Monday 11th October 2021
Following the success of the Route 65 Running Day in April, the London Bus Museum held a similar nostalgia fest on Saturday recreating London bus route 93 between Putney Heath and it’s original most southerly terminus of Dorking (reached on Summer Sundays between 1939 and 1960) .
Outside the summer season buses terminated further north of Dorking in Epsom which was the case until 1970 when the route was cut back to North Cheam where it continues to terminate today, fifty-one years later, in Priory Road.
When first introduced in 1934 the route’s northern terminus was Southall then running via Greenford, Park Royal, East Acton and Hammersmith before reaching today’s northern terminus at Putney Bridge Station.
The Running Day once again featured vehicles from the London Bus Museum as well as others joining in owned by private individuals or groups.
Altogether twenty-eight buses operated a timetable providing journeys between Putney Heath and Dorking with many concentrating on the section between Wimbledon and Epsom where a service as frequent as every ten minutes was provided.
All the rides were free and it was great to see buses once again attracting a lot of interest among all ages with members of the public encouraged by conductors to climb aboard as buses pulled up at bus stops along the route, even if some didn’t quite get the hang of what you had to do in “the good old days”.
There was a good selection of RTs as well as RMs out on Saturday.
RML 3 was looking in fine form….
…. as was RTW 467.
RF600 was also out on the road recreating part of the route taken by parallel Green Line route 712/713 between South Wimbledon and Dorking.
This was proving very popular, even leaving some disappointed passengers behind….
…. as was RT 1 which ran from Dorking all the way beyond Putney Heath to Hammersmith, recreating that northern extremity of the route.
One of the RTs running between Cheam and Dorking was RT604 which was one of the few painted into NBC corporate livery, and rather nice it looked too, and still does.
What was particularly noticeable on Saturday was the number of young bus enthusiasts riding the more modern buses including very young looking bus drivers.
Among the buses attracting interest was this twenty year old Plaxton bodied Volvo which was once owned by London Central, and in more recent years by Sevenoaks based Go Coach Hire, and was out for its last day on Saturday before heading to the bus graveyard.
I know I’m showing my age, but to me they don’t look much different to the buses now to be found on today’s route 93 including this Optare Olympus bodied Dennis Trident one in the London General fleet based at Sutton garage which turn out 23 on weekdays to run the service every 6-7 minutes.
The vintage timetable from 1940 posted earlier shows a journey time from Putney Heath to Epsom of 51 minutes (albeit early morning or late evening rather than daytime) but it was noticeable how even the allowance of 68 minutes for buses to make the same journey on Saturday proved inadequate as traffic congestion plagued the operation with late running and short turns from lunchtime, reminding us why long routes no longer grace the London bus scene.
It’s always fascinating to see original cove panel posters inside the preserved RTs and RMs, which really do bring back memories of journeys from almost fifty or sixty years ago, these from inside RT604:
and this one from inside RT1431 announcing a fares increase was typical of its time and dates from 1964.
RML 3 was also displaying an original fare chart from 1966 when the cheapest fare was 4d, which I remember well as the fare I paid to go to school, and the maximum for a journey from Putney Bridge Station to Epsom as 2/11.
Those were the days.
Many thanks to everyone at the London Bus Museum for another grand day and to all the owners of the preserved buses.
Here’s to the next one (although I’m thinking this month’s extended ULEZ may limit what’s possible).
I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.