The Coach prototype, CRL4, RMC4
CRL4 is perhaps the best known and best loved of the four prototypes,
firstly because her testing was more widespread than any of the others,
but also because she went on in full passenger service
as one of the coach fleet,
rather than being relegated to trainer status like the others.
Indeed, RMC4 was still a working vehicle until the late 1990's,
albeit accorded a celebrity status, with Arriva.
It is only with the turn of the millenium that she has been sold off for private preservation.
Coach Routemaster Leyland, prototype 4, (CRL4),
was actually the third prototype to be delivered.
This body was the only Routemaster to be built by Eastern Coach Works.
London Transport, as part of the nationally-owned British Transport Commission,
was expected to use the state-owned body-builder where possible.
At this period Bristol and ECW were working flat out supplying buses for the
nationally-owned bus companies around the country,
and could hardly have set up a Routemaster production line.
But perhaps this was a way of sharing with ECW the current thinking within LT.
The major difference with this bus was that it was another in London
Transport's line of GreenLine double-decker coaches.
These had started in the General's day, with the double-decker LT coach,
that had not been a success.
STLs had been used during, and after the Second World War on the Romford routes,
followed by the GreenLine Daimlers,
RTC1, and the GreenLine RTs.
But LT still wanted a proper GreenLine double-decker COACH.
It tried hard with CRL4: it was not just a green Routemaster.
The seats had extra deep cushions and higher backs,
and although it was originally fitted with bench seats over the rear wheels
these were replaced by individual seats set at an angle to the aisle.
The seating density was lower than on the 64-seater buses,
with 32 upstairs and 23 down.
The floor was plain rather than slatted,
and there were no vertical handrails in the saloons (no standing passengers).
The platform was fitted with power-operated folding doors,
necessitating a rear emergency exit downstairs as well as the standard one above.
Otherwise the body was very similar to that on RML3,
with most production bus features, such as lower bodyside panels,
front ventilation grilles, and a full set of displays
(with the one over the door raised to clear the door mechanism).
The radiator and front treatment was similar to RML3,
except that the bonnet opened alligator style.
The offside route window was set further forward.
The GreenLine finish was accentuated by pale green trim around the
windows (as on the GreenLine RFs) as well as the cantrail band.
Small GreenLine bullseyes between the decks, like the original GreenLine RTs,
completed the picture.
Mechanically CRL4 also had a Leyland O600 engine,
with a hydraulically actuated fully-automatic gearbox.
Its front suspension was arranged differently from that on RML3,
to try to reduce roll when travelling fast. Coil springs were fitted at the rear.
Power steering was NOT fitted.
Unladen weight was 7ton 10cwt.
1957: Into service
Whereas the red prototype RMs stayed largely on one route
throughout their prototype testing,
CRL4 was to be tried on a variety of GreenLine routes.
There was publicity too. Not for this flagship the obscurity afforded to RM2 and RML3.
London Transport was hoping to encourage the public to enjoy the double-decker GreenLine,
as double-deckers offered a way for them to improve the economics of the
As GreenLine routes mainly involved a pair of garages at the outer ends
of radial routes from Central London,
and a pattern that included layovers at the "other" end,
two garages had to be trained to operate the coach before operation
on each route was started.
The "other" garage received CRL4 first, for training, followed by the "home" garage.
The exception was the first route used, the 721 to Romford,
a straightforward radial route from Aldgate. This route was used to double-deckers,
having had STLs, Daimlers and RTs for normal operation.
CRL4 spent a couple of satisfactory months on the 721, from October 1957,
before beginning its peripatetic journeys around the capital's GreenLine routes.
711, (High Wycombe to Reigate);
704, (Tunbridge Wells to Windsor);
715, (Guildford to Hertford);
718, (Epping to Windsor);
716, (Stevenage to Woking);
In between, CRL4 returned to Chiswick for modifications,
particularly to the suspension,
and later for strengthening of the rear sub-frames.
In August 1960 it was repainted into two lighter shades of green for service on the 716,
like a group of RFs.
As with them, the lighter shade was not considered a success,
and Lincoln Green returned at the end of 1962.
One of the fleet
Whereas the red prototypes became trainers when the production models arrived,
CRL4 just kept going.
It had been noted during its trials that many customers preferred the upper deck,
and GreenLine travel was still growing.
Rather than acquire more RFs to meet the need for GreenLine growth,
LT built a batch of Routemaster Coaches. CRL4 had been a success, it seems.
CRL4 became one of the fleet, despite being non-standard in many ways
(not least in having the fuel filler on the nearside:
that must have occasioned many a curse at the pumps!).
Consequently it was renumbered RMC4 in August 1961.
The production buses had not adopted the angled seats at the rear,
and RMC4 was modified to have standard bench seats in April 1962.
Lincoln green returned in November 1962.
Like the other prototypes it received a lengthy overhaul in 1964
(presumably to learn about overhauling RMs before the production buses reached Aldenham).
In the course of this a standard RMC front assembly was fitted,
incorporating the double headlights and eliminating the brake ventilator grilles.
The overhauled bus was allocated to Harlow for the 720 routes,
and then in 1966 began its long association with Hatfield garage,
initially on the 716.
By the end of the sixties GreenLine travel, and with it the RMCs,
was in decline,
and several RMCs were allocated to Hatfield for bus duties.
RMC4 was demoted at the same time.
The end of the decade saw it go for overhaul as London Country took
over from London Transport,
and it reappeared with London Country yellow stripe and logo
on a medium green base.
This presently gave way to NBC green with a white stripe and National arrow.
Its home continued to be Hatfield.
Strangely, whilst not a few of London Country's RMs received no overhauls at all,
RMC4 went for another overhaul, one of the last at Aldenham, for a whole year,
from May 75 until June 76. After that it disappeared into Chiswick's experimental department
for another four months, re-emerging with opening front windows.
London Country: Working Preservation
Withdrawal from normal duties came in May 1979.
After a repaint it was allocated to Hertford for special duties.
It acquired some distinctly non-standard Leyland rear hub covers
at this time!.
"Special duties" included an appearance at the Shillibeer 150 Celebrations,
and the last journey on the 709 route.
RMC4 also appeared occasionally on service buses when desperation called.
RMC4 on the Farewell 709 run.
Photo, used with permission, by Mike Dawes
RMC4 in rally condition on Brighton promenade. Photo, used with permission, by Adrian J Stuart-Robson.
A full repaint into original livery followed in 1980,
whilst leaving almost all the bodywork modifications in situ.
(except the band across the lower half of the ventilator grilles).
The breakup of London Country saw RMC4 allocated to South-West,
as it was by then housed at Dorking,
and this led on to its ownership by London & Country and then Arriva.
Special duties continued through the nineties,
including rally appearances and some operation on the Bluebell Railway
service from East Grinstead to Kingscote (the old 473 route).
There was considerable alarm in preservation circles
when Arriva announced that it had sold RMC4 early in 2000.
Bids by well-known preservation bodies had been rejected,
and there were fears that it had been consigned to the scrap-heap.
Fortunately the fears were unfounded:
CRL4 / RMC4 found a preservation home and was restored to Green Line livery.
It has subsequently been bought by Roger Wright for his London Bus Company,
where it earns its keep on weddings and outings,
while providing joy for enthusiasts at Rallies and Running Days.
6/57: received by LT from ECW
registered SLT 59.
RE sent to Romford (RE) for driver training
7/57: Chiswick, for modifications.
8/57: RE driver training
10/57: RE service on 721
12/57: HE driver/technician training at High Wycombe
1/58: RG driver/technician training at Reigate, then service on 711.
5/58: Chiswick for suspension modifications.
7/58: TW driver/technician training at Tunbridge Wells
WR driver/technician training at Windsor, then service on 704.
12/58: GF driver/technician training at Guildford
1/59: HG driver/technician training at Hertford, then service on 715.
7/59: EP driver/technician training at Epping
7/59: WR service on 718
8/60: repaint into light green
8/60: WY driver/technician training at Addlestone
8/60: SV driver/technician training at Stevenage, then service on 716.
11/60: Chiswick for rear sub-frame strengthening.
12/60: SV service on 716.
1961: SV service on 716: outstationed at WY
8/61: SV renumbered RMC4.
4/62: bucket seats replaced by bench seats, seating now 57.
11/62: restoration of Lincoln green.
11/62: HG service on 715.
4/64: withdrawn for overhaul: standard RMC front wings and radiator fitted.
12/64: HA service on 720.
10/66: HF service on 716.
1/70: HF transferred to London Country.
5/70: HF after overhaul.
repaint into NBC green with white symbols.
5/75: Aldenham for overhaul.
6/76: Chiswick experimental shop, opening front windows.
10/76: HF return from overhaul!
5/79: HF withdrawn from service,
HG repaint, retained for display and relief duties.
10/79: duplicate on last 709 journey
80: repaint into Lincoln Green with early raised bullseyes
4/80: Cobham Open Day.
3/81: DS transfer to Dorking
3/83: CY transfer, Crawley
9/86: DS transferred to London Country (South West) Ltd.
2/88: DS privatised to London & Country.
10/89: CY transfer, still for display or occasional service use.
/00: CY sold for private preservation
4/00: at Cobham Museum for fitting of new engine
original engine rebuilt and refitted
7/04: at RM50
9/06: bought by K.Bunda for preservation
6/07: bought by Roger Wright for preservation/hire
7/07: used at North Weald Rally: worked 718 London - North Weald
9/07: in service at Dorking Running Day
9/07: used on 9,15 Heritage Running Day
4/10: active on Cobham Green Line Day (477)
4/10: active on East Grinstead Running Day (409, 708, 410)
6/10: active on Hertford Running Day (715)
7/10: in service on 715, GreenLine Jubilee Day
7/10: active on Gravesend Running Day (701)
8/10: used on X55, X81
10/11: active on Cobham Hall Opening, Brooklands
For a key to the references see the bibliography.
CRL4 SLT 59, GreenLine livery, original condition:
RM_1 p36 6/57: RE showing 721 to Romford, rear n/s view
RM_1 p36 6/57: RE showing 721 to Romford, o/s view
RM_1 p37 6/57: RE showing 721 to Brentwood, front view
RM_1 p38 6/57: variety of interiors
BM3RM p17 RE showing 721 to Aldgate, Chiswick
LTGL p110 RE showing 721 to Aldgate, Chiswick
BM3RM p17 RE showing 721 to Brentwood
BM3RM p20 RE showing 721 to Brentwood
LB&TA p37 1957: RE showing 721 to Aldgate, Chiswick
H57 p54 7/57: Private: rear view, 092 GO trade plates
H57 p118 1957: RE on 721 to Brentwood - 2 views
H57 p129 1957: internal view, downstairs, forwards
LTGL p110 12/57: HE on 711 to High Wycombe
RM_1 p39 9/58: WR on 704 to Tunbridge Wells, Eccleston Bridge
RM_1 p40 1959: HG on 715 to Guildford, Hertford
H59 p152 3/59: HG on 715 to Guildford, Notting Hill Gate
LTGL p121 on 718 to Harlow New Town, light green, rear view
H61 p123 1961: WY on 716A to Woking, Golders Green Stn
H61 p138 1961: WY on 716 to Stevenage, New Barnet
RMC4, GreenLine pale green
HeyLB2 p16 1961?: SV on 716A to Woking, front o/s
RM_1 p40* 8/61: SV on 716A to Woking, Addlestone, front n/s
BPRM p17* 1962: SV on 716A to Woking, Addlestone, front n/s
(*same photo, but very different colour: beware!)
AIHLB p55 1962: WY on 716A to Woking, Golders Green, front o/s
LTGL p121 1962: WY on 716A to Woking, Lincoln green
VHD p45 showing 716
RMC4, after overhaul, RMC radiator, lamps and wings, Lincoln Green:
RM_1 p93 1966: HF on 716A at Hyde Pk Cnr, n/s
RMC4, London Country mid-green, yellow band and logo:
RM_2 p03 5/72: HF on 341B to South Hatfield, Hatfield, front o/s
HeyLB3 p22 1973: HF on 324 to Welwyn Gdn City Stn, Hatfield
RMC4, NBC green, white band:
LCBiC p66 11/77: HF on 341 at Hatfield Garage
LB63 p26 HF on 341 at Hatfield Garage
LB&TA p48 1978: HF showing 341 to St Albans at a rally
BM3RM p69 1979: HG showing 341 to Hertford at a rally
RM_2 p46 1979: HG showing 341 to Hertford, Shillibeer Celebration, front o/s
LBM31 p3 10/79: HG on 709 to London
RM_2 p47 10/79: HG on final 709 to London, rear n/s
RMC4, restored to GreenLine livery:
RM_2 p47 6/81: HF on 719 to London, Queensbury (front n/s, on service)
HeyLB p25 1982: DS on 714 to Dorking
BM3RM p20 1983: showing Vickers Works, at Cobham
LB63 p80 1983: showing 711 to High Wycombe, Chiswick
RMH96 p38 5/94: on 471 to Kingscote Stn, East Grinstead.
LCBiC p67 3/95: on 431 to Cobham Village
LBM142 p03 9/07: on 15 to Tower Hill
Ian's Bus Stop