Brand new RF502 in WellingRed RF routes

Route 241

Page last updated 23 January 2016
 
The last route to receive brand new RFs in 1953, the 241 was one of those busy routes targeted to receive double-deckers as soon as physical restrictions were removed.
 
In this well known photo, brand new RF502 running SP7 picks up passengers in Hook Lane, Welling.  The trolleybus in the background is on the 696 from Woolwich.
Photo © Geoff Morant, Mike Morant collection
 
Dates of RF operation
1 Mar 53 to 25 Nov 58
(total 5 years 9 months, all crew operation)
 
Destinations
WELLING STATION and SIDCUP GARAGE
 
RF Garages
SP    Sidcup
 
Reason for single-deck operation
The 228 and 241 were single-deck operated due to a low railway bridge at Sidcup Station.  The road was lowered under the bridge in 1958, allowing both routes to be double-decked in their entirety.  These were the first RF routes to
 
RF466 in Sidcup Hill
About five years later, RF466 shows an intermediate style of blind - still capital letters for the intermediates, but a 5" high route number rather than the early 7" number.  Indicator 'ears' were fitted in 1956 and the wheel nut rings and 'dustbin lids' have been painted over.  Thank you to Peter Kennedy who identifies the location as Sidcup Hill, north-west of the Knoll Road junction.  He adds that virtually none of the original buildings remain, although the large tree behind the RF survives.
Photo Peter Gomm collection
 
Route history
Introduced on 12 Oct 38 between Welling Station and Sidcup Garage in Foots Cray, the new 241 was originally one-man operated with 18-seat DA-class Dennis Darts.  The route's success soon led to the need for larger buses, so they were replaced by elderly 29-seat crew-operated 1T1s in January 1939, and these in turn by 37-seat 5Q5s in March 1940.
 
In May 1939, half of the service Mon-Sat was diverted in Foots Cray via St Mary Cray and Orpington to Green Street Green, with Sunday evening journeys added in November 1940.  At the start of 1941, the Mon-Fri evening peak service between Sidcup Station and Sidcup Garage was supplemented by double-deck workings using one ST off route 161, becoming an LT from June that year.  These journeys were replaced by an extension to the 161 in January 1943.  Increased traffic to the factories along Sevenoaks Way between St Mary Cray and Orpington led the Foots Cray to Green Street Green section to be transferred as a bifurcation of double-deck route 51 in October 1941(becoming new route 51A in December 1942).
 
As traffic continued to build and frequencies increased, the Q allocation of 17 (up from 11 in 1941) was supplemented by petrol-engined 1T1s between 1943 and 1948, at which time another dozen Qs became available to allow the Ts to be removed.  For their last winter, presumably as the Qs became time-expired, three of the allocation of 29 Qs were replaced by Ts again. 
 
RF operation arrived in March 1953 (the first 9 starting on 1 March), using the last red RFs to be delivered, and the very last five were licensed on 25 March.  On that day, the final Qs were withdrawn.  The level of passenger demand can be seen from the peak allocation of 29 buses (replaced by 28 larger RFs) to a route that took 23 minutes from end to end. 
 
By the time the road was lowered under the bridge at Sidcup in 1958, allowing the route to be double-decked, the Monday to Friday allocation dropped from 25 RFs to 15 RTs.  The weekend workings were withdrawn and covered by adjustments to RT route 51.  The 228 and 241 were the first RF routes to lose their RFs, and the availability of this sizable batch allowed conversion to RF of the last two routes operating post-war 14T12s, the 211 and 222, together with the TD-operated 236.
 
Extended from Welling to Woolwich in May 1963, the 241 replaced the 126 between Welling and Plumstead Common and 54 from there to Woolwich.  The route, still Monday to Friday only, was shortened in Woolwich and renumbered 51B in July 1964.
 
RF route in detail, with timing points
SIDCUP GARAGE, Foots Cray High Street, Foots Cray Barley Mow, Sidcup Hill, Sidcup High Street, Station Road, Sidcup Station, Halfway Street, Willersley Avenue, The Oval, Wellington Avenue, Blackfen Woodman, Westwood Lane, Hook Lane, Belle Grove Road, Central Avenue, Vaughan Road, WELLING STATION (return via Cleveland Road, Tidford Road, Central Ave)
 

1955 bus map showing the Sidcup RF routes 228 and 241.

Map © London Transport

 
Frequency
Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1941 30 mins * 20-30 mins * 15 mins
1946 5 mins † 5 mins † 10-12 mins
1951 2-5 mins 2-5 mins 6-8 mins
1953 2-5 mins 2-5 mins 6-8 mins
* more frequent Sidcup - Welling
† more frequent Sidcup - Blackfen
 
The route took 22-25 minutes from end to end.
 
RF allocation

New RFs delivered Mar 53: 464 (ex WG trainer), 479, 488-498, 500-513 plus 3 second-hand (total 29 + 1 spare)

 

PVR 1953 (Mar): Mon-Fri 29, Sat 22, Sun 12
PVR 1953 (Oct): Mon-Fri 28, Sat 22, Sun 12
PVR 1954 (May): Mon-Fri 28, Sat 20, Sun 11
PVR 1955 (May): Mon-Fri 26, Sat 18, Sun 10
PVR 1957 (Oct): Mon-Fri 26, Sat 18, Sun 9
PVR 1958 (Apr): Mon-Fri 25, Sat 15, Sun 9
 
On conversion to RT in 1958, Sidcup's RFs were sent to HW for 211, UX for 222 and AR/T for 236.
 
Re-creation
The 228 and 241 were operated by RFs at the Sidcup and Swanley Running Day in 2007.