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 & 2/9STL5From 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".
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 STL11The 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.
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.
The 9STL11s started to arrive in December 1935, and continued the process:
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.
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. But many underwent extensive bodywork treatment to keep them going while the trams were replacedby RTs, and even joined in the process of tram replacement at New Cross, looking smart in the new red livery with single cream band, and with full displays reinstated.
The Festival of Britain in 1951 kept many busy on special duties and extras, and some went to Grays in the Country Area when LT took over the Eastern National routes there in the autumn. 1952 saw extensive inroads into the survivors, but 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: STF1STL 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.