This page created 9th April 2007
The Leeds STLs
The BlitzIn the dark days of the Blitz London Transport was hit hard, with a couple of garages destroyed along with their buses, as well as in-service casualties. LT resorted to hiring buses from the provinces. Leeds City Transport came up trumps with a complete batch of twelve AEC Regents, 40-51, that had been delivered to Leeds in 1932. They had 55-seater Roe bodies, diesel engines and a nice grey/off-white livery (with wartime trims). On arrival in London in late October 1940 they were scattered around the garages, but were soon concentrated. As well as the batch of a dozen there was at least one slightly younger Regent from Leeds: 176 was to return again to London post-war. Their propaganda value, in terms of the Nation Pulling Together, was appreciated, and they were seen on high-profile routes through the centre of London.
The Blitz on London slackened off during early 1941, as Hitler turned his attention first to other UK cities and then to Russia. The buses quietly returned home.
As well as Leeds there were Regents from other towns and cities too. Halifax was indeed the first to respond, with at least two Park Royal bodied Regents.
In 1949 London Transport's bus shortage was far from over. The RTs were starting to arrive, but the wooden-bodied buses from the early 1930s were well past their sell-by date. But for the war many would have been replaced in 1940-41, and they would at least have had the benefit of annual overhauls to keep them in shape. Bromley's fleet was amongst the worst. Bromley was still mainly a petrol garage, with many of the Tilling-built buses with their lightweight framing. Some of these sagged rather noticeably. Middle-aged, the buses were sagging at the waist. Petrol-engined relics were drafted in from other garages as they could spare them (as austerities took over in some places), but even so the Men from the Ministry were vigilant and buses were being withdrawn.
So LT negotiated a loan of eighteen 1930s AEC Regents from Leeds City Transport. Although diesel engined, they were mechanically similar to London's STLs. They arrived at Chiswick in August (the trial one) and September 1949, and all but one were sent on to Bromley after inspection.
They were confined to three routes: