AEC Regal single-deckers

This page prepared by Ian Smith, created 13th July 1999, updated 7th July 2016.

Country Regals: T319 - T402

When London General Country Services was set up in 1932 it acquired from LGOC all the Private Hire and GreenLine coaches, including the Ts. East Surrey, the forerunner of LGCS, had its own Regal coaches, and acquired more by takeovers before the formation of London Transport. Quite naturally it numbered these following on from the GreenLine Ts, ie from T307 upwards. When London Transport was formed in July 1934, further Regal coaches were taken over, and were numbered onto the end of the T numbering system. The Country Regal buses, that had not been numbered by LGCS, were also added onto the end. The Country Area continued maintaining the buses and coaches, and no-one seemed to know or care that London Transport had TWO sets of Regals with fleet numbers between T307 and T318. However, when Chiswick works took over the Country records in February 1935 they discovered the AWFUL TRUTH.

The logical thing to do would have been to renumber the Tilling buses, leaving the Country coaches as a block. Chiswick, of course, did the other thing. They renumbered T307-T318 of the Country series to T391-T402, thereby splitting the coach series, and even one type. But then, they had already mangled the renumbering of the Amersham & District and Lewis Omnibus Regals, so this increase in entropy was hardly surprising.
Anyway, having explained why the numbering scheme is rather weird, on to the buses: I shall use the London Transport numbering.

T319-324; T399-402 (T315-318): 1931 East Surrey touring coaches

T401 drawing These were East Surrey's second set of touring Regals (the first lot, and the first few of these having been renumbered), and were rather nicer than the first batch. They were 27 feet long (not being bound by London's stage carriage regulations), but still used the standard 17ft 0in wheelbase chassis. Their bodies were by Hall-Lewis, and unlike the first batch had full canopies at the front, above Chiswick-style rounded cabs. They also sported GreenLine style route indicators at the front. But coaches they were, with a nearside forward swing door, offside emergency door, luggage carrier and fold-back opening roof. The only purpose LT could use them for was for private hire and sightseeing: they were unsuitable for GreenLine use, and LT was prohibited by law from using them for long - distance touring. So the luggage racks came off, and they were allocated to the GreenLine Private Hire depot at Brixton. They worked from there until the spring of 1938, when they were replaced by the LTC Renowns.

144W drawing One escaped being sold, and began a rather different career with the London Trolleybus fleet as a wire greaser. T320 acquired a specialist double-decker body and trolleybus style livery, and as service fleet number 114W spent the years between 1938 and 1957 keeping the wires lubricated, eventually being sold in 1959.

T323-324: Autocar touring coaches

These were more or less identical to the East Surrey tourers, being ordered at the same time. There were actually 13 of them, delivered in 1931 to Autocar. But when London Transport was established, the Autocar territory straddled the legal boundary. Most of Autocar's operations, premises and vehicles went to Maidstone and Disrict in the carve-up, but these two were included in LT's share.
Like the East Surrey tourers they went into the Private hire fleet at Brixton, and lasted until displaced by Renowns in the spring of 1938.

T325-345: the non-LT Regals

These numbers belonged to the Autocar coaches which went to Maidstone and District, and were not re-used by LT. They had been numbered by London General Country Services in 1932, and some at least acquired Green Line livery and fleetnames. A photo shows one such operating from the old Associated Coaches shed at Ongar, on the Epping to London service, far from Autocar territory. After transfer to M&D the older ones were mainly rebodied by Harrington in 1938, and had relatively long post-war lives. The Army acquired some, which failed to make their way back to M&D and re-emerged after the war with new registrations and owners.

T346-351: the Blue Belles

These six buses came from Blue Belle Coaches when GreenLine acquired the East Grinstead - London service in August 1932. They had been new in early 1930, with London Lorries 26ft bodies for express stage work. They were similar to General's 1930 style, with a rear nearside door.

As has often proved the case with the premium GreenLine market, the body amenities were considered old-fashioned in a very short time, and by 1935 LT had to consider rebodying them as too old-fashioned for the market.

5T4 drawing All six had their chassis upgraded to 1931 specification, but retained their petrol engines. The bodies were replaced by all-metal Weymann bodies very similar to those built for Reliances that later ended up on Regals as the 11T11 class. However, they had heavier new metal-framed seats, but only seated 26. They were classified 5T4.
With their new bodies they were intended for private hire work, but they went instead onto GreenLine work, on route J between Reigate and Watford. But their lack of luggage racks, heaters, ash trays and other Green Line necessities meant an early transfer to spare Green Line status at a variety of garages. In 1936 they were gathered back together at Luton and demoted to Country bus work. At Luton they supplied all the local single-deck routes: 356, 356A, 364, 364A, 376, 383. Still their limited seating made them unsuitable for some workings, and some drifted away to other garages. But in January 1939 they were upseated, with an extra row of seats: another four passengers. Hertford received a quota.

During the war they continued as Country buses, being moved around whenever major changes occurred to the erstwhile Green Line fleet of 10T10s. So in June 1941 they congregated again, at Hertford and Watford (Leavesden Road).

T347 and T350 were fitted with perimeter seating during 1942, reducing seating again to 27, but allowing twenty standing passengers. The other four were withdrawn in September 1942, appearing occasionally when needed with snowploughs. T347 and T350 were fitted with producer gas units, and worked from Addlestone and Leatherhead on route 462, but later reverted to petrol. They all went abroad in 1945, when they were bought by the War Department for use in Germany by the Allied Control Commission.

T352-357: the Queen Lines

These six came to GreenLine in April 1933 when the route to Baldock was taken over. They were new early in 1931 to Queen Line Coaches of Baldock, and like the Blue Belles were 26ft London Lorries - bodied Regals. They too had a rear nearside door.

Their history with LT matched those of the Blue Belles. They too had chassis upgrades in 1935, and new Weymann bodies, making them also 5T4, like the Blue Belles. Again the rejuvenated buses had a year on GreenLine, followed by Country bus work, initially at Luton, then more widespread, at Hertford and Windsor, then St.Albans, Staines, Leatherhead and Reigate.

All except T356 were converted to perimeter seating in 1942. T356 was withdrawn in September. The others, after another spell at Hertford and Leavesden Road, were converted for producer gas operation in May 1943. They worked from Leatherhead and Addlestone, where some received mandatory grey camouflage for working to the Vickers factory. After reconversion to petrol operation T353 was returned to service, and the others to store. They were exported to Germany for the ACC in 1945.

T351 was then bought for service in Douai, France, along with several other ancient Ts.

Amazingly, one seems to have survived. T357 moved to France after the war, and was converted to a mobile caravan. In this form it has survived for over fifty years, until recently coming to light again after a period in store. It has been repatriated in early 2003 to join its class-mates with the London Bus Preservation Trust at Cobham.

T357 at Cobham Museum, 6th April 2003 T357 at Cobham Museum, 6th April 2003

T357 at Cobham Bus Museum after repatriation from France in April 2003. Rubbing away subsequent layers of paint on the cabside has revealed its LT number. Restoration beckons.
T357 at Cobham Museum, 6th April 2003 T357 at Cobham Museum, 6th April 2003

T358: the Aston coach

This singleton coach was taken over by LT in October 1933 with the business of C.Aston (Watford). A 26ft stage coach, this lightweight vehicle was new in April 1930, with a body thought to have been built by Metcalfe (Romford?). It was built in the 1930 idiom, but managed to fit a rear nearside sliding door within the 26 ft length.

LT continued to use it in GreenLine service from Hitchin during 1935 and 1936. It was somewhat rebuilt at overhaul late in 1936, then continued in Green Line use at Romford (RE then RF) until it was displaced by the new wave of coaches in July 1938.

T359, 361, 362, 364: Amersham & District coaches (1)

Amersham & District bought the best-looking stage-carriage coaches, with very stylish 27ft bodies by Strachans. When new they were fitted with a luggage rack at the rear of the roof, had curtains, and were painted dark green and cream in Aldershot & District style.

GreenLine supplied Amersham & District with 7T7s for their London service at the start of GreenLine operations, but the company - and its coaches - was taken over by LT in November 1933. LT used the Strachans coaches on the Amersham - London service, classifying them 1/8T8/3. The roof racks were removed, and they were repainted, first into "General" green livery, then to "London Transport" with "Green Line" tags. They continued on this duty until early 1938, when they were spruced up and transferred to the Central Area's Private Hire fleet for a season.

At the end of 1938 they were given a make-over, or "mid-life refurbisment". This consisted of a new diesel engine and a nearly-new second-hand body. These bodies were built by Weymann in 1935 to rebody the Reliance R class. They suited the Regals much better. The rebuilt 11T11 buses went on to long lives with LT, lasting until displacement by new RFs in mid 1953.

T360, T363: Lewis Omnibus coaches (1).

T363 drawing Lewis Omnibus of Watford provided LT with four touring coaches at their takeover in October 1933. These two had 27ft Harrington bodies, with half canopies, two nearside swing doors and a folding roof.

LT naturally put them into the Private Hire fleet at Brixton, where they worked until the spring of 1938. Displaced by the Amersham coaches, they were then sold off.

T365, 366: Amersham & District coaches (2)

T366 drawing This pair were 1932 additions to the Amersham & District fleet, and similarly were 27ft stage coaches bodied by Strachans, with a sliding door at the nearside rear.

Like the earlier coaches, they continued to be employed from Amersham, on the London - Amersham greenline service, until spring 1938, when they went to Brixton (BT) for a season of sightseeing.

They too were candidates for conversion to 11T11, and were recorded as fitted with the new bodies in November 1938. For some reason this decision was reversed, they were refitted with their original bodies (if the T11 bodies had indeed been fitted) and were sold early in 1939.

T367, 368: Lewis Omnibus coaches (2)

Lewis coach drawing Lewis' second pair were also by Harrington, but this time to a more conservative full canopy design, with a nearside sliding door at the rear, and a sliding roof.

The sliding door allowed their use on GreenLine services, and they were so used from their takeover in October 1933 until early 1938. Then T368 was sold and T367 went to Brixton for a season's sightseeing. T367 was then recorded as fitted with an 11T11 body, but then refitted with its Harrington body before being sold the following year.

Country Buses

T369: the Peruvian demonstrator

This bus had a colorful history both before joining LT and after. It started life as a demonstrator for AEC. Chiswick fitted it with a 26ft bus body, rather like the 1T1, but with a rounded cab and an offside open rear platform. The roof was rather squarer, and overhung the cab considerably, presumably as an anti-glare provision.

T369 drawings AEC shipped the bus to Peru at the start of 1931, and demonstrated it in Lima, where it was photo-promoted by the Prince of Wales. AEC brought it back to England in 1932. It was converted to nearside open platform (probably by Park Royal), and sold to the Watford Omnibus Company. July 1933 saw it taken over by London Transport, who used it as a Country Area bus (4/1T6) in the north-west of the doughnut, working from Harefield, High Wycombe and Watford (WT).

It then moved across London to Dartford. Whilst there, in 1938, it was rebodied with the secondhand body from T300, and was reclassified 1/7T7/1. This body was simultaneously modified to bus standard, with a tall destination box. During the war T369 was reallocated to Addlestone garage (WY), and painted grey for operations around the Vickers works in Weybridge. In 1945 it was transferred to the Central area and repainted red. Duties in the Kingston and Romford areas kept it busy until the end of 1949.

T370: the St.Albans bus

The chassis for T370 was built by AEC in 1932 for stock, but remained unsold at the year-end. In 1933 St Albans & District bought it and fitted it with a secondhand bus body. A month later it was taken over by London Transport, who operated it as a Country bus in this form for just over three years. It worked from Ware, Hertford, Tring and Dartford.

In September 1936 the old body was removed and replaced by the spare Tilling body, painted two-tone green. It thus became a 4/1T3. It returned to Dartford, but had spells at Hertford and Hemel Hempstead. This lasted until October 1939, when the whole bus was dismantled for spares.

T371: the Watford bus

T371 also started existence as an AEC demonstrator in 1930, fitted with a rather nice Shorts forward entrance bus body. Watford Omnibus Co. bought it in 1932, and London Transport took it over in July 1933. It was used as a Country bus, operating from Amersham, Hemel Hempstead and Luton until 1939, when in common with the other 1930 Country Regal petrol buses it was delicensed and dismantled.

East Surrey bus drawing

T372-379, 383-390: the East Surrey short buses.

These sixteen buses were East Surrey's standard 1930 single decker, and closely reflected the design of the company's larger partner, the General. Six of them were actually owned by the LGOC. The design was basically the same as the 1T1: rear entrance 26ft Regal bus. They were built by Hall-Lewis rather than Chiswick, so had double beading round the waist rather than the broad Chiswick band.

After the 1932 reorganisation into London General Country services the buses were taken over by LT in July 1933, and used in the Country Area until 1939, when they were all withdrawn.

Some were sold during 1939. The unsold buses were reinstated briefly at the outbreak of war, as the Green Line fleet was commandeered as ambulances. But in October / November T372, 373, 379 and 388 were dismantled for spares to keep the rest of the T fleet running. That left T376, T377 T383-385, which were used spasmodically as required during the war, including spells as snowploughs. In 1945 they were sold to the Allied Control Commission for use in Germany.

T380-382: the East Surrey long buses.

East Surrey bus drawing East Surrey bought a further three buses in 1931, this time having them bodied by Weymann. By now forward entrances were in fashion, and they were given an extra bay by stretching them to 27ft.

These too were carried forward into LGCS and then LT Country Area stock as buses, and worked away until 1939, when although of superior specification to the shorter Country buses they too were delicensed.

T382 was reinstated, and worked at times during the war, betimes as a country bus, other times as a snowplough. It too went to Germany at the end of the war, with the Allied Control Commission.

The renumbered Coaches

T391, 392 (T307, 308): Buck's Expresses Coaches

T391 drawing The small company of Buck's Expresses bought two 26ft Regals with bodywork very similar to that on the 1/7T7/1s, only slightly taller. They were taken over by General on behalf of Greenline in February 1932, and became part of GreenLine stock. LGCS numbered them T307 and T308 in their GreenLine series. London Transport took control in July 1933, and renumbered them to T391, 392 when the number duplication was noticed in early 1935. It also classified them as 1/7T7/1.

They worked alongside the other GreenLine coaches until 1938, when both were demoted to bus work and fitted with bus destination blinds.

During the war T391 had its door removed, and was officially transferred to the Central area, with a red/white/black/brown livery to suit. It was allocated to Kingston, and worked there, mainly on the 218, until withdrawal in 1949.

T392 remained as a Country bus until 1945, when it was sold to the Allied Control Commission for post-war work in Germany. It became the team bus for the combined forces football team with the British Army of the Rhine in Hannover.

T393-398, (T309-314): East Surrey Touring Coaches (1)

T396 drawing East Surrey bought both Regal buses and coaches in 1930. These touring coaches were in the current style, with high waists, half canopies, dual swing doors, full-drop windows and a fold-back opening roof.

When LT took control of the Green Line coach fleet in October 1933 it placed these tourers into its Private Hire and Sightseeing fleet at Brixton. They remained on such duties until the spring of 1938, when they were replaced by new Renown six-wheelers and sold.

T399-402, (T315-318): East Surrey Touring Coaches (2): the rest

These are the rest of the 1931-built East Surrey touring coaches, mentioned above.

T319-402: bus histories photo references

Bus Stop T contents Tilling Ts Country Ts 11T11s