged conversion to one-man operation at a flat fare, the MBA's (Red Arrows) were joined by MBS's (Country and Central standees) and MB's (Centrally fully seated), taking the total fleet to 665 vehicles.

DMS Type - Daimler Fleetline

The DMS type started in London in 1971 as one-man operated double-decker, based originally on the Daimler fleetline. Subsequently, after Daimler commercial vehicles were incorporated into the Leyland organisation, the vehicles were based on the Leyland B20 chassis with Park Royal or Metro-Cammell-Weymann bodywork. Engines were Gardner 6LXB 10.45-litre or Leyland 0.680 11.1-litre. On the upper deck there was seating for forty-four with twenty-four seats below. Additionally there was provision for twenty-one standing passengers. The overall length was only 9.3 metres (30.5ft) but the width was now 2.5 metres (8ft 2 1/2in).

LS Type - Leyland National

In 1969 there was the new development of a bus jointly produced by British Leyland and the National Bus Company. Called the Leyland National, the first appeared late in 1970. there were two basic models, one 10.3 metres (33ft 11in) with a laden weight of just over 13tons, seating 36 and the other a longer version 11.3 metres (37ft 2in) long seating 52. A distinctive feature of the vehicle was the raised roof at the rear, which contained ventilating and heating equipment. The engine was turbo-charged and mounted horizontally under the floor at the rear. London Transport gave the Leyland National the type letter LS and the first one entered service in 1973.

BL Type - Bristol LH

By 1974 the RF fleet was reaching the end of its economic life. The authorities would not sanction the used of the 8ft 2in wide SM type vehicles on certain routes so if these routes were to continue it would be necessary to purchase some 7ft 6in wide vehicles. The Bristol LH was made in various lengths and the 30ft version with its planetary gearbox was chosen for the task. Ninety-five were ordered being fitted with the Eastern Coachwork body to their standard design incorporating 39 seats. By April 1977 all RF vehicles had been withdrawn, except for a group of 25, worked from Kingston Garage, replace by Bristol LH vehicle designated BL in the LT fleet.

T Type (B15)  - Leyland Titan

The first production Titans (T class) were delivered in August 1978, and following the customary period of staff familiarisation and training, they entered service the following December. Fitted with 66-seat (22 downstairs, 44 up) Park Royal bodies, the Titans were powered by Gardner 6LXB engines and featured a relatively low flat floor-line in the interests of passenger comfort. Unfortunately, production of the Titan was hardly underway when Leyland announced the closure of the Park Royal Vehicles. The first batch of 250Ts were completed but thereafter production was transferred to Leyland's Workington plant and deliveries were interrupted. Production of the Titan ceased in November 1984.

Thank you for reading my guide and I hope you found it interesting!

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