The General buses: T 1-37, 39-50, 156 (Total 50)
ConstructionThe chassis were mostly AEC Regal 662, with an A140 six cylinder OHC petrol engine, (Chassis numbers 662028 to 662064).
The bodies were L.G.O.C. (Chiswick-built) rear entrance, 6 bay, 29 seaters,
26ft long x 7ft 6in wide. The doorway occupied the last bay on the nearside,
with a step up into the saloon. A subsidiary step was bracketed below the platform.
T43 was an exception: it had an experimental AEC 8-cylinder engine. Its body (10276) was built 6in shorter, (losing it from the bay over the rear wheels) to allow for the longer engine. It was rebuilt with a normal engine in December 1930, when it also swapped bodies with T10. But the chassis was reduced in length by six inches (so as not to carry around six inches of air between engine and bulkhead) When the buses were coded in 1935 T43 was coded as 2T2, whereas the others were 1T1. T10, of course, was now only 25ft 6in long, (but coded 1T1), and remained that way through subsequent overhauls.
T38 was a different beast altogether: this chassis was used to make a prototype for the Greenline "coaches". To make up the numbers of buses, T156 was bodied as a 1T1 bus during the production of the Greenline 7T7s.
T31, restored to original body configuration, looks superb at Cobham Bus Museum in September 1997. Photos by Ian Smith
Into serviceThe Regals appeared for the LGOC in December 1929 and January 1930. The first ten went to Romford, accompanying new STs for a virtual re-stock. The others displaced elderly K-class single deckers, plus single-decker S-types at Sutton. This was a major step forward in passenger comfort!
Once they had settled, one was called in from each of Nunhead, Sutton and Holloway
in order to stock a competitive service at Cricklewood,
to draw passengers from a Birch-operated service.
Rebuild to forward entranceT27 was experimentally rebuilt at overhaul in December 1930 with an open doorway at the front of the saloon, behind the front wheel, instead of the original rear platform. The other Central Area buses were rebuilt the same way during overhaul between 1933 and 1935.
The 45 Central Area buses went about their duties: there were not very many Central routes requiring single deckers, and they kept company with the 5Q5s and LTLs. They quickly became migrants, changing garages on a frequent basis, particularly at the annual overhauls. In some cases they were used to open up new suburban routes as London sprawled outwards, such as the 235 (Croydon - Selsdon), and the 232 (Beckenham Junction - Coney Hall).
London TransportAll the 1T1s were taken over by London Transport in July 1933, either from the LGOC or the LGCS.
WartimeNovember 1940 saw nine loaned to the Country Area, two to Windsor, four to High Wycombe, three to Hertford. Five more went in 1942, one to Watford (Leavesden Rd), one to Amersham, and three to Hertford. All remained in red livery, and gradually returned to the Central Area, the last coming back in January 1944.
Three suffered from the shortage of red and white paints at overhaul during the winter of 1942-3, and wore indian red and primrose livery until their next overhaul.
Many others were converted to perimeter seating, with twenty-nine inwards-facing seats: sixteen offside, thirteen nearside. This allowed twenty standing passengers to be carried, greatly increasing peak capacity. This arrangement lasted for some time after the war, when the fleet was suffering severe capacity problems. Quite a few continued perimeter seating until 1949 - some until withdrawal.
Postwar life-extensionThe ravages of war, which included lack of regular skilled overhauls, left the 1T1s in a fairly life expired state, as far as their bodies were concerned. But they had to soldier on: the demands of post-war traffic increases and the lack of single-deckers in the austerity programmes meant that the strapping came out in plenty on the 1T1 bodies. The purchase of the Leyland TDs, and the postwar 14T12 Regals brought some respite, but there was still a job for the 1T1s: they were the only proper-sized buses allowed over the weight-restricted bridge at Walton-on-Thames. Kingston - operated routes 218 and 264 went that way.
So eighteen of the 1T1s were sent to Marshalls of Cambridge for body rebuilds, and emerged looking superb, in red livery with narrow cream lining. Gone was the Chiswick cummerbund, and the rubbing strakes on side and rear. New were smooth panels from window to skirt. The doorless front entrance was retained, and a route stencil holder mounted above it. The rebuilds also received diesel engines from scrap STLs. Eight others, unrebuilt, also received diesel engines and shared the Kingston duties in their red, white and brown colours. They also appeared on other Kingston routes alongside their later cousins.
The end came in 1953, when a temporary replacement bridge at Walton allowed their replacement by 10T10s.
But even then one survived: T31 became an instruction unit at Chiswick, and stayed on training duties until October 1956. It was then sold by London Transport direct into preservation. T31 has since been rebuilt to original rear-entrance configuration, and repainted in original General livery style. It is actively preserved at Cobham Bus Museum.
T31 at Cobham Open Day, April 1998.
T31 occasionally comes out in public, such as on the 2008 Worcester Park Running Day, when it operated on the 213, including visits to Sutton Garage, where it looked right at home among the modern rolling stock.