Red RF routes
Page last updated 21 December
The 215A Kingston to Downside route was the reason
that Kingston retained its TDs until 1962, when it was finally
accepted that the larger RFs could serve the village.
RF517 (once RF298, hence
its early registration) in Kingston in June 1965. The bus was
converted for OMO in 1961, but is still crew operated here.
It looks as though the crew may have stopped off for some
cigarettes before reaching the bus station; the bus is empty of
passengers and the driver is flicking through a
Dates of RF operation
1 Mar 62 to 29 Dec 67
Converted to OMO 23 Jan 66
(total 5 years 8 months, of which 3 years
11 months crew-operated)
KINGSTON Bus Station and DOWNSIDE
K Kingston (to 22 Jan 66)
NB Norbiton (from 23 Jan 66)
Reason for single-deck operation
In common with the other routes between Kingston and Esher,
the 215A passed under the low
bridge at Ditton Marsh, still there today under the London to
Woking main line.
The 215A was introduced on 30 Jun 54 to provide a
Monday to Saturday service to the isolated hamlet of Downside,
south of Cobham. TD-operated by Kingston Garage, it shared a
timetable and bus allocation with its parent 215 throughout its existence.
TD128 runs under the 602 trolleybus wires
up Portsmouth Road, Long Ditton, with Hampton Court Park on
the other side of the Thames in the background. The date is 27 Mar
Photo © Geoff
As the TDs were progressively replaced by RFs at Kingston, the
215A - and therefore the 215 on weekdays because of the
joint operation - retained theirs, becoming the last TD-operated
routes apart from the 240A,
due to unsuitable roads between Cobham and Downside. Indeed,
at the introduction to the route, drivers were instructed not to
exceed 5 mph when crossing the bridge over the River Mole.
However, a timetable on which one in four journeys extended beyond
Cobham to each of Ripley (215) or Downside meant that there were
duties that could take RFs, and approval was given for this in
October 1961. The Traffic Commissioner finally agreed to RF
operation to Downside in 1962, and the conversion took place on
Thursday 1 March, when a batch of newly overhauled RFs were
licensed at Kingston.
Just over 4 years later, OMO-conversion of the 215 and
215A occurred on 23 Jan 66 at the same time as a
transfer to Norbiton Garage. Less than two years later, it
wasn't Downside that lost its service when the 215A
finished, but off-the-map Ripley that was cast adrift from the
Central Area. The Downside journeys were renumbered 215 from
30 Dec 67.
RF route in detail, with timing points
KINGSTON Bus Station, Clarence Street (return via Wood
Street), Eden Street, High Street Kingston, Portsmouth Road,
Bridge, Portsmouth Road, Esher Marquis of Granby,
Portsmouth Road, High Street Esher, Esher High Street, Portsmouth
Road, Fairmile Lane Portsmouth
Road, Portsmouth Road Cobham, Anyards Road (return by
Between Streets, Street Cobham), Church Cobham Post Office, High
Street Cobham, Church Street, Bridge Road, Downside Road, Downside
Common Road, DOWNSIDE COMMON
Terminal working at Downside - reverse into Downside Close (is
this now Downsview Close?), pull forward to stand in Downside
Common Road at Hanow Cottage.
Norbiton garage journeys - see note under 215.
Based on 1964 bus map
The route took about 40 minutes between Kingston and
Downside. The July 1967 timetable is here
Allocation joint with 215 Mon-Sat
See Stan Attewell's memories
of driving the Downside service after it was worked from
RFs again operated the 215A to Downside at our
Kingston 2009 RF event.