Red RF routes

Route 219

Page last updated 14 January 2020


One of the last two route to operate RFs in London, Kingston route 219 shared with the 218 both the road as far as Hersham and (from the 1930s) its bus allocation.  Although barely outlasting the RFs, the 219 had a long history including its famous role in serving the Vickers factory during the war.
The country end of the 219.  RF485 loads in Heath Road, Weybridge near the start of its journey to Kingston.  It is November 1977.
Photo © Dave Jones
Dates of RF operation
6 Jan 60 to 30 Mar 79
Converted to OMO 7 Sep 68
(total 19 years 4 months, of which 8 years 8 months crew-operated)
KINGSTON and WEYBRIDGE Vickers Works (journeys)


RF Garages
K      Kingston
Classic Kigston view, 1976
Reason for single-deck operation
As with many of Kingston's south-western routes, the 219 passed under the low bridge on the Portsmouth Road at Ditton Marsh.  See more under 218.

Kingston Guildhall provides the backdrop to RF522 on 18 Sep 76.  Saturday shoppers are ready to return home to Esher, Hersham and Weybridge with their purchases and the bus is busy despite its 15 minute frequency.

Photo © John Parkin

Route history

The origins of the Kingston to Esher routes go back to the very early single-deck operations around London, operated by independents before the first world war.  London Central Omnibus Co started a new (unnumbered) route in November 1911, worked by Leyland single-deckers from their Kingston Ceres Road garage, between Kingston Market Place and Thames Ditton Fountain.  Three weeks later the route was diverted and extended to run to Esher The Bear, along what was then the main London to Portsmouth road.  This passed under the low bridge at Ditton Marsh - just on the Kingston side of the (later) Scilly Isles, where the road goes under the main line to Woking, Southampton and Portsmouth.  This is still the same today and was the main cause of so many Kingston area routes being single-deck. 


Vickers no longer worksOn 1 Jan 13, the New Central (as it had become) buses were leased to the General, who numbered the route as 79.  In mid-1914, the New Central having been wound up, the buses were repainted from blue and yellow into General livery.  As an aside, the other two routes operated by New Central are still recognisable today (although indirectly) under their 1913 numbers as 68 and 71.  By 1915, the Ceres Road garage was closed and operation was by Twickenham garage, with periods at Putney when Twickenham was not available and settling there in May 1921.


RF507, later in the day to become the last RF in scheduled LT service, also ran the last working to Weybridge BAC Works (as it was still known to LT, although by then BAC itself had morphed into British Aerospace).
   Photo © John Parkin

In August 1920, the route was extended at weekends to Church Cobham, much later the route of the 215, with Wednesday journeys added for a few weeks, then Thursday journeys in late 1920, becoming daily journeys from May 1921.  June 1921 saw a further extension to West Byfleet Station via Byfleet.


Meanwhile, new routes 112 and 115 were introduced  in July 1921, the 112 from Kingston to Weybridge Station via Hersham and the 115 from Kingston to Guildford via Cobham and Ripley.  These were also operated by Putney garage and they and the extended 79 all used the 26-seat type-7 Bs that had proved too heavy for the 111.  Ken Glazier uses the 112 as an example of the difficult terrain that these 'country' services were venturing into.  Walton-on-Thames Urban District Council imposed an 8 mph speed limit (in Lammas Lane) 'where the roadway touches the river' and the General warned drivers of dangerous telegraph poles in the vicinity and of narrow streets in Esher and Hersham; it imposed its own 6 mph speed limit on Monument Hill, Weybridge.


In January 1922, both 79 and 112 ceased to operate, and the routes were combined into new route 79 running from the new Kingston garage (K), following the 112 to Weybridge Station before running via Byfleet to Woking, leaving Cobham served by the 115 and Byfleet Road to await the introduction of the 162B (later the 462) in March 1926.  In May 1923, Weybridge garage (WB) opened and joined Kingston in working the route, which ran hourly.  S-types replaced the Bs later in 1922, and were in turn replaced by Ts in 1931.


It is a week before the end of RF operation in London.  RF492 has just worked a short to Hersham Green and is pulling off the stand - no longer used by the 264, which has already been withdrawn - to run back via Esher to Kingston.

Photo © Dave Jones


In the renumbering of October 1934, the 79 became the 219, still running to Woking with T-types from K and WB (including the three experimental CB-class single-deckers T1000-2, which spent their working lives at WB then K on the 79/219).  LT Scooters briefly made a scheduled appearance from Kingston in 1937 when released from the 232, but in October that year the route was cut back and reverted to T operation.  The Woking to Weybridge section was replaced by larger buses on Country Area routes 437/A and 456 and the 219 diverted at Weybridge to terminate at Weybridge Station forecourt.  At the same time, the 219 was supplemented in Weybridge by local service 219A between Weybridge Grotto Road and the station, worked by buses from the 219.


January 1938 saw the introduction of the extension to Vickers Works, with Mon-Fri peak journeys.  Certain 219A journeys were also extended there, including Saturdays.  March saw the formal reintroduction of Scooters, whilst the summer timetables in May saw the beginnings of shared allocations with the 215 (Mon-Fri) and 218 (weekends) on Kingston to Hersham short workings.


Last day at KingstonAfter the outbreak of war, four-bus Weybridge garage closed in December 1939 and the 219/A gained a purely LT allocation.  The 219A lasted only until February 1941, when the 219 Vickers Works journeys became daily, including a new Sunday service although this latter did not operate throughout the war. 


In 1942/3, a number of Country Area buses, including 9 Qs at Addlestone and two Ts at Leatherhead, were painted grey to reduce their visibility when serving the Vickers Works.  From 1942 to 1945, the Central Area allocation books refer to 'special vehicles' being used for Vickers Works journeys and it is presumed that this refers to buses being painted grey - can anyone confirm this?


On the last day of RF service, RF512 sits in Kingston Bus Station.  In the background, RF522 carries blinds for the 216 - although that route had lost its RFs three years earlier, some RFs worked the 216 on the last day.  The following day, an official tour by 3 RFs of routes 218 and 219 included RF512. 

Photo © John Parkin


Also in 1943, the Scooters were converted to perimeter seating and authorised to carry 20 standing passengers, an arrangement that continued until union objections brought the practice to a close (earlier at Kingston than elsewhere) in October 1945.


The route was one of the recipients of new 14T12s in 1946, when Kingston received the second batch (after Uxbridge for the 223).   From 1946 to 1949, the official allocation of Ts was shared with the 218 Mon-Sat; some Scooters were still scheduled on summer Sundays.  Kingston's Scooters were gone by 1949, from when the joint allocation was switched to the 215 (which only shared the road as far as Esher), with Qs allocated alongside Ts from 1950.


Kingston's pre-war Ts lasted until 1953 due to a weak bridge on the 218, and the Qs also went that year, all swept away by the effect of the deliveries of red RFs elsewhere on the network.  But Kingston's later Ts and newly arrived TDs had the single-deck allocation to themselves until RFs arrived for the 216 in July 1959; the 219 allocation, joint with both 215 and 218 from 1954, stayed TD until conversion to RF in January 1960, on Kingston's largest intake of the type.


Last week of the RFIn 1966, operation of the 215 moved to Norbiton, leaving just the 218 and 219 to share an allocation for the rest of the life of the 219.  It was not until September 1968 that the routes were converted to OMO RFs, the last single-deck routes south of the river to be so converted and the last except the 210 in 1970.


Reducing receipts led to the withdrawal of the Esher to Weybridge section on Sunday mornings from January 1971, with the exception of a single journey to BAC Works - renamed from Vickers in 1964.  Otherwise, the OMO RF route ran unchanged until 1979 except that the Weybridge Station terminus was moved on 22 Mar 77 from a reverse turn on the station forecourt to the top of Heath Road. 


During the last week of service, the RFs carried posters in their windows advising of the change.  RF510, another of those that undertook the final tour on Saturday 31 Mar 1979, rounds the roundabout at Weybridge Station to stop on the stand in Heath Road.  This bus worked the last journey on the 219 and was the last RF to leave Kingston in scheduled service.

Photo © Steve Fennell


As related on the 218 page, the end came on Friday 30 March 1979, when Norbiton's Leyland Nationals took over the 218 and 219.  That weekend saw the end of weekend journeys to the BAC Works, but the reinstatement of the Sunday morning Weybridge service, at the request of Surrey County Council (changed days; Surrey now supports very few Sunday buses).


October 1981 to September 1982 saw a short lived peak-hour extension north of Kingston to serve Ham Beaufort Road, but this was a final fling before the route disappeared completely on 28 Jan 83, partly replaced by LCBS route 437.  The final journey was operated by LS148 driven by Steve Fennell.


Click for larger mapRF route in detail, with timing points


KINGSTON Bus Station, Clarence Street, Eden Street, High Street Kingston, Portsmouth Road, Esher Marquis of Granby, Portsmouth Road, High Street Esher, Esher High Street, Church Street (return via Esher Green), Lammas Lane, Esher Road, Hersham Barley Mow, Molesey Road, Queens Road, Queens Road Mayfield Road, Queens Road, Monument Hill, Weybridge The Ship, High Street Weybridge, Church Street, Heath Road, WEYBRIDGE STATION, daily jnys extended via Brooklands Road to WEYBRIDGE Vickers Works (BAC Works from 1964).


At an unknown date between 1964 and 1979, the turn at BAC Works changed from Gate 6 (closer to Byfleet)to a gate to the north, where Wellington Way is now.  Buses looped round inside the works at both locations.


The 1964 bus map (© London Transport) shows the route as it ran from 1937 to 1981.


Frequency (excludes works journeys)

Year Mon-Fri


1936 60 mins 60 mins 60 mins


60 mins

60 mins

60 mins *

1941  60 mins 60 mins * 60 mins *


60 mins

60 mins †

60 mins *


30 mins

30 mins

30 mins


15 mins

15-30 mins

15-30 mins


15-20 mins

15-30 mins

30 mins


15-20 mins

15-30 mins

60 mins


15-20 mins

15-30 mins

60 mins *


15-20 mins

15-30 mins

60 mins


10-30 mins *

20-30 mins

60 mins

* more frequent Kingston - Hersham 

† more frequent Kingston - Hersham (peaks)

From Kingston, the route took about 46 minutes to Weybridge Station.  The July 1967 timetable is here.



The 1965 faretable is here.  By 1971, the child fare rules on the section beyond Hersham had changed, as shown by the joint 218/219 version here.


RF allocation
Allocation joint with 218, which see for details.



Ian Hogben's memories of driving RFs at Kingston are under route 216 and 218.

The 219 was operated by RFs at our Kingston 2009 RF Event.