Our buses belong to the famous Routemaster fleet, originally designed and built for London Transport. Planned in the 1950s and built in the 1960s, these vehicles remained a part of the London streetscape well into the new millennium. Not bad for a bus whose retirement was originally forecast for the mid 1970s! So well-built, they just keep rolling… We calculate that each of our buses probably carried 7 million Londoners over their forty years.
RML 2261 is the star of the fleet, being the very first of the production run of 500 RMLs, the longer version of the Routemaster. It was delivered on 1 July 1965 and became an instant celebrity, being selected for a goodwill trade tour of the USA. It left for America in August and didn’t return till December. The tour took in Rochester (New York), New York City, Richmond (Virginia) and Charlotte (North Carolina), the vehicle faultlessly covering 3151 miles.
After its first full overhaul in 1972, 2261 was again chosen for a trip to the States, this time to Pittsburgh, so is unique in having visited America twice.
It’s one of three of our vehicles to have entered London Transport service at West Ham Garage in February 1966, serving the 5, the 249 and 262. Altogether RML2261 was allocated to twelve garages over thirty nine years, until eventual withdrawal from a very long spell on the 73 at Tottenham on 3 September 2004.
RML 2394 is the founder member of the ThisBus.com fleet. Its London Transport life began in February 1966 at West Ham Garage on routes 5 and 249. Over its working career it also served on the following routes – 262, 48, 24, 15, 6, 30, 35, 24 (again) and finally an unbroken eighteen year spell at Tottenham on the 73. It retired from London duties in September 2004, and after a complete refurbishment began ThisBus.com duties the following year.
RML 2408 has much in common with two other ThisBus vehicles, RMLs 2261 and 2394, in that it started life at West Ham Garage in early 1966, and later spent sustained periods at a handful of other garages over a period of nearly forty years. 2408 spent all its LT career at garages in the East and North. Unusually, it notched up two separate periods at each of three garages – Leyton, Clapton and Chalk Farm.
RML 2634 began life as a Putney bus in 1967. Putney had a remarkable habit of hanging on to their buses for years, often decades, and 2634 stayed at Putney for sixteen years before finally leaving for route 88 from Shepherds Bush in 1983. Even then, it remained very settled, with long periods at Leyton and finally on the 6 and 98 at Willesden.
RML 2278 is one of London Transport’s first “production” RMLs, dating from the Autumn of 1965. When new, it was one of a batch of seventeen red ones which introduced the type to the (green) Country area. For six weeks, 2278 and its sixteen sisters ran alongside the first green RMLs at Godstone on the picturesque routes 409, 410 and 411 in the Surrey/ Kent countryside.
Once sufficient green ones had arrived, 2278 took up its more natural “red” bus duties, moving to Tottenham for route 76 as part of a comparative trial with Leyland Atlanteans. Phase 2 of the trial took it to Chalk Farm for route 24 in 1966, and it remained here until its first overhaul in 1973.
A brief spell at Highgate (Holloway) for route 14 was followed by six years at Hackney on the 6. Overhauled again in 1979, it was allocated to West Ham for the 25, then Cricklewood for routes 16 and 16a. 2278’s final overhaul, in 1982, took it back to Tottenham for the 243, then a long period on the 38 from Leyton and Clapton garages. In June 1991, it moved across London for a thirteen-year spell on the 7 and 23 from Westbourne Park. It was finally withdrawn when Routemasters were removed from the 7 in July 2004.
RML 2335 was among London Transport’s first green RMLs, allocated to the busy Godstone Garage in the LT Country Area. Entering service on 1 November 1965, it provided more than twelve years of distinguished service on the 409, 410 and 411 in the picturesque outer suburbs of East Surrey and West Kent.
Beneath the red paint you see today, there’s the original green, as it still carries its original body, B2335. Bought back by London Transport in January 1978, it was quickly overhauled and began its new red bus career at Highgate. After eighteen months as a driver-trainer at Dalston, it settled in to a very stable life on two of London’s busiest routes: the 207 from Hanwell, then the 12 from Peckham and, later, Camberwell. It was finally withdrawn from route 12, after a total of thirty-nine years in service, in November 2004.