Green Line RF33 at Hampton CourtRed RF routes

Route 206

Page last updated 20 December 2014
The most out-of-the-way of the 'Kingston routes', the 206 was one of the first four OMO RF routes, as well as being one of only two routes to work as OMO throughout the war (the other was the 252).  It moved into Fulwell garage the day after the trolleybuses finished. 


Looking rather battered, Green Line RF33 waits at Hampton Court Station.  It was one of those painted in the experimental light green livery, outshopped from Aldenham in 1960 and running from Reigate on the 711, then loaned to Fulwell for three months in early 1963 before going on to Northfleet.

Photo Ian Armstrong collection


Dates of RF operation

10 Jun 59 to 21 Aug 76

Converted to OMO 18 Nov 64

(total 17 years 2 months, of which 5 years 5 months crew-operated)
RF Garages

NB   Norbiton     (Mon-Sat, 10 Jun 59 to 8 May 62)

K     Kingston     (Sun, 5 Jul 59 to 8 May 62)

FW  Fulwell        (9 May 62 to 17 Jul 76)


Reason for single-deck operation

In its early days, it is likely that economics, in the form of limited custom, was the reason for OMO and therefore small single-deck operation; the bridge at Claygate Station is currently signed at 14'3" but could probably then have taken double-deckers if required.  However, the wartime extension to Imber Court (whether by Portsmouth Road or Lower Green) took the route under low bridges carrying the main railway line to Woking, so single-deck operation was unavoidable from then onwards.


RF336 stands at Fulwell Garage blinded for the short working to Claygate The Causeway.  Did the photographer set that up?

Photo © Paul Redmond


Route history

Although served by the Surbiton to Cobham railway since 1885, Claygate did not have a bus service until the introduction of the 206 in May 1936 to serve the growth in housing.   One-man operated by Kingston garage and running between Claygate The Causeway and Esher every half hour, the service initially used DA-class Darts.  Cubs were allocated briefly over the 1936/7 winter, but the petrol-engined Darts were finally withdrawn at the outbreak of war and replaced by Cubs.


The famous tram tracks OMO Cub operation continued through the war years, with the route being extended in 1942, first just to Lower Green in peak hours and Saturday afternoons from March to May only, then Monday to Saturday (except evenings) to Imber Court Ember Lane from December - but via Portsmouth Road, not Lower Green.


OMO working came to an end, first time round, on 10 Sep 46 when the route was converted to 14T12 crew operation and extended daily north of Imber Court to Hampton Court Station.  A further small extension came in June 1950 when the Claygate terminus moved south to Holroyd Road.


After the trams came the trolleybuses.  After the trolleybuses came the RFs (and RMs).  Fulwell Depot on 7 Sep 69, and RFs have been in residence for over 7 years.  RF524 ready for the 206 stands in front of two Routemasters on trolleybus replacement routes 281 (601) and 267 (667).   RFs again stood on the forecourt on the 30th anniversary RF celebration on 22 Mar 09.

Photo © Peter Esposito


Still (nominally) T-operated, the allocation moved to the new Norbiton (NB) garage in May 1952, where the Ts were officially replaced by TDs in October 1954.  Two months later, the route was diverted to run north and west of Sandown Park, finally serving Lower Green again. 


Just before the TDs were replaced at NB, Sunday operation moved back to Kingston in May 1959.  On 10 June, a batch of RFs arrived at NB; these were part of the batch which had been converted for one-man operation but which could not be introduced as such, pending union agreement (which came five years later).  These doored buses converted the 206 and 264, ousting Norbiton's TDs.  Others went to Kingston for the 216; as K's first RFs, they could not be introduced until crew training was completed and they did so on 1 July.  Sunday 206 operation therefore waited three weeks for conversion.


RF340 on the Hampton Court stand

Operation of the 206 moved to Fulwell as part of the reshuffle following the end of the trolleybus era on 8 May 1962, bringing garage journeys via Hampton Hill.


On 18 Nov 64, London Transport finally realised its ambition to bring one-man operation back to the Central Area, and four routes were converted - the 206, Norbiton's 201, Kingston's 216 and North Street's deeply rural 250.  The route then continued unchanged for 12 years until 1976, when it was converted to BL operation. 


In summer 1969 or 1970, OMO RF340 is seen (properly signed) with the driver selling a ticket whilst laying over on the Hampton Court Station stand (still in use today)
Photo Ian Armstrong collection

However the end was near, and the route ran its last journey on 28 Oct 78, effectively absorbed into the 215.  Steve Thomson lives in Claygate and notes that the change was regarded there as "something of a triumph for local pressure over LT.  When the 206 went, Claygate at last got a direct link to Surbiton & Kingston, the places in demand then and now - and the 15-min service offered by the K3 today is probably the best that Claygate has ever had."  Towards the other end of the route, in Ember Lane, Richard Day laments the passing of RFs running the 206.  "If only they were running now.  I think it was a seven day a week, every twenty minute service.  These days we have the 515, which runs Monday to Saturday daytime, once an hour. Well, that’s progress for you."


RF route in detail, with timing points
HAMPTON COURT STATION, Creek Road (southbound only), Bridge Road, Esher Road, Imber Court Embercourt Road, Ember Lane, Esher Station Rd, Lower Green Road, Lower Green Road, More Lane, Esher Green (“Catos Hill”), Lammas Lane, Esher High Street, Claremont Lane, Millbourne Lane, Hare Lane, Claygate Station Approach, Hare Lane, The Green, St Leonards Road, Common Road (“St Matthews Terrace”), The Causeway (return via Church Road, High Street), Claygate The Causeway, Coverts Road, CLAYGATE Holroyd Road.  (In 1963/4, the route was diverted off Hare Lane via Raleigh Drive and Loseberry Rd, in the Claygate direction only)


1961 bus map © London Transport


Garage workings:



ESHER, Portsmouth Road, Kingston High Street, KINGSTON GARAGE OR NORBITON GARAGE


HAMPTON COURT STATION, Hampton Court Road, High Street Hampton, High Street Hampton Hill, Wellington Road, FULWELL GARAGE.  These journeys were worked in service (see faretable).


More 206 photos here.



Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1936 30 mins 30 mins 30 mins
1938 30 mins 30 mins 30 mins
1941 13-19 mins 13-19 mins 15-30 mins
1946 20 mins * 20 mins * 15-30 mins
1951 11-22 mins * 11-22 mins * 15-30 mins
1953 11-24 mins * 11-24 mins * 15-30 mins
1959 11-30 mins * 24-30 mins * 30 mins
1964 12-20 mins 20 mins 30-60 mins
1969 10-35 mins 21-22 mins 32-69 mins
1971 10-35 mins 21-22 mins 32-69 mins
1976 11-35 mins 21-22 mins 63-128 mins

* more frequent Esher-Claygate


The route took 24-28 minutes between Hampton Court and Claygate.  The July 1967 timetable is here.



The May 1965 faretable is here.


RF allocation
PVR 1959 (Jun): Mon-Fri 5 (NB), Sat 4 (NB), Sun 2 (K)
PVR 1961 (Aug): Mon-Fri 5 (NB), Sat 4 (NB), Sun 1 (K)
PVR 1962 (May): Mon-Fri 5, Sat 4, Sun 2 (all FW)
PVR 1962 (Oct): Mon-Fri 5, Sat 3, Sun 2
PVR 1964 (OMO, Nov): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 4, Sun 3
PVR 1965 (Aug): Mon-Fri 7, Sat 5, Sun 3
PVR 1970 (Jan): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 4, Sun 3
PVR 1971 (Mar): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 4, Sun 1
PVR 1973 (Dec): Mon-Fri 6, Sat 4 + 1 ex 201, Sun 1


The 206 was RF operated at our Kingston RF Event 2009.


RF326 pauses at Esher The Bear during the 2009 Kingston event.

Photo © Steve Bidey