This page created 7th January 2001, using Notepad, by Ian Smith.

The 1Q1: the prototype Q

Rackham persuaded the London General Omnibus Co to share in the prototype Q single-decker (Birmingham took the double-decker), no doubt conscious of the need to have LT's stamp of approval in order to get the unusual design off the ground commercially. The body was designed by the LGOC at Chiswick, but conformed very closely with the AEC design and model.

Chassis: AEC Q, 18ft 6in wheelbase, AEC A167 petrol engine
Body: LGOC, 27ft 6in, B38C.

Q1, first version The prototype was certainly very different from anything seen in Britain before. The first obvious point of departure was the front, with its lack of a radiator and full-width glazing. This when LT was still struggling to gain acceptance for drivers' windscreens on its half-cabs. Then there was its overall sleekness and curved panelling. Chiswick gave it a heavy waist-moulding that detracted somewhat from the smooth lines of the AEC design model, but it was still a blazingly modern design. Chiswick also raised the position of the huge headlamps to the waist-band. Such high lamps must have been a real headache to cars in front. Initially it had small discrete destination indicators on front and back.
It had a centre doorway on the nearside, and seated a massive 38, with bench seats over the engine and front nearside wheelarch and seats in the front corner alongside the driver.

Mechanically it was revolutionary too - or counter-revolutionary! The engine rotated anti-clockwise, and was fitted with the manifolds on the offside, for easy access. It was tilted too, to fit under a bench seat in the bus. A special starter, oil pump and worm were required to deal with the queer engine. The offside mounted engine drove back through a gearbox that was also mounted outside the frame, to a differential just inside the splayed rear frames. Large single tyres on the rear allowed the drive line to be almost straight. The weight distribution was so uneven that each wheel had different springs.

Livery was red with a cream waist-band, and an unusual black roof and rear dome.

Trials and modifications

The prototype emerged at Chiswick in the spring of 1932. After trials it went to the Public Carriage Office of the Metropolitan Police (where my grand-father was an inspector). Probably as a result of that visit, some changes were made: Q1, service version
  • the nearside windscreen was made a single panel, instead of two;
  • twin vertical sideways-sliding windscreen wipers were installed on both front screens;
  • standard size destination boards were installed at front and rear;
  • a tubular bumper, triggering a lifeguard under the bus, was mounted below the front;
  • the front number plate was mounted on the bumper;
  • the sidelights were moved down from the cant-rail to the waist-band;
  • larger air-vents were placed on the roof;
  • a driver's offside door and step were fitted
  • the engine covers were tidied up;
  • storm louvres were installed above the windows;
  • sweep-backs were painted behind the rear wheels.

Into service

Probably for publicity purposes, and for its high public profile, Q1 was placed into service on route 11, through the hearts of the City and Westminster, in September 1932. It wasn't really suited to the duty, with its narrow single doorway, and it did lose time compared with the normal LTs on the route, with their wide open platforms.

The following month, once the fuss had died down it was moved from Riverside (R) to Nunhead (AH) where the quiet 621 suited it much better.
Dates Route No Route Garage
September 32 11 Liverpool St - Strand - Victoria Stn - Hammersmith - Shepherds Bush R
October 32 621 Peckham - Nunhead - Peckham Rye AH

The LGOC bought the AEC share of the bus in January 1933, and London Transport took it over in July.

Q1, Country Area London Transport loaned it to the Country Area in December 1933 for Green Line trials, and then allocated it to Reigate for bus duties from February 1934. It was repainted in green with a black waist-band and silver roof.

It pottered around on Reigate local services during the remaining pre-war years. Alterations at overhaul saw the headlights lowered to a more sensible position, and a foglight fitted. It also acquired a 4Q4 style front end at some time, although with a proud-standing destination box to suit its lower roof profile. It was delicensed in September 1942, and stored at Tunbridge Wells and Guildford before its sale in January 1946.

After London

Q1 was sold to Henry Lane (dealer), who sold it on in March 1946 to C.J.Towler of Emneth, near Wisbech. There it ran for another five years, still with the petrol engine and crash gearbox, until withdrawn in March 1951.

It then continued in existence for a while as a hen-house.

bus histories photographic references.

Bus Stop Q index. 1Q1 2Q2