The LONDON TRANSPORT loaned Bristols

This page created 15th July 2020, by Ian Smith

Post-war Bristol/ECW loans.

The post-war boom in passenger traffic outstripped the availability of buses in the London Area, despite the continued delivery of semi-utility types. Some buses were literally starting to fall apart, both pre-war types and some of the more rotten of the utilities. London Transport hired buses and coaches from all and sundry to try to make ends meet until the RT family could take the strain. That family were delayed by the desire to make the most of technology for precision manufacturing developed during the war. The RT class were built on jigs - but developing this took time. One source LT found was the newly-nationalised Tilling companies, which like LT formed part of the British Transport Commission.

London Transport managed to have diverted some 190 of their new Bristols with new ECW bodies, direct from Lowestoft. They came in Tilling red and Tilling green, highbridge and lowbridge. Adorned with LT roundels on their radiators, London Transport across the top of their wide Route indicators, and small boards proclaiming London Transport in the windows above the last seats in the lower deck, with no fleetnames but mostly with fleet numbers, they made a very welcome contribution to both Central and Country Areas during 1949, before passing on to their proper owners. I say welcome, but the Metropolitan Police had never favoured lowbridge buses - indeed, did not allow them in Central London before the war. Their upper seating arrangements, with long bench seats, made them slow to unload and load, slowing their journeys. The puny engines, 85bhp for the Gardner engined K5Gs, although 98bhp for the AEC-engined K6As, meant that they had to be driven hard - and noisily - to try to keep up with the other buses on their routes, especially when the RT family arrived. So only a few were allocated to each garage: seven at most apart from West Green which got a double dollop.

high ECW low ECW

BH&D ECW Nor were the buses at each garage from the same intended operators, although garages tended to get either red ones or green ones, lowbridge or highbridge. All the Country Area buses were green and low, as they were there helping out the hard-pressed LT indigenous fleet of lowbridge STs and STLs. Merton too received lowbridge buses for the 127, and Harrow Weald for the 230.

Owners of low green buses included Eastern National (13 K5G), Western National (4 K6A, 18 K5G), Southern National (8 K5G), Hants & Dorset (39 K6A), United Counties (8 K5G), Crosville (35 K6A), and Southern Vectis (2 K5G). Not all were low - or green. Brighton, Hove & District provided seven good-looking tall K5Gs in non-standard red and cream livery. The 38 tall Eastern Counties K5Gs were also red, but in Tilling standard livery, as were the low-height red pair from Caledonian, the three from Westcliff-on-Sea and the thirty K65Gs from United Automobile.

HPW133 at Duxford, September 2012 HPW133 at Duxford, September 2012

HPW133 was one of the red highbridge K5Gs loaned by Eastern Counties. Newly restored, it reappeared in Eastern Counties Tilling livery at Showbus 2012, Duxford.
The loans started in December 1948, arriving as they were built. After reception at Chiswick for checking and fitting with blinds and garage plate holders, they were sent out to their delighted garages. The history pages indicate which garages and routes received each bus. The loans came to an end from November 1949, the last departing in May 1950.

The Grays takeover

Another event which brought Bristols to LT, albeit briefly, was the takeover by LT of the Eastern National network around Grays, a town where obvious cross-town routes had previously been divided by the London Transport Act. The takeover in September 1951 of the Argent Street garage (coded GA by LT) brought a number of single-decker Bristol JO5Gs and L5Gs, which were given LT fleetnames but not renumbered. There were Dennis Lancets, a brace of Bedford OBs and ten double-decker Guys as well. They replaced some Bristol K double-deckers which had worked the Grays routes for Eastern National before the takeover, which were not kept. The loaned buses returned to Eastern National between November 1951 and January 1952, as LT drafted in surplus STLs.

Bus Stop loaned Bristols text. bus histories photo refs LT Bristols