In June and July of 1961, 1962 and 1963, and possibly of
1960, a special RF-operated express service operated on
Saturday evenings along the 210
Golders Green and Archway Station, stopping only at Kenwood.
Little is known about this operation; that which has been
discovered is given here.
Dates of RF operation
Saturdays: 10 Jun 61 to 22 Jul 61, summer 1962,
1 Jun 63 to 20 Jul 63. Possibly 1960.
GOLDERS GREEN to ARCHWAY
MH Muswell Hill
EW Edgware (1963)
The Kenwood open-air concerts, by Kenwood House on Hampstead
Heath, started in 1951 and are a popular feature of north London
summers. The nearest road to the concerts was, and is,
served by the 210.
It would appear that the 210 had become over-burdened with
concert-goers on Saturday evenings, as an additional Express
service was introduced by London Transport. The records show
the production of blinds for the service in 1960, although it is
not known whether it operated that year, or indeed in any earlier
In 1961, the PSV Circle recorded that a ‘Special EXPRESS
service was introduced on Saturday evenings between 18.30 and
24.00 between GOLDERS GREEN STATION and ARCHWAY STATION stopping
only at Kenwood. Buses carried blue blinds marked
'EXPRESS'.' The service is recorded as running from 10
Jun 61 to 22 Jul 61.
The service is not mentioned in the
timetables or the LT allocation books. The services operated
again in 1962, and in 1963, the LT Central Buses Traffic
Committee minutes state that the Kenwood Concerts Express Service,
Sats 1 June to 20 July, was approved ‘as 1962’, with two
buses 'forward traffic' from Edgware (EW) garage and
five buses 'return traffic' (2 EW, 3 MH). On 24
June, staff shortages and allocation problems are noted and
the service was experiencing losses. On 8 July, the
service is still loss-making, having not operated 6 July due
to bad weather but the staff were paid. On the other
hand, the minutes note that in fine weather, reliefs
were required, especially at the break.
The Omnibus Society magazine for August 1963
confirms the dates noted above and records that the route was
operated by RFs with blue 'Express' blinds. Buses ran from
Archway and Golders Green stations from about 6.30pm and again when
the concerts finished at about 10pm, the buses being in addition to
the normal service on the 210. It states that the fare was
1/- to Kenwood from either direction, although this appears to
be quoting a return fare (there is no record of the blinds being
Note that, had Edgware also provided buses in earlier years,
these would have been TDs, as EW had no RFs until October 1962.
David Carpenter, a resident of
Hampstead Garden Suburb until 1970, remembers the service:
'I do have recollections of the special Express service to the
Kenwood Lakeside Concerts. As I recall it ran for several
summers, but am unsure of exact dates. It was always red RF
worked. Certainly the blinds were white on blue, with the
wording “EXPRESS” in bold capital letters being the most
prominent. I think but not 100% certain, the blinds were
displayed on the back as well. Whenever I travelled on it, it
was always very busy, with long queues both at Golders Green
beforehand and Kenwood (Hampstead Lane) afterwards. Even in
those days the road traffic was very heavy whenever the weather was
good and caused considerable delay to the bus service, particularly
after the event when everyone was trying to get away at the same
time. Journey times in excess of 30 minutes to Golders Green
were not uncommon!'. Many thanks to David for the
Perry confirms that the service did not operate from 1964
onwards, and that the RF blinds in use at MH in late 1963 did not
include the service, although they did include the 251, which had
moved away that spring. This ties in with details from blind
records provided by George Jasieniecki. He records that, in
1960, a special RF blind was produced for Muswell Hill garage,
with just one panel (as well as the obligatory 'blank', but no
'Private'). The records show that 12 sets were produced,
dated 10/6/60. The schedules didn't actually state that the
printed panel was blue. The wording on the panel was arranged
in four lines, with 'Express' at the top. The second line read 'To
& from Kenwood &', third line 'Golders Grn or Archway' and
'Single fare 6d' in the fourth line. All lettering in capital
letters at that time.
Since it seems very likely (whatever the inside staff at the
garage might have had to say about it) that buses would have been
dressed (or at least intended to be dressed) front and back, this
suggests a maximum of six buses, probably only five. The
fact that they were individual blinds, not added to the usual
garage RF blind, suggests that there might have been an
intention for some buses to be borrowed. However, in summer
1960, MH put out 28 RFs on Sundays but only 19 on Saturdays – so
why would they borrow? The staff shortages and the use of
buses from EW in (at least) 1963 seem to provide the answer.
Although sometimes loosely referred to as the
'210 Express', and having used the same roads, the blind details
indicate that the workings were not regarded as part of the
210. Thanks to David Carpenter, we have
confirmation that these blinds were indeed used.
Stuart Perry adds 'My experience of concerts at Kenwood [from
1964] was that you left Archway or Golders Green with a standing
load, often with much grumbling from the queue, but I have no
memory of getting help from any "extras". I do know that if
the weather was good a lot of passengers used the 271 to Highgate
Village and enjoyed the walk from there. If the weather was
bad there were a lot less passengers anyway as of course the
concerts were all open air and only the hardiest bothered to turn
out. I always got the impression that those who supported the
concerts were choosy about the weather which was the major factor
in how busy we were during the evening.'
It seems likely, given the losses recorded in 1963 and the
well-known staff shortages at that time, that the service was
withdrawn for some time. There seems to be no record of
operations in the period between 1964 and about 2004 (see comments
below, can anyone else help?).
Andrew Colebourne was local and does not recall any special
operations for the concerts from the mid 1960’s to 1988,
and notes that any augmentation that there might have been on
the 210 did not involve unusual workings.
George Jasieniecki comments 'Personally, I would not be
surprised if it failed to appear as a London Transport operation
for a while from 1964 onwards. There were extreme staff
shortages around that time, and all resources available were
concentrated on running normal scheduled routes with numbers.
Private Hire, and special services for other events, such as Race
Specials, football and so on, were contracted out and operated
by commercial private coaches. Even the Round London Sightseeing
Tour lost its Routemasters from New Cross, and was run by private
coaches for several years. Bad for LT's image, of course, but
they would have been criticised just as much if the resources on
RLST were not redeployed.'
A special service for Kenwood has been revived in recent years,
but now operates to and from Golders Green and East
Finchley stations. This service has been operated by
Sullivan Buses since about
2005. Andrew Colebourne notes that although in theory there
are two routes, from/to Golders Green and from/to East Finchley, in
fact the buses run through from one to the other. They only
carry passengers to Kenwood before the concert and from Kenwood
afterwards. Dean Sullivan provided the following details in
'Yes we do run the Kenwood Shuttle and have done so for about
five years. The PVR is a minimum of 4 depending upon the
concert. If it's busy, we put extra buses out. The bus is normally
SLF double deck but Routemasters have regularly appeared. Other
than the Routemasters, all SLF DD’s carry Kenwood displays.
The loadings do vary with the concert. One weekend when they had
Simply Red and we were VERY well loaded. Golders Green creates the
majority of passengers, roughly about double the loadings from East
English Heritage [owners of Kenwood] run the free service for
two reasons, firstly the 210 is unable to cope with the loadings at
tip out, even though they now run double-deckers. There are
also concerns expressed about the concerts by the local
residents. The concerts were cancelled in 2007 due to noise,
and there are issues about the parking on event days.
The bus services are an attempt to reduce this problem.'
In 2011, the service operated on Fridays and Saturdays, 24 June
to 16 July.