RF398 passes Wimbledon StationRed RF routes

Route 200

Page last updated 23 January 2016
Among the first routes to be converted to RFs, the 200 was double-decked in 1965 after local opposition to double-deckers was finally overcome.
Fresh from overhaul in 1961, RF398 has just dropped its passengers at Wimbledon Station and heads off to the stand at the Police Station.
Photo Peter Gomm collection
Dates of RF operation
1 Dec 52 to 24 Aug 65
(total 12 years, 9 months, all crew operation).
RF Garages
AL   Merton
Reason for single-deck operation
There were no low bridges on the route, but residents of the smart suburb of Wimbledon objected to double-deck buses operating on their roads.  The route was double-decked when opposition was finally overcome in 1965.
Q125 at Wimbledon Police Station
After a post-war repaint, Q125 sits on the Police Station stand in Wimbledon
Photo Peter Gomm collection
Route history
Introduced by the General in September 1930 as the 103, the route initially ran between Wimbledon Station and Raynes Park and used a single K-class single-decker from Merton (AL), which at the time also operated single-deck routes 87 (later 234) and 155B (later 245).  This was replaced by an S two months later, and the allocation doubled to increase the service the following year.  The Ss were replaced by two new LTL Scooters in summer 1931.  The route was renumbered 200 in the 1934 renumbering.
Converted to new side-engined 5Q5s in April 1936, the route was extended the following month to serve Coombe Lane Copse Hill - always known on the blinds as 'W Wimbledon' - where it terminated by making a U-turn at the junction.  This doubled the allocation to 4, increasing again to 6 for an increased service in 1943.  The Qs continued in service throughout the war, temporarily supplemented by Ts in the winter of 1943/4 for the service increase.
Loaned by Green Line, 10T10 T525 sits on the Wimbledon stand on 14 Apr 51.  This was during the difficult period while the RFs were awaited (indeed, it was the very day that the first RF was licensed), and both Central and Country Areas were 'making do' as best they could.
Photo © Alan Cross, Peter Gomm collection
London Transport would have liked to apply their normal policy of double-decking the route, but the local residents' association was having none of it.  So the busy route was was one of the first to be converted to RF operation, using new buses in 1952.  The first 3 buses were licensed on 1 Dec 52, with conversion completed by 12th.
The 200 was cut back to its original terminus Raynes Park Station (complete with one-way working) in 1962, the remainder being covered by an extension to Kingston of recently-introduced RT route 286.  In January 1964, the 286 was withdrawn except on Sundays and the 57 was extended to Kingston in its place (the 57 now covers that section of the route daily).  The Sunday service was lost that November when the 286 was withdrawn and Coombe Lane was unserved on Sunday until the later extension of the 200.
Residents overcome, the 200 was finally double-decked with RTs on 25 Aug 65.  Two months later, the route was extended to Kingston on Sunday afternoons, an extension that lasted only as long as the RTs.  On the last day of 1966, the route was extended to Mitcham Fair Green via Haydons Road and became the first route to serve the Phipps Bridge Estate.
30 Jan 71 saw the route converted to one-man operation with SMSs, and in 1973 the double-run to serve Atkinson Morley Hospital was introduced, bringing the route into its current form.  Between 1981 and 1995, a variety of eastward extensions were introduced, to Wallington, Streatham and (temporarily) Tulse Hill, none surviving.
In 1977, the route was again double-decked using DMSs, later Ds, until the introduction by London Regional Transport of route tendering in 1985/6.  The first operator, London Cityrama, asked to be relieved of the route in November 1988 following vehicle unreliability, and it was temporarily placed with Kingston Bus from Norbiton garage before a new contract was let to London General.
General (in the guise of Sutton Bus) operated the route from the Colliers Wood outstation (AA) using Ms and Ds, introducing midi-buses on Sundays in 1992 before conversion to single-deck Darts in 1995 (with double-deck school journeys using Metrobuses).
But that wasn't the end of the travails of the route.  In 2000, the route tender was won by Mitcham Belle, who became notorious for poor service, a situation not redeemed by takeover by Centra.  The route was taken back by TfL in 2006 and returned to London General at Merton.
RF route in detail, with timing points
WIMBLEDON STATION, Wimbledon Hill Road, The Ridgeway, The Ridgeway Christ Church, Cottenham Park Road, Pepys Road, Cambridge Road, Lambton Road, Raynes Park Raynes Park Hotel, Coombe Lane, COOMBE LANE Copse Hill (to 2 Jan 62)
From the 1955 bus map © London Transport
WIMBLEDON STATION, Wimbledon Hill Road, The Ridgeway, The Ridgeway Christ Church, Cottenham Park Road, Durham Road, Coombe Lane, RAYNES PARK STATION, return via Lambton Road, Cambridge Road, Pepys Road to Cottenham Park Road (from 3 Jan 62)
Garage journeys: from AL, Merton High Street, Merton Road, The Broadway to Wimbledon Station
Terminal working at Wimbledon: Queens Road, South Park Road (stand at Police Station), return via Kings Road and The Broadway.
Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1936 10 mins* 10 mins 10 mins
1941 10 mins* 10 mins 15-30 mins
1946 10 mins

7½-10 mins*

10-20 mins*
1951 7-10 mins 7½ mins 12-15 mins
1959 10-15 mins 8-15 mins 20 mins
1964 10-18 mins 10 mins 18-36 mins
* Including short workings between Wimbledon Station and Raynes Park.
From Wimbledon Station, the route took about 12 minutes to reach Raynes Park and 16 minutes to reach Copse Hill.  The 1959 timetable is here (thanks to Roger Newport for scanning these).
To view the faretable for May 1965, the last applying to RF operation and including garage journeys, click here.
RF allocation
New RFs delivered Dec 52: 354-356, 368, 370-1, 373 (6 + 1 spare)
PVR 1952 (Dec): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 6, Sun 5
PVR 1953 (May): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 6, Sun 4
PVR 1958 (Apr): Mon-Fri 5, Sat 5, Sun 5
PVR 1958 (Nov): Mon-Fri 4, Sat 5, Sun 3
PVR 1962 (Jan): Mon-Fri 3, Sat 3, Sun 2
Robert Bowen was a driver at Merton, briefly on RFs:

My encounter with the RF was brief as the 200 route was converted to RT not long after I started on LT. Having passed out on an RTW, I had to do 2 days type training on the RF type; the vehicle allocated was a Green Line bus. My instructor Wally was an ex-Sutton driver and most of our training was done on country routes. My approval /test was carried out in the back streets of Chiswick and Acton, the gold badge instructor that conducted my approval/test being an ex-Merton driver named Tom Cooper who resided at Shannon’s Corner, New Malden.


I started at Merton (AL) garage on 27 Mar 65 on the only single deck route, the 200, operated by the RF type (all other AL routes were RT operated) which ran between Wimbledon Station and Raynes Park. The Raynes Park terminus was in Lambton Road and buses entered Raynes Park via Durham Road and Coombe Lane and left via Lambton Road, Cambridge Road and Pepys Road rejoining the inward route at Cottenham Park Road. Buses discharged passengers on Wimbledon Bridge and continued via Queens Road to the stand in South Park Road alongside Wimbledon Police Station. Crews were allowed to use the Police canteen for a quick tea break until it was stopped - the rumour being that a clippie named Big Janet was trying to chat up the male PCs (that may or may not be true!). Buses departed via Kings Road and Wimbledon Broadway, the first pick up being outside Safeway.


There were no short turns on the 200 - if you were late, you just kept going until eventually you got back on time, having probably missed a journey or two. The 200 was rostered with RT routes 57 and 118, the majority of the latter being allocated to Streatham (AK) garage. Soon after I started, [on 25 Aug 65] double-deck RTs took over the route, which caused much disquiet among the nobs along the Ridgeway, Wimbledon, and it was extended to Mitcham Three Kings. Then in the early seventies came the single-manning of the route and the infamous SMS type, drivers hated the route and some with a good few years service left the job or transferred to other departments.


One thing I remember about the route was that one of our regular passengers was actor Michael Robbins, who played Stan’s brother-in-law Arthur Rudge in the hit comedy On The Buses. He lived up the Ridgeway and used to travel between there and Wimbledon Station.



Route 200 was recreated at our Worcester Park running day in 2008.  RFs will operate again on 2 Dec 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary.


Time warp in Wimbledon

Cobham's Q83 and Jim Andress's RF366 working the 200 in 2008.

Photo © Peter Zabek