In the 1950s and 60s, the 88 was a cross-London trunk
route: ACTON GREEN, Oxford Circus, Vauxhall Bridge,
Stockwell, Tooting Broadway, MITCHAM Cricketers (Monday to
Friday), St Helier Rose (Monday to Friday peaks and
Saturday), Sutton, BELMONT (Sunday), BANSTEAD HOSPITAL (Sunday
afternoon from 1964).
On 15 April 2007, the free service on the 88 will run between
Tooting (journeys), Mitcham and Belmont, extended to Banstead
Hospital (afternoon). See the timetable
Main boarding points
Mitcham Cricketers, Mitcham Tram stop, St
Helier Rose Hill, Sutton Green, Sutton, Belmont
On a summer Sunday in
1964, RTL1531 heads off from Amen Corner on its way to Banstead
Photo © Bob Turner, via
By 1935, the 88 was well-established, running from Acton
Green via Oxford Circus, Mitcham and Sutton to Belmont, with a
frequency along the whole route of five minutes on
Sundays. During the 1940s, the route was cut back on other
days to the pattern summarised above.
The route enjoyed a number of garages and types allocated in
1950. The main allocation was Merton (AL) garage, running a
combination of Ds and STLs, assisted by Hammersmith Riverside (R)
with RTLs and (on summer Sundays) Victoria Gillingham Street (GM)
with STLs. In May 1950, AL and R ran RTWs as part of the
successful central London trials of 8' wide buses. In 1951,
GM ran RTs, whilst the summer extras were provided from Stockwell
(SW) from 1952, with RTLs. Meanwhile, Merton replaced its
STLs and Ds with RTs (with a PVR of 58 on Monday to Friday) from
the summer and winter schedules respectively in 1953.
The closure of Clapham (CA) garage in November 1958 led to a
substantial reorganisation of allocations, with Merton losing the
88 in favour of CA’s 155. The main 88 allocation then moved
to SW with RTLs, still supported by R’s RTLs but now only on
weekdays, with the Sunday support now from Shepherds Bush (S) also
with RTLs. R’s Sunday allocation reappeared for just a year
from October 1961, but R lost any role in the 88 from October 1965
in a west London shuffle and was replaced by S daily, now with RTs.
As a central London route, the 88 was a natural candidate for
Routemasters as deliveries continued, and they duly arrived at both
SW and S from July 1966. These allocations were upgraded to
RML from March 1975.
There were very few route changes between 1950 and 1985.
Certain journeys on Sunday were extended further to Banstead
Hospital from January 1964 and the Saturday extension to St Helier
was lost at the same time. The Monday to Friday peak
extension lasted until January 1970. In January 1974, the
Sunday extension was replaced by the 280, leaving a daily service
between Acton Green and Mitcham.
Into the 1980s, Merton regained a Sunday allocation, with RMs,
from 1981 to 1986 (involving garage journeys from Mitcham to Merton
via Phipps Bridge). Monday to Friday evening journeys were
curtailed at Tooting from 1985, followed by the full route (except
Sundays) from 1987. The southern section was further cut back
to Clapham Common from April 1990 (except on Sundays for a few more
months) and the western part of the route was renumbered 94 from
September 1990 – a new route which was to remain RML-operated right
up to January 2004, one of the final group of Routemaster
routes. Meanwhile, the 88 was converted to OPO on Sundays in
1987, using Metrobuses and (briefly) Fleetlines, and the weekday
route followed in August 1992.
The 88 still runs from Clapham to Oxford Circus, and since 2000
has continued north over previously foreign territory by
taking over the 135 to Camden Town.