From my Archive I choose AEC

Makers of London’s RT and Routemaster buses they also supplied vehicles to other UK operators and across the world.

First I present a Reading Transport example of a Regent with the traditional tall AEC radiator…

Reading Corporation 304
Reading Corporation 304

And to follow, an example of an AEC Regent V with the later square radiator design in service with Devon General…

Devon General 510
Devon General 510

A lively bit of cornering 😉


One of the most enduring images of London embodied on postcards and exported around the world by tourists writing home is the London Bus.   It’s a big red double-decker and the postcard often shows it with Big Ben or a Policeman directing traffic.   The vehicle shown in these photos is almost always the traditional AEC Regent ‘RT’ type or the AEC Routemaster, rather than the current rear engined types that populate our city’s streets.   So I thought a quick tour around some of the London buses that were in service in my younger years might be of interest starting with that most Quintessential of London Buses: –

The RT

Designed by AEC (Associated Equipment Company) prior to the second world war – the bulk of the fleet of over 5000 vehicles was delivered from 1946 onwards.   4825 were of AEC manufacture with most being bodied by Park Royal or Weymann.  The rest were variants of the Leyland Titan.   It is the AEC version that most remember with its distinctive radiator – very much a symbol of London.

RT's at Goodmayes in 1976
RT's at Goodmayes in 1976 - the last ones were withdrawn in 1979

The Routemaster

I have a special affinity with the AEC Routemaster, the first prototype (built in 1954) entered revenue service in February 1956 – at the same time as me 😉   The Routemaster was a bit of an anachronism.  A rear-loading, front engined, crew operated vehicle conceived at a time when everywhere else operators were looking to the rear engined front entrance buses that would allow one-person-operation.   2760 Routemasters in differing guises were built for normal London operations.   The production vehicles entered service from 1959.   Routemasters are still in daily service on the central sections of the 9 and 15 bus routes but these vehicles have been extensively modified – whilst they are still Routemasters, the engine and transmission have been replaced by modern units and don’t sound anything like the original 😦   Some privately operated vehicles with original engines can be seen though on charter work.

RM543 in Richmond in readiness for the return run to Archway

The RF

Not usually found on the tourist postcard – the RF’s were the main single deck bus in the 1950’s / 60’s.     700 were built for London Transport’s Central and Country areas as well as Greenline coach services.   The first ones entered service in 1952 and the last vehicles were withdrawn in the late 1979.   Ironically one of the first routes to receive them was the 210 and I have vivid memories of them roaring up the hill from Golders Green station to Whitestone Pond in Hampstead – one of the joys of a favourite family trip to Hampstead Heath when I was a child!   The Darts and DAF’s that climb that same hill now seem to struggle by comparison.   The RF’s were a real pleasure to ride on and, when running on the express Greenline services, could really fly!

RF221 in Staines
RF221 passing through Staines on the South London Orbital 725 Route in 1976

Detailed histories of all the above vehicle types and other London Transport types can be found at Ian’s Bus Stop.

This post was prompted by a kind comment from Judith on my previous post – you can read her blog at Touch2Touch

Finally – Many examples of the vehicles described have made it into preservation and some are licensed to carry passengers too. Below, two RF’s and an RCL bask in the sun at Cobham during a special running day to celebrate 80 years of Greenline Services – Alasdair and I enjoyed a run back into central London on the RCL and very comfortable it was too. Reputedly the RCL’s, when introduced in 1965, could out-accelerate the average family saloon car 🙂


The Last Bus Home


Eyes staring down the lights

Of Passing northbound cars

Left the bar

Too late again

Now I wait with bated

Beer breath

For the last bus home


A Scottish coach

A passing truck

Lots more cars

And then a cab

Should I

flag it down

No, I’ll wait

For the last bus home


Then it appears

Haring up the road

Driver anxious

To get his load

of revellers and workers

– Late from the office

Or so they told the wife

to their destination safely

On the last bus home


A muted squeal

As the bus pulls up

AEC rumble

Diesel in the night

All aboard – hold on tight

Conductor rings the bell

Ding ding

On the last bus home


Staring out the window

Any more fares?

The conductor

has caught us unawares

Search for coins

And pay the man

Take the ticket in our hand

On the last bus home


Eyelids close now

Whether we’re ready

Or not

The symphony of diesel

And the steady rock

Of the ride over the asphalt

Makes us drop off

On the last bus home


A tap on the shoulder

“It’s your stop”

The conductor has remembered

Where I need to get off

Gratefully I thank him

And stagger down the stairs

To wait on the platform

Of the Last bus home


The bus pulls up

I step onto the pavement

My breath catches

On the cold night air

As I step into the arctic

Or so it seems

After the warmth of the saloon

Of the last bus home


I watch as the Routemaster

rumbles on its way

Towards the depot

Not so far away

A short walk now

And then we’ll both

be in bed

Me and the last bus home

The Last Bus Home
The Last Bus Home