Where it all startedWorcester Park 2008

Route 127

Route 127 was the first in London's red bus area to operate low-height double-deck buses (and one of only four that ever needed them), as well as being the first such route to be withdrawn.  Running virtually a circle from Morden to South Wimbledon via North Cheam and New Malden, it was the 13' 6" clearance of the railway bridge at Worcester Park Station that gave rise to the use of special buses.  The running day marks 50 years since the route was withdrawn.
Manchester Corporation no. 192, a 1930 Crossley with a 1935 Crossley body,  passes under Worcester Park bridge with precious little room to spare.
Photo Charles Klapper © Omnibus Society, Alan Cross collection
1955 bus map (c) LTOriginal route
MORDEN to SOUTH WIMBLEDON via Worcester Park (1941 to 1956)
MORDEN to ST HELIER via Worcester Park, Raynes Park and South Wimbledon (1956 to 1958)


The 127 will operate between Morden and Malden via Worcester Park every 20 minutes, with hourly journeys extended to St Helier.  Timetable attached.  Note that most buses will pause for a few minutes at Worcester Park.

Main boarding points
Morden Station stop H (journeys towards South Wimbledon, stop B), North Cheam stops C and D, Worcester Park stops B and C, Malden Fountain stops J and K.
Click on the map to enlarge
Morden to South Wimbledon the long way roundBrief history
Originally introduced (as the 155) when the tube reached Morden in 1926, the route was renumbered 245 in 1934, then 127 in 1941 when converted from single-deck to low-height double-deck.  The route ran from Morden to South Wimbledon until October 1956, when it was extended to St Helier, covering for the withdrawal of the 32.  The route fell victim to the cuts in service that followed the long bus strike of 1958, an event which may be considered to mark the beginning of the downturn in fortunes of London Transport bus services for the rest of the 20th century, and was withdrawn in August 1958.
As London Transport initially had no available low-height buses, the route was converted using buses loaned by Manchester Corporation, later replaced by buses brought from LT's Country Area.  A variety of buses, including a batch of specially purchased utility Daimlers, was operated until the post-war RLHs were introduced in 1951.  A detailed history of that class is given on the RLH Information Centre site.
Loaned Hants & Dorset Bristol K HRU847 at Morden on 7 Feb 50
Photo © Alan Cross
S433 - rings a bellDetailed route history
Back in 1926, the tube network was growing.  The Northern Line reached Morden that September and a series of bus services were introduced to link Morden with the developing suburban area to the south.  Presumably in anticipation, three new bus routes started in July 1926, linking Wimbledon (the then southernmost Underground station) with Morden and the suburbs beyond.
These routes were the 155 via North Cheam to Worcester Park, the 156 via North Cheam to Cheam and the 164 via North Cheam and Ewell to Burgh Heath.  These three were shortened to run from Morden Station when it opened, and were then joined by the 157 via Rose Hill and Sutton to Wallington and the 165 via Rose Hill and Sutton to Banstead.  All were introduced with K-class single-deckers from Sutton garage.  Increasing traffic led to the double-decking of the 156, 157 and 165 in 1927 and 164 in 1928, but the 155 remained single-deck due to the low bridge at Worcester Park station.
S433, now the sole preserved example of a 1923 S-type, seen at Morden Station in 1930 about to set off for South Wimbledon Station on the 155B.
Photo W Noel Jackson collection, © Alan Cross
Northbound at Sutton Common RoadThe 155 was briefly extended north and westwards to South Wimbledon and Raynes Park from January 1927.  The Raynes Park section was transferred to the 165 in August 1928, when the 155 instead was extended to form a circle from Worcester Park via Kingston Bypass and South Wimbledon back to Morden.  At the same time, short workings between Morden and South Wimbledon (the long way round!) were introduced, numbered 155B under the Bassom system.
ST162 was one of the National Services lowbridge STs, built for the Watford-Chesham route (later 336).  They had twin gangways upstairs, with 3-in-a-row bench seats (more details from Ian Smith here).  It was amongst the green buses to operate the 127 and is seen late in its life opposite the Woodstock on 27 Jun 51.
Photo © Alan Cross
Worcester Park, Central Road
The route was then transferred to Merton garage, using S-class single-deckers.  Two years later, the main route was withdrawn and all workings ran to South Wimbledon as the 155B; in 1931 operation returned to Sutton garage.  The route was supplemented from 1932 on weekday peaks by double-deck short workings from Malden to South Wimbledon, using NSs and numbered 155C.  Meanwhile, Sutton introduced single-deck LT Scooters to replace the Ss for 6 months from August 1932 and permanently from February 1934.
From October 1934, the new route numbering scheme was adopted that abolished suffixes for short workings and segregated single-deck routes into the 200-series.  Accordingly, the 155B and 155C were renumbered as the 245 (even thought the Malden shorts were double-deck NS-operated until replaced by extras on the 152 in March 1936).  The 245 was rerouted beyond the Kingston Bypass to serve New Malden Fountain from October 1936.
Typical of the second batch of lowbridge Daimlers is D128 heading for Morden in Worcester Park in 1948.
Photo © Alan Cross
Milner Road is now blocked by bollardsFor economic reasons, it was London Transport policy to operate double-deck buses on all urban routes unless this was not physically possible.  For a period after 1934, single-deck routes that were converted to double-deck were renumbered into the 1-199 sequence.  This practice came to an end in 1941, presumably because wartime conditions meant the resources involved in the practice (which must have seemed bizarre to the travelling public) could not be justified.  However, three routes were double-decked and renumbered that year, including the 245 on 22 January to meet the capacity requirements of the factories in the Malden area.  Since December 1939, however, the route had not run evenings or Sundays.
Throughout the short lives of the utility Daimlers, the route terminated at South Wimbledon, where they turned and stood in Milner Road.  D131 is seen here on 27 Oct 52, shortly before the arrival of the RLHs and the despatch of the Daimlers.
Photo © Alan Cross
Reminiscent of student life - how many passengers can you get in a Q?
The low bridge at Worcester Park mean that normal double-deckers could not be used.  The 127 was thus the first Central Area route to use low-height double-deckers, and there were none in the fleet, wartime needs overruling the dislike by the police of their operation.  The change was made possible by the availability of loaned Manchester Corporation Crossleys and Leyland Titans, although these buses were no available for very long.  In August, 5 STs from LT's Country Area were drafted in, made available from Watford by the splitting of the 410 at Biggin Hill and the resulting ability to run normal height buses on the northern section, in turn allowing Godstone STLs to be transferred to Watford.  However, this provided only half the allocation and single-deckers continued to help out, first LTs, then Qs.  Within two months of the arrival of the STs, the allocation moved back from Sutton to Merton garage.
Merton continued to provide occasional single-deckers on the 127 until the RLHs arrived.
Here Q160 shows why the route needed double-deckers - South Wimbledon, 22 Sep 50.
Photo © Alan Cross
In 1942, LT were permitted to build some new lowbridge STL bodies, which were fitted onto existing chassis.  These became available in September and the route was fully converted to double-deck.  No more new buses were available until the arrival of a specially-built batch of six utility-bodied Daimlers in April and May 1944, which relaeased the STs and worked alongside the STLs until the arrival of the second batch of four in November 1945.  Whilst the Ds formed the official allocation until the advent of the red RLHs in December 1952, other buses continued to appear from time to time.  Meanwhile, Sunday operation reappeared during 1947 only to vanish later in the year.
Hmm, interesting
Ten RLHs arrived at Merton in December 1952 and the route settled down to a period of stability until local changes on 17 Oct 56 led to the withdrawal of the 32.  The 32 ran from St Helier to Worcester Park, following the route of the 127 except that it served Raynes Park Station.  It was replaced by extension of the 127 to St Helier and its diversion away from Bushey Road to serve Raynes Park Station.
So far so good, but in 1958 London's busmen went on strike for about six weeks, causing a massive loss of traffic as the travelling public discovered alternatives to the bus (such as the private car) and as a result a substantial reduction in bus mileage.  The 127 was one of the routes withdrawn without replacement.
Later to be the last RLH in service on the 178, and later still to be brought back from the USA and restored by Ensign, RLH61 is seen here after the strike on 19 Aug 58.
Photo © Alan Cross
There were four RLH routes in the Central Area.  The 230, which had been converted from single-deck to lowbridge STL (but not renumbered) in 1942, was the first in November/December 1952, followed by the 127.  The 248 was converted from single-deck in February 1955 and the 178, created from the 208A using buses withdrawn from the 127, in 1959.  The other three were all in turn replaced by single-deck routes, the 127 being the only one to be withdrawn completely.
Thanks to David Ruddom and the RLH Information Centre for details of the route's history.