AEC Regal single-deckers

This page prepared by Ian Smith, created 2nd September 1999, updated 4th June 2002.

15T13 Regals: T769 - T798 (total 50)

15T13 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.

T792 at Cobham before overhaul 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.
June 1952 also brought an allocation change, as the Watford garages were closed in favour of the new Garston garage (GR). Garston used them on the 318 group.
T792 at East Grinstead, April 2001 T792 at East Grinstead, April 2001

15T13 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.
T792 at Cobham Open Day, April 2002 But by the end of 1956 the picture had changed dramatically. Their work in the north-west suburbs was almost at an end, with individual buses operating from Hemel Hempstead and Amersham. Some were working at Grays and Crawley, and others were stored around the Country Area, at Hemel Hempstead, Reigate, Dunton Green, Grays.. Perhaps more interestingly there had been a couple on loan to Kingston (K) from August 1956 working on the 216, of which one was now at Norbiton (NB) on the 201. This latter allocation settled down to three, although the three kept changing as the buses went through their overhaul cycle. All retained their green livery.

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.
But there were not enough of these individual jobs to do, and they were sold off. The first three went in 1956, followed by successive tranches in 1958, 59 and 60 to the Ceylon Transport Board, who bought nearly all of them, some newly overhauled. Some of the buses seemed to go direct from service to the dockside. T780 and T781 stayed in the UK when sold in 1958 to Shell Refineries.

By 1960 the careers of the survivors were being watched with interest.
T785 was still on staff bus duties, from New Cross then Abbey Wood again;
T787 was at Crawley (CY), used on the 426 and 853;
T790 was working from Tring (TG);
T792 was operating at East Grinstead (EG) and then Tring (TG);
Gradually their numbers reduced: T792 went into store in October 1960; T790 was withdrawn from service at Tring in June 1962; T787 went into store at Crawley in August 1962 T785 retired in October 1962, but its place at Abbey Wood was taken over by T787; Vass of Ampthill took all but T787.

T787 finally surrendered in April 1963, and in August made the long trip to Yorkshire, to North of Leeds.

T792 at Stratford, June 1970 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.

T719-768: 15T13 histories photo references

Bus Stop T contents 14T12s 15T13s TDs