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Route 93 Running Day

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) .

RT 1431 was one of a batch of 120 Craven bodied RTs (built in Sheffield) with its smaller windows and an extra bay and the road again on Saturday.

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.

Map courtesy of Mike Harris and taken from the londonbuses.co.uk website

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.

Timetable courtesy of the londonbuses.co.uk website

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).

Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

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.

11 thoughts on “Route 93 Running Day Leave a comment

  1. 120 Cravens RT bodies were ordered by London Transport, along with 250 from Saunders of Anglesey, as chassis production in the late 1940s was running well ahead of what Park Royal and Weymann could keep up with.

    Saunders took great care to replicate the RT design; their products were virtually indistinguishable from Park Royal and Weymann and all three were interchanged freely at overhaul. LT was sufficiently pleased with the design to order a further 50 in 1950. By contrast, the Cravens design was decidedly non-standard; essentially they wedged the RT driving cab into one of their standard designs. As a non-standard type they were chosen for early withdrawal as service cuts began to bite in the 1950s; most were sold to independent operators up and down Great Britain from whom they represented an absolute bargain.

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  2. Pleased you enjoyed the day.
    Re the ULEZ extension, to quote from the TfL website: ‘In line with the existing LEZ discount all vehicles constructed before 1 January 1973 will be exempt from the ULEZ, regardless of commercial use or otherwise.’
    So that’s fine for RTs and Routemasters, but not so great for more recent buses unless taxed as Historic.
    We’ll be back in the spring – meanwhile come and see us at Brooklands!
    Peter Osborn, LBM

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  3. The 26 October 2021 change to the London ULEZ only affects smaller vehicles eg minibuses and lorries less than 5 tonnes and covers an area inside the N/S Circular roads.

    Larger buses, coaches and HGVs have been subject to tougher emission standards across the whole area covered by the London Boroughs (roughly speaking the entire area within the M25 orbital motorway) since October 2020 though my understanding is that this was not actually enforced until earlier this year.

    Exemptions for some historic vehicles still apply.

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  4. Just a small point in looking at the “londonbuses.co.uk” website regarding the informative allocations throughout the years. The current allocation is bolstered in the morning peak by Stockwell garage (SW235-) and not Merton (AL). At least that is what London Bus Schedules tell us. I would also think that, because of the years of Putney Bridge (F) involvement, RTs officially graced this service for 32 years from 1941 until 1973, apart from a small blip around 1948 when Sutton worked only Daimlers and the “F” allocation temporarily returned to STL. Quite a record I would have thought for one type.

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  5. With LCBS and the companies that came after it, it was pretty much the destruction of a large number of services and garages. Services were very poor and fares very high it was the catalyist for massive drop in passenger numbers and once they lost those passengers they never got them back and this trend goers on even now

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  6. Some rather simplistic reviews of LCBS here . . . pretty much nothing had been changed in the last half of the 1960’s (LT was pre-occupied with building the Victoria Line, such that no building maintenance had been done for several years, and the bus fleet was “tired”).
    The inclusion of LCBS within the National Bus Company meant that, for the first time, the Country Area (as was) had to attempt to balance the books. With 26 Garages, many of which had a PVR of under 30 buses/coaches (by the time of closure . . . Luton had a runout of c15; Tring had a runout of c12; East Grinstead had a runout of c15) ; with ridership collapsing, especially on rural routes; with traffic congestion increasing pretty much everywhere . . . unpopular decisions had to be (and were) taken.

    In fact, and if care is taken with looking at the networks in 1970 and 2020 . . . many trunk routes have actually survived, which shows that the base network wasn’t actually that bad . . . 1970 routes 301; 303; 310; 321; 330; 331; 336; 347; 362; 370; 410; 441; 724 are all recognisable today. I will accept that some of the “southern” routes haven’t survived, but that is largely down to political involvement (Routes 405; 406; 409; 411; 414 were split and partly subsumed into the London network). The failing fortunes of Green Line are well known . . . and again should’ve been dealt with more quickly.
    Yes, fares did increase massively, but with inflation at 15%-20% year on year in the 1970’s, that was to be expected after all.

    If LCBS is compared with other similar companies in the Home Counties (Alder Valley; Maidstone & District; Eastern National; and to a lesser degree Southdown), then I’d submit that the LCBS years were difficult, but not as tragic as they are made out to be. From huge financial losses in the early years to making a small profit by the end only shows that the Company reacted to the changes in society and managed to (eventually) turn it around. As we are finding now . . . rural routes simply cannot survive once a famiily car is purchased.

    As an example of how operations changed subsequent to 1986 . . . most routes in North West Surrey were converted from commercial to tendered around 10 years ago . . . car ownership and increases in prosperity were the reasons there . . . and the process continues . . .

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  7. Thanks to the LBM and All involved for a superb day , Fortunately I was lucky to be on Duty at Morden Stn on that day as the Go-ahead official, I met many oid acquaintances and even had my picture taken beside RM597 albeit with my face blocked out.

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