The Private Hire RFWs, 3RF3
RFW 1 - RFW 15, Total 15This page created 14th January 1998, updated 7th February 2002, by Ian Smith..
The RFWs were very different from the other Regal Fours.
They were 8ft wide, instead of 7ft 6in, and their Eastern Coach Works
bodies were of a totally different style. They were built as coaches,
to try to improve on London Transport's Private Hire fleet, which had
tended to operate better quality buses rather than luxury coaches.
The Private Hire Fleet was in a poor state anyway, comprising a single Private
and the slow, old-fashioned six-wheeler LTCs.
With the Festival of Britain due to show Britain's post-war best to the world,
the London Transport coach fleet was an embarassment.
Apart from their greater width, the RFWs differed very much in their styling from the Metro-Cammell RFs. The front had a pair of windscreens made up of a series of flat panes, seven in all, giving the impression of a curved windcreen. Below them the sidelights and headlights were housed in fairings in the curve of the wings, a design-ploy to suggest speed. The main windows were arranged in pairs, with just a narrow aluminium strip between. They were all full-drop windows. The offside had an emergency door, so the back did not have to include one. The rear view was to become much better known on the Bristol coaches, with its corner windows and central window arrangement. For signalling, the RFW had semaphore arms fitted in the front corners, and illuminating arrows each side of the translucent rear number plate. Livery was very similar to the Private Hire RFs, with the main colours flake grey and Lincoln green, with narrow red trim lines and aluminium edging. The LT emblem on the front, and the fleetname, were in red. The unloaded weight was 8ton 8cwt, compared to the 7t 10cwt of the RF (and RT).
They were delivered just in time for the Festival, the first arriving in April 1951, and the last before the end of May.
They were allocated to garages all round the LT system , both Central and Country.
London Transport was restricted by statute in its radius of operation, so its private Hire fleet could not compete well with the many private coach firms around the capital. Whereas they could mix long-distance hires with short fillers, LT was committed to just the short jobs and contract work for which the RFWs were not ideal.
RFW 6 and 14 met again for the first time uin years, at the RF50 celebrations ay Cobham Bus Museum.