This page created 7th May 2003 using Notepad, by Ian Smith.

Part Two: The London Transport Years

The new London Transport set about making sense of the coaches and buses that it had acquired on starting, or shortly after, and fitting them to the tasks it had to perform. It had plenty of fairly decent coaches, but a dearth of reliable country buses. Some of the Gilfords from London General Country Services (see part1) were converted for bus operations by the Country Area. The normal control 166SDs that had earlier been acquired from Skylark were favourites for this, as their layout made them suitable for one man operation if downseated to twenty, and their existing limited capacity made them uneconomic for crew operation. They were taken out of the Green Line GF number-series and ran without numbers until 1935, when Chiswick took over control of maintenance and overhauls of Country Area vehicles. The process of converting the ex-LGCS Gilfords to buses left only a handful as coaches by the time that LT began sorting out those that were taken over in 1933 and 1934, and a new Greenline number series was started, filling in the gaps.

The "new" Greenline Gilfords: GF1-125C

ex-Hillman GF111C There were plenty of replacements for the Green Line services. London Transport took over the services running east from London to Romford, Brentwood, Upminster and Tilbury: Super Services of East Ham in December 1933, Hillman's of Romford, Upminster Services and Sunset Pullman in January 1934; Tilbury Coaching Services in March 1934 and Hillman's Bow operatons in August. In addition there were Gilfords from West London Coaches' Aylesbury service in January 1934 and Strawhatter of Luton (February). Most of these coaches were allocated to Greenline services, with a few relegated to bus work. They were initially given Green Line stickers over their current liveries, and appropriate legal lettering. As overhauls came around they received Green Line livery and began to be slotted into the large gaps in the Greenline GF number series, eventually taking the Greenline series to GF1-125. It was not a static series. Gilford coaches continued to be relegated to bus work as more Regals and AEC Qs took the prime Green Line duties. Some new gaps were plugged by reinstatements from the un-numbered Country bus fleet. Other gaps remained unfilled.

The Super Services Gilfords: GF1-3

Super Services of East Ham operated the East Ham to Aveley route, and were taken over by London Transport in December 1933. They were fitted into the gaps in the GF coach class numbering created by demotions to buses of those in the first Gilford series. The three Gilfords, all 166OTs, had different bodybuilders:

GF1, the newest, had a 1931 Beadle 28-seater body;
GF2, dating from 1929, had a Duple 32-seater; while
GF3, also from 1929, had a Wycombe 31-seater.
GF1 and GF2 were sold in 1936, while GF3 lasted until December 1937.

The Hillman and Upminster Gilfords: GF4-21, 24, 29-32, 34-73, 107-125, 148B-153B

ex-Upminster GF149B Edward Hillman was based at Romford, and had built up a substantial array of services into Essex and East Anglia, with garages at London Road, Romford, and at Bow. The services beyond Brentwood - to Chelmsford and various destinations in East Anglia - were outwith the new London Board's remit, and were sold to Eastern National, but the Hillman businesses at Romford and Bow were acquired by LT in January and August 1934.

The large Hillman fleet, together with associated Upminster services, were nearly all 168OTs with 26-seater Wycombe bodies. They were similar but not uniform: 1929-30 was a time of very rapid development in body design, and these coaches show that in their details: windows developed radiused corners; doorhandles became recessed, cabs developed.

ex-Hillman GF123C The exceptional coaches were a batch of six 168MOTs with Meadows engines (GF120-125). The longer engines pushed the radiators (and bonnets with headlights) forward by six inches, protruding between the Gruss cylinders.

London Transport pushed the Hillman coaches through overhaul at Reigate. In the process they lost their roofracks and sliding roofs, and gained either green livery with a black band or the later two-tone green livery. Most were taken on as Greenline coaches, continuing to work from Romford until displaced by early T-type Regals, themselves from other Greenline routes displaced by newer 9T9s and 4Q4s. Eight became Country Area buses in 1934, taking the numbers GF148B to GF155B in 1935. Others were demoted from coaching work later.

The West London Gilfords: GF74-76 (later GF126B, GF143-144B)

West London Coaches operated from London Victoria to Amersham and Aylesbury. Operations began in May 1928 and they were taken over in January 1934, the route becoming GreenLine S. Their vehicles were 31-seater Wycombe-bodied 168OTs dating from 1930. Although originally numbered into the Greenline sequence, all three were demoted to bus work in 1935, becoming GF126B, GF143B and GF144B.

The Sunset Pullman Gilfords: GF77-88

Sunset Pullman Coaches operated from Charing Cross out to Brentwood, and also succumbed to LT in Januaryy 1934. They had their 168OTs bodied by Metcalfe, who adopted a higher waistline, making the coaches less sleek in appearance. They continued as coaches with Greenline until disposal at the end of Gilford operation.

The Strawhatter Gilfords: GF89-101C, GF163B, GF167-168B

ex-Strawhatter GF92C Strawhatter Coaches operated a half-hourly Luton-London service, established in November 1927. They were taken over, with their Luton South (LS) depot, in February 1934.
Their sixteen green-liveried Gilfords were mainly bodied by Strachans: mainly 30-seaters, with either centre or forward entrances. Thirteen 168OTs were assimilated into the Greenline fleet: GF89-101. One, GF98, only survived until November 1934. The gap it left in the Greenline fleet was filled by promoting an ex-Acme coach from the bus fleet. The others survived until the end of Gilford operations.

Three other vehicles became Country Area buses, receiving fleet numbers in 1935:
GF163B a Strachans-bodied centre-entrance 168OT;
GF167B a 1929 antique-looking Strachans-bodied rear-entrance 166OT;
GF168B a 1929 Strachans-bodied front-entrance 166OT;

The Fleet Gilford: GF102

Fleet Coaches Ltd operated an all-night service between Aldgate and Romford. The service, and one Gilford, were bought by GreenLine in March 1934. GF102 was a Wycombe-bodied C31F 168OT.

The Tilbury Gilfords: GF103-106 (later GF139-140B, 189B)

ex-Tilbury GF39B The acquisitions for GreenLine were rounded off in March by the purchase of the East Ham to Tilbury Service of Tilbury Coaching Services. Four smart-looking 168OTs with London Lorries bodies of varying ages and capacities were acquired with the route, and ran with Greenline stickers over their Tilbury livery until overhaul.
Three (GF103,105, 106) were reclassified as buses at their 1935 overhaul, becoming GF140B, GF189B and GF139B respectively. GF104 remained as a coach. All four lasted until sale in December 1937.

The Country Area Buses: later GF126B-GF192B

Out of the two hundred and twenty Gilfords taken over by London Transport Greenline had taken a large slice. The preparation for service at Reigate saw large piles of bits of Gilfords accumulate as buses and coaches were cannibalised to produce a decent fleet, and from the works came a large number of Gilfords for Country Area bus service. These included quite a number from the early Greenline takeovers by LGCS, especially the standard control vehicles. Many of these were downseated and fitted with open doorways for one man operation. As Country buses they forfeited their fleetnumbers. There were also some downgraded coaches from the later acquisitions, and some built as buses for the small operators.

There were also some smaller AS6 and CP6 twenty-seaters. These little buses, part of a huge number of various types acquired by London Transport, posed a standardisation and spares problem for LT, and they were an early target for replacement, Bedford BDs and Morris MS being the preferred classes, and Cubs the standard replacement. None of the small Gilfords survived long enough with the Country Area to acquire fleetnumbers in 1935, although one gained a number (GF194) with the Central Area.

GF126B-GF144B, GF147-155B were all ex-coaches that had lost their coach numbers on demotion to bus work, and which were renumbered as buses in 1935. They included the Skylark coaches (GF127B-138B); the West London Coaches (GF126B, GF143-4B); some of the Edward Hillman coaches (GF148-155B) - two of which had failed to receive coach numbers originally; two of the Tilbury Coaches (GF139, 140B) and others from the first coach series.

The Colne Gilfords: GF145B, 170B

ex-Colne GF145B In 1929 F.Steer bought a normal control 166SD bus for use on The Colne Service, out from St.Albans. It was bodied by Thurgood of Ware. Another 166SD followed in 1930, this time with a Wycombe bus body. They were taken over by London Transport in November 1933. naturally as unnumbered Country Buses, and were numbered in 1935. They lasted with LT until the end of 1937.

Less long-lasting was a 20-seater Wycombe-bodied AS6, which disappeared in 1935 without receiving a number.

The Maidstone and District Gilfords: GF156B-158B, GF159-160C

Boundary adjustments between the London Transport monopoly zone and the Maidstone & District area in July 1933 brought these seven Gilfords to LT. London Transport put all of them to work, un-numbered, nominally as Country buses.

Four were 1928 166OTs with 26-seater Wycombe bus bodies.

ex-M&D GF160C Two were 1930 168OTs with very modern-looking Strachan C26D coach bodies, which although kept in the bus sequence were totally unsuitable for bus work, having two outward-opening nearside doors. They were almost certainly used for Country Area Private Hire, and were given Green Line livery and, to judge by the photos, two-tone green paintwork with orange and black wheels.
The other Gilford from M&D was a small AS6 with 20-seater Strachan coachwork. One of the 166OTs was disposed of in 1935, as was the AS6 in early 1936. The others were given numbers 156 - 160 in 1935, the coaches acquiring C suffixes.

The Amersham and District Gilfords: GF161B-162B, GF 194

Seven Gilfords came from Amersham & District in November 1933 - surprisingly late as General had bought most of the company back in May! They were a mixed bag:
two 1929 Strachans-bodied 32-seater buses, one 166OT, the other 168OT, which eventually became GF161B and GF162B;
an AS6 with 20-seater body, which had a spell with Central Area in 1935-6 as GF194 on route 203;
two more AS6s with Petty 20-seater bodies, which were disposed of in 1935;
and another pair of Strachans coach-bodied 30-seater rear-entrance coaches (one 166OT, one 168OT) that lasted only eleven months with London Transport.

The Beaumont Safeway Gilfords: GF165-166B,

Beaumont Safeway Coaches worked Kings Cross to Leighton Buzzard via St Albans and Dunstable. They were taken over by the LTPB in April 1934, bringing a pair of Gilford coaches, a 166OT and a 168OT. These were both put to service as buses, LT not being able to work out to Leighton Buzzard, but GF166B at least was used as a coach with Green Line lettering on the Romford services. They were numbered GF165B and GF166B in 1935, and lasted until December 1937.

People's of Ware Gilfords: GF169B, GF171B, GF195

People's of Ware brought a motley collection of Gilfords to London Transport.

ex-Peoples GF169B GF169B was a very old-fashioned looking 1929 166OT, unusually for Peoples bodied by Strachan. The forward cab looked like an appendage on the front of the saloon, with a separate half-cab roof above the 166OT's high, protruding, cab-front. The saloon had its own balloon roof, with a destination indicator inset over the engine compartment, a forward sliding door and a nearside rear emergency door. Yet it worked, and was in use as a bus at High Wycombe until the end in December 1937.
ex-Peoples GF171B GF171B was a good-looking 1929-built 166SD with the company's own Thurgood bodywork. It remained at work in the Hertford area, also lasting until the end for the Gilfords.

GF195 was very similar - a 166SD with Thurgood B26F bus bodywork. It too was put to work, un-numbered, in the Country Area. In August 1935 it was given a red/white repaint and transferred to the Central Area at Croydon for the start-up of the 203 to a new housing estate. It was then numbered GF195. It lasted until Central Area Darts, themselves displaced by Cubs, took over in April 1936.

GF172-GF181, GF183-185 were renumbered coaches that had been demoted to bus work, mainly the Acme Pullmans that had been GF39-49 in the first series.

The City Omnibuses Gilfords, GF182, GF186

The City here is not London but St.Albans. Two 31-seater Petty-bodied coach 168OTs came to London Transport in March 1934, and were put to bus work, both lasting to December 1937. There was also an older 166OT dating from 1928, which only lasted seven months with LT, therefore never receiving a number..

The Comfy Coaches Gilford, GF187

Comfy Coaches of Harpenden brought this 1930 Petty-bodied 168OT in February 1934. LT used it as a bus, numbering it GF187B before its disposal in June 1935.

The Penn Gilfords, GF191-192B

The Penn Bus company, near High Wycombe, was a late takeover by London Transport, right on its fringes, in August 1935, bringing an elderly (1929) 166OT bus and a newer (1931) 168OT coach, both thirty-two seaters bodied by Wycombe. LT kept both as Country Area buses until sale in December 1937.

The Sunshine Saloon Gilford

Sunshine Saloons of Kingston operated a coach service between Kingston and Ashford (Middlesex). They had a variety of small coaches, including a 1929 rear-entrance Wycombe-bodied 32-seater 166OT. London Transport not surprisingly used this as a busfor a short period after the takeover in December 1933, and disposed of it quickly, in May 1934.

The Biggerstaff Gilford

Biggerstaff's Bus Service of Sarratt was a small Watford operator taken over by LT in November 1933, bringing another small 20-seater AS6 with Duple bus body. It survived almost two years with LT, without being numbered, before the Cub takeover.

The Eastern National Gilfords

CP6 bus Eastern National also surrendered four buses to London Transport shortly after its formation, when the western part of the Grays services was transferred to the Board in September 1933. They were CP6s with 20-seater Strachan bus bodies. They were all sold during 1935 without being numbered, when new Leyland Cubs began to take over the small-bus work throughout the Country Area.

The Central Area Gilfords: GD1-2

Central Area Buses also acquired a pair of Gilfords when the Romford business of A.E.Blane in November 1934. Presumably Central Buses had a need for them, so they were not consigned to the Country Area like so many other penny-number types of single - decker, but retained in Romford for about six months before disposal. Central Area numbered its buses, but presumably rather than become entangled with the still-fluid Greenline GF series the two1930-built 168OTs were given their own short-lived series, becoming GD1-2.

AS6 bus The series was not extended when un-numbered Country buses were drafted into the Central Area for the route 203 startup in August 1935. The mixed bag of reinstated buses were just numbered onto the end of the GF Country bus series, becoming GF193-195. These, an ex-Skylark 166SD, an ex-Amersham & District AS6 and an ex-People's 166SD, were only used until April 1936, when DA-class Darts, themselves displaced by new Central Area Cubs, took over.

Ian's Bus Stop Part 1 Part 2 histories photo refs