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 fish from 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 on the plethora of local works services serving the mills along the Ver valley.
T792 in the Cobham Museum, in green/white livery.
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 in June for use on the Surrey-Kent border, bringing them into the Southern division. They were mainly used on the new 473 (split off from the 434), and 426 and in their early days there, and then on 853 and 434.
T792 on a Running Day at East Grinstead, April 2001, where it made a foray on the 434 to Crawley.
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.
Grays received an allocation for the 375: Rainham Ferry - Rainham Crossing, and then for the 328C to Aveley.
T792 visited another latterday niche of the type on a little running day on 2nd August 2015. This time it was the 394 group. It is seen by the old LT telephone pole bus stop flag at Cherry Tree Farm on the 394 to Great Missenden, and at the pub at Swan Bottom, a 394D terminus.
At Crawley the 434 and 473 lost their westward stretch between Crawley and Horsham to double-decking by the 405 with RTs. RFs took over the eastern section of both. The 15T13s were left with contracts and works journeys. They kept the circular 426 for a while, and gained journeys on the 424, where they worked the branches to and from Outwood and Horne, including carrying children to and from school, with journeys to Reigate and East Grinstead. I suspect that the school journey requirement required the capacity of a big T rather than a GS, while the daytime journeys were too unremunerative for a new RF.
T792 revisited its old haunts at Crawley on a "Country Bus Rallies mini Running Day on 1st September 2013. It worked on the 424 branches from Horley, to Outwood and Horne, as well as on the school journey to/from Reigate.
T792 : the rear nearside view, at Cobham Bus Museum, 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, Amersham and Tring. 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.
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 W.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 very 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.