The London Buses Nationals: LS

This page created on 10th February 2000 by Ian Smith

  1. National buses
  2. Red Arrows: National 2s
  3. Tenders and Privatisation
  4. LSLs

Part Two: National 2s

LS438 - 506 (total 69): 3LS3

LS482 at Victoria Garage (BusSpotter)
Red Arrow LS482 taking up duties at Victoria Garage. Photo, used with permission, by BusSpotter.
London Transport had reached a working arrangement with the Leyland National, and was coaxing extra life out of its engines (that tended to give up after just three years). The National 2 came along with a different engine, the 11.1 litre 0680, and LT was not interested at first. But then it perceived a need to replace the remaining Merlins and Swifts, that had been performing well on Red Arrow duties. Ribble loaned their 841 to London for trials in October and November 1980, and an order was placed. LS348 arrived in December, and after testing at Chiswick was accepted in January 1981.

The production models were delivered via Apsley British Leyland Centre in Nottingham, where the trimmings that Leyland would not tackle as manufacturer - such as fleetnames, yellow-painted doors - were added.
London National2
The National 2s have the larger engine, mounted at the back, and instead of the radiator and fan unit mounted at the rear have a radiator at the front. This immediately made them much quieter! It also gave them a snout at the front, topped by a more curved windscreen, and increased their length to 10.6 metres. For Red Arrow use LT had them fitted with just 24 seats, and handrails for up to 46 standing passengers! Blue express service blinds and Red Arrow markings on overall red complete the picture.

Into service

The National 2s were allocated first to brand-new Ash Grove garage (AG) in April 1981, for use on the 502 and 513 (which had previously been worked by Hackney and Victoria). Victoria gained some in May for the 500 and 507. Walworth received an allocation for the 501 in June. The Ash Grove buses also later worked on the Stationlink service.

Route NoRouteGarage
502Waterloo Stn - Aldwych - Fleet St - St Pauls - London Wall - Liverpool St Stn AG Ash Grove
513London Bridge Stn - St Pauls - Fleet St - Waterloo Stn AG Ash Grove
500Victoria Stn - Hyde Park Corner - Marble Arch (peaks)
Victoria Stn - Hyde Pk Cnr - Grosvenor Sq. - Hanover Sq. - Oxford St - Marble Arch - Hyde Pk Cnr - Victoria Stn (off peak)
GM Victoria
507Victoria Stn - Horseferry Rd - Lambeth Bridge - Waterloo Stn GM Victoria
501Waterloo Stn (- Aldwych)- Holborn - St Pauls - Bank - AldgateWL Walworth
555Victoria Stn - Paddington Stn - Marylebone Stn - Euston Stn - Kings Cross Stn - Waterloo Stn - Victoria StnAG Ash Grove

But 1982 service cuts in Red Arrow provision made 15 of the National 2s redundant, and they went into store. One went to Chiswick to receive a ZF gearbox, then went back into service for monitoring. Six went to Aldenham to have extra seating installed, making them B36+27D, along with Almex fare machine fittings. Their Red Arrow markings were removed and they were allocated to Stockwell for the P4 route, starting in January 1983. They were joined by another three in 1984. They subsequently appeared on the 115 and 170 as well. However, the loss of the P4 to London Country in 1985 meant that they went back into store. Meanwhile others were fitted with ticket machines and allocated to Poplar and West Ham, for use on ordinary services or Red Arrow as conditions required. Yet more were seen at Bromley, in ordinary service, at the end of 1983.

In June 1986 route 210 was converted from ordinary Nationals operated by Muswell Hill to MkIIs from Holloway. A dozen 36-seaters were gathered for this purpose - some fresh from overhaul - and operated the route until October 1987, when they went into store at Walworth.

Route NoRouteGarage
P4Brixton - Dulwich Village - Honor Oak Park - Brockley Rise - Ladywell - SW Stockwell
115Balham Station - Tulse Hill StationSW Stockwell
170Wandsworth Plain - Battersea - Vauxhall - Victoria Embankment - Aldwych - Holborn - BloomsburySW Stockwell
210Finsbury Park Stn - Archway - Highgate Village - Golders Green Stn HT Holloway

Mobility Bus LS454 Another conversion during this period was to LS454, which was fitted in 1984 with a Ratcliffe Lift in the exit doorway, with 2 wheelchair anchorages and attendant seats. It went onto the Newham and Waltham Forest Mobility services, working initially from Leyton and later from Ash Grove.
London Buses livery The Red Arrow services were expanded again in 1987/88, with new routes 503, 505, 506, 509 and 510. The dispersed Mk2s were recalled, and concentrated at Walworth garage with all the others. They then all moved to the new Waterloo Red Arrow depot (RA) when that was completed. Revised livery at repaint introduced grey miniskirts, grey headlamp surrounds, a white cant-rail tape/arrow, bolder "Red Arrow" lettering and London Buses new roundels on the cantrail.

In 1992 the first of forty-two conversions of National 2s was made, this time a complete body repanel and rebuild, plus engine change to a Gardner: the Greenway conversion - but that's another page.

LS444 at Showbus, Duxford, September 2005 LS444 at Showbus, Duxford, September 2005

LS444 has been preserved, and appeared at Showbus 2005 to stand alongside converted classmate GLS443.

Part1 Part3: later bus histories photo refs

Ian's Bus Stop LN, LNB SNB, SNC Greenways