Prepared by Ian Smith

This page created on 7th September 1997, updated 22nd January 2005. Best on 800*600.

Any corrections, pictures, additional information or news gratefully welcomed.
Plan drawings by Ian Smith are NOT scale drawings from originals, but based on a few known dimensions and (usually) a variety of photographs. In places inferences have been drawn where the photographic evidence is poor. They may be of use to modellers: they can be printed out to 4mm:1 ft scale by loading into a graphics package and adjusting the size to give the right overall length to the buses (104mm).

Class History

drawing of RT If you ask someone to think of a London bus, the image that they conjure up will in nearly all cases be either an RT or an RM. The RT was London's standard post-war double-decker, replacing all other types (other than lowbridge), so that by the time they were all in service there were about 7000 of them. They were long-lasting too. The first pre-war RT went into service in 1939, and the last, RT624, came out of London Transport service in 1979. But their forty years service span with LT was not the lot. Very many were sold for service with independent bus operators in the UK, and indeed all over the world. Many will remember the RT that featured in the James Bond film: a memorable chase scene in the West Indies and a de-roofing on a low bridge ended with a drive onto a rickety jetty - all accompanied by that nostalgic sound of an RT engine.
Others will remember another famous film appearance, as the co-star with Cliff Richard in "Summer Holiday": the RT set out from Aldenham works for a tour of Europe. Many did so officially, as ambassadors for British workmanship, and subsequently many did so less formally, as holiday workhorses and with trekking companies.
Some are indeed still working for a living, while huge numbers are enjoying preservation in many parts of the World.
RT family at Brooklands London's standard bus they might have been, but there were variations. Apart from the unique prototype, RT1, there was a batch of "pre-war" RTs (actually built during the early days of the war) that were distinguishable from the main batches in a variety of ways. With wood- composite framing this batch was less long-lasting than the metal-framed postwar RTs, and early on became driving instruction units. One was experimentally converted into a Green Line coach: RTC1.

But even among the post-war buses there were differences: the first batches built had roof-box bodies, by a variety of builders: Park Royal, Weymann of Addlestone, and Saunders of Anglesey. Cravens of Sheffield built 120, but these were really non-standard, with 5-bay bodies, and were soon sold. Roofbox buses of all sorts went to both Central and Country Areas.

RT variety: red, green, AEC, Leyland, roofbox.. - all at Cobham Open Day, April 1998.
Photo by Ian Smith. Click for large version.

RT2083 at Showbus, August 97 RT191 at Brooklands, April 98 But the roofboxes proved vulnerable to tree damage and a new model with a three-panel front display was introduced. Bodies were being built by the thousand. Chassis production could not keep up, and some bodies spent a while on top of chassis from STLs: the short-lived SRT class. Leyland chassis were introduced - the RTL sub-class - some bodied with a slightly non-standard Metro-Cammell body, and some with Park Royal bodies interchangeable with the RTs. RTL501, the first, had a roofbox body, and some others later acquired roof-box bodies before sale. Some wider Leyland chassis received 8 foot wide bodies by Leyland: the RTWs.
The rapid production of RT type buses enabled the replacement of the worn-out pre-war types of bus, and also replacement of the London tram system by buses. But the planners had not realised how quickly car ownership would develop, and some of the later RTs and RTLs went into store for several years, as surplus to requirements.
"Standard" RT 2083 at Showbus 97.
Photo by Ian Smith. Click for larger image.
Roofbox RT: RT191 in early postwar livery, at Cobham Open Day, April 1998.
RTL1163, Brooklands, April 98 But they were the standard bus in the London area during the late forties and throughout the fifties. Through the sixties they shared the honours with the Routemasters. During the seventies London Transport - and London Country - had problems replacing them. Both companies tried long single-deckers, with marked lack of success; the new buses were withdrawn alongside the last RTs! New double-deckers in Central London also had distinct problems coping with the RT's work-load. But all good things reach an end at some point, and the last RTs went from Barking in April 1979. A final surprise was the appearance for the occasion of RT1, that had lain un-noticed and semi-derelict in the back of West Ham garage for some time. In immaculate pre-war livery it joined the parade, to celebrate forty years of RT service with LT.
Leyland RT: RTL1163 at Brooklands, April 1998

Table of Contents

Each section of the RT family has its own section, each with a general class history; an individual bus history; pictures (either drawings or photographs, when available); and a list of photographic references.

two RTs

  1. Bibliography: the list of sources
  2. RT1
  3. Wartime RTs, RT2-151
  4. Wartime RTs: histories
  5. Wartime RTs: photo references
  6. RTC1
  7. Park Royal and Weymann Roofbox RTs, RT152-
  8. Saunders Roofbox RTs
  9. Cravens Roofbox RTs, RT1402-1521
  10. Cravens RT: histories
  11. Cravens RT: photo references
  12. Standard RTs, - RT4825
  13. RT histories (start) RT152-
  14. RT photo References
  15. The SRTs, SRT 1-160
  16. Leyland RTLs, RTL1-1631
  17. Wide RTWs, RTW1-500
  18. The RT60 Celebration, June 1999.

RT family in preservation: green roofbox RT227 and red roofbox RTL at Showbus 98. Photo by Ian Smith.
RT 4681, Crystal Palace 1971


Information comes from a variety of sources, that are now listed on a separate page.

Especial thanks to BusSpotter for offering a really useful collection of RT pictures from amongst his many hundreds, that helped me get going when I had no photos of my own.

The main written reference for the class must be Ken Blacker's "RT: The Story of a London Bus", published by Capital Transport back in 1979. Unfortunately this is long out of print, and second-hand copies are rare. Public libraries may be able to help.

RT 4681 at Crystal Palace in 1971.
Photo, used with permission, by BusSpotter.
Click for large picture.

Links to other RT related sites

The Wealdstone Collection: RFs and RTs in preservation.
London Bus Preservation Trust: The Cobham vehicles: brief histories and some superb pictures.
Unitrans, Davis : RTs and RTLs still in daily service, in the USA.

Ian's Bus Stop RT Contents RT introduction RT1