A more developed Heathrow CentralRed RF routes

Route 223

Page last updated 21 December 2014
A long-standing route, dating back to the General, but varying greatly over the years.  In the RF era, it ran through Uxbridge from Ruislip to Heathrow.
RF403 see at the then Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station, with the control tower in the background.  The location is the same as the photo of RF486 on the 285.
Photo © Paul Davis, Ian Armstrong collection
Dates of RF operation
16 Jan 71 to 11 Dec 76
(total 5 years 11 months, all one-man operation).


RF Garages
UX    Uxbridge
The rudimentary Central Bus StationReason for single-deck operation
Unlike other Uxbridge single-deck routes, the 223 was double-decked before the RFs arrived and did not see RFs until one-man operation was introduced in 1971.

RF409 is also at Heathrow Airport's central bus station, which looks as though it is still being built, although the aerial walkway still stops in mid-air to this day. 

Photo © JA Gascoine, Peter Gomm collection


Route history

Originally the General's route 505, the route commenced in June 1929 from Uxbridge garage, running daily using a 20-seat K-type from Uxbridge to Richings Park Estate - a destination that was left to Country Area route 459 from the second world war.  One of the first two OMO routes along with the 506, Dennis Darts were introduced on 25 Jun 30.  Sunday operation ceased that October and the 505 was extended to Ruislip from November 1931, then cut back to Ickenham from May 1933.


Renumbered as 223 in October 1934, the route was reintroduced on Sundays for the summer of 1935 then permanently from April 1936.  At that date, the route between Ickenham and Uxbridge was swapped with the 220, also DA-operated, so that the 223 followed what is now Swakeleys Road.  In November of that year the Richings Park section (which served Cowley) was transferred to the 220 and the 223 was extended again to Ruislip, this time to Ruislip Manor.


In a hurry?

In May 1938, the route was extended south, this time over new roads which were to become the 223's own, via Hillingdon Hospital and Colham Green to Ickenham (where it terminated on the route of the 222 and 224).  The logical extension to West Drayton came in January 1939, when (presumably for scheduling reasons) the Ruislip end was shortened to Ruislip Station.


At the outbreak of war, the scarcity of petrol meant that petrol-engined buses such as DAs were withdrawn and sold.  The 223's DAs were replaced by new OMO CRs in November 1939, but all of these were put into store in early 1942 and the route converted to Cubs.


All the fun of the fair!  RF364 carries a good load around the turning circle at Uxbridge Station en route to Heathrow Central in 1975.

Photo © Eamonn Kentell


As described under that route, the 223 was extended from March 1943 to replace the 224 between West Drayton and Stanwell, and the separate Sunday Staines to Stanwell service operated by the Hounslow Cub was also renumbered from 224 to 223.  This change lasted only seven months before the former routings resumed.  However, at that point, in October 1943, the 223 was upgraded to crew-operated LT Scooters.  These continued until replaced by new 14T12s in March 1946, the first route to receive these post-war stop-gap buses.


January 1948 saw a small extension southwards to West Drayton Mill Road, The Anglers Retreat (the section later to be replaced by the 224A), but it was not until July 1951 that further substantial change took place which split the route and saw it part double-decked.  The Ruislip to West Drayton Station section was converted to operate STLs during the week and RTs at weekends.  Meanwhile, the section onwards to Mill Road was shortened to run from Uxbridge (still via Colham Green) and retained the Ts.  The weekday STLs gave way to RTs between 1951 and 1953.


After 1973, the 204 had converted to SMS but the 223 held on to its RFs on Monday to Saturday.  Here, RFs 407 and 519 sit beside SMS791 at Uxbridge.
Photo: Peter Gomm collection

In February 1955 the single-deck section was discontinued and replaced by the T-operated 224A, via Cowley to West Drayton Mill Road.  The double-deck section continued, but was withdrawn on Sundays between Uxbridge and Ruislip, this section being covered by the 204.


In September 1960, the main barrier to double-deck operation, the bridge at West Drayton, was rebuilt.  In March 1961, the 222 was discontinued and the 223, still RT operated, was extended from West Drayton along the same routing to Hounslow.  At the same time, the Sunday service to Ruislip was taken back from the 204.


Ten years later, on 16 Jan 71, one-man operated RFs replaced the RTs, with more wholesale change.  The 222 regained the section from West Drayton to Hounslow and the 223 was diverted to serve Harmondsworth and Heathrow Central.  The 204 peak hour service between West Drayton and Heathrow Central via Sipson was withdrawn at the same time. 


RF418 with 'Uxbridge' doorsPartial replacement of RFs by SMSs started at the end of June 1973.   Along with full conversion of the 204, the Sunday service on the 223 was converted.  The Sunday service was enhanced to double-deck with DMSs in April 1976.


The end came for the Uxbridge RFs in December 1976, when the 223 and 224B went to DMS and the 224 to SMS.  The DMSs were replaced by Metrobuses in summer 1981.

The distinguishing feature of the 223 was its routing through Colham Green.  Here RF418 is seen in Colham Green Road on a short-working to West Drayton.
Photo © JGS Smith, Peter Gomm Collection

The Sunday service was extended in 1987 through the Heathrow cargo tunnel and via Terminal 4 to Hounslow.  Then in 1989, the Colham Green section that had always defined the 223 was handed to the U5 and the 223 took the 224's routing to Uxbridge, simultaneously being cut back from Ruislip.  The 223 was withdrawn completely in May 1993.


1972 map © London Transport

RF route in detail, with timing points
RUISLIP STATION, High Street Ruislip, Ickenham Road, High Road Ickenham, Ickenham Coach & Horses, Swakeleys Road, Harefield Road, Park Road, Belmont Road, High Street Uxbridge, Uxbridge Station, Hillingdon Road, Kingston Lane, Pield Heath Road, Hillingdon Hospital, Colham Green, West Drayton Road, Falling Lane, High Street Yiewsley, West Drayton Station, Station Road, Harmondsworth Road, Hatch Lane, Hatch Lane Bath Road, Bath Road, Heathrow Airport North, private tunnel, HEATHROW AIRPORT CENTRAL
Rerouted in Uxbridge from 19 Aug 73 to run from Uxbridge Station via Belmont Road, High Street Uxbridge, Harefield Road, Oxford Road, Cross Street, Vine Street, High Street Uxbridge (return via Hillingdon Road, Trumper Way to Oxford Road) to Hillingdon Road.
Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1936 52 mins # 52-60 mins # 30 mins ¤
1938 20 mins 15-20 mins 30 mins
1941 15-20 mins 15-20 mins 30 mins *
1946 20 mins * 20 mins * 30 mins *
1951 15-20 mins * 15-20 mins * 15-20 mins *
1953 20 mins † 15-20 mins † 20-30 mins †
1959 20-40 mins * 20 mins * 30 mins ‡
1964 20-30 mins 40 mins ~ 30 mins
1969 20-30 mins 30 mins ~ 30-45 mins
1971 20-30 mins 30 mins * 40 mins ◊
1976 20-30 mins 34-35 mins ∆

40 mins ◊

# more frequent Ickenham - Uxbridge
¤ operated only Ickenham - Uxbridge
* more frequent Uxbridge - West Drayton Station
† operated in two sections, Ruislip - West Drayton Station, Uxbridge - West Drayton Mill Road. Frequency doubled over common section
‡ operated only Uxbridge - West Drayton Station
~ more frequent Uxbridge - Hounslow
∆ operated in two sections, Ruislip - West Drayton Station, Uxbridge - Heathrow Airport. Frequency doubled over common section
◊ more frequent Uxbridge - Heathrow Airport
The RF route took 51-54 minutes from Ruislip to Heathrow Airport.
The 1966 faretable (during RT operation to Hounslow) is here.


RF allocation
PVR 1971 (Jan): Mon-Fri 8, Sat 6, Sun 6
PVR 1972 (Jun): Mon-Fri 8, Sat 7, Sun 6
PVR 1973 (Jan): Mon-Fri 8 (+1 ex 224B), Sat 7, Sun 6

PVR 1973 (Jun): Mon-Fri 8 (+1 ex 224B), Sat 7, Sun 6 SMS

PVR 1975 (Aug): Mon-Fri 8 (+1 ex 224B), Sat 7, Sun 5 SMS

PVR 1976 (Apr): Mon-Fri 8 (+1 ex 224B), Sat 7, Sun 5 DMS