Worcester Park 2008

An elusive beast!Route 93

Route 93 is a well-known south London route, but when it started ran almost entirely north of the river!   After serving destinations as diverse as Harrow Weald, Wembley, Southall and Clapham Common, and featuring for a period a through Sunday service between Southall and Cheam via Wembley, the route settled down in the early days of the war to run between Putney Bridge and Epsom, extended summer Sundays to Dorking.
The route was at least partly RT-operated from 1941 to 1976, although with gaps in the RT allocation in 1948 and 1950 - does anyone know if this was a record?
The 93 Express was a failed experiment and lasted less than 6 months.  As a result, it was not well photographed, and this is the only picture that we have been able to trace.  The photographer, the late Tony Wright, lived on the 93 route where his father ran a photographic business.  Here, Sutton's RT4276 sits at Morden before setting off to Epsom, no doubt to the disappointment of those wishing to travel only as far as North Cheam.
Post-war route 93The blinds are blue, and a slipboard carried the list of stops the bus would serve.
Photo © AM Wright, David Ruddom collection


The 93 (in conjunction with the 712) will operate every 10-20 minutes between North Cheam and Morden, less frequently on other sections.  A limited Express service will operate in the afternoon. 

Timetable attached.


Road works at South Wimbledon may cause some disruption or delay.  Southbound services from Wimbledon will run via Hartfield Road and will not serve The Broadway. 


Main boarding points

Wimbledon Bus Station and stop D,

South Wimbledon stops SJ and SM,

Morden Station stops B and H,

North Cheam stops C and D,

Epsom Clock Tower.




Route history
Started on 12 Apr 24 to serve an international football match at Wembley, the 93 ran for one day only via Stonebridge Park, Harlesden and Shepherds Bush to Putney High Street.  A week later it reappeared for the Easter weekend, then running through to Wimbledon, becoming daily as far as Putney the following Wednesday.
Merton's STL2483 at North Cheam
STL2483, working from Merton garage on a summer Sunday in the late 1940s, pauses at North Cheam on its way to Dorking.  The bus was withdrawn in July 1950.
Photo © Derek Fisk, Alan Cross collection
Over the following year, the northern terminus varied from Sudbury and Stonebridge Park to Harrow Weald, and under the Bassom scheme, the route number carried various suffixes.  Summer 1926 saw a southward extension to Clapham Common on Sundays, but this was a one-off and the following summer saw the extension to Wimbledon instead.
Through these early years, the 93 was operated out of Putney Bridge, Putney and Willesden garages, variously using K and NS types. 
May 1929 saw the section north of Craven Park transferred to the 18 (80 years later worked by bendi-buses), with the 93 diverted to terminate at Willesden. 
Summer SundayA year later, the southern end was extended to Morden, bringing in operation by Sutton and Merton garages and introducing a supplementary service (the 93C) from Putney Bridge Station to Morden Station, followed in the autumn by a further extension to Cheam via North Cheam.
The summer Sunday extension to Dorking was reintroduced after the war in 1946. The following year, D95 is seen at Morden working a Dorking service.  The date is 12 October 1947, and the 'summer' service will continue into November.  At the time, Merton only worked the route on Sundays.  The bus is as delivered in brown livery and it is hard to believe that the bus is five years newer than Putney Bridge's RT2s.
Photo © Alan Cross
In May 1932, the northern terminus moved again, from Willseden to Greenford Red Lion (where it met the new 211), then the route was extended again to Southall White Swan that November.  By this time the route, still worked with NSs, was run from Putney Bridge, Sutton and (on Sundays) Merton garages, with a peak requirement (on Saturday) of 43 buses.  Merton introduced LTs on its Sunday allocation in 1933, followed by STLs in 1935, only to lose the route a few months later.
Morden only
Southall to Cheam proved to be the longest version of the route, with contraction starting in June 1934.  First, the Cheam section was removed and the well-known Priory Road terminus was introduced at North Cheam.  In March 1936, the Southall to East Acton section was replaced by the 105, then in October 1938 the East Acton to Hammersmith section was replaced by the 72.  At the same time, the route was extended beyond North Cheam to Epsom, replacing the 70 from Morden.  In 1936, the route became STL-operated again on Sundays, then daily the following year. 
First of a kind.
Merton's Brush-bodied Daimler D57 stands at Priory Road, North Cheam on 24 Jun 51.  The bus displays an early use of the word 'ONLY' to qualify a short-working destination, a practice not brought into general usage until October of that year.  Merton's Daimlers were unusual in this respect as being virtually the only examples of this usage on restricted blind displays.
Photo © Alan Cross
With the take-over of the 70 came the summer Sunday operation to Dorking, which ran (with a gap during the later war years from 1943 to 1945) through until 1960. However, the war also saw the last contraction at the north end, with the route terminating at Putney Bridge Station from October 1939.
Still six months to go ...
Putney Bridge (F) garage received its 2RT2s in 1941 and these duly appeared on the 93 as well as the central London routes.  At the same time, Sutton's allocation switched from STL to a mix of STL and ST.
After the first lowbridge Daimlers were delivered to Merton for the 127, all the subsequent highbridge versions joined them, with the exception of the Romford Green Lines, until the Park Royal-bodied batch in 1946.  These were a full 14'6" and too tall for Merton, so were sent to Sutton where they took over all of Sutton's double-deck routes, including the 93, as delivered from April until November.  The 93 used about a  quarter of the allocation of 100 buses.
'Leaning-back' STL410 leaves Morden for Epsom on 16 Apr 52.  Despite the dominance of Daimlers at Sutton, the allocation was supplemented by STLs from 1950 to 1952.  This bus would however not last out the year in passenger service, although it did perform training duties before going for scrap at the start of 1954.
Photo © Alan Cross


From April 1947 and through until 1963, Merton (AL) took back a part of the 93 operation, but only at weekends.  This was provided by Daimlers, with occasional STLs, until the 3RTs arrived in 1953.  Meanwhile, Sutton (A) added some STLs to its D allocation from 1950 until it received RTLs in January 1953. 


A party of Inspectors

The RTLs remained only about a year, then A too standardised on 3RTs.  But this was a period when all manner of buses were pressed into service, and the 93 saw a considerable variety including loaned provincial buses.


This picture portrays a moment in history.  Sutton's Park Royal-bodied D269 on the forecourt at Morden, whose driver is boarding for the next journey to Nth. Cheam, goes about its normal business on the 93.  But next to it is trainer RT425 from Camberwell (Q), carrying a load of staff in uniform.  Correspondant Doug Ely (see note at foot) suggests the reason.  The date is Wednesday, 3 Jan 51, at which time the only route worked by any garage other than A/AL/AK to serve Morden was the 5A (Q and AL). The following Monday 8/1/51, at the tram to bus conversion of Clapham depot, tram 6 and bus 5A were withdrawn and replaced by new route 189, worked from Clapham with new RTLs. So it would seem likely that whilst the bus was from Q, the passengers are tram drivers from CA learning the new route.

Photo © Alan Cross


Priory Road - empty again

The last Daimlers were withdrawn by January 1954.  The 3RTs and RTLs then ran alongside F's 2RT2s until 1955 when the 2RT2s were withdrawn from passenger service.  Jim Andress recalls hearing the 2RT2s' distinctive throbbing engine note as they ran down the last few hundred yards of London Road (A24) from the south into Morden Station.  The sound seemed to echo back from the white painted apartment blocks between the road and the Underground sheds. The 2RT2s were replaced by RTLs.


Wartime and post-war RTs together on the 93.  The Daimlers were gone by 1954, but the RT2s outlasted them.  Putney Bridge's RT31 stands at Priory Road, North Cheam, with a canopy-blinded RT (or possibly RTL) behind.

Photo © Jim Andress


In 1955, LT experimented with five Express routes, of different types and in different parts of London.  The 93 Express was introduced to speed up the journey for passengers travelling beyond North Cheam, and ran in Monday to Friday peak hours from 10 Oct 55.  The service stopped only at Sparrow Farm Road, Ewell Spring Hotel and Epsom High Street and was an abject failure.  Intermediate passengers did not appreciate the reduction in the frequency of the normal service and made their views known.  The service ceased on 31 Jan 56.  The other services were more successful, and the LT Traffic Committee were pleased with a success rate of 4 out of 5.Putney RTW


When Putney Bridge garage closed on 25 Nov 58, the allocation moved to Chelverton Road (AF) on weekdays but was absorbed by A and AL on Sundays, which therefore became an AEC-only day, the first since the 2RT2s.  This included the additonal summer allocation for the Dorking extension, which continued for just two more summers.  AL's allocation moved to A in May 1963.  Meanwhile, AF continued with its weekday allocation, with Routemasters replacing the RTLs on Saturdays from mid-1964 and RTs replacing the remainder 18 months later. 


RTWs were never scheduled on the 93, although they formed an important part of Putney Chelverton Road's allocation until 1963, normally working the 22.  Nonetheless, RTW409 is properly blinded as it crosses Putney Bridge, covering for an RTL.

Photo Alan Cross collection


It was in February 1968 that the Epsom Station terminal working was reversed, with buses facing north rather than south, but this lasted only until 17 Apr 70 on the 93, as the route was cut back to North Cheam and the Epsom section replaced by MB-operated 293 running along the same roads from Morden (Wimbledon in the peaks).  At the same time, Putney's allocation ceased, leaving the route solely Sutton RT-operated for a short while. 


Pay Conductor1973 saw Merton reintroduced to the route on Saturdays only, with RTs from May, replaced by RMs from December.  Sutton in turn replaced the RTs by RMs on 27 Mar 76, and took sole control of the route in October 1978, permanently (at least up until now) this time.  Daimlers (this time rear-engined) replaced Routemasters progressively during 1981 and 1982, officially completed by 4 Sep 82, and the inevitable OPO conversion took place seven months later.  Metrobuses took over in 1991/2 and Olympians in turn in 1997/8.  London General now work the route with low-floor Volvos.



Morden Station on 15 Sep 81 during the period of transition from Routemaster operation.  Sutton's early-bodied RM156 and D1238 lay-over on the forecourt.  Note the 'Pay Conductor' sign on the D - OMO conversion came on 23 Apr 83, prior to which the Daimlers worked with conductors.

Photo © John Parkin
Doug Ely writes in response to the photo (above) of trainer RT425:
'The photo for RT425 is worthy of comment - the full load of staff would probably indicate that the vehicle was being used as an "official route learning bus".  The procedure for learning new routes varied between  garages, but in my experience was a few days of (a) an "official" bus driven by union men on stand down from normal duties (in other words a good skive), followed by (b) those that wished to do so riding on whatever service buses covered the intending routing and gettng a "chit" signed to the effect they had covered the route.  The same agreed overtime was paid in both cases.  As a nominally allocated "L" bus the home garage of RT425 may be misleading as to the staff who were on board.'
Based on Doug's comments, we have pieced together the likely story - see the photo caption above.