Red RF routes

Route 237

Page last updated 1 January 2017
 

This was London's longest-running RF route, pottering quietly out in the western suburbs for almost a quarter of a century.  The rural part of the route was handed over to London Country shortly after RF operation came to an end.

 

Three weeks before the RFs leave the 237, RFs 443 and 452 stand at Chertsey Station.

Photo © John Parkin

Dates of RF operation
3 Dec 52 to 16 Apr 77
(total 24 years 4 months, of which exactly half was crew-operated and half one-man)

 

Destinations
HOUNSLOW Bus Station and CHERTSEY STATION
 
RF Garages
AV    Hounslow
 

Reason for single-deck operation

A weight restriction on Chertsey Bridge meant that 1930s double-deckers (with 56 passengers) were too heavy (56 passengers weigh about 4 tons).  Double-deck route 90 had covered the section between Sunbury and Chertsey from 1923 to 1932, first with Bs then Ks.  In a parallel with the 1T1s on Walton Bridge, the Ks were kept in service because of the restriction.  When they could be kept running no longer, the 90 was replaced between Sunbury and Chertsey by new route 137.  It is not known what the weight restriction was then - today it is 17 tonnes.  Ken Glazier also mentions that the Ks' high chassis frame meant that they were at the time the 'only type of double-decker which could then cross the heavily humped Chertsey Bridge' (the listed bridge is unchanged today, although perhaps the road profile is different). 

 

LT1057 running AV1 outside the Red Lion at Feltham Green in January 1949.  The Scooters were already 11 years old when they were introduced to the route in 1942; the load in this shot certainly justifies the conversion to bigger buses.

Photo © Alan Cross, Peter Gomm collection

 

Route history
The route was introduced by the General as the 137 in June 1932, replacing the 120 between Hounslow Heath and Feltham and the 90 between Sunbury and Chertsey.  The route was one-man operated daily by Dennis Darts (the early 18-seat version) and was obviously popular at weekends; the Sunday allocation doubled over the two years after introduction. 
 
Becoming 237 in the route renumbering in 1934, the route was then host for two years to the prototype C-class Leyland Cub, the 20-seat Chiswick-built class. At the beginning of the war, all the remaining Darts were withdrawn and the route converted fully to Cub operation, initially with the rear-engined CRs, then from 1941 with Cs when the CRs were put into store, in both cases still OMO. But the focus in wartime was to maximise capacity and bigger buses in the form of the LTL Scooters (with perimeter seating to maximise standing room) were introduced in November 1942.
 
237, still working in 1976RF617, a former green bus repainted red whilst at Muswell Hill, bowls round the Sunbury roundabout in 1976.  It appears to have had half its fleetname reapplied.
Photo © Eamonn Kentell
 
LTLs ran the 237 for 10 years, with a little help from Ts (officially on Sundays between 1946 and 1950 and on Saturdays in 1949); these included ex-Tilling 3T3s, ex-Green Line 11T11s and petrol-engined 1/7T7/1s, and later 10T10s.  The Scooters were over 20 years old when the route was converted to RFs in 1952, one of the first batch of routes using brand-new buses.  The first two were licensed on 3 Dec 52 and conversion completed on 9th, the spare bus RF367 being licensed on 10th.  The two trainer RFs (ex-MH) were licensed in February 1953, allowing a summer increase in the Sunday allocation.  A few 14T12s also came and went between May 1953 and July 1954, and a green 15T13 was allocated briefly in 1957. 
 
Apart from the rebuilding of Hounslow Garage and the opening of the bus station in 1954, the route ran unchanged for the nearly 25 years of RF operation.  Half way through RF operation, on 27 Jan 65, the 237 became OMO again. 
 
Hounslow's RFs were usually in a bit of state by the end of nearly 25 years' operation of the class.  RF354, now back on the scene after a long break, heads out from the bus station on a Shepperton short working.
Photo © Paul Redmond
 
In April 1977, Hounslow lost its RFs from both the 237 and 202, leaving only Kingston operating the class.  They were replaced on the 237 by BL-class Bristols for 9 months, before Routemasters took over a transformed route in January 1978.
 
Gone was the semi-rural section from Sunbury Village to Chertsey, which became London Country route 459.  The 237 instead headed east from Hounslow over the 117 roads to Shepherds Bush, overnight becoming an important trunk route.  Turnham Green, later Stamford Brook (V) provided extra RMs on Saturdays.  Crew Metrobuses made an appearance in 1986 and the following year the route became OPO for the third time.
 
1996 saw the Hounslow Heath to Sunbury Village section transferred to new route 235, which converted to single-deckers two years later, with the main 237 continuing to this day, now operated by Metroline from Brentford garage.
 
Hounslow's RM1145 lays over at the old Shepherds Bush stand before heading all the way to Sunbury Village.  It is the mid-80s, and the last assignment for the RM before it was sold.
Photo © Paul Redmond
 
RF route in detail, with timing points
HOUNSLOW Bus Station (Garage until 1954), Hounslow High Street, Staines Road, Hounslow Heath Hussar, Hounslow Road, Feltham Station, Feltham High Street, Sunbury Road, Groveley Road, Vicarage Road, Bridge Street, Sunbury Clock Tower, Green Street, Sunbury Village Flower Pot, Halliford Road, Gaston Bridge Road, Green Lane Gaston Bridge Road, Green Lane, Shepperton Station Approach, High Street, Church Road Shepperton, Chertsey Road, Chertsey Bridge Road, Chertsey Bridge, Chertsey Cricketers, Bridge Road, London Street, Guildford Road, CHERTSEY STATION
 
1955 bus map © London Transport
 
 
Frequency
Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1936 30 mins 20-30 mins 15-30 mins
1941 30 mins 20-30 mins 15-30 mins
1946 20 mins 20 mins 20-30 mins
1951 15-20 mins 15-20 mins 20 mins
1959 15-20 mins 15-20 mins 20-30 mins
1964 15-20 mins* 15 mins 30 mins
1969 11-30 mins 15-18 mins 30 mins
1971 13-30 mins  15-18 mins 30-60 mins
1976 15-30 mins† 25 mins† 30-60 mins
* Every 11-20 mins between Sunbury and Feltham
† Every 15 mins (Mon-Fri),12-13 mins (Sat) between Sunbury and Hounslow.
 
The route took about 50 minutes from Hounslow to  Chertsey.  The November 1959 timetable is here and the July 1967 timetable here.
 
Faretable
The 1968 faretable is here.
 
RF allocation

New RFs delivered Dec 52: 357, 361-367, 376 (total 8 + 1 spare)

 

PVR 1952 (Dec): Mon-Fri 8, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1953 (May): Mon-Fri 8, Sat 8, Sun 10
PVR 1953 (Jul): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 10
PVR 1953 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1954 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 10
PVR 1954 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1955 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1955 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1956 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1956 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 7
PVR 1957 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1957 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 7
PVR 1958 (Apr): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1958 (Nov): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 7
PVR 1959 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1959 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 7
PVR 1960 (Mar): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1960 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 8
PVR 1960 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1961 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 4
PVR 1962 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1962 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 4
PVR 1963 (May): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1963 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 4
PVR 1965 (Jan, OMO): Mon-Fri 10, Sat 9, Sun 6
PVR 1966 (Feb): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1967 (Jun): Mon-Fri 10, Sat 8, Sun 6
PVR 1969 (Feb): Mon-Fri 10, Sat 8, Sun 5

Then unchanged to 1977