Routemaster - RM1- 60th Anniversary

By Eric Jones 

On Sunday, February 7th 2016 a commemorative road run of RM1 (the first Routemaster prototype) took place to mark the 60th anniversary of RM1's introduction into service on London Transport's Route 2 (on Wednesday February 8th 1956).  The complete run was from the London Bus Preservation Trust premises at Brooklands in Surrey to Crystal Palace in south east London and involved RM1 (joining the run at Cricklewood in north London) and several other Routemaster derivatives including the last built RML 2760.

Prologue: As a teenager and mad keen on London Transport buses (red & green; both colours passing our local stop at Chessington as Routes 265 & 468), I purchased a Red Rover ticket one weekend in 1956 for five shillings (25p). I had read in the bus magazines at that time that RM1 was to commence service on Route 2; Golders Green to Crystal Palace. So, equipped with the latest 1956 London Transport map and a packed lunch from my mother, I caught the 265, 65 & 112 in that order to make my way up to the Golders Green Bus Terminus.

On arrival I was told by crew members on routes 2 & 2B that RM1 was in service that day and so awaited its arrival. Well, many RTL’s came into the terminal on that route and - after around a two hour wait - RM1 appeared; complete with side adverts proclaiming ‘ROUTEMASTER London’s Bus of the Future’. I managed to sit on the upstairs front nearside seat for the whole journey to Crystal Palace watching a multitude of red RT’s, RTL’s & RTW’s pass buy en route on their different routes & destinations including, of course, the 2’s and on Sunday the 2B’s. Also a fair number of RF’s on Green Line duties were noted on the journey, especially around the Central and Victoria area.  Approximately one hour and fourteen minutes later I arrived at Crystal Palace and was well satisfied.

I am not sure how I got home that day. Needless to say, it was well into the evening when I arrived home in the dark. No,.. I was not intoxicated!
Ref. Route 2 was supplied weekdays: 35 RTL from Stockwell Garage (SW) & 17 RT from Cricklewood Garage (W).

Two years later I was working at Park Royal Vehicles, helping to manufacture the RM’s in the body and finishing shops. In all I saw RM89 - 2760 resplendently through the shops at PRV.

Here's my account of the commemorative day: 60 YEARS ON …

As a member of the London Bus Preservation Trust at Brooklands in Surrey, my wife & I were invited to attend the excursion on Sunday, February 7th 2016 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the introduction of RM1 into service on Route 2 (February, 1956). How could I refuse?  My wife & I had a great day out with the Brooklands’ crowd, being taken up to London on the very last Routemaster (RML2760) & following RM1 commemorating its introduction into service.

We arrived just before 8.00 a.m. at the main gates by the River Wey to board RML2760; the last RM built and on long term loan to the Museum from Stagecoach. We were soon off at around 8.10 a.m. and proceeded through Twickenham, Richmond, Hanger Lane and via the North Circular Road to arrive at Cricklewood Garage at 9.15 a.m. for a comfort stop and photo shoot.

RM1 duly appeared from the London Bus Museum Acton Depot and so both the first and last Routemasters were placed side by side for more photos. In the background, a Green Line Routemaster was stationed and was to join us all the way to Crystal Palace. Leon Daniels - Managing Director, Surface Transport at Transport for London and also Vice President of the London Bus Museum - was aboard RM1 and stood next to it for more photo shoots. Nice one!

As you may know, preserved buses are not normally allowed to show the same route number as normal buses when in service as they tend to confuse the travelling public. The museum had thought to change the route number to 15 between Marylebone & Norwood Garage; where the current foreshortened No. 2 route runs. However, as a mark of respect for the 60 years commemoration run, Leon gave his blessing so that the two Routemasters could then display Route 2 throughout the journey on the very route that had existed from the 1930’s right through to the early 1970’s.

So off we went, southbound through Swiss Cottage and making sure that RM1 was out of sight; as in 1956 it was unique in service so no other RM could distract the run and be photographed in its presence. This went well until Vauxhall; where we caught a glance of it in the distance. However, Vauxhall Bus Station was a godsend for a comfort stop as RM1 disappeared into the distance.

Congestion appeared at Brixton with the Sunday market in full swing. Here our driver turned left instead of right so that gave us a scenic tour before approaching Crystal Palace. There was not enough room at the bus stand and arrangements had been made to park our buses nearer the Sports Centre. This was a well thought out venue, especially as it was a cold day with a keen wind and …..…….… a nice warm café for hot drinks and food!

Afterwards - at around 2 p.m. - we departed in the RML2760 for the very last time and made our way back to Brooklands via Sutton and Tolworth.
Back at Brooklands again - what a day!


RM1 SLT 56 PRV AEC RM - 1954

RM1859 859 DYE PRV AEC RM - 1964

RM5 VLT 5 PRV AEC RM - 1959

RM2097 ALM 97B PRV AEC RM - 1964

RM158 VLT 158 PRV AEC RM 1960

RM2116 CUV 116C PRV AEC RM - 1965

RM357 WLT 357 PRV AEC RM - 1960

RM2208 CUV 208C PRV AEC RM - 1965

RM545 WLT 545 PRV AEC RM - 1960

RCL2229 CUV 229C PRV AEC RM - 1965

*RML883 TAS 466 PRV AEC RM - 1961

RCL2245 CUV245C PRV AEC RM - 1965

RM1397 397 CLT PRV AEC RM - 1963

RM2323 CUV 323C PRV AEC RM - 1965

* Note: RML883 originally had reg. no. WLT 883 

RML2760 SMK 760F PRV AEC RM - 1968

Congratulations to all concerned, especially our own London Bus Museum members who organised the trip and all of the passengers who made the journey. Also the many Routemaster owners and friends who showed up at Crystal Palace for this special event. 

© Eric Jones
Below are my images of the day. 

Routemaster RM1 60th Anniversary Run Day

003 timetable 1958

003 timetable route1958

004 off to Cricklewood garage from Brooklands

005 Cricklewood garage

006 Cricklewood garage

007 Cricklewood garage

008 Cricklewood garage

009 Cricklewood garage

010 Cricklewood garage

011 Cricklewood garage

012 Cricklewood garage

014 Cricklewood garage

015 Cricklewood garage

017 Cricklewood garage

018 Cricklewood garage

019 Cricklewood garage

020 Cricklewood garage

021 Cricklewood garage

022 Cricklewood garage

023 Cricklewood garage

024 en route to Golders Green

025 en route to Golders Green

026 arriving just outside Golders Green bus station

027 arriving just outside Golders Green bus station

027a Golders Green bus station

027b Golders Green bus station

028 Golders Green bus station

029 Golders Green bus station

030 Golders Green bus station

030a Golders Green bus station

030b Golders Green bus station

031 Golders Green bus station

032 Golders Green bus station

034 Golders Green bus station

035 Golders Green bus station

036 Golders Green bus station

037 Golders Green bus station

037a Golders Green bus station

038 Golders Green bus station

039 Golders Green bus station

039a Golders Green bus station

040 Golders Green bus station

041 Golders Green bus station

042 en route to Vauxhall bus station

044 a stop to keep well behind rm1

045 Blakey and check our timing

046 stop at Vauxhall for comfort stop

047 en route to Crystal Palace

048 confirming we are still on route no 2

049 agreeing on route and our timing

050 still on route lost RM1 ahead

051 Crystal Palace at last

051a Crystal Palace special bus park for the day

054 Crystal Palace

055 Crystal Palace

056 Crystal Palace

057 Crystal Palace

058 Crystal Palace

059 Crystal Palace

060 time for refreshments now

061 back from refreshments

062 reading buses garage code not quite right for the 2

063 Crystal Palace

064 Crystal Palace

065 Crystal Palace

066 Crystal Palace

067 Crystal Palace

067a Crystal Palace

068 Crystal Palace

069 Crystal Palace

070 Crystal Palace

071 Crystal Palace

072 Crystal Palace

073 Crystal Palace

074 Crystal Palace

075 Crystal Palace

076 Crystal Palace

077 time for refreshments now

078 Crystal Palace

078a Crystal Palace

079 back at Brooklands

079a back at Brooklands

080 back at Brooklands

080a back at Brooklands