RT1402 - RT1521 (Total 120)
Chassis: Type 3RT: AEC Regent III, 16ft 4in wheel-base, 6 cylinder 9.6 litre diesel
Bodies: Cravens type RT3/4: 56 seats (26 + 30), metal frames, 5 bays.
RT 1499 (in preservation) at the Shillibeer commemorative rally in Hyde Park (1979).
Photo, used with permission, by BusSpotter.
Quite whether LT expected to get standard roofbox RT3s from Cravens I don't know.
If they did they were disappointed. Perhaps they were desperate!
They were rather different from the rest.
Whereas Park Royal, Weymann, Saunders and even Leyland produced bus bodies
were essentially standard, the RT-ness of the Cravens product was superficial.
Most obviously different were the five bays between bulkheads, with concomitant non-standard window mechanisms and glass,
and a lack of the small panel ahead of the platform. The lower deck windows were not only shorter but deeper,
giving a waist-rail lower than on the cab. The front bulkhead window was substantially shallower,
A standard RT cab did not match properly under the Cravens upper deck, which did not taper in at the front like other RTs.
This made the upper windows at the front wider, too.
At the back the bus lacked the upright nature of the true RT, curving forwards for the whole of the upper deck.
A wide, shallow, Cravens rather than LT emergency door-window was fitted,
with stops below that together with the curvature prevented the fitting of adverts on the rear corners.
The platform window was appreciably narrower, and the number-plate unit was set much closer to the bus corner.
They were instantly recognisable, whether from front, back or sides!
RT 1499 at Cobham Museum in June 2001 shows most of the distinctive features of the front and rear.
It was sandwiched between RTL139 and STL 2377 so I couldn't photograph the five bay sides!.
Photos by Ian Smith.
I cannot remember ever seeing a Cravens RT in London service,
although the photographic evidence shows that they did operate on my "local", the 94.
They didn't last long, so I was probably too young to notice anyway!
Whilst in LT service the Cravens RTs were not clumped together,
as might have been expected, but were distributed system-wide in the Central Area,
although the Country Area did restrict their allocations to Watford High Street (WA) and Windsor (WR).
As non-standard buses they were obvious targets for redundancy when
the total number of RTs proved too great by the mid fifties.
As they were not interchangeable with the RT3s or RT8s
they were withdrawn when it came time for a second major overhaul in 1956,
having retained their original numbers and bodies.
Mid-1956 saw the Central buses go into store,
although some later went to the Country Area to cover double-decking of single-decker routes.
Some returned to store, but others stayed, and twenty-three were repainted into green.
The end came in October 1957, when the last four were retired from Windsor.
They were all (except one) sold via Bird's at Stratford-upon-Avon.
They proved to be bargains for many bus companies all over Britain.
The one that was not sold was RT 1420.
Its body had lost an argument with Norbiton railway bridge, when the GreenLine relief driver took the wrong route.
The body was scrapped.
As a replacement it received the body from RT19 -
which had originally been the body on
The new combination was relegated to the service department as mobile training unit 1037J,
until resurrected in 1979 and preserved as RT1.
Only three survive:
- RT1420, as the chassis under "RT1"
- RT1431, in early red/cream livery, with Ensignbus
- RT1499, in early green/cream livery, with Ensignbus
RT 1499 (in preservation) clearly shows the lack of taper in
the upper deck, that gave the Cravens RTs such a square look.
Photo, used with permission, by BusSpotter.
Click for a larger picture.
Late in 2004 The Newmans at Ensign established a working museum of London Buses.
Amongst their acquisitions were the two Cravens-bodied RTs, 1431 and 1499.
Much to everyone's surprise RT1431 was promptly repainted in early red/cream livery,
and appeared in service on the last crew day on the 36!
It subsequently turned out in service on other "last-RM" days during 2004.
RT1431 on route 36, 28th January 2005, heading for Queens Park from New Cross.
RT1431 at Victoria Station on route 38, 28th October 2005.
Also restored to service status was RT1499, but in the early postwar green with cream livery.
Both buses have been active, not only on private hires, but also on Running Days, rallies
and Railway Replacement work!
RT1499 pulls into Hertford Bus Station in June 2008, taking part in the Country Bus Rallies Running Day.
Cravens bus histories
Cravens photo references
Ian's Bus Stop