Colindale Running Day

The Routemaster

London's icon
Buses planned for operation include RM158, RM357, RM545, RM1005, RM1033, RM1069, RM1348, RM1397, RM2097
RM1004 turns onto the stand at Edgware Station after a long run on the 18 up from Paddington, to which it will return.
Photo Jeff Lloyd collection
It is hard to say anything about the Routemaster that has not been said many times before.  The next evolutionary step from the RT, the RM became the last in the line of London Transport's buses, designed and built in London especially for London.   First operated in service on 8 February 1956 (on route 260 to Colindale), the Routemaster design has now achieved over 50 years' service to London, a truly staggering achievement.
Far ahead of its time and inspired by aircraft production techniques, the aluminium-bodied Routemaster was revolutionary in many ways, including its chassisless construction, automatic transmission and independent suspension, yet was considered by some to be already obsolete when introduced due to its open platform, front-engined design.  Oh well, we can't all be right all the time, or we'd all be Prime Minister.
Limited numbers of country buses and Green Line coaches were built, but the Routemaster was quintessentially a red bus, moving the masses day in, day out.  Seating 64, or 72 in the later RML class, Routemasters started life replacing trolleybuses, moved on to replacing RTs, then in some cases replacing buses that were supposed to replace them. But the economics of providing services to a reducing number of passengers eventually led to Routemaster operation being concentrated on busy central London routes.
Many were re-engined with modern low-emission engines and refurbished internally to extend their lives.  Once ubiquitous in London, the last ten now in service on two central London heritage routes are testament to British engineering.  Had London continued to control its destiny, the rear-engined FRM would have taken over.  But it was not to be, and the rest is history.


In this area, the Routemaster was a visitor only, Edgware garage never operating the type.  However, routes 18, 113, 221, 266 and part of the 240 on Sundays all saw Routemasters terminating at Edgware Station.