LT Single-deckers: LT1001 - LT1036, LT 1038-LT1200, Total 199)
London Transport did not have an enormous single decker requirement for the Central Area. Any route that could accommodate double-deckers did so, as single decker routes mostly ran at a loss: even full single deckers struggled to break even with the prevailing cheap fares policy and double-manning. Nevertheless there were a number of routes that needed single-deckers, either because of low railway bridges or because of weak ones. (Although the weight of single deckers was about the same as double deckers, the difference in permitted passenger load made a difference of several tons.) Until the LTLs came along the single deckers were saloon versions of the double-decker types: of classes K and S. They badly needed replacement by 1930.
The six-wheeler Renown chassis was available in a long form, suitable for 30ft long London single - deckers. Chiswick built rather nice 29ft 5in bodies for them, in the same idiom as the T-class. T27 had been rebuilt during 1930 to front entrance form, and the new buses followed its example. They seated thirty five, with bench seats for six (offside) and five (nearside) over the rear wheels.
The prototype body on LT1001 was distinguishable at the rear by having squared-off windows
with hopper ventilators.
LT1001 was completed in December 1930, and licensed in the new year. It started out on the 104 at Edgware (EW), and moved to Muswell Hill in March. The remaining 49 of the first batch, together with a spare body, started to appear in April and were built up to June 1931. These had rounded rear windows, and just holders for a route board either side of the rear emergency door. There was a short-lived fad for corner bumper units at the rear.
This first batch went mainly to Muswell Hill (MH), for the 111 and to Holloway for the 110, routes that would see the type until their demise.
This lot were immediately followed by an order for another 150, of which 149 were completed as single deckers. The other one was appropriated for an experiment (see below). There were also six spare bodies for the works float, completed at the end of the run before the first batch became due for their annual overhaul.
The last 76 bodies (including the spares) had rear indicator boxes, in place of the board across the emergency door that was all that the originals had by way of destination equipment at the rear. They also had new seats, and were coded LTL1/1.
The Scooters, as they became known, were distributed more widely around the system, displacing more Ks, Ss and some ex-Independent Dennises. Some more went to Holloway for the 41A and 297B. Others went to Dalston (D), starting a long affair with the 108; to Nunhead (AH) for the Peckham circular 621; to Sutton (A) for the 87, 113 and 155B - routes that would keep the type for many years. Elmers End (ED) got some for the 609, to work alongside the Tilling Ts between Penge and Bromley on the route that was to become the 227. Some went to Hounslow (AV) for the short-lived 95; to Edgware (EW) and Cricklewood (W) for the 104 (later 240); to Leyton (T) and Tottenham for the 263A (the later 236, another long-association route) Enfield (E) received quite a number for its collection of single-decker routes, the 201, 538, 551 and 602. Sidcup (SP) gained some for the 209, and Edgware more for the 141. Barking very briefly had some for the 224, passing on the route and buses to Upton Park after less than three weeks.
They all passed to the LPTB in 1933.
The 1934 route renumbering saw some changes,
but mostly the big single-deckers were heavily used on busy core routes.
In other places smaller buses were replaced as suburbia grew: the 237 from Hounslow through Sunbury to Chertsey saw LTLs displace Leyland Cubs.
Initially the buses received annual overhauls, with body swaps (there was a body float), which soon mixed up the LTL1 and LTL1/1 bodies among the fleet. These were instantly distinguishable at the rear, and for the eagle-eyed at the front too, as the later bodies had small fillets beside the destination boxes.
The long ash-built bodies, with no internal stanchions, proved prone to sag, especially at the front nearside with the doorway and gap over the bonnet. From first overhaul stiffeners were fixed to the front bulkhead, and a deeper black band added round the front from behind the passenger door to behind the driver's door. Some had some of their half-drop windows replaced by plain glass to firm up the structure, but this was individual to each bus at overhaul. Later again an arched stiffener was fitted over the doorway arch, and some buses had larger curved fillets ahead of the doorway.
The glass rain-louvres over the side windows also proved vulnerable, and just before the war a start was made on replacing these by continuous metal strips.
Lower, presumably lighter, seats were fitted, presumably to save weight.
WartimePreparations for war included provision for headlamp masking, white tips to mudguards, white doorway arches, a white spot on the rear, and a white bar low down on the rear. Roofs went matt grey and then matt brown. Later modifications included the sticking of shatter netting to the windows.
As petrol single-deckers they were low on the priority list at the outbreak of war. The War Department already had a contract for the supply of single-deckers for troop movements, and at the beginning of September 1939 54 LTLs were duly called up. Sixteen were promptly returned, but others were retained on contract, being used to ferry essential personnel between forces establishments, or for transport of essential workers such as firemen and dockers.
The war saw some of the Scooters stored
- and ten destroyed in store at Bull Yard by bombing.
There were other casualties - a bombed house fell on one working the 236,
but the Elmers End contingent largely escaped the doodle-bug destruction of the garage
that destroyed so many other buses and claimed lives.
LT1131 was given a new body by Bush & Twiddy of Norwich. The chassis, along with the smashed remains of a body from LT1129, were sent to the firm, who used the remnants as a source of some parts and a guide to dimensions. But the wreck had had its roof torn off, so it perhaps not surprising that the rebuild emerged with a flatter roof and a front destination box and cab redolent of the ECW buses seen in Norwich.. It also had peripheral seating and internal stanchions.
Others of the LTLs had their seating changed. They already had long bench seats over the rear wheels. Now the other seats were rotated and placed along the bus walls, providing inward-facing seating for 33, with standing room for twenty, giving a capacity not much different from an ST.
Wartime changes in traffic patterns caused some route changes too. The Morden Stn - South Wimbledon circular service received low-height double-deckers and became the 127. The relatively new 254 exchanged Scooters for double-decker LTs and became the 126. Elsewhere single deckers were shuffled around, LTLs replacing Ts, which replaced Cubs.
PostwarPeacetime brought different strains. Traffic boomed, and even with the utility buses the fleet was too small. But there were plenty of single-deckers. So it was not unknown for the LTLs, some still with perimeter seating, to find themselves helping out on double-deckers routes, moving the peak-hour crowds.
The arrival of the postwar Regal Ts and Tiger TDs allowed many of the class
to retire, displacing them from some of their long-standing routes:
Scooters were displaced from Uxbridge (where they worked the 223) by
new 14T13s in March 1946.
At the same time some went from the 201, 215 and 219 at Kingston.
In April 1946 the new Regals replaced them at Muswell Hill on the 212,
only to be displaced in turn by the first Tigers in December.
A surplus of TDs for the 212 also displaced some Scooters from the 210
and some of the displaced Regals ousted LTLs from the 206 at Kingston.
Life extensionBut the TDs were too few to displace all of the old Ts and the scooters, and the survivors would have to await the arrival of the RFs in the early fifties. But the overhaul and maintenace "holiday" during the war, plus overloading, meant that some of the bodies were in a bad way, displaying distinct middle-aged sag and bulge. So a two-pronged effort was made at life-extension. Ninety - eight received AEC diesel engines from redundant STLs at the end of the forties, and sixty were sent to Marshalls at Cambridge for body rebuilds. These returned looking relatively modern, having lost the broad Chiswick cummer- bund and bodyside strakes in favour of smooth panelling. They also had metal rain-shields in place of the glass louvres, but strangely kept whatever rear display they had before going to rebuild..
They also received route stencil holders over the doorway. The effect was rounded off with postwar livery of all-red with cream lining. (This new livery was also applied to seven un-refurbished buses at their August/September 1950 overhauls: the others still with Chiswick bodies retained the red and white livery with black trimmings and brown roof despite overhauls and repaints.)
The survivors kept going into the 1950s, working the 227 (now all from Bromley), the 208 (Dalston), the 213 (Sutton) and the 234 (Croydon). The last was LT1195, withdrawn after service on the 208 on 31st January 1953. They were all replaced by new RFs.
After-lifeThirty six of the LTLs were sold to Morgan the dealer in Newport, South Wales, who sold on three for use in Yugoslavia. Others ended up as traveller's caravans, as circus vehicles or as hen houses. Two survived the ravages of time and surfaced for preservation. LT1059 is in process of being rebuilt to presentable condition by members of Cobham Museum, at Leatherhead.
LT 1076 is now in the London Transport Museum collection and has been restored.
It made its reappearance on the HCVS Rally from London to Brighton on May Day 2005,
and won the Concours d'Elegance amongst other honours. I look forward to seeing it!
Some photos, and another view of LTL history is given by Dick Gilbert, celebrating the class as the first of his Batches of Beautiful Buses
A very comprehensive and detailed history of the entire LT class is given in Ken Blacker's excellent "The London LT" (Capital Transport, 2010). scooter histories photo references Part 6: Green LTLs. Bus Stop LT index. Part 4: Bluebirds LTLs.