60 years of the Routemaster

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Busaholic

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The prototype Routemaster RM1 went into passenger service sixty years ago in February 1956. I was reminded of this by an article in today's 'Daily Telegraph' in their Cars(!) supplement. The article was reasonably well researched but let itself down by printing a photo of an RT, the RM's predecessor, in place of the prototype Routemaster of the caption!
 
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CatfordCat

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The prototype Routemaster RM1 went into passenger service sixty years ago in February 1956. I was reminded of this by an article in today's 'Daily Telegraph' in their Cars(!) supplement. The article was reasonably well researched but let itself down by printing a photo of an RT, the RM's predecessor, in place of the prototype Routemaster of the caption!

I suppose that makes a change from what's becoming usual, and describing any half-cab bus as a 'Routemaster'...
 

AM9

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I suppose that makes a change from what's becoming usual, and describing any half-cab bus as a 'Routemaster'...

When I was a child my grandfather drove trolleybuses, then RTs. Throughout that time he would pass the LT Magazine to me every month. Very interesting both for bus news (including the development and introduction of the RM), and tube news which I remember had the first unpainted tube stock.
 
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Diplodicus

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I used to travel to school by trolleybuses (628 & 630). The 630 was the first route to go, becoming the 220. I hated the "new" routemasters.

They were smaller, noisier, with significantly less leg room for a gangly teenager. They also had much smaller opening windows and were stuffier in summer.

At one stage I thought my bias was simply nostalgia but I sneaked upstairs on a trolleybuses at the LT museum! They really were more roomy.
 

Busaholic

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I used to travel to school by trolleybuses (628 & 630). The 630 was the first route to go, becoming the 220. I hated the "new" routemasters.

They were smaller, noisier, with significantly less leg room for a gangly teenager. They also had much smaller opening windows and were stuffier in summer.

At one stage I thought my bias was simply nostalgia but I sneaked upstairs on a trolleybuses at the LT museum! They really were more roomy.

I didn't get too many rides on trolleybuses, partly because the first withdrawals were in my part of London, but I do remember catching a peak hour 669 from North Woolwich and thinking the upstairs ceiling was painted brown, such being the effect of all that tobacco smoke!
 

AM9

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The local trolleybuses were the 691s which were 8ft wide with tinted windows. They were a frustrated export to South Africa.
When they went in 1959, they were replaced by RTs which we already had locally on routes 62, 150, 167 and 247a.
The first RMs that I travelled on were in Barking/West Ham, mainly running out of Upton Park (U). They were the first LT buses with auto gearboxes, (the RTs had Preselectors) and the drivers would just floor the accelerator causing violent jerks at the 1-2 & 2-3 changes. They also had less legroom between seats. Even the coveted rear seats on the upper deck had no extra room like the RTs.
 

Busaholic

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The local trolleybuses were the 691s which were 8ft wide with tinted windows. They were a frustrated export to South Africa.
When they went in 1959, they were replaced by RTs which we already had locally on routes 62, 150, 167 and 247a.
The first RMs that I travelled on were in Barking/West Ham, mainly running out of Upton Park (U). They were the first LT buses with auto gearboxes, (the RTs had Preselectors) and the drivers would just floor the accelerator causing violent jerks at the 1-2 & 2-3 changes. They also had less legroom between seats. Even the coveted rear seats on the upper deck had no extra room like the RTs.

I would have thought the first RMs you travelled on in those areas would have been out of WH (West Ham) and Poplar, introduced on the 11th November 1959, including to the new trunk 5 route from Barking to Bloomsbury. Upton Park only got RMs (for the 15) in 1964. I regret never getting to see those SA trolleys.
 

AM9

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I would have thought the first RMs you travelled on in those areas would have been out of WH (West Ham) and Poplar, introduced on the 11th November 1959, including to the new trunk 5 route from Barking to Bloomsbury. Upton Park only got RMs (for the 15) in 1964.

Yes you are probably right, I seem to remember the 5s and something that ran from somewhere like Custom House to Walthamstow via Markhouse Road.
I regret never getting to see those SA trolleys.

As a young boy in shorts, I didn't like the SAs as they had leather seats that were cold. They also didn't have batteries like most of the native London trolleys do when they were dewired, it was a complete roadblock unless it died near enough to the wires for the bamboo pole to be used.
My grandfather did allow me to ride in the cab with him once, (he was the sort of person who would have persuaded the inspector to let him do that).
 

Busaholic

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Yes you are probably right, I seem to remember the 5s and something that ran from somewhere like Custom House to Walthamstow via Markhouse Road.
That would have been the 58 Canning Town to Walthamstow Crooked Billet (close by the greyhound track) still extant today with slight alterations. This was a route that for decades offered a better frequency on a Saturday than M-F peaks, very unusual in London.

P.S. Eureka moment - you probably are referring to the 278 Victoria and Albert Docks to Chingford Mount via Markhouse Road and the Billet. one of three trolleybus routes between those termini that were (surprisingly) all directly replaced by bus routes.
 
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AndrewE

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As people have mentioned trolleybuses, given that we in the UK seem to be incapable of planning and installing a tramway nowadays, and as pollution from urban traffic is recognised as a significant cause of premature deaths, should we expect to see (even be lobbying for) the return of trolleybuses?
 

Busaholic

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As people have mentioned trolleybuses, given that we in the UK seem to be incapable of planning and installing a tramway nowadays, and as pollution from urban traffic is recognised as a significant cause of premature deaths, should we expect to see (even be lobbying for) the return of trolleybuses?

In theory, Leeds should have a 'system' (well, a route) but probably not within my lifetime!
 

ian1944

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Memory says that on a two-week induction course in London in September 1961 I travelled by trolleybus betwen the fleapit boarding house on Camden Rd and somewhere near Victoria. Were they still on that route? Memory isn't up to recalling the price of egg and chips at a caff at the inward end, but it was very little, even in terms of the miniscule daily allowance paid.
 

the101

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As people have mentioned trolleybuses, given that we in the UK seem to be incapable of planning and installing a tramway nowadays, and as pollution from urban traffic is recognised as a significant cause of premature deaths, should we expect to see (even be lobbying for) the return of trolleybuses?

Not really, because the development of electric buses will sooner or later mean that they can do everything a trolleybus can without needing overhead wires. Leon Daniels was asked about trolleybuses at one of his addresses and it is a complete non-starter in London, not least because of the fact that TfL know that proposals to string wires for them will never get past the 'everyone must object to everything' stage.
 

Busaholic

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Memory says that on a two-week induction course in London in September 1961 I travelled by trolleybus betwen the fleapit boarding house on Camden Rd and somewhere near Victoria. Were they still on that route? Memory isn't up to recalling the price of egg and chips at a caff at the inward end, but it was very little, even in terms of the miniscule daily allowance paid.

Well, not quite. Trolleybuses never penetrated the West End, anymore than trams did. Camden Road to Victoria would have been on a 29 bus: if you went by trolley it would have been the 629 or 653, but it would only have got you to Maple Street/Howland Street halfway between Warren Street and Goodge Street tubes on Tottenham Court Road. The 58 tram did make Victoria, from the south, but no trolleys ever went anywhere near there, unfortunately.
 
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