RTW33 outside Brixton garageCarshalton 2007

The RT

AEC Regent III - London's classic double-decker


Leyland Titan PD2 double-decker


Leyland Titan PD2 double-decker (8' wide)
One of the last two routes to operate RTWs, both from Brixton garage, route 95 ran from Cannon Street to Tooting.  RTW33 is seen outside its home garage in 1966.
Photo © Peter Osborn
Designed before the second world war, the first RT was delivered in 1939, and another 150 followed before the war put a stop to production.  After the war, the first post-war bus was delivered to Leyton Garage in 1947 for the replacement of open-staircase LT class buses.  The early buses were delivered with the distinctive roof route-number box, but this was discontinued after the first few batches.
RTL1139 in Wandsworth GarageAs part of its requirement to use more than one supplier, London Transport also purchased over 2,100 Leyland Titans.  The RTL class were modified to carry bodies identical to the RT, whilst the 500 members of the RTW class were London's first eight-feet wide double-deckers, in later years proving useful in training Routemaster drivers.  The Leylands were not as long-lived as the RTs, last in service being RTW467 on route 95 in May 1966 and RTL543 on the 176 in November 1968.
RTL1139 sits in Wandsworth Garage, having run in on route 44.  Between 1958 and 1964, the 44 provided the Sunday service between Mitcham and Wallington via Carshalton, having taken over from the 77B.  In 1964, this section passed to the 115A.
Photo Ian Armstrong collection
Deliveries of the RT family continued until 1954, when, numbering nearly 7,000, they comprised the largest standardised bus fleet in the world.  Like the single-deck RF, they were operated in red, green and Green Line liveries.  For a brief period before the appearance of the first Routemasters, the RT family provided the entire double-deck service fleet, although reducing demand after the orders were placed meant that the last members of the class did not enter service until the first had been withdrawn. 
RT3220 at Acton GreenAfter trolleybus conversion was completed, and particularly after the introduction of double-deck one-man operation, RTs were withdrawn in droves, although their reliability meant that examples continued to appear in the most unlikely places almost to the end.  The last RT route was Barking's 62 and the last bus in service was RT624 on 7 April 1979.
Having served London for 40 years, for many, the RT family represents the London bus.  Its successor, the Routemaster has beaten even this.
We hope to have members of all three classes operating at the Carshalton running day.
RT3220 sits at Acton Green in later days when RTs could be seen substituting for other vehicles.  It is about to set off on a short working to what is presumably its home garage.
Photo Ian Armstrong collection