This page updated 23rd October 2006: best on 800*600

All photos on this page are by Ian Smith, and most can be clicked to see larger versions.

RT152 onwards (Total 1169)

RT191 at North Weald, June98 RT3 front drawing

The post-war RT was not so much a bus as a way of life for London Transport after the war. That event had given LT an enforced break from bus procurement, apart from the utility designs. This did at least give them the chance to evaluate RT1 and the wooden-framed RT2s in service, and to mull over what they really wanted. That was a standard bus. Once the war was over there would need to be almost a clean sweep of the Augean stables. Many types should have gone in 1940 - the rest of the open staircase STLs and TDs, for instance. The austerity types were not seen as having much future with LT either. The STLs, too, were suffering badly from an extended life-span and wartime maintenance. So why not replace them all? With a truly standard double-decker LT could extend its pre-war practice of keeping a float of spare bodies, and develop its overhaul practice around it. Thus was born not just the idea of the RT, with its separate body and chassis, but the concept of Aldenham Works.

RT3: roof-box, deep valance, rectangular mirrors, pillar plate.

RT191 at North Weald, June 1998, with trafficators.

LT had a spare tube train maintenance depot, built at Aldenham for the never-completed extension of the Northern line. This was converted into a bus overhaul plant. When an RT arrived, the body and chassis were separated, and went onto separate overhaul lines. Everything was checked.
The chassis was dismantled and re-erected with replacement components as required, then repainted, - a remarkably quick process. The body was likewise checked over in minute detail, and renewed as required. (This even meant replacement of the concertina blinds behind the drivers. They regularly cut holes in them so that they could peep back into the saloon, and these holes were regarded as a component failure!)
The body was then re-united with a chassis. In most cases this was not the chassis it went in with. The body repair process took longer than the chassis re-build, and meanwhile London Transport was paying road tax on the vehicle. So, as was possible in a common component system, the repaired body was fitted to the next chassis off the chassis line. The completed bus then went through the paint booth to emerge looking like new. It was then given its new registration plates (from a newly arrived vehicle), and the corresponding fleet number. Why discuss this here? Because it explains why the roofbox bodies, built for the first few postwar RTs, gradually spread over the entire number range, and vice-versa.
RT, red


Chassis: Type 3RT: AEC Regent III, 16ft 4in wheel-base, 6 cylinder 9.6 litre diesel
Bodies: Park Royal, Weymann, type RT3: 56 seats (26 + 30), metal frames, 4 bays.

The roofbox bodies fitted to the early postwar RTs looked much like the wartime RT2 body. They were actually much more like the body on the prototype RT1, in that they had metal frames. The setup of the postwar production lines was delayed while the jigs for these were made, so the first post-war production of RTs was actually for other companies: the "Provincial RTs", using traditional bodywork construction.
The chassis were shorter too, as they stopped behind the rear suspension: the platform was cantilevered out from the rear body bulkhead instead of being supported by the frames - another significant change from the RT2s.

Early Park Royal / Weymann 3RT3 roofbox RT, with no offside route plate, deep valance and nearside pillar route plate.
3 green RT But visually they were much the same as the war-time RTs, apart from a few give-aways:
  • the straight edge to the bottom of the cab windows;
  • the front destination blind was below rather than above the via-points blind;
  • a smaller ventilator louvre on the cab-front, with no beading;
  • the lack of a rear roofbox;
  • a battery box on the rear offside, that gave a vertical bodyside instead of a curve;
  • no route stencil beside the doorway: the route number was on the side blind.
RT593 at the Cobham Open Day April 1998 preserved in the 1950 standard livery of green with a single cream band.

The first few from Park Royal had no offside route indicator panel, a carry-over from wartime practice, but this was in place on the Weymanns and later Park Royals. Those built without it had it installed at overhaul - in time for a further policy change against their use!

During the planning for RT production it was realised that 1948 would be a doubly-difficult year. Many old buses would have to come off the road that year, but Weymann and Park Royal were already committed to full production (including RTs). Other body-builders were approached to see if smallish numbers of stop-gap bodies could be sourced (AEC could supply enough chassis). Successful bidders were Cravens of Sheffield, who built 120 distinctly non-standard buses - the Cravens RTs, and Saunders of Anglesey, who built 300 almost standard roofbox buses - the Saunders RTs.


RT, green The first RT3 delivered was RT 402, bodied by Weymann, on the 10th of May 1947. Park Royal's RT152 appeared on 23rd May 1947. Both went to Leyton to replace open-staircase LTs. The livery for the new buses was red overall, with cream surrounds to the upper windows and a cream cant-rail band. Mudguards and guard-rails were black.

The Country Area did not have very long to wait for the start of its share. Traditionally the receiver of hand-me-downs from the Central Area, it had an awful collection of odds and ends to contend with after the war. Now it was to receive the flagship bus, starting in July 1948, at Hemel Hempstead (Two Waters) and Tring. Livery was green, with cream upper window surrounds and band. The Country buses had identical fittings, including the offside route board, but this was seldom used after the first few days, as Country buses commonly were used on a variety of routes in each duty.

Park-Royal or Weymann roofbox RT

RT3496, Showbus 98 RT3496, Showbus 98
RT3496 is seen in preservation at Showbus 98. It now wears early green and cream livery.
RT1705 at RT60 The new red and green buses received an enthusiastic welcome from both staff and public. This was a nice bus to ride - or work- in.

The livery was changed in 1950, the cream window surrounds disappearing from both liveries. The RTs settled down to many years hard service, and some adventures. One RT jumped the gap in Tower Bridge one day: the bridge started to open as the bus was crossing! RTs turned up in all sorts of unlikely places - but reports of a London RT being found on the Moon are apocryphal!

But not all the RTs had roofboxes. Prewar RTs 46 and 110 (which had lost its front roofbox), had taken part during 1946 in trials for various patterns of front display. The non-roofbox display was preferred, and so the production of roofbox RTs was limited to those already ordered. Later RTs were to have a 3-panel front display, without a roofbox: the standard RTs.

RT1705 immaculate in red at the RT60 rally, Stoke d'Abernon

RT191 But some of the changes also affected the later roofbox RTs: early RT3s had no offside route-number provision, and this was remedied very early in production. They also had no route number box under the front canopy, just a narrow vertical board with the route number on the front nearside pillar, which was was often not used. For the last 100 roofbox buses from Park Royal, and the last 50 from Weymann, there was an illuminated under-canopy display on the nearside. To help waiting passengers to see this, the front valance, below the cream band, was cut away , producing a better balanced look to the front end in the process. The vacated position on the front pillar was used for a housing for a semaphore arm, although these were not fitted. The offside arm housing was behind the drivers door. These 150 bodies were classified RT10.

The last roofbox RT delivered was Saunders RT 4267, to Streatham in February 1951.

RT 191 in preservation, at Showbus 97.

Overhauls and Standardisation

RT593 RT227 The 1952 overhaul round saw the roofbox buses largely receive overhauls without body exchanges. But by 1956 Aldenham was ready for them. But the early buses were going in for second overhaul as later buses went for their first, so very rapidly roofbox bodies started to appear on high-numbered buses.

Eventually London Transport realised that it had too many RTs. The rise of the motor car had begun. In 1956 the non-standard Cravens RTs went for sale, and in 1958 fifty surplus ordinary RTs went (half of them to Bradford). Early sales were of low-numbered RTs, but because of the Aldenham system they were not necessarily the oldest buses. Some standard RT8s and Saunders RT3/3s were sold in that first batch. The error was soon noticed!

RT227 at Showbus97
RT593 at East Grinstead Running Day April98

But after that the trolleybus replacement process began, and as Routemaster procurement was running late it was decided not to sell off perfectly good RTs but to use them for the first two stages. So in 1959 Bexleyheath, Carshalton and Clapton received overhauled RTs to replace their electric chariots.

Once all the trolleybuses had been replaced (mostly by RMs) the RT classes once more became the target for replacement. But this time the process was more rational, with buses selected for disposal on the basis of age or damage. The RT3 roofbox bodies were high on the hit list, as were the Leyland-chassis RTLs. Many went to South Africa for the Cape Electric Tramways, and whole shiploads went to Ceylon.
Someone pointed out that the RT10 roofbox bodies were supposed to fit on RTL chassis, and overhauls started to produce some RTLs with such bodies fitted, prior to early sale.

RT1784 at RT60 From 1963 there was a policy of removing roofbox RTs from the Country Area. Many were repainted red for Central Area duties. The last Country Area roofbox RT went in January 1964, but in the Central Area RT10s and Saunders RT3/3s soldiered on. They were not supposed to be fitted with heaters when that became standard for Central RTs, but somehow RT 1903, with a Saunders body, slipped through the net. So equipped, it outlasted its other roofbox brothers, being withdrawn from public service in 1971.
Even so, that was not the end of the roofbox story, even in LT service. Some continued in the LT fleet as trainers, RT4325 being the last in November 1973. Later, some preserved examples were even hired back by LT to be used as trainers!

As for longevity: there is still a roofbox RT running in daily public service, in London Transport red livery, at the University of Davis in California!

RT1784 at Stoke d'Abernon for RT60, 6 June 1999

RT593 at Aldwych


The roof-box bodies as built:
RT152-401 Park Royal RT3
RT402-651 Weymann RT3
RT652-656 Park Royal RT3
RT657-751 Park Royal RT3
RT752-851 Park Royal RT10
RT962-1011 Weymann RT10
RT1152-1401 Saunders RT3/3
RT1402-1521 Cravens RT3/4
RT4218-4267 Saunders RT3/3
Green in the City: RT593 at Aldwych at the start of RT60

Preserved Park Royal or Weymann roofbox RTs

(Please let me know of any others not mentioned):
RT 172  HLW 159  2008  preserved: T.Leighton, Keighley: in Bradford blue/cream
RT 190  HLW 177  2008  ex-RT1173, preserved: T.Stubbington & A.Peters
RT 191  HLW 178  2008  preserved, C.Scott, Romford
RT 227  HLW 214  2008  preserved, with rear doors, green: C.Mudie, Ponterwyd
RT 329  HLX 146  2008  preserved, P.Dale, Sherborne
RT 593  HLX 410  2008  preserved, green: P.Plummer & G.Townsend, Cobham 
RT 935  JXN 325  2008  preserved (minus roofbox): B.Garrad & R.Smith, Basingstoke 
RT935 at Cobham Open Day, 1998
RT935, rebuilt with a standard front, awaiting some new blinds, at Cobham Open day 98. Photo by Ian Smith. Click for a larger version.

RT1173                 see RT190
RT1705  KYY 532  2008  preserved: W.Ackroyd & A.Evans
RT1784  KYY 622  2008  preserved: G.&J.Hinson, Northampton
RT2553  LYF 278  2008  film work, in store, Men at Work, Hanwell
RT2657  LYR 641        preserved, static, in AMTUIR Museum, Paris (60, Avenue Saint Mande)
RT2827  LYR 997  2008  preserved by K.Batten, Castle Point Museum: Osbournes livery
RT3496  LYR 915  2008  preserved in green and cream: P.Dale, Sherborne 
RT4325  NLE 989  2008  in rebuild by RT824 Group, High Wycombe
RT593 offside RT593 rear RT 593 in preservation at Cobham, October 1997.
Extra indicators have been fitted at the rear to comply with modern requirements - one of the problems of active preservation.
Photos by Ian Smith.

photo references. bus histories. Cravens RTs Saunders RTs standard RTs

Ian's Bus Stop RT contents wartime RTs roofbox RTs