LT staff bus outings

Page last updated 17 August 2020


Edgware's RF455 stands in a car park next to an East Kent Reliance coach that appears to bear the destination Rye; the location may be Rye station yard.   About 1966.

Photo Peter Osborn collection


In the London Transport Museum Friends' summer 2020 magazine, Terry Baybutt recorded his memories of his involvement in bus excursions to the seaside in the early 1960s, when he worked as a conductor at Edgware garage.  We are grateful to LTM Friends and Terry for their permission to reproduce the story.


Most garages had a social club which organised a range of social activities for their staff and relatives and for retired busmen.  At Edgware, we usually had an annual dance, the occasional dinner for someone retiring, perhaps an occasional theatre outing, and an annual outing somewhere for retired busmen who had worked at the garage.  Such outings were a regular occurrence at most garages, with the Social Club funding all the expenses, so that the retirees did not have to pay a thing. 


The main activity and revenue-earner, however, was Sunday trips to the seaside and some other places.  London Transport operated a private hire process whereby staff could hire a bus from their own garage for a fee.  A driver and a conductor would have to be designated for each hire and would each be paid a nominal sum of 1/-.  I am not absolutely sure of the purpose of this nominal sum; but I think it was to meet insurance requirements to confirm that the designated staff were bona fide LT employees and properly licensed to operate the bus. 


During 1963 and 1964, I was involved in helping to organise such outings at Edgware, not only to the seaside but also for the garage cricket team to some inland venues.  I was also the designated conductor on several outings.  It was not hard to get drivers to volunteer for the designated driver role, as many of them enjoyed getting an RT, or RF, out on the open road. 


Our programme of outings for 1964, together with the cost of the hire, was:-





Hire fee


10 May 1964

Northchurch (Cricket)

not known


31 May 1964

Grays Country Buses (Cricket)

not known


31 May 1964


£11 19s 0d 


7 June 1964


£10 12s 0d


21 June 1964


£12 8s 0d


28 June 1964


not known 


5 July 1964

Oxford Buses (Cricket)

£7 10s 6d


12 July 1964


£12 5s 0d


19 July 1964

Portsmouth (for Isle of Wight)     

£11 8s 6d 


9 Aug. 1964


£10 9s 0d


16 Aug. 1964   

Southend (Retired members outing)   

£7 3s 0d


The cost of hire to other destinations also considered for that year was:-



£10 13s 6d



£9 8s 0d


Newbury (Races)       

£8 4s 0d


The variation in the fees charged suggests that the cost of the hire was calculated on the mileage involved.  The cost to individual passengers was calculated by the garage organiser according to the numbers expected to travel and the cost of the hire, although my records for one run, showing a fare of 7/- per person, suggest that we planned generally for load factors of 30 people per hire to break even.  At that time, I think bus staff were earning an average of about £15 per week. 


The trips to the seaside primarily attracted families and friends.  They generally included a stop at a “halfway house” on the way back; but not all public houses were welcoming.  There were many signs posted by pubs along the A21 to Hastings and the A22 to Eastbourne, popular destinations for many London bus garages, and along other routes, saying “NO RED BUSES HERE”.  This was because the pubs were either slightly snobby and were looking for a more refined clientele; or because they did not have the capacity to deal with a large number of people in a short space of time.  Conversely, there were pubs that were glad to receive the trade from a bus load of customers and often showed their appreciation by providing the driver and conductor with free beer and/or a free packet of cigarettes.  There tended to be a happy clientele on the bus after the halfway house. 


At Edgware, we ran only one bus at a time; usually, we would park up in car parks.  There were exceptions; a trip to play cricket in Oxford against the City of Oxford bus team included parking the RF in the company’s main garage in Cowley Road.  Similarly, on a trip to Bournemouth, we parked up in a Hants and Dorset garage which, in 1964, was very close to the Pier.  That garage has long gone and I think the area has been redeveloped since. 


In the last two decades, I have seen some buses on midweek outings to Littlehampton; but I would imagine the incidence of such outings is considerably less now than in the 1960s, if indeed there are any such outings now. 


Croydon's doorless RF461 plus another stand in a High Street somewhere in England.  The year is between 1961 and 1964.

Photo © Paul Redmond