This page created 7th September 1997, last updated 23rd February 2015.

RT 1 (Total 1)

Introduced: its a long story! - but lets say May 1938

Chassis: AEC Regent III, 16ft 4in wheel-base, 6 cylinder 9.6 litre diesel, A182 / A185
(a) 1RT: the original
(b) 2RT: from pre-war RT 19
(c) 3RT: from post-war Cravens RT 1420

(a) from a scrap Leyland Titan, TD111 (June to December 1938)
(b) Chiswick, RT1: 55 seats (26 + 29), an all-metal body, 4 bays.

London was seeking a new standard bus. The Regent, London's T-series, in all its variants (Short T, Short T Lengthened), had served it well during the thirties, but the design team at Chiswick knew that technology had moved on. With single deckers they had tried mid-engines, with the Q series, and were now trying out a flat underfloor mid-engine in the TF. A rear engine was being designed into the diminutive CR. But with "high-capacity" double deckers, where crew operation was a necessity for the forseeable future, the open rear platform and segregated driver seemed still the best option.
But there had been advances in engines and brakes, and new thinking on body design and finishing quality. This came together in London's unforgettable RT class: the Revised T (later thought of as the Regent Three)

The chassis arrived in June 1938, the result of joint design work by LT and AEC. It had a new bigger, 9.6 litre engine, that because of its size could deliver enough power at a much lower rev rate: it sounded much quieter and smoother than the STLs. This was coupled with a pre-selector gearbox. Brakes used compressed air. For running trials it was placed under a second-hand body (from TD111), and placed into service from Hanwell garage as ST 1140, (EYK 396).

RT1 (chassis) wearing the temporary body from TD 111. Drawing by Ian Smith 1997

RT1, first livery Meanwhile Chiswick was preparing the new body. This had composite metal frames as well as complete double-skinning - even on the domes. Another major departure was the use of just four bays between downstairs bulkheads. The passenger accommodation had also received proper thought from the engineers and designers, producing an interior that was a good place to be, for both passengers and crew.
Externally the body had a different shape from the STLs: the curving-sloped rear had given way to a vertical back, with a one-piece dome, while the front was elegantly curved back. Roofboxes were fitted not just at the front - where it looked good- but at the back too - where it didn't! The traditional window boards for route numbers were replaced by proper panels: a large one on the offside, between the saloon and the small stair window, and a narrower panel on the nearside in front of the platform. The driver's windows were sloped down at the outer corner to aid visibility, another feature that disappeared with the post-war version. But a major innovation for a Chiswick product was the sliding door for the driver. The classic Chiswick open door had had its day at last! (Or so it seemed: it made a comeback on the war-time lowbridge STL bodies!)

RT1 in its first trial livery. (Ad colours were guesswork). Below: Restored RT1 at Wisley (April 2010).

Restored 'RT1' at Wisley, April 2010 Restored 'RT1' at Wisley, April 2010

RT1, second livery In all it was a design that succeeded by attention and innovation in detail as much as in the broad sweep of the overall design.

Livery was also under review. The first colour scheme was basic overall red, with a silver roof and white surrounds to the upper deck windows, plus polished aluminium trim lines following the aluminium mouldings along the body sides. The bus was photographed and reviewed in this livery, but it seems not to have met with approval. It did re-appear in its first days in preservation and again in its post-rebuild form.

A revised livery was worn for the next round of official photos. The roof was painted red overall, avoiding the awkwardness with the smooth rear dome. The aluminium trim-lines were painted over, to be replaced by a cream band, and the white upperdeck window surrounds became cream. This new livery became LT's first post-war standard livery, (although it was not used on the other pre-war RTs).

RT1 in its second livery. (Ad colours are guesswork)

In this livery it entered service from Chelverton Road garage in Putney (AF), where it was in service from 17 June 1939 until October 1945. In 1945 the chassis was withdrawn, and the unique body placed on the chassis of RT 19. This new combination was numbered RT19, (FXT 194).

In 1954 the body went onto the chassis from SRT45 (itself previously under STL2551) to form Mobile Instruction Unit 1019J. This arrangement was brief however, as in 1955 the RT1 body was mounted on the chassis of RT 1420 (A Cravens-bodied bus whose body lost an argument with a railway bridge). (RT 19 then acquired a Tilling STL body that had previously been fitted to a post-war 3RT chassis during the SRT period when bodies were in short supply!)
Got that?
RT1420/RT1 continued as a Mobile Instruction Unit, now 1037J, wearing trade plates and in September 1978 it was still intact, if tatty, resting at the back of West Ham garage. But resurrection was at hand, in the shape of Prince Marshall. It was pulled out of obscurity, overhauled by enthusiasts and repainted in its original livery, with original adverts. It was re-registered EYK 396, and re-numbered RT1 to make a surprise appearance in the parade marking the RT's last active day of public service with LT, in Barking on 7 April 1979. Prince Marshall used it in his Obsolete Fleet, and intended to run it on Route 100, like ST922, in Central London. But after his death problems with his estate led to the disbandment of his collection of buses, and "RT1" was sold to a company in the States. After journeys in the USA, and threats of its becoming a hamburger bar, it returned to the UK in 1986, where it enjoyed a period of active preservation.

In 1997 it began a period of restoration. At some time the body framing had been damaged, and much would need to be renewed. The body was propped and sections of the framing dismantled one at a time for evaluation and rebuilding. This has taken some time! It finally re-emerged in time for the Cobham Museum Open Day in April 2009. It was then the subject of an appeal by The London Bus Preservation Trust (Cobham Bus Museum), to raise funds to buy it for the museum and avoid its sale to America again. This was successful, and since April 2010 RT1 has a secure home with the Museum.

Restored 'RT1' at Duxford, September 2009 Restored 'RT1' at Wisley, April 2010

RT1 at Duxford (September 2009), Wisley (April 2010).

RT 1          5/38    1RT chassis built
     EYK 396  6/38 CS 1RT chassis mounted under TD118 body, registered 
              6/38 HW service running trials (Hanwell)
             12/38 CS return to Chiswick
              3/39 CS 1RT chassis mated with RT1 body 18246: 1RT1
                      livery trials.
              6/39 AF into service
             10/41 GM transfer (Victoria, Gillingham St)
             10/45    1RT chassis separated from RT1 body.
RT19 FXT 194 10/45    RT1 body mated with 2RT chassis from RT19: 2RT1
              9/46    1RT chassis dismantled at Chiswick.
1019J -      10/54    RT1 body mounted onto chassis from redundant SRT 45,
                      became Mobile Instruction Unit 1019J.
1037J -               RT1 body mated with 3RT chassis from RT 1420: 3RT1,
                      became 1037J, Mobile Instruction Unit (trade plates).
              */55    (2RT chassis (ex RT 19) mated with Tilling STL body)
      403GH   7/67    in service as 1037J on 403GH red trade plates 
              8/73 WH  
              */78    delapidated at rear of West Ham garage.
              */79    bought by Prince Marshall, overhauled and repainted in original livery
RT 1 EYK 396  */79    used on Last RT parade at Barking
              */81 AH in store in Nunhead garage
              */83    Obtained Certificate of fitness, to allow PSV use, but...
              */83    Exported to USA, by Bevan Funnel Ltd.
              */86    Re-patriated to UK for preservation
              */88    RT1 Group formed 
              */97    In store awaiting body framing work
              */98    Bought by Mike Selt
              */98    Start of reframing by Ian Barrett: see Preserved Bus magazine
                      for a series of articles on this
              4/09    at Cobham Museum Open Day, Wisley, post restoration
              9/09    at Showbus, Duxford
              4/10    bought by The London Bus Preservation Trust
              4/10    at Cobham Museum Open Day, Wisley 
              6/12    at AEC Centenary: Walthamstow Pump House
              4/14    active at RT75 Celebrations: Ash Grove (22)
              4/14    active at RT75 Celebrations: Brooklands (462)
              9/14    at Hampton Transport Gala/Fair
             11/14    in service on 11
              7/16    at West Ham garage open day

RT1 at RT50 RT1420 / RT1 at the RT50 celebrations, 1989.
Photo, used with permission, by BusSpotter.
Click for larger picture

Photo References:

For a key to the references, see the bibliography.

LB&TA p25  1938, ST1140 at Hanwell, n/s view
FRT p22    1938, ST1140, at Chiswick? o/s view

LBP&P p35  1939, at Chiswick displaying 164A to Aldgate, o/s  livery1
FRT p24/25 1939, at Chiswick displaying 164A to Aldgate,      livery1

LB2939p131 6/39, in Chiswick licensing shop, displaying 148   livery2
ALoLBW p87 6/39, in Chiswick licensing shop, displaying 148   livery2

BusEx61 p5 7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying 164A (o/s)           livery2 	
BBB7 p70   7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying 164A (o/s)           livery2 
LBM2 p7    7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying 164A (o/s, n/s)           livery2 
ALoLBW p83 7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying to Morden Stn (o/s)  livery2
LB&TA p25  7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying to Morden Stn (n/s)  livery2
RTJub p04  7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying to Morden Stn (n/s)  livery2
LB2939p138 7/39, in Bushey Pk displaying to Morden Stn        livery2
LBBW p65   7/39, at Hampstead Heath, press outing             livery2
FRT p26-31 7/39, official pics, various views including details
                 exteriors, and interiors.
FRT p32    7/39, on tilt table at Chiswick
FRT p33,   7/39, two views on Press launch day (13/7/39), Aldwych
FRT p48    1943, on 137 to Sloane Square (GM)                 livery2+

LBiC p52   1949, RT19 with RT1 body, on 74 (F)                livery2
FRT p90    1950, RT19 with RT1 body, on 96 (F), n/s rear      livery2
CBY-3 p62  1953, RT19 with RT1 body, on 85, (F)               livery3

FRT p119   7/67, as 1037J, based at Wood Green, polished!     livery3
LTBG p85   7/67, as 1037J, based at Wood Green

LBiC60 p47 7/67, as 1037J, near Wood Green,  (n/s rear)       livery3
LBM145 p27 8/73, as 1037J, in West Ham Garage
HeyLB2 p73 9/78, as 1037J, in West Ham LT,  (n/s rear)        livery3
LT3362 p36 4/79, displaying 164A to Morden Stn: Barking       livery1	
                 last RT day: 7/4/79: (o/s front view)
LT6395 p64 4/79  last RT day: 7/4/79: (rear view)
FRT p126   4/79, at Barking on last RT day.(n/s front view)
RT p271    4/79  Final Run of the RT Bus, Barking Town Hall
GDRT pxx,  7/79, Islington, showing 164A to Morden Stn        livery1
LTBG p48   */81  in Nunhead garage, showing 164A 

Bus383 p90 */87  at Wisley for filming                        livery2
AIHLB p03  7/89  Leighton Buzzard rally       (o/s rear)      livery2  
                 displaying 22 to Homerton
BS#9705    1989  at RT 50 celebrations livery2
Bus414p404 7/89  at Aldwych 
Bus415p460 8/89  at RT50, Covent Garden
PrB4 p08   1998  during rebuild
PrB5 p10   1998  during rebuild
TLB537 p34 4/09  at Cobham Gathering, Wisley
TLB597 p37 4/14  in service on 22 to Shoreditch Church, Holborn Viaduct

livery1: red, silver roof, polished Al trim,
livery2: red, red roof, cream band, cream upper window surrounds,
livery2+: as 2, but cream surround to lower windows too, restricted display.
livery3: red, red roof, cream band.

Bus Stop RT Contents RT intro RT1 "prewar" RTs