Night busRed RF routes

Route 121

Page last updated 19 December 2023
An early OMO conversion of an RT route, initially Monday to Friday only with Saturdays retaining RTs for another three years.


RF531 heads for Chingford on the last RF journey on the 121 - John Parkin was there on 23 October 1976.
Photo: John Parkin
Dates of RF operation

7 Aug 66 to 23 Oct 76

(total 10 years 2 months, all OMO)



ENFIELD TOWN and CHINGFORD Royal Forest Hotel (7 Aug 66 to 6 Sep 68)

ENFIELD TOWN and CHINGFORD STATION (7 Sep 68 to 23 Oct 76)


RF Garages

E   Enfield
Thanks, Jim and IanReason for single-deck operation
The 121 had always been double-deck operated until converted to one-man operation in 1966, at which time only single-deckers were permitted for one-man operation.
Route history
Enfield's route 121 started operation on 23 Feb 44, running from Enfield Garage (Ponders End) to Chingford Station and providing the first service across the Lea Valley at this point.  The irregular service reflected the often long delays at Ponders End level crossing.  Except for two months in 1948 when Sunday services were withdrawn, the route ran every day until 1966, when Sundays were again cut. 
RT2114 crosses the railway at Southbury Station heading for Enfield.
Photo © Jim Blake, Ian Armstrong collection
The route started operation with STs, and although officially converted to STL in October 1945, that month Enfield swapped most of its STLs for utility Guys that crews found unsuitable at Victoria Gillingham Street garage.  These (and more Guys delivered new) were joined in 1952 by the sole post-war Guy, experimental Park Royal-bodied G436.  It had been planned that the utility Guys would be replaced by STDs from Hendon in 1952, along with double-decking of the Waltham Cross routes 205 and 242, but a weak bridge meant that the STDs were instead put to work on the 107.  In the event, the wartime Guys were replaced by RTs (initially RTLs on Sundays for seven months from October 1951), with the last running on 11 Sep 52.  G436 carried on, running Mondays to Fridays alongside RTs until 15 Feb 55.  The RTs also replaced Enfield's single-deckers, on 6 May 53.
August 1976, 2 months and counting ...Extension of the 121 came in October 1962, with a Saturday shopping hours extension from Ponders End through Enfield to Enfield Chase Station.  On 27 Feb 63, the route was extended in the east to Chingford Royal Forest Hotel, whilst at the western end the daily terminus became Enfield Town.  Over the years, terminal arrangements in Enfield varied as the town was redeveloped.  Initially, the stand was in Sydney Road, then moved to Cecil Road in about 1965, then Palace Gardens in September 1969.
The famous Royal Forest Hotel stand, just before it was abandoned in 1968.  Buses lined up include an RF on the 121 and RTs on the 179, 102 and 38.  An RT crew no doubt heads off to the canteen trailer that was a regular feature of the stand, but sadly out of shot.  The stand became a car park.
Photo © Roy Johnson
When the new Lea Valley flyover opened (and the infamous level crossing closed) on 22 Jan 64, the route could no longer serve Ponders End Station and was diverted to run direct over the flyover.
A well-used serviceOne man operation with RFs (and an increased frequency) arrived for Monday to Friday working only on 7 Aug 66, bringing single-deckers back after 13 years.  The route continued unchanged - the use of the Royal Forest Hotel stand was unusual, as it involved a one-man operated bus in a reversing manoeuvre.  It is believed that this was assisted by an Inspector.  From 7 Oct 68, all routes terminating at the Royal Forest Hotel were shortened to run to Chingford Station.


RFs ran until 23 Oct 76, when the route was double-decked using DMSs.  In 1980 the route was extended to Turnpike Lane and the following year saw Metrobuses replace the Daimlers.  In 1982 the original route was replaced by the 313 and the 121 diverted to Enfield Lock.  In 1992, Palmers Green took over the route for 10 years, but it has now returned to Enfield operation.

RF533 again on 9 Oct 76, this time picking up passengers in Enfield.
Photo © John Parkin
RF route in detail, with timing points

ENFIELD TOWN Sydney Road, The Town (return via London Road, Cecil Road), Southbury Road, Ponders End Enfield Garage, Nags Head Road, Lea Valley Road, Chingford Sewardstone Road, Kings Head Hill, The Green, Chingford Bull & Crown, Station Road, CHINGFORD Royal Forest Hotel  (Mon-Fri 7 Aug 66 to 6 Oct 68, RT operated Sat)


The 1968 map, just before the route was cut back from the Royal Forest Hotel.  Map © London Transport


ENFIELD TOWN Cecil Road, Sydney Road, The Town (return via London Road to Cecil Road), Southbury Road, Ponders End Enfield Garage, Nags Head Road, Lea Valley Road, Chingford Sewardstone Rd, Kings Head Hill, The Green, Station Road, CHINGFORD STATION  (Mon-Fri 7 Sep 68 to 13 Jun 69, RT operated Sat, Mon-Sat from 14 Jun 69)

ENFIELD TOWN Palace Gardens (from 1 Sep 69), Church Street, The Town (return via London Road, Cecil Road, Sydney Road to Palace Gardens), Southbury Road, Ponders End Enfield Garage, Nags Head Road, Lea Valley Road, Chingford Sewardstone Road, Kings Head Hill, The Green, Station Road, CHINGFORD STATION (Mon-Sat to 23 Oct 76)  
(The centre of Enfield has been redeveloped since then and some of these roads have disappeared)
  Mon-Fri Sat Sun
Throughout RF operation 15-20 mins 30 mins n/a
From Enfield Town, the route took about 24 minutes to Chingford Royal Forest Hotel, about 3 minutes beyond the station.  The July 1967 timetable is here.
The 1965 faretable (when the route was still RT-operated) is here.
RF allocation
PVR 1966: Mon-Fri 4, Sat [2 RT], Sun -
PVR 1969 (Jun): Mon-Fri 4, Sat 2, Sun -
RF486 ran over the 121 after the Loughton Running Day in 2007.
RF486 called in at Ponders End Garage en route from the Royal Forest Hotel to Enfield in 2007.
Photo © Peter Osborn