The LONDON TRANSPORT Leyland Cubs

This page created 23rd May 1998, updated 27th December 2006, using Notepad, by Ian Smith.


Contents

C94 in Acton Museum, March 2002
  1. Introduction
  2. C76: the St Albans Cub
  3. C1: the Chiswick Cub
  4. C2-C75: the Country Cubs
  5. C76: the St Albans Cub
  6. C77-C98: the Central Area Cubs
  7. C106-C113: the Interstation Cubs
  8. History of individual Cubs
  9. Photographic Source Index
  10. Bibliography

Many thanks to Peter Osborn for information about the Central Area Cubs during the war and afterwards.

Introduction

When London Transport was formed in 1933 it inherited a wide variety of small buses. By "small" I mean 20 seats or fewer. There were the General's 42 Chiswick-bodied Darts (DA); some Morris Viceroys (MS); some small Bedfords (BD); some small Gilfords; a few Beans (of different sizes) (BN); Commer Invaders; Thorneycroft Nippys (NY); some small Guys; two Dennis Aces and a Dennis Mace (DC); and a single Leyland Cub (C), plus a host of tiny buses including Dennis GLs (DS), (DM); Morris Commercials and Chevrolets. Some were more satisfactory than others, and London Transport gave consideration to buying more Cubs, more Thorneycrofts and more Dennis Darts. The problem was quite urgent: LT downseated some ex-Green Line Gilfords to 20-seater buses as an interim measure, and purchased another Cub chassis, to be fitted with a Chiswick body and trialled: C1. This, together with the Cub from St Albans and District (C76), seems to have made a really good impression, as the other types under consideration gave way to the Cub, another 74 being ordered for the Country Area in 1935 (C2-C75), and 22 for the Central Area in 1936.
A new venture for London was the provision of a specialised bus service to connect the London railway termini at night, which required buses with a large luggage capacity. For this LT bought a small fleet of semi-decker Cubs, with a luggage locker below a raised rear seating area, - the 8 Interstation Cubs.

The St Albans and District Cub: C76, JH2401, 1/1C1/1, (Total 1)

Cub 76 drawing Introduced: 1932 (Stn Albans and District)

Chassis: Leyland Cub, 15ft 6in wheel-base;
new: 4.4l petrol engine,
1/39: Perkins Leopard diesel engine from C1
Body: B20F, unknown builder, 24ft 0in long.

It may seem strange that this first of LT's Cubs should be C76, but on acquisition along with St Albans and District (in November 1933) it was allocated to Country services, which did not adopt the Chiswick numbering scheme immediately. It received its number in 1935, after the purchase of the Country Area's main batch of Cubs. Outsider it may have been, but for once the planners in LT seem not to have followed the LGOC ideas and recognized a good bus when they operated it!

C76 did not stay at St Albans. After a repaint into green and black it went for service to Northfleet. It moved on to Langley Road in Slough, to be used on the Slough - Windsor services, finally being withdrawn from Windsor (WR) in October 1938.

It was always something of an oddity, with its non-standard body and petrol engine. After withdrawal it yielded its petrol engine to C1, receiving the Perkins Leopard in exchange, before sale in January 1939.

The Chiswick Cub: C1, AYV 717, 1C1, (Total 1)

C1 drawing Introduced: June 1934.

Chassis: Leyland Cub, 15ft 6in wheel-base,
new: 4.4litre petrol engine,
6/35: Perkins Leopard diesel engine,
1/39: 4.4litre petrol engine from C76.

Body: B20F, Chiswick, 24ft 0in long.
C1 was the only Chiswick- bodied Cub. The new body had a sliding door on the nearside, and an emergency door at the rear of the offside.
C1 went into Central Area service at Hounslow (AV), where it operated on the 237 alongside miniature Dennis Darts. (This route later saw much larger buses, eg AEC Renowns and Leyland Olympians!) C1 also operated in its early months from Merton (AL), and Barking (BK)
The engine was exchanged for a diesel in June 35, and the little bus proudly bore a Perkins diesel emblem on the radiator in addition to its Cub badge. It moved to Merton, to be with other diesel-engined buses, and worked on the 225 (Raynes Park Stn - Lower Morden). Two months later it moved to Barking for use on the 252/A/B group of routes.
In November 1935 it was exchanged for Country Area C51, and went to operate from Slough, Langley Road (SL).
In January 1939 it returned to petrol propulsion, swapping engines with C76.
As a non-standard prototype, its life with LT was relatively short. In November 1940 it was withdrawn and stored, like many petrol-engined buses during the war. It was sold in 1946, and passed through the hands of a number of small businesses in the London area. Its LT service days were not over, however, as the desperate post-war vehicle shortages saw it being hired back by LT.

The Country Cubs: C2-C75, 2C2, (Total 74)

Country Cub drawing Introduced: 17th April 1935.

Chassis: Leyland Cub KPO3, 15ft 6in wheel-base,
4.4l diesel engine,

Body: B20F, Short Bros, 24ft 0in long.
The main production run of Cubs was very similar to the Chiswick prototype. There were differences, the chief of which was the diesel engine, an unusual feature in small buses at this time (see the article in Classic Bus Yearbook 4), but in accordance with London Transport policy. No doubt the order for 74 buses by LT was a large enough incentive for Leyland to ensure that a diesel version worked! One significant feature of the engine chosen was its ability to cold-start under almost any conditions. It came with a deeper radiator too. Oddly, these sported the Cub insignia, whereas London Transport usually removed or covered all trace of manufacturers' radiator marks.
The bodies had small differences from C1, the largest being the placing of the emergency door behind the driver instead of at the rear offside, plus changes in the interior trimming that became the norm for LT. As Chiswick was fully occupied with other building programmes (with a maximum annual build laid down by law) the bodies were built by Short Brothers at Rochester. This was LTs only contract with them, but LT was familiar with their bus work in some of the STs inherited from some of the Country Area's previous companies. They were better-known for their manufacture of aircraft, in particular flying boats, and the increased preparations as the thirties progressed meant that they were unable to tackle the repeat order.

The first 7 (C2-C8), went to Northfleet (NF) for the North Kent rural services, in mid-April 1935, followed by an allocation to Dunton Green (DG) for the Sevenoaks, Knockholt and Orpington routes. Hertford (HG) and St Albans (SA) were next in line, for the northern collection of small-bus routes. Chelsham (CM), Guildford (GF) and Leatherhead (LH) had a large number for the Surrey Hills and North Downs services, and Addlestone (WY) and Windsor (WR) for the interface with Aldershot and District. Watford (WA) and Amersham (MA) were other northern users, and Dorking (DS) had some for use in the Weald. All were in use by September 1935.
They settled down to unremarkable service on the periphery of the London area, maintaining links to villages that really were deep in the countryside in those days.

C4, Lakeside C4, Lakeside

C4 has been restored by Ensignbus, and made its first appearance since at the Ensignbus Running Day at Lakeside in December 2012.
C51 was swapped for C1 whilst still new, in November 1935, and entered Central area service. It was fitted with a new engine, a Leyland light six diesel of 4.7l, and as such was the trials bus for the Central Area Cubs to follow. It was repainted red and white, with black lining and a grey or silver roof. C51 was coded 1/2C2. It went on service to Barking (BK), and remained in Central Area service until it was withdrawn in 1944.

Livery when new was two shades of green with black lining and mudguards, but the light green presently gave way to white. The area of white around the windows varied from bus to bus. During the war years the mudgard tips and rear were marked in white to help during the blackout. Many Country routes were double-decked to cope with wartime demand, using Central Area buses, and some of the Country Cubs were loaned to the Central Area in return. Three went on loan as part of the "We're all in this together" campaign: C16, C52 and C69.

After the war 21 of them were sold for use in Belgium by the Allied Economic Commission. The others were joined on Country duties by the remainder of the Central Cubs (see below), so that 66 were still in Country service in 1950. They continued in use during the early 50's, and LT considered rebodying them. They eventually had direct replacements in the shape of the 84 members of the GS class. That the GS was so similar in form was a compliment to the way that the Cubs had carried out their duties for some eighteen years. Many were then sold for non-PSV use in the Home Counties, whilst a large number went to Ceylon.

C4 became a fruit-farm vehicle, before rescue for preservation. Eventually Ensignbus bought it for their Museum, and after a five year restoration have returned it to excellent running order.

C4, Lakeside C4, Lakeside

Individual bus histories.

The Central Cubs: C77-C98, CLE 105-126, 1/2C2/1 (Total 22)

Central Cub drawing Introduced: April 1936.

Chassis: Leyland Cub KPO3, 15ft 6in wheel-base,
4.7l diesel engine,

Body: B20F, Weymann, 24ft 0in long.

The Cubs for the Central Area had the larger, 4.7 litre engine, and were bodied by Weymann to a design virtually indistinguishable from the Short Bros bodies on the Country Cubs. They did however have route stencil holders above the doorway and on the offside, in line with Central practice. (In the Country Area buses changed frequently between routes on a day's duties, so route stencils were NOT used). Another obvious change was the lack of a front bumper bar. These had come into vogue during 1934-35, appearing on the early Cubs and on the 9T9s and LTCs, but just as suddenly had gone back out of fashion.

C94 at Lingfield Show, August 2000 C94 at Lingfield Show, August 2000

The Central Cubs were to replace the small buses already operating around the Central Area, apart from the Darts. (The Darts still had duties to perform during the week, and more on Saturdays, so they were retained for the time being). All the Cubs went into service in April and May 1936, at Mortlake (M), Hanwell (HW), Enfield (E), Barking (BK) and Harrow Weald (HD). In the north-east and north-west areas the Cubs and Darts were on rural routes similar to those in the Country Area, whilst there were still a few developmental routes in other parts where small buses could be used to build the business.
But the pace of development was such that small buses were being squeezed out by lack of capacity (a problem faced afresh during the 1980's minibus "revolution"). Twenty seaters, even one-man operated, could not compete with 56 seaters where business was buoyant. Things came to a head during the war, when bus capacity had to increase dramatically to cope. The Dennis Dart Central Area routes (* below) had themselves been upsized to Cub operation at the start of the war, leaving the following routes with Cubs (except the 207, which was withdrawn):

  • 205, Chingford Royal Forest Hotel to Potters Bar Garage*
  • 205A,Waltham Cross to Hammond St Rising Sun
  • 206, Esher Windsor Arms to Claygate The Causeway*
  • 207, Barnes Railway Hotel to Richmond Park Golf Course
  • 216, Kingston Bus Stn to Staines Bridge St*
  • 221, Pinner Red Lion to North Harrow Stn
  • 223, West Drayton Stn to Ruislip Stn*
  • 224, Stanwell to Staines Bridge St (daily), to Uxbridge New Inn (MS)*
  • 237, Hounslow Garage to Chertsey Stn*
  • 252, Romford Birch Rd to Noak Hill Pentowan
  • 252A,Romford Birch Rd to Elm Park Ave The Broadway

But during the war most were inexorably converted to crew operation with bigger buses. The 252A became an extension of double-deck route 123 (December 1939). Others converted to Ts or LTLs: the 205A in 1940, part of the 216 in 1941, and the rest in 1942, and the 221, 223, 224 and 237 also in 1942. The 224 reverted to OMO operation later in 1942, but with crew operation on the busy short-workings. Many Central Area Cubs were delicensed, or transferred to the Country Area.

Two new Central Area Cub routes were introduced during the war: the 238 (Emerson Park to Noak Hill) in 1940 and the 225 (Northwood Hills to Eastcote) in 1944. The latter was short-lived as an one man operation, as heavy traffic soon caused its conversion to larger crewed buses.

ex Central Cub drawing By 1945 there were still three Cub routes: the 206, which now ran from Imber Court to Claygate (Kingston), and the 238 and 252 from Hornchurch. The 206 acquired 14T12s in September 1946, when it was extended to operate to Hampton Court from Claygate. The Hornchurch five persisted on the 238 and 252 until 19th July 1949, when they too were replaced by crew-operated Ts.

At the end of the war nine had been sold for service with the Allied Economic Mission for use in Belgium, whilst others were sold for other uses. Some remained in use in the Country Area until 1953-4.

C94 was rescued from a farm, still wearing its 480 blinds, and is in preservation. Its future was further secured when it was acquired by the London Transport Museum.

Individual bus histories.

preserved Cubs

Cubs preserved: C94 seen in company with C111. Photo, used with permission, by Mike Dawes. Click for larger picture.

The Interstation Cubs: C106-C113, CLX 543-550, 3C3 (Total 8)

Interstation Cub drawing Introduced: April / October 1936.

Chassis: Leyland Cub SKPZ2, 15ft 6in wheel-base,
4.7l petrol engine,

Body:Park Royal, 24ft 0in long.

The remaining eight Cub buses were some of London's oddest. They were required for the takeover of the night-time service between the major London Railway termini, that was operated until October 1936 by P.Hearn. The traffic was not large, but select, with significant luggage - rather like early airline traffic. The solution was like that adopted by LT for BEA after the war: a semi-decker coach, with a large luggage hold at the rear, with seating above. I am told that they seated twenty, but having built a model can only account for nineteen: eight downstairs and eleven above.
Preserved C111 Park Royal built the bodies, which were turned out in an eye-catching primrose and powder blue livery, with InterstatioN fleetnames and black roofs. It was a shame that they operated mainly under cover of darkness! Petrol engines were specified, a strange reversal of policy. Perhaps the quietness of the petrol engines was deemed suitable for their nocturnal traverses of the sleeping city?

The first, C106, was delivered in April 1936, and was thoroughly road-tested between Chiswick and Park Royal until September, when it was licensed. The others, delivered to Old Kent Road (P) in May, were licensed for operations in October.

C111, now preserved, spent much of its working life in the dim interiors of main line stations.
Photo by Ian Smith.
Click on image for larger version.

The war disrupted this service, and the coaches were used by ENSA during the rest of the war. Their large luggage lockers were ideal for theatrical movements. The service was resumed towards the end of the war using ST164, ST454 and ST470, in the special livery, and the Cubs took over after their return to Old Kent Road. They continued in use until the service was taken over by RTs (in normal red) in November 1950.

BEA hired them for a while in 1951 for airport traffic: a foretaste of the BEA RFs to come, but a different generation.

C107 was sold to London Fire Brigade for use as a control unit, while C111 was used by them as a personnel vehicle until 1961. C111 is preserved in excellent condition, and has occasionally been seen at rallies.

Individual bus histories.

Postscript

The 1938 bus orders nearly resulted in another 74 Cubs. But someone realised that the numbers of remaining Darts (42) and Bedfords (12) already totalled less than this. The small bus business was dwindling anyway. Eventually the order was reduced, to 49, and emerged during 1938 and 1939 in the much revised form of the CR class, the rear-engined Cubs. But they are another story!

There WERE London Transport Cubs numbered C99L-C105L, and also C114L. But these were lorries in the service fleet, not buses.

Ian's Bus Stop top of text. Cub histories photo refs GS