15T13 Regals: T769 - T798 (total 50)The new Country Area Regals caused a row when they were introduced. Why should the Country Area get the first modern buses that London Transport had after the war? Modern? Yes: the 15T13s were a very different kettle of fishfrom the 14T12s. They were postwar-standard Regal IIIs, with a postwar RT chassis specification: large engine (9.6 litre AEC A208); preselector gearbox and fluid flywheel. No paltry 7.7 litre engine and crash gearbox here!
The body, by Mann Egerton, was conservative in design, but with the elegance of simplicity of line and a care with details. An external sliding door completed the forward entrance. An oddity was the livery chosen: wartime Country Area green and white, rather than the postwar green and cream already applied to the "provincial" STLs.
The new buses started to appear in the spring of 1948 (like me), and were allocated initially to Hemel Hempstead. They were all delivered by August, twelve of the later deliveries going to Watford (Leavesden Road) garage. They were ostensibly to strengthen the Country Area fleet, which was undergoing considerable traffic strain with the postwar housing boom as London expanded. In practice most of this growth was mopped up using double-deckers, using post-war and then pre-war STLs until the RTs arrived. The Country Area actually passed eleven 4Q4s and fourteen 5Q5s to the Central Area to help the latter put some of the 1T1s and LTLs through a refurbishment programme. But back to the 15T13s: Hemel Hempstead put them into service on a variety of its routes, including the 317, 322, 307/A, 377/A. Watford used them on the Uxbridge 309 service, as well as local works services.
The 1950s brought a new Country Area livery,
and the 15T13s were soon in overall green with thin cream lining.
Crawley (CY) received an allocation for use on the Surrey-Kent border, bringing them into the Southern division. They were mainly used on the 426 and 434 in their early days there, and on the 853 later.
The introduction of the Country RFs
and GSs did not directly affect the 15T13s:
they were intended to operate in parallel.
But the trend towards double-deckers in the early fifties
(same capacity in fewer buses at lower frequencies)
did result in some changes: Garston's double-decking of the 318 in May 1954
displaced 15T13s, which went to Amersham (MA) for the 394 group,
which had used 10T10s until then.
Others settled down as staff buses: two from Reigate, taking over from the 10T10s,
and one (T785) as a south-east London staff bus, allocated to Plumstead (AM),
Abbey Wood (AW) and New Cross (NX) at different periods.
By 1960 the careers of the survivors were being watched with interest.
T787 finally surrendered in April 1963, and in August made the long trip to Yorkshire, to North of Leeds.
Fortunately one has survived. T792 was early into preservation. I saw it in 1970, restored to green and white, at a bus rally in Stratford-upon-Avon. In October 1997 I renewed my acquaintance, meeting it in the museum at Cobham, where it still looked very good.
Since then T792 has been given a thorough overhaul,
with new body framing, new panels,
repaint into green with cream lining and a thorough chassis overhaul.
It is almost a new bus.
Reappearing in autumn 2000, it has graced various rally venues,
including Amersham, East Grinstead and the Cobham Museum Open Day.