Preserved RW3 on the 390 at Stapleford (Woodhall Arms) on 2nd June 2012The RW Reliances were one of London Transport's small experimental classes, purchased to investigate aspects of fleet renewal. The Country Area RFs were not going to last for ever (although in 1960 the LT management would have been amazed to know how long they would!), and thought was being given to a bus successor.
The opportunity was seized to investigate dual door layouts when Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport ordered a fleet of small Reliance buses from AEC / Willowbrook. LT placed a follow-on order for three.
ConstructionThey were AEC Reliances with a 7.7 litre AH470 engine hung on the chassis. Transmission was through a Monocontrol gearbox like that on the RMs. The body was 8 foot wide with a dual doorway: an entrance at the front and an exit amidships. There was an emergency exit door at the offside rear, another departure from the long-standing London practice of central rear doors. This gave shorter windows than the standard BET body, and an odd little window at the back of the offside. The roof had quarterlights: five on the offside, three on the nearside avoiding the central door. The spacing of these matched the normal BET window spacing, so they did not line up with the windows below. Livery was standard London Lincoln green, but with pale cream relief applied as a broad band below the windows. Indicators comprised a tall wide box at the front, housing a somewhat smaller display, and a small number-only box perched on the rear dome above the large rear window.
Into serviceThe first bus, RW1, arrived for initial type-testing in August 1960, and all three were allocated to Hemel Hempstead (HH) for use on the busy one person operated 322 routes, where the potential of the dual door arrangement for time-saving could be assessed.
During the next three years they spent short spells at a number of garages, all three staying together except when one went ahead for type-training. They went to Addlestone, Reigate, St.Albans, Hertford and back to Hemel Hempstead. Nowhere were they received with anything approaching rapture. Overheating was a problem, the engine, fluid flywheel and gearbox being mounted as a group rather than separately. Also the crews disliked having to supervise the distant central doorway, and found difficulties with dual doors when stopping in tight spaces in rural lanes: the stopping places would be determined by waiting passengers, who would naturally stand in the best spots. If the bus stopped conveniently for them, it could be awkward for passengers trying to alight into the hedge!
RW3 on 322 in 1963 at Nash Mill looking towards Kings Langley station along Lower Road at the corner of Red Lion Lane. Photo by Geoffrey Tribe.
Preserved RW3 on the 333 at Bengeo (Parker Avenue) on 2nd June 2012The experiment was drawn to a close in 1963, all three being withdrawn together from Hemel Hempstead and placed very briefly into store at Garston before their departure to Chesterfield Corporation. There they gave long service, being withdrawn in 1977-8. RW1 was then scrapped, RW2 was preserved, and RW3 went for further service in the West Country before also being preserved.
Fleet listThese histories are not complete, but have been put together from data from a variety of sources.
RW 1 495 ALH 8/60 new, delivered to Aldenham 9/60 HH into service on 322, 322A (Hemel Hempstead) 1/61 WY transfer, for 427, 437, 456 (Addlestone) 4/61 WY in use on 462 6/61 RG transfer for 440, 440A (Reigate) 12/61 SA transfer for 355 (St.Albans) 9/62 HG transfer for 331, 333, 333B, 390(Hertford) 6/63 HH transfer for 322, 322A 10/63 HH withdrawn, stored 10/63 GR change store (Garston) 11/63 bought by Chesterfield Corporation, #18 64-77 Chesterfield Corporation #18 2/78 withdrawn 3/78 on loan to Webster, Hognaston 3/78 returned to store at Chesterfield 12/78 sold to Wombwell Diesels: scrapped RW 2 496 ALH 9/60 new, delivered to Aldenham 9/60 HH into service on 322, 322A (Hemel Hempstead) 1/61 WY transfer, for 427, 437, 456 (Addlestone) */61 WY used on 437 6/61 RG transfer for 440, 440A (Reigate) */61 RG used on 440 12/61 SA transfer for 355 (St.Albans) 9/62 HG transfer for 331, 333, 333B, 390(Hertford) 6/63 HH transfer for 322, 322A 10/63 HH withdrawn, stored 10/63 GR change store (Garston) 11/63 bought by Chesterfield Corporation, #19 64-76 Chesterfield Corporation #19 11/77 withdrawn 4/78 bought for preservation by London Bus Preservation Group, Cobham */83 preserved in LT green/cream, seen at Cobham */83 preserved by Graham Batten, Epsom, Surrey 1999 in preservation, Ashford, Kent RW 3 497 ALH 9/60 new, delivered to Aldenham 9/60 HH into service on 322, 322A (Hemel Hempstead) 1/61 WY transfer, for 427, 437, 456 (Addlestone) 6/61 RG transfer for 440, 440A (Reigate) */61 RG used on 440 11/61 SA transfer, trainer (St.Albans) 12/61 SA service on 355 9/62 HG transfer for 331, 333, 333B, 390(Hertford) 8/62 SV transfer (Stevenage) 11/62 HG transfer for 333, 333B 6/63 HH transfer for 322, 322A 10/63 HH withdrawn, stored 10/63 GR change store (Garston) 12/63 bought by Chesterfield Corporation, #20 64-76 Chesterfield Corporation #20 12/77 withdrawn 4/78 sold to Brown, (Motcombe, Devon) 5/78 bought by Shaftesbury & District, Shaftesbury, Dorset */79 bought by Brutonian Coaches (Knubly), Bruton, Somerset, #10 8/80 withdrawn 9/82 repainted */82 relicensed 10/87 sold to Wacton (Bromyard) */88 sold to Brown, (Motcombe, Devon) 7/88 bought by Norman, Wallington, Surrey, for preservation bought for continued preservation, Essex 1999 in preservation, Epping 1/10 bought by J. Huxford for restoration 2010-11 complete restoration by Country Bus Rallies team 4/12 at Cobham Bus Gathering, Wisley 5/12 on HCVS London-Brighton run 6/12 active at Hertford Running Days (333, 390) 10/12 on loan to the London Bus Museum, Brooklands
Photographic ReferencesFor a key to the references, see the bibliography
RW LB60 p49 interior views RW 1 495 ALH AIHLB p60 8/63 HH on 322 to Watford Junction, Hemel H MinLC p111 1960 HH on 322A to Watford Junction (publicity pic) H61 p90 4/61 WY on 462 to Leatherhead, Weybridge Stn Exile p72 with Chesterfield Corporation RW 2 496 ALH LB60 p48 9/60 HH on 322A, Warners End, rear view H60 p32 10/60 HH on 322 to Hemel Hempstead H60 p115 c10/60 HH on 322A (front and rear o/s views) LB60 p48 SA on 355 to Radlett, St Albans TBX61 p21 1961 WY on 437 to Weybridge, Woking Stn H61 p33 1961 WY on 437 to Addlestone, New Haw H61 p98 1961 RG on 440 to Woldingham, Merstham H62 p15 1/62 SA on 355 to Harpenden, Elstree & Borehamwood Stn PrB7 p28 1983 at Cobham Museum, preserved RW 3 497 ALH LB60 p47 9/60 HH on 322 to Two Waters TBX60 p00 10/60 HH on 322 to Watford Junction, Hemel Hempstead LB&TA p68 HG on 333, Bengeo & Hertford, Hertford MinLC p27 HG on 333, Hertford & Bengeo, Hertford HeyLB3 p59 1963 HG on 333, Bengeo & Hertford, Hertford LBM103 p29 5/63 HG on 333, Bengeo & Hertford LCtryB p65 1961 WY on 427 to Woking LB60 p49 WY on 456 to Weybridge H61 p156 1961 RG on 440 to Reigate, Caterham AIHLB p60 7/73 with Chesterfield Corporation TLB581 p45 6/12 on 333: Bengeo & Hertford, BengeoThere is also a photo of RW2 on Mike Dawes' TMR Preservation site