Route 140 celebration

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Page last updated 24 November 2019

Event page retained for reference


Route 140 was almost the first route to operate daily to London Airport (as it then was), Central Enclosure.  Extended there on 4 May 1955, it was pipped at the post one month earlier by the 81B, which had previously been a summer Sunday only route.  The route will no longer serve Heathrow Airport after 6 December 2019, replaced by the X140.  To celebrate the route, London Bus Museum are organising a free heritage bus service over the route on Saturday 23 November 2019.
RT4779 climbs Shaftesbury Avenue towards South Harrow Station in 1978.  The bus is scheduled to work the route on 23 November, as HD22 as it was on the last day of RT operation.
Photo © Kevin McCormack

Free bus service

The heritage operation will run as additional free buses on the existing 140 between Heathrow Central Bus Station and Harrow Weald Bus Garage, serving all normal stops, but are not provided by TfL.  The main heritage service will run every 20 minutes, first through departures 1020 from Harrow Weald and 1035 from Heathrow Central Bus Station, last through departures at 1610 southbound, 1555 northbound. In addition, there will be extra short workings and a few journeys will cover the original roads to Mill Hill Broadway. 


The latest timetable is here; unfortunately the final journey from Heathrow to Northolt has been cancelled. 


A handout written for the day is here.


Buses to be operated

The heritage service will be provided by examples of the RT and Routemaster families and by two Metrobuses dating from the 1980s.  The running numbers listed in the timetable are scheduled to be operated by the following:































Usual caveats apply.


Between them, these classes served the 140 between 1950 (when RTWs replaced STLs) and 1999.  Examples of the range of buses over this period are shown in the photographs below.




Harrow Weald's leaning-back STL422 in Station Road, Harrow, when the route ran only as far as Northolt.

Photo © Fred Ivey


Route history

Dating originally from 1920, when it ran between South Harrow and Stanmore, the 140 had a chequered history of operation in the Harrow and Edgware area until withdrawal in 1927.


Re-introduced in a new form in 1932 to run from Colindale via Kenton and Harrow to Northolt, the route was augmented in its first summer to serve the RAF displays at Hendon Aerodrome.  Major changes to the route have been infrequent.  The first was in 1936, when the route was diverted at Kenton away from Colindale to run north then east to Mill Hill, terminating at Bunns Lane, short of the low bridge at Mill Hill Broadway.


Initial operation was by STs, briefly alongside STLs from AC during the mid-30s, with STLs taking over fully in 1939.  In 1950 the 140, with the 114, was an early RTW route before these 8-footers took their rightful place in central London; for the short period that these buses were used on Police trials before their use was authorised, they were replaced at Harrow Weald by RTLs. 


Meanwhile, the route was extended further south, to Hayes in 1937 and Heathrow Airport (then 'London Airport Central') in 1955.  With the lowering of the road under the railway at Mill Hill in 1967, the route was extended slightly to terminate at the new bus station under the new M1 and some Monday to Friday journeys were extended eastwards, to Page Street in 1967 and to Mill Hill East in 1968. 


Apart from its first few months, when the route was operated by Willesden garage, the route worked continuously from Harrow Weald (HD) until 1990.  Other garages have assisted from time to time, including Hendon (AE), Edgware (EW) and Willesden (AC) again.


The transfer of the RTWs during 1951 brought RTs from HD and RTLs from EW, the latter in turn replaced by RTs the following year through until 1966, from when weekday operation was by HD alone.  Having been originally planned for 1962 but deflected by union opposition, Routemasters did not arrive at HD until July 1978, when the RTs were finally replaced.  Their last day on 14 July 1978 marked the last RT operation in west London.


Routemasters, in the longer form of the RML, had worked the 140 from AE on Sundays since 1972, and continued alongside HD's standard RMs until the end of crew operation.  The 140 had been the only crew route at HD since late 1971, this and its 7-8 minute frequency underlining its status as a trunk route. 


On conversion to one-person operation in 1983, the route was diverted at Harrow to run to Harrow Weald, swapping the eastward section with the 114, which provides the service to Mill Hill today.  The 140 from Heathrow to Harrow Weald has continued broadly unchanged since then.

Harrow Weald operated M-class  Metrobuses from 1983.  Following the introduction of tendering in 1985, the first tender for the 140 was won by Harrow Buses, a low-cost operation of London Buses, in 1987.  In addition to Ms, the route saw hired Manchester Fleetlines, V-class Volvo Ailsas and even single-deck Leyland Nationals. 
The contract passed in 1990 to another LBL operation, London United at Hounslow, also operated with Metrobuses, followed from 1996 by L-class Olympians.  In 1999, the contract returned 'home' to HD, by now operated by Metroline.  The buses were TA then TPL-class Tridents, replaced in 2006 by Volvo Presidents, a single example of which still operates the route from HD alongside Volvo Gemini 3s.

London Bus Museum would like to express its appreciation to Metroline, operators of the 140 and of Harrow Weald Garage, TfL for their assistance and support, Heathrow Airport Ltd, for permission to use Central Bus Station, and above all, the owners of preserved buses for their willingness to put them through the rigours of London operation once again.

Previous re-creation
The 140 operated between Mill Hill East and Harrow Weald Garage at the Red-RF Colindale event in 2010.  The route also featured at Timebus's 20th birthday running day in 2007.
Service information
This free service is not operated by Transport for London (TfL) or London Buses.  Passengers travel at their own risk and at the discretion of the crew.  Times are published as a guide to the general pattern of service. Whilst every effort will be made to keep to the timetable, the London Bus Preservation Trust Ltd. will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused by reason of any operating failure, within or beyond our control.


RTWs in College Road, Harrow, in about 1950, including RTW195 on the 140.

Photo Chris Stanley Collection


RT651, displaying a front via blind in the rear box, passes RT4779 in Yeading Lane.

Photo © Kevin McCormack 


RT2327, working from HD, passes RML2608, working from AE, at Heathrow Central Bus Station, which in those days had a roof.  The RT carries both RT and RM blinds for the special Sunday working via Cherry Lane Cemetery, as well as a canopy blind in the main number box.  Towards the end, there were clearly RT blind shortages.

Photo © Fred Ivey


RM operation finally arrived on the 140 in July 1978.  In March 1979, commemorating Shillibeer's 1829 horsebus, RM2142 is followed in Harrow by standard RM905.

Photo © Fred Ivey


When the 140 was re-routed to Harrow Weald in 1983, by swapping its northern section with the 114, Metrobuses replaced RMs.  In 1987, at the first tender route for the route, London Buses retained the contract through their Harrow Buses operation at HD.  Although scheduled for Metrobuses, the route regularly saw hired Greater Manchester Fleetlines.  7360 is seen here at Harrow Bus Station.

Photo © NLCadge,


In 1990, London Buses' London United operation won the contract, again using Metrobuses, operating from Hounslow (AV).  In 1992, M1238 is seen in the same location.  

Photo © NLCadge,


After return of operation to Metroline at HD, TA114 stops by Harrow & Wealdstone Station. 

Photo © NLCadge,