Chiswick staff buses

Page last updated 19 December 2023


Alan Cross has very kindly provided an extract from some pencil notes by the late John Gillham, who worked at Chiswick.  Alan comments that he has not previously seen any reference to Chiswick staff buses during the war and asks whether anyone can cast any light on the duration of operation (perhaps until Aldenham opened, or longer??), the garages involved and indeed any further information.


I don't have a wartime Chiswick photo, so this 1979 shot of RT4779 as a trainer leaving Chiswick will have to do.  The bus still carries its HD code but is now allocated to Mortlake. 

Photo © John Herting


It will be noted that the list includes the Reigate to Chiswick route, which has a longer history, stretching back to the transfer of overhaul work from the former East Surrey works at Reigate.  See article below.


If anyone can offer any information at all, please get in touch.



Chiswick Staff Buses: notes by John Gillham


Services starting on 6 November 1940, except as noted.


No.5       Hendon, Kingsbury, Queensbury, Edgware


No.7       Wimbledon, Merton, Tooting, Balham, Streatham, Norbury, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Dulwich


No.8       Morden and Sutton (started September 1940)


No.9       Reigate (non-stop) (started February 1935)


No.10     Kensal Rise, Willesden, Cricklewood


No.11     North Kensington, Paddington, Camden Town, Highgate, Wood Green, Palmers Green


No.12     Holloway, Finsbury Park, Harringay, Manor House, Stoke Newington, Tottenham, Edmonton


No.13     South Kensington, Victoria, Elephant, Liverpool St, Hackney, Mile End, Stepney, East Ham, Ilford, Romford


No.14      Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Lewisham, Catford


No.15      Wandsworth, Battersea, Stockwell, Brixton, Kennington


No.17     Osterley, Cranford


No.22     Highbury, Islington, Dalston, Manor Park, Leyton, Walthamstow




Foglights .....Reigate to Chiswick staff buses


Two of the three 1973-76 Reigate to Chiswick staff buses (RFs 471 and 314) sit at Chiswick alongside an RT trainer.

Photo Peter Osborn collection


In February 1935, the overhaul of Country Area buses and Green Line coaches moved from Reigate garage (RG) - the headquarters of the LT Country Area, formerly East Surrey and LGCS - to Chiswick Works.  The resulting transfer of engineering staff resulted in a need for staff buses from the Reigate area to Chiswick, a service which continued up to the closure of Chiswick.  These buses were driven by works staff living close to RG, with the buses being stabled at RG.  Immediately before the Country Area was divested on 1 Jan 70, the then staff buses (GSs) were transferred to Central Area stock.  (It has been suggested that there was also at that time a GS-operated staff bus from Reigate to Aldenham, but Brian Watkinson confirms there has never been such a service).  A list of buses know to be used on the run is set out at the foot of the page. 


The operation was taken over by RFs in October/November 1973, when RFs 314 (apparently on 11 Oct 73, although not official until 8 Nov 73), 471 (8 Nov) and 486 (15 Nov) went to Reigate.  Uniquely among the RF fleet, they were fitted with second fog-lamps, and although the reason for this has never been established, the lack of records suggests that it was a local initiative by Works staff.  After 2½ years, there was a little-known change.  On 9 May 76, the day after the RFs finished on the 290 and at the time when a batch of buses were to be re-certified for use at Kingston, rather than reconditioning the Riverside buses, three RFs (462, 488 and 538) went from there to replace 314, 471 and 486, which departed to be re-certified.  The ex-Riverside buses remained only nominally attached to Riverside.


At some time, possibly during the period of RF allocation, the number of buses in use each day was reduced from three to two, although three buses were retained (presumably as, being LT buses, it would have been too complicated to borrow a bus from London Country).


It is frequently opined that the best buses were selected for the Chiswick runs - certainly 538 has the reputation of being a good bus - as it did in the mid-60s when it was RF500 at MH, as described by Stuart Perry.


The route used, as described by Rod Lucas in his book Shades of Green and Red, was via Woodhatch, then Reigate Hill and A217 to Sutton By-pass, Cheam, Worcester Park, A3 to Roehampton, Barnes Common, Hammersmith Bridge, then A4 and back roads to reach Chiswick High Road and the works.  The bus left Reigate at around 0600 to reach Chiswick at 0710 in time for breakfast.  The return departed at 1610.  Geoff Smith adds that in the mid-70s, the return buses passed through Worcester Park at about 1700, and that at North Cheam, after crossing the Queen Victoria junction, one went down Church Hill Road and the other towards Cheam.  He suggests that the former probably dropped someone off in the Priory Road area before joining the Sutton By-Pass.


A rare picture of the Reigate to Chiswick staff run, returning home in the afternoon.  Clive Fairchild mentions that these 1978 shots were taken at about 5 pm when on his way home from work.  This is RF462 on the Sutton By-pass; the other shot, showing RF538 in Cheam still bearing the R garage code, is here.  Unlike the earlier three, the later batch were not modified with the extra fog-lamp.

Photo © Clive Fairchild


At the time Rod describes, 1983, the staff bus was RMA36, later accompanied or replaced by RMA44 until the closure of Chiswick [see Keith Wood's picture here]. 


Buses known to have been allocated to this operation are as follows:


  Bus Used from To
  Three 'Godstone' STLs 1938 1939
  Double-deck LT1425 20 Jan 49 26 Feb 50
  T416 (9T9) 1 Dec 51 24 Mar 52
  T448 25 Mar 52 31 Jul 52
  T506 (10T10) 1 Aug 52 31 Aug 53
  T650 1 Dec 53 31 Oct 54
  T613 21 Mar 54 9 Dec 56
  T631 25 Feb 54 31 Jan 57
  T621 25 Mar 54 31 Jan 57
  T716 1 Nov 54 31 Jan 57
  RT147 10 Dec 56 31 Jan 57
  T770, T771, T798 1 Feb 57 10 Dec 57
  RT79, RT137 (both green) 11 Dec 57 21 Sep 59
  RTL445 22 Sep 59 30 Apr 63
  RTL454 22 Sep 59 31 Mar 63
  RT2585 1 May 63 31 May 65
  GS48 1 Apr 63 18 Jun 63 


3 Jul 63

31 Jul 63

  GS56  1 Aug 63   31 Jul 64 
  GS21  Aug 64   Mar 65 
  GS45  Feb 65  Apr 69 
  GS26  Jun 65   Feb 67 
  GS12  Feb 66   Oct 69 
  GS62  Feb 67   Feb 73 
  GS52 (again) Apr 69 Aug 70
  GS10  Oct 69   17 Oct 73 
  GS28  Aug 70   Feb 73 
  RF314 11 Oct 73 (although not official until 8 Nov 73) 8 May 76
  RF471 8 Nov 73  8 May 76
  RF486 15 Nov  8 May 76
  RF462, RF488, RF538  9 May 76 3 May 78 (except RF538, 26 Apr 78)
  RMA36 1979 [?] closure?
  RMA44 1979 [?] closure?