This page created 1997, updated 17th February 1999.

Standard STLs.

STL 609-958, 1060-1259, 1264-1463, 1514-1613. (Total 850)

The title of "standard" STL is a bit of a misnomer: the STLs continued to show variations and innovations as they continued the development that would lead ultimately to the RT. But from STL 609 onwards there was more of a unity of style about the buses, despite the individual variations. This page deals with the first two types of Central Area standard STLs without roofboxes: those with the destination blind at the bottom (the STL5s) and those with it at the top (the STL11s).

STL609-958, (Total 350), 9STL5 & 2/9STL5

9STL5 drawing From November 1934 a rather more modern-looking type of STL appeared. It is amazing what difference a few detail changes can make to the appearance of a bus! The biggest change from the "leaning-back" STLs was a front that curved backwards in an unbroken line from cab-bottom to roof, rather than the straight rake of the leaning back STLs. The vacuum pump went under the bonnet; a white-painted valance above the bonnet did wonders for the appearance; and the sidelights were initially placed in the black band between decks. (This was altered during the war due to the blackout requirements, and sidelights were then mounted on the cab front and nearside bulkhead.)

The 9STL5s had three-panel displays at the front, with full length glass and the final destination at the bottom. At the rear offside the last window now became a panel carrying a route stencil plate, leaving just the small conductor's signalling window, a change that was applied retrospectively to earlier designs. The mudguards now curved back at their rear, into little bodyside "wings".
Attention too was paid to the line of the body mouldings, resulting in a body that generally looked less angular, more curvy, more modern. This was a Spitfire of a design rather than a Tiger Moth.

Inside there were changes too: the interior brown colour now came to half-way up the window pillars, with pale green above. Seats were green moquette with green rexine-covered backs. At first the seats continued to be wooden-framed, but changed to polished aluminium tube frames during production. It set a style trend for bus interiors that continued until the seventies.

Under the body, the chassis sported the diesel engine that had been tested on 11 of the leaning-back STLs, the A171 AEC 7.7 litre oil engine, driving through a fluid flywheel and an AEC self-changing gearbox.

STL 1060-1259, 1264-1463, 1514-1613: (500), 2/9STL11 & 3/9 STL11

STL11 drawing The most obvious difference with the STL11 bodies was that (apart from the first 50) the front display had the destination line moved to the top, following the example set by STL 857 (STF1). But there were other differences too. The sidelights had moved down from the cantrail to more orthodox positions on the cabfront and bulkhead, and the roof was double-skinned. Instead of the roof panel joints having a single rib in line with the pillars there were now two ribs per panel, with the joint still mid-way between the window frames. The STL11s were also the first to get stop lights, beside the rear light above the number plate.
9STL11, in early postwar livery.

Into service

The first 9STL5s went in November 1934 to Hanwell, which often seemed to get new diesel buses. (Perhaps because it was conveniently close to the AEC works in Southall). The main target for the new buses was the antiquated NS class, although their demise was accomplished in the usual roundabout way. The STLs went to heavily used central routes, often displacing six-wheeler LTs, which were pushed out into the suburbs (eg Sidcup) to displace NSs or create new routes. The diesels also displaced some still-new petrol STLs into the shuffle-go-round.

Dates Garage Route Nos Displaced types
Nov, Dec. 1934 HW, Hanwell 26, 97 LT
Jan.- June 1935 AL, Merton 70, 77/A, 88, 133/A, 152 LT
Jan.- June 1935 AL, Merton 32, 45, 49 NS
June 1935 D , Dalston 11, 47, 60, 38 LT
June 1935 D , Dalston 9, 42 NS
August 1935 H , Hackney 6 petrol STL (to AR, TL)
October 1935 H , Hackney 42 NS

The 9STL11s started to arrive in December 1935, and continued the process:

Dates Garage Route Nos Displaced types
December 1935 D , Dalston 47, 60 LT
December 1935 H , Hackney 42 LT
Feb, March 36 HW, Hanwell 17 LT
March 1936 AF, Putney 30 LT
March, April 36 AF, Putney 39, 72 NS
May 1936 HW, Hanwell 83
May 1936 F , Putney Bridge 14, 96 NS
June 1936 AR, Tottenham 22, 39 NS
June 1936 AR, Tottenham 73, 76 petrol STLs (to G)
October 1936 W , Cricklewood 2, 113 LT

9STL11 at war The standards settled quickly into their duties, but were in service for less than four years before the war came along. With the others of the class they acquired the trappings of war-time: reduced lighting, with masked headlights, sidelights and displays; white trim on mudguards to help in the black-out; brown roofs; the white spot on the rump to distinguish buses from trolleybuses; antishatter netting on the windows, soon with diamond cut-outs so that passengers had some chance of telling where they were.

Standards of maintenance suffered during the war period, with shortages of materials and skilled men, and the overhaul regime carefully built up at Chiswick was set aside as overhauls had to be undertaken at garages such as Reigate. The float of spare bodies was used up in repairs and replacements.

March 1941 saw several of the standards repainted green and sent to the Northern sector of the Country Area in exchange for red STLs sent there earlier in the war. In May many more, especially low-numbered STL11s, were repainted green ready for the resumption of double-deck Green Line services in June 1941.
Once the war was over the shortages remained into the early fifties, while demand for transport grew rapidly with the jobs, housing and leisure expansions. The standard STLs soldiered on. The RT family started to arrive but made relatively little immediate impact, other than to restart the merry-go-round of STL allocations. STLs were being used to replace much younger utility buses, such as the Guys, while running alongside the Daimlers at Merton and Sutton. Meanwhile the LTs, STs, petrol STLs, Guys, Bristols and Daimlers were gradually being replaced by the RT/RTL tide.

The start of the fifties found the standard STLs largely intact, if a bit saggy. 1950 saw the end of large numbers of them, especially the Country Area STL11s: few of these made it to the year end.

1950: Displacement by RT family

During 1950 RTs and RTLs arrived in huge numbers, displacing STLs. These shuffled around, displacing older buses to the scrapyard at Rainham, and concentrating the better ones. Upton Park received STLs to replace Guys on the 101, while Camberwell, Barking and Norwood used them to displace STs, as did Northfleet, Watford High Street and St.Albans. RTs and RTLs displaced STLs from Holloway (route 19), Leyton (35), Cricklewood (60), Forest Gate (25B), Enfield (128,144B), Battersea (19). In February RTs arrived at Dunton Green and Chelsham (403). In March Catford saw them displaced from the 54. In May it was Bromley's turn to receive RTs in place of STLs, for the 61,94 and 126. August saw the first STLs transferred into store at Poplar trolleybus depot, in preparation for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Some were transferred on to Potters Bar garage, or winter store in hangers at Stansted Airfield. Meanwhile Chiswick was continuing to overhaul the better buses, turning them out in red with a single cream band, some going on to a variety of Central garages.

From October the tram replacement programme mopped up almost all the new buses arriving, giving a respite to the remainder of the old STLs.

STL469 in postwar red. (At Covent Garden, December 1998)

1951: The Festival of Britain

The stored buses emerged in the spring of 1951, going to their assigned garages for sprucing up ready for their Festival duties starting in May. Along with a few of the 'leaning-back' STL3s they operated on special Festival of Britain routes to the various attractions, plus extra short workings on some routes:
Route Garage
A: South Kensington Stn - Festival Gardens B Battersea
B: Sloane Square - Festival Gardens N Norwood
C: South Bank Exhibition - Festival Gardens C Athol Street
TL Catford
G Forest Gate
Q Camberwell
CL Clay Hall
PM Peckham)
D: West India Dock Pier - Lansbury Estate- Festival Gardens C Athol Street
E: South Bank Exhibition - Victoria GM Victoria
F: Clapham Common car parks - Festival Gardens ED Elmers End
G: South Bank Exhibition - car parks Q Camberwell
H: Battersea car park - Festival Gardens AK Streatham

There were short working extras on 1,3,9,11,12,19,39,46,53A,59A,68,76,77 and 137.

The Festival routes were mostly underused: especially route C was out-competed by water buses and was severely reduced. G and H were a total flop, car use having been over-estimated. Some of the Festival buses were kept overnight at Peckham or Poplar, as their operating garages were full. From July surplus Festival STLs were sent to Hornchurch to oust Guys from the 175. That route's Guys from Upton Park and Barking were replaced by STLs that had been stored for possible Festival use at Highgate and Walthamstow trolleybus depots. Late September saw all routes and extras except A and B withdrawn, with the STLs going to Barking to displace Guys from the 23. Two others went to Hornchurch for new 246 (Hornchurch- Harold Hill), and two to Potters Bar for the new 207 (Barnet - New Barnet Stn). Routes 86, 86A at Upton Park, Hornchurch and Seven Kings received STLs in October. Uxbridge started new route 204 (I>Uxbridge Stn - Hayes Stn)

1952: tram replacement

Many underwent extensive bodywork treatment to keep them going: for the last phase in south-east London, there were insufficient RTs, even including the pre-war variety, and STLs were drafted in. Most of the tram replacement buses received full blind displays (the first time since the war).

Country Area and Grays

The availability of the ex-Festival of Britain buses allowed the Country Area to retire many of the forward-entrance STLs, which had a smaller passenger capacity. Some went to Grays in the Country Area when London Transport took over the Eastern National routes there in the autumn of 1951.


Despite severe depradations during 1952 as the RT family took over there were still many around for the Coronation extras programme in May and June 1953. But once that was over there was little for the STLs to do, and the survivors quickly went for scrap or overseas sale.

The non-standard standard: STF1

STF1 STL 857 appeared in the middle of the standard production looking rather different. Its STL11 body (but with in-line roof panel joints) had been modified drastically. The front was now raked back - part of the mid-thirties passion for streamlining. What is more, it was full-fronted, with the radiator tucked behind a massive "tin-front" grille. The bodywork mouldings were modified to suit the streamlined look, and the bus was liberally supplied with opening windows on both decks, plus ventilation through a cowl scoop above the front windows (as later found on RM1). Inside it had the new tubular Aluminium seats that would re-appear on all subsequent London Transport designs, and the improved appearance of the STL11s..

It appeared for official photos as STL 857, and was allocated to Tottenham (AR) for route 73 , followed by Hackney (H) for route 6. It was renumbered STF1.

The full-front disappeared in May 1938, when it was rebuilt to a half-cab with bonnet and radiator. The still- distinctive body was transferred to STL 1167, where it remained, being reshaped to a standard profile sometime in the late forties.

STL5 bus histories STL11 bus histories Photo References

Bus Stop contents Redline standards Country STLs