Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created on 12th July 1998, revised 30th July 1998

Production buses, RM5-7, 9-879, 904-1253, 1255-1452, 1521-2217. (Total 2119)

1959: into Service

The production buses started to trickle off the lines at Southall (AEC) and Park Royal in May 1959, after RM8 in September 1958. A trickle it was, to start with, with just fourteen buses by the end of June, thirty-one by the end of July...

Meanwhile the first three stages of the trolleybus conversions (Carshalton and Bexleyheath in March, Clapton and Lea Bridge in April, Bow and Ilford in August) had been managed using surplus RTs.
The RMs were put into service or used as trainers, working from bus garages (as distinct from trolleybus depots). This provided invaluable information about the performance of the class on a variety of services with a variety of maintenance regimes. The garages and routes for this trial running are summarised in the table (more detail is in the Appendices): RM9

CL, Clay Hall trainers
AC, Willesden 8, Old Ford - Wembley
R, Riverside 11, Liverpool St - Shepherds Bush
W, Cricklewood 2, Crystal Palace - Golders Green
H, Hackney 22, Putney Common - Homerton
U, Upton Park trainers
V, Turnham Green 91, Wandsworth Bdg - Hounslow West Stn
27(Sun) Archway- Hampton Court
AR, Tottenham 76 (Victoria - Lwr Edmonton Stn),
34B (Brimsdown-Edmonton)

RM9 in 1998 has gained opening front windows and a later grille during its half-century.
Back in 1958 it went first to Clay Hall as a trainer, then to West Ham for service.

Trolleybus Replacement

But at last the day came that the Routemasters had been designed for. Stage 4 of the trolleybus conversion was centred on East London routes 567 (Barking Bdy - Aldgate), 569 (North Woolwich - Aldgate) and 665 (Bloomsbury - Barking Bdy) from Poplar depot and West Ham, on 11th November 1959. 59 RMs were to operate from Poplar plus 15 at West Ham.
The trial routes lost their RMs at this stage, some going to store and some into the training fleet, plus a few to the conversion. Likewise, some of those that had been trainers now joined the operational fleet, mainly at WH.
New bus routes were introduced, some direct replacements for trolley routes, some augmentations of existing routes. The use of the "high-availabilty" new RMs was also to be maximised by using them on routes 9 and 56 on Sundays. early production RM

PR, WH5: Bloomsbury - East Ham
PR5A: Aldgate - West India Dock
PR48: Waterloo - Poplar
PR, WH238:
PR284 (nights): Charing Cross - Becontree Heath
PR23 (with BK RTs): Aldgate - Becontree Heath
PR9 (Sundays): Mortlake - Aldgate
PR56 (Sundays): Limehouse - Poplar

Early production RM

Poplar sticks in my mind as the first place that I came across service Routemasters en masse, when I ventured over the Woolwich Ferry on my bike, and cycled up through the busy London Docks to Poplar. The view through the depot door was amazing to a youngster from RT-land (Bromley). So was the return via the Blackwall Tunnel, on the walkway: it wasn't a motorway then, but it was quite an experience!

For a very different, contemporary, account of the RM conversion, have a look on Dick Gilbert's trolleybus conversion page.

But back to 1959: the Routemasters were not an unalloyed success! They were very different beasts from the very familar trolleys that they replaced. Engineering faults abounded, so that very soon many of the original allocation were replaced whilst the originals returned for fault analysis.

early RM Stage 5, February 1960

West Ham received a second dose (29 new, 30 second-hand), and Walthamstow (WW) received its first 47 RMs. Trolleybus routes that went were 557 (Chingford Mount - Liverpool St), 669 (North Woolwich - Stratford Bdy), 685 (Walthamstow - Silvertown), 689 and 690 (Stratford - East Ham circulars).

WH, WW58: Silvertown Stn - Walthamstow
WH69: North Woolwich - Stratford Bdy
WH162(shared with BK RTs): Wanstead Stn - Barking
WW256: Chingford Mount - Hackney
WW257: Chingford Mount - Liverpool Street

RM16 Stage 6, April 1960

West Ham did better for new buses in stage 6, receiving 61 RMs in March and April, all new to passenger service (with a few ex trainers), most having opening quarterlights at the front. Walthamstow again was the other depot, getting 44 buses, including the remaining five of the early trials buses. The trolley routes that went were the 623 (Woodford - Manor House Stn), 625 (Woodford - Wood Green (- Winchmore Hill)), 687 (Walthamstow - V&A Docks), 697 and 699 (Chingford Mount - V&A Docks), the remaining network in the East End. The replacement bus services formed a new network rather than direct replacements, and saw the closure of Forest Gate (G). The RTs from G joined the RMs in WH, and shared the extended 69 and new 249A with RMs.

RM16, with opening windows and a later livery, is now preserved.
It was new to passenger service at West Ham in stage 6. (Showbus, 1997)

early RM
WH278: Walthamstow - V&A Docks
WH69 (some RTs): North Woolwich - Chingford Mount
WH, WW249:
WH249A (some RTs):
WH299 (nights): Chingford - V&A Docks
WH41 (shared with AR RTWs): Archway - Tottenham - Stratford
WW123: Archway - Tottenham - Manor House Stn
WW275: Walthamstow Central - Woodford Bridge
Gclosed: RTs to WW
RMs now had opening front quarterdrop windows.

RM349 Stage 7, July 1960

West and North-west London took the next trolleybus hit, with Hammersmith Depot (HB) closing for bus work and Highgate (HT) converting to RMs. Hammersmith lost trolley routes 626 (Acton - Clapham Junction), 628 (Craven Park - Clapham Junction) and 630 (Harrow Road - West Croydon), while Highgate lost the steep-hill route 611 (Moorgate- Highgate) with its specially-braked trolleybuses.
Hammersmith Depot was converted to be the base for the BEA RFs, and the replacement bus services operated from Shepherds Bush (S) and Elmers End (ED)

RM 349 was new to Shepherds Bush in stage 7
and is now preserved. (North Weald, 1998)

S220: Mitcham - Harlesden
S268: Golders Green Stn - Finchley Road Stn
ED64 (extra workings): Addington - Tooting Broadway
HT271: Highgate Village - Moorgate
HBconverted for BEA coaches

Further new RMs trickled to join the existing allocations during the summer and autumn, compensating for the RM's continuing trials and tribulations, and providing spares whilst others were cycled through recall processes.
RM 422 went to the Commercial Motor Show in September, but was considered yesterday's news.

Stage 8, November 1960

Hanwell Depot (HL) (as distinct from Hanwell Garage (HW), now renamed Southall), was the next recipient of RMs, as trolleybus routes 607 (Uxbridge-Shepherds Bush Green) and 655 (Acton Vale - Brentford (- Hammersmith (- Clapham Junction))) were deleted.
Hanwell actually received new buses twice over, as about half its first lot were replaced before the year end by an experimental batch with non-automatic gear changing. The originals went into store, mainly at Holloway (J), Cricklewood (W) and Stonebridge (SE).
HL207: Uxbridge Stn - Shepherds Bush Green
HL207A: Chelsea - Hayes and Harlington Stn
HL255: Clapham Junction - Turnham Green

RM597 Stage 9, February 1961

Highgate (HT) received a second tranche of 117 RMs, to replace routes 513/613 (Parliament Hill Fields - Holborn - Hampstead Heath), 517/617(North Finchley - Holborn), 615 (Parliament Hill Fields - Moorgate), 639 (Hampstead Heath - Moorgate) and 653 (Tottenham Court Road - Aldgate). Bus route 143 (Archway - Hendon Central) was also taken over by HT, and route 63 gained an RM allocation.

Thirty-seven years old: the aluminium structure of RM597 still looks good under the paint, whilst undergoing restoration and a repaint in 1998 (Cobham Open Day). It was new to Highgate in stage 8.

HT17: North Finchley - Farringdon Street.
HT214: Parliament Hill Fields - Moorgate
HT239: Hampsteads Heath - Moorgate
HT253: Aldgate - Warren Street Stn
HTN93: Trafalgar Square - Hampstead Heath
HT143 (ex-RT): Archway Stn - Hendon Central Stn
HT63, shared with PM (RT): Parliament Hill Fields - Crystal Palace

RM642 Stage 10, April 1961

More North London trolleybus routes went this time, worked by Highgate (HT), Edmonton (EM) and Wood Green (WN): 627 (Tottenham Court Rd - Waltham Cross), 629 (Tottenham Court Rd - Enfield Town), 659 (Holborn Circus - Waltham Cross) and 679 (Smithfield - Waltham Cross). There were direct replacements, plus some new routes. West Green garage, due to close shortly, received five RMs too for use on the 269.
This would have left Highgate with just a Sunday trolleybus requirement on the 609, alongside Finchley's trolleys. This was met by allocating RMs to the 609 on Sundays.

RM642 started work from Wood Green, but has since acquired a different grille (and probably several different bodies altogether!). Now preserved. (Showbus 97).

HT, EM127: Victoria - Waltham Cross
HT, WN259: Holborn Circus - Lower Edmonton Stn
HT276: Streatham - Tottenham
HT609 (Sundays, with FY trolleys): Barnet Church - Moorgate
EM279: Smithfield - Waltham Cross
EM279A: Tottenham Hale Stn - Flamstead End
HT, EM253:
WG, WN269: Tottenham Court Road - Enfield

RM 664
In July Highgate received an oddity: RM 664, the unpainted RM. This was a trial, to see how well the aluminium construction of the RM coped without external paint. Underground trains were now running without paint, and paintless buses would be significantly lighter. RM 664 carried advertising for the Daily Express, on all panels at first, but latterly only on the sides. It stayed at Highgate until December 1962, then circulated around a variety of locations: Poplar (12/62), Rye Lane (1/63), Mortlake (9/63), Stonebridge (12/63), Finchley (1/64); Cricklewood (3/64), Hanwell (5/64), Fulwell (7/64), Shepherds Bush (10/64) and Walthamstow (2/65). After three and a half years it was looking grubby: garages found it impossible to match replacement panels to the patina of the old, giving it a gently pie-bald look. It was despatched to Dorking in mid-July for preparation for painting, which was carried out at Hounslow. In August 1965 it restarted work from New Cross garage as just another red RM.

RM737 Stage 11, July 1961

Edmonton's conversion was completed at this stage, as its contribution to the 649 disappeared to the scrapyards. Also converted was Stamford Hill, losing routes 543/643 (Wood Green - Holborn Circus), 647 (Stamford Hill - London Docks) and 649/649A (Waltham Cross / Wood Green - Liverpool St).

EM, SF149: Waltham Cross - Victoria
SF67: Northumberland Park - Wapping
SF243: Wood Green - Holborn Circus
SF243A (Sundays): Wood Green - London Docks
SFN83 (night): Trafalgar Square - Tottenham Garage

RM737 at Showbus 97. It was new to Highgate in stage 10.

There was also a reshuffle when building work at Stamford Hill was complete, and Edmonton's temporary allocation on the 253 was transferred.

RM872 Stage 12, November 1961

Stage 12 saw Wood Green's conversion completed, and Finchley's started. Routes that lost trolleybuses were the 521/621 (North Finchley - Holborn Circus), 609 (Barnet Church -Moorgate), and 641 (Winchmore Hill - Moorgate). The latter was replaced by the 141, but that also took over the old tram-replacement route 179 to Grove Park, so a RM allocation was made to New Cross for that. Finchley's conversion also introduced the longer Routemaster, the RML, for the first time.

FY104: Barnet Church - Moorgate
WN, NX141: Winchmore Hill - Grove Park

RM872 went new to Finchley at stage 13.
Its dome looking battered by tree strikes,
it is seen at Cobham Open Day 1998.
Stage 13, January 1962

RM1000 and RM 1001 This was the last stage of the original trolleybus conversion plan. The trolleys in North London, and in the North-west, would go, leaving just the South-western network with post-war trolleybuses. So Finchley finished its conversion, and Stonebridge and Colindale both went in one fell swoop, Colindale permanently. Trolley routes to go were: 645 (Barnet Church - Canons Park), 660 (North finchley - Hammersmith Bdy.), 662 (Sudbury - Paddington Green) and 666 (Edgware - Hammersmith Bdy.). Finchley and Stonebridge both received RMs, as did Cricklewood and Middle Row. Simultaneously Wood Green gave its allocation for the 259 to Tottenham.

RM 1000 stands next to RM 1001 at Showbus 97. RM 1001 was the first of the two into service, in January 1962 at Middle Row (X), and after a suitable ceremony RM 1000 went to Finchley in March.

X293 (peaks): Acton - Paddington
X, SE18 (with RTs from ON): Aldenham Works - Wembley
FY, SE260: Barnet - Hammersmith Broadway
SE, W266: Edgware Stn - Hammersmith Broadway
W245: North Finchley - West Hendon
AR259: Holborn Circus - Lower Edmonton Stn

New Cross received some extra RMs for use on the Round-London Sightseeing Tour.

TrolleyBus Stage 14, May 1962: the final curtain for the trolleybus.

The postwar trolleybuses were sold for further service in Spain, dooming the South-western network based on Isleworth and Fulwell depots. The remaining routes were the 601 (Tolworth By-pass - Twickenham), 602 (The Dittons - Kingston loop), 603 (Tolworth - Kingston loop), 604 (Wimbledon Stn - Hampton Court), 605 (Wimbledon Stn - Teddington), 667 (Hammersmith Bdy - Hampton Court) and 657 (Shepherds Bush Green - Hounslow).

Isleworth Depot closed, Fulwell converted to RMs, and there was a local reshuffle of duties, giving RMs to Norbiton and Hounslow (as well as RFs to Fulwell) and making Kingston single-decker only.

FW267: Hampton Court - Hammersmith Broadway
FW281: Tolworth Broadway - Tolworth
FW285: Hatton Cross - Kingston (- New Malden)
NB131: Wimbledon Station - Walton on Thames
NB282: Dittons - Kingston circular.
NB283: Tolworth Broadway - Kingston circular
AV117 (extended and converted from RT)

The trolleybus conversion was complete. Electric traction had disappeared from the London Transport road fleet.

Previous: Appearance and Construction Next: RT Family replacement

Photographic references are on a separate page. So is the Fleet History.

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