The History of our Routemaster Buses

RM765

RM765 in 1996 on Regent Street in London
RM765 on London's Regent Street back in 1996 and published with kind permission of Richard Grantham
RM765 taken in 1984 at Shepherds Bush Green in London
RM765 at Shepherds Bush Green in West London back in 1984 and published with kind permission of Moving Britain

Built at the Park Royal factory in West London RM765 entered service with London Transport at Edmonton Garage in April 1961, working on routes 127, 253 and 279.

Like all Routemasters, she paid regular visits to the London Transport overhaul works at Aldenham; it is here she would have been completely stripped, re-painted and had her worn parts replaced. We know her first overhaul was in 1965 with others taking place in 1968, 1972, 1975, 1977 and 1980.

After these overhauls and looking like new, it was usual practice for the buses to re-enter service at a different garage and therefore to serve a new set of routes. We know that during her working life RM765 saw service at Stamford Hill, South Croydon, Catford and Holloway bus garages.

Then in 1998 after 37 years of reliable public service, she was retired and sold for preservation. Since leaving service our bus has been lovingly restored back to her original 1960s Routemaster Red with authentic London Transport livery and destination blinds. Internally she looks just like she did when she entered service in 1961 with original red moquette seats, period advertising and yellow ceiling.

Finally, in 2012 after 14 years without carrying any passengers she passed her class 6 MOT and once again became a fully licensed passenger-carrying vehicle.


RM548

RM548 in Piccadilly, London in 2003
RM548 on London’s Piccadilly by Green Park back in 2003 and published with kind permission of Graham Walker

RM548 on North End, Croydon in 1977
RM548 on North End in Croydon back in 1977 and published with kind permission of Barry Walker

RM548 worked the Capital's streets for 45 years making her one of London's longest serving Routemasters.

She entered service in December 1960 at Hanwell garage in West London serving routes 207 and 255. She too paid regular visits to Aldenham, where we know her first overhaul was carried out in 1964 with subsequent visits taking place in 1971, 1974, 1976, 1980 and 1985. In between these repairs she worked from Hackney, Upton Park, South Croydon, Poplar, Edmonton, Norwood and Brixton garages.

In 1994 RM548 was withdrawn and sold into private hands where she was used as a promotional vehicle for Yellow Pages and Marie Curie Cancer Care, but due to a shortage of Routemasters in London she was purchased back by London Transport and in 2002 was part of the Routemaster modernisation programme where she was sent to Marshalls of Cambridge for a complete re-build. Her AEC engine was replaced with a more modern Cummings unit and nearly all her traditional 1960s interior and styling was replaced with modern fixtures.

After modernisation, RM548 re-entered service in South London at Battersea and Brixton garages; it was here on the 9th December 2005 that she was one of the last Routemasters to operate on route 159 in front of the world's media on the final day of general Routemaster operations in London.

Finally, in 2006 some 46 years after first entering service, RM548 was retired and sold for preservation. In 2013 RM548 was also lovingly restored back to 1960s livery with original red moquette seats, period advertising and yellow ceiling.


RM1783

RM1783 in Marble Arch in 1982
RM1783 in Marble Arch in 1982 and reproduced with kind permission of Roger Norton

RM1783 after being converted to an open top bu
RM1783 after being converted to an open top bus and painted white for the Liverpool Garden Festival

RM1783 is the only open topper in our fleet. She entered service with London Transport in January 1964, initially working from Middle Row Garage in Central London on route 7 which ran between Acton and London Bridge.

During her working life and in between overhauls at Aldenham RM1783 saw service at Walthamstow, South Croydon and Battersea bus garages.

After just 20 years service RM1783 was one of the first Routemasters to be withdrawn from London Transport and was sold to Rees Industries in Liverpool, but not before one final visit to Aldenham, where the London Transport fitters converted her to an open top bus for the 1984 Liverpool Garden Festival.

After a legal battle over her ownership, she returned to passenger duties in London to operate with the newly privatised London Sightseeing tour fleet based at Wandsworth garage, she remained there until 1992 when she was sold to the Bath Bus Company for further sightseeing service and in 2004 was sold again to Western Greyhound in Newquay, Cornwall where she was used during the holiday seasons in their heritage fleet.

Finally in 2011 some 47 years after first entering service RM1783 was retired from passenger service and sold for preservation.

Since preservation RM1783 has had 3 private owners and for a number of years was a regular at bus rallies in London and the Southeast. In October 2014 we purchased RM1783 and has been put back into passenger carrying duties, as far as we know RM1783 is the only open top Routemaster currently available for private hire in North Wales and the Northwest.


RM446

RM446 in the garage undergoing restorationRM446 is the latest bus to join our fleet and is currently undergoing a major overhaul at our HQ in Llay.  It is expected that this work will take 2 years to complete as she needs an all-over external re-spray together with a complete internal refit to get her back to her original 1960s livery.  Mechanically most of the work has been carried out including re-building her original AEC engine and overhauling her gearbox, diff, power steering, braking and electrical systems.

Once this work has been completed the bus will undergo a full safety inspection by an independent garage and be taken for a class 6 MOT. After passing the MOT she will once again be fully licensed to carry passengers.

Just like our RM548 this bus also entered service with London Transport in 1960, initially working from Hanwell Garage in West London on routes 207 and 255. She remained in continuous service for 44 years until 2004 when she was retired and sold for preservation. Before joining us in 2016 she was with her previous owner for 12 years.


We have tried to work out how many miles our three buses travelled during their working lives and how many people may have travelled in them – we estimate that both these figures are in the millions!

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