RF421 at Harrow-on-the-HillRed RF routes

Route 136

Page last updated 15 December 2014
The first all-new OMO RF route, introduced in the changes of (Sunday) 7 Aug 66, the 136 demonstrated the feasibility of opening up new territory with the improved economics of one-man operation.  The route was a success and the roads are all still served.
More pictures of the 136 here.
RF421 in Harrow-on-the-Hill village, October 1966.
Photo © Derek Mulquin, Peter Gomm collection
Dates of RF operation
8 Aug 66 to 23 Jul 71
(total 5 years, all OMO)

SOUTH HARROW STATION and HARROW-ON-THE-HILL (Mon-Fri 8 Aug 66 to 28 Nov 69)

SOUTH HARROW STATION and HARROW WEALD Red Lion (Mon-Fri from 29 Nov 69, Sat from 15 May 71)

HARROW-ON-THE-HILL and HARROW WEALD Red Lion (Sat 29 Nov 69 to 14 May 71)


RF Garages
HD  Harrow Weald
Reason for single-deck operation
Introduced in 1966, at which time one-man operation was only permitted by single-deckers.

RF421 is seen leaving Harrow Weald garage in 1971, after the 209 had been converted to Merlin operation, but before the 136 converted in July of that year.

Photo © Mike Beamish

Route history
Following union agreement and the first OMO conversions in 1964, the improved economics of one-man operation led to the 136 as the first all new suburban OMO route in 1966.  Originally designed to serve the area around Harrow College, the route was a success and was extended in 1969 to Harrow Weald Garage to serve Harrow View.
When extended, the original Monday to Friday operation was supplemented by a Saturday operation between Harrow Weald Garage and Harrow-on-the-Hill (by then referred to as Harrow Met Station).  The Saturday operation was extended to cover the full route 10 weeks before conversion to MBS buses in July 1971.
However, the changes were nearly earlier and more dramatic.  As part of a more ambitious scheme for Harrow that, in the event, only achieved conversion of RLH route 230 to MBS-operated H1 from 14 Jun 1969, there were plans to convert the 136 to a flat-fare route.  Under the plans, it would have become the G4 or (as revised) the H3, and taken on the peak-hour extension of RT-operated 209 to Northwick Park.  That extension was finally achieved in 1985.
The ill-fated MBSs were replaced by SMSs in 1974 and Leyland Nationals in 1979.  A short spell of joint double-deck operation with Metrobuses in 1986/7 preceded the loss of the original South Harrow section to the 258, which still covers the route today.  The northern part via Harrow View was replaced by the H15 in 1991.
July 1968, a year before the end for Harrow Weald's RLHs, RLH57 shares a classic pose with RF421, showing no Pay as you Enter sign.
Photo Peter Gomm collection
Just a note on the history of the route number 136.  For many years in the 40s and 50s, this number was reserved by LT for use in films and for other non-revenue uses - there is for example a photo by Gerald Mead in John Hambley's 1954 book of RT1849 showing route number 136 (including the offside route plate) to the fictitious "St Johns Common".  Prior to the war, however, the 136 was a variant of the 36 to Grove Park, a Bassom number that survived renumbering in 1934 and ran up to the war.
RF route in detail, with timing points
SOUTH HARROW STATION, Northolt Road, Roxeth Hill, London Road, Harrow High Street, Harrow School, Peterborough Hill, Peterborough Road, Station Road, College Road, HARROW ON THE HILL STATION.  Return via Lowlands Road, Tyburn Lane to Peterborough Hill (Mon-Fri, to 28 Nov 69)

SOUTH HARROW STATION, Northolt Road, Roxeth Hill, London Road, Harrow High Street, Harrow School, Peterborough Hill, Peterborough Road, Station Road, College Road (return via Headstone Road, Kymberley Road, St Anns Road to Station Road), Harrow Met Station, Headstone Road, Harrow View, Headstone Goodwill to All, Harrow View, Courtenay Avenue, Long Elmes Courtenay Avenue, Long Elmes, High Road Harrow Weald, HARROW WEALD Red Lion (Mon-Fri 29 Nov 69 to 14 May 71, Mon-Sat from 15 May 71)


HARROW Met Station to HARROW WEALD Red Lion (Sats 29 Nov 69 to 8 May 71)



Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1967 25 mins n/a n/a
1969 30 mins n/a n/a
1971 30 mins 20-40 mins n/a


From South Harrow Station, the route took about 10 minutes to Harrow on the Hill and a further 13 minutes to Harrow Weald.  The July 1967 timetable (before the extension to Harrow Weald) is here.

RF allocation

PVR 1966: Mon-Fri 1 (+ 1 spare, RFs 421 and 315)
PVR 1969 (Nov): Mon-Fri 2, Sat 1 (+ 1 spare, RFs 421, 315 and 429)
PVR 1971 (May): Mon-Fri 2, Sat 2
Note: additional buses briefly provided cover for the above three buses: RFs 326, 516 and 371 respectively.  Trainers were (at various times) RFs 317, 332, 368, 438.

Maurice Bateman hails from Harrow Weald and went to school on RTs (but sports lessons involved travelling on lowbridge STLs, before the RLHs arrived).  He was there on 8 August 1966 for the first day of operation of the 136 and reports as follows:


Indeed RF 421 was the normal bus on the route but on the first morning, during its break at HD, a minor incident at the garage meant that RF 315 had to take over the service, so both buses ran on day one.


What happened was that RF 421 was fitted with a rear blind so it showed only a large route number at the front. On returning to HD for the morning meal break, garage staff set about changing the blind. Unfortunately the stay for the blind box glass did not hold up during the process and thus fell and broke the glass. So RF 315 was wheeled up and took up service for the rest of the day.



For details of the 40th anniversary operation of the route in 2006, click here.