London Transport
Central Area Routes 1–3



Last updated 22-08-10.

Route 1 actually predates London Transport, first appearing in 1906 as a Vanguard (London Motor Omnibus Company) service between Cricklewood and Elephant & Castle via Maidia Vale, Edgware Road, Marylebone Road, Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross, the Strand and Waterloo Bridge. By the end of 1931 it ran every five minutes from Willesden (Pound Lane) to Surrey Docks Station via Elephant & Castle and Southwark, with every other bus continuing on to Lewisham via Deptford. The total running time from end to end was 99 minutes, and cost only 1/- (5p)! In the early 1930s additional journeys were added between Bermondsey Square and Surrey Docks. In 1950 the route ran from Lewisham (Rennell Street) to Willesden Garage via Lewisham Road, Deptford Broadway, Surrey Docks Station, Southwark Park Road, Bricklayers Arms, Elephant & Castle, Waterloo, Aldwych, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road, Marylebone Road, Marylebone, Maida Vale, Kilburn High Road and Willesden Lane, except Saturday afternoons when services were curtailed at Marylebone. In 1956 the Marylebone to Willesden section was replaced Monday to Saturday by new route 176, with a peak hour extention to Catford Garage. The 1 continued to run from Lewisham to Willesden Garage on Sundays. The following year the Monday to Friday section between Surrey Docks and Lewisham was replaced by new route 199. In November, all Saturday service was extended to Lewisham, and Saturday afternoon journeys were also extended from Marylebone to Willesden Garage. In 1959 Saturday peak journeys were added to Catford Garage. In 1962 the Saturday afternoon extension from Marylebone to Willesden Garage was withdrawn, and Saturday peak journeys to Catford Garage were also withdrawn. In November all peak journeys to Catford Garage were withdrawn. On Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings route 1 ended at Surrey Docks Station, with the Saturday afternoon extension to Lewisham. In 1965 Monday to Friday journeys were extended from Surrey Docks to Bromley Garage replacing part of withdrawn route 199, and Saturday service was re-introduced between Marylebone and Willesden. Sunday service was withdrawn in 1966 with the introduction of route 1A between Willesden and Greenwich. In 1969 the 1 was withdrawn on Saturday between Trafalgar Square and Willesden Garage. In 1971 it was re-routed via Baker Street, Oxford Street, and Charing Cross Road instead of Tottenham Court Road. In 1972 Saturday shopping hours journeys were extended from Trafalgar Square to Oxford Circus. In 1978 Monday to Friday journeys were withdrawn between Catford and Bromley, and Sunday service was re-introduced between Charing Cross and Surrey Docks, replacing route 1A. In September 1982 Sunday journeys were extended, now running from Trafalgar Square to Surrey Quays Station, but just seven months later Sunday service was again withdrawn, and once more replaced by a re-introduced 1A. In 1985 route 1 was withdrawn beyond Deptford, now terminating at Greenwich (Cutty Sark). Sunday service using one-man-operation Titans was also re-introduced at the same time, replacing route 1A for a second time. In 1986 Sunday service was extended from Trafalgar Square to Oxford Circus. From June 1987 the 1 was completely converted to one-person-operation and ran daily from Trafalgar Square to Bromley Garage via Aldwych, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, Bermondsey, Surrey Quays, Deptford, Greenwich, Lewisham, Catford, Downham and Bromley. In 1991 Sunday service was once again withdrawn, and the route was shortened to operate between Aldwych and Surrey Quays Station only. In 1992 troute 1 was extended from Surrey Quays Station to Rotherithe Tunnel Roundabout via Salter Road and Brunel Road for with-the-flow journeys in the single direction only. The City terminus was changed to Holborn Station in 1992, and then to New Oxford Street (Centre Point) in 1994. Since then service has been transferred from London Central to Capital Citybus, then Blue Triangle and now East Thames Buses.

Route 12 ran between Harlesden (Willesden Junction) and South Croydon (Red Deer) via Park Royal, East Acton, Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Elephant & Castle, Camberwell, Peckham, Dulwich, Forest Hill, Penge, Anerley, Norwood Junction, Addiscombe and East Croydon. In 1954 it was withdrawn between South Croydon Garage and South Croydon (Red Deer). In 1958 it was withdrawn on Sundays between Oxford Circus and Harlesden, and partly replaced by route 49. In 1960 it was re-extended on Sundays from Oxford Circus to Shepherd’s Bush. In 1972 it was withdrawn between Norwood Junction and South Croydon and replaced by new route 12A. In 1978 it was re-rextended on Sundays from Shepherd’s Bush to Harlesden. In 1986 it was withdrawn daily between East Acton and Harlesden, and between Penge and Norwood Junction. In 1988 it was withdrawn between Dulwich and Penge. In 1991 it was withdrawn between East Acton and Shepherd’s Bush. In 1994 it was withdrawn between Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd’s Bush. In 2004, the route was converted to articulated buses and shortened even further to run only between Oxford Circus and Dulwich, a shadow of its former self.

Route 616 was an express route introduced on 15 June 1970, running Mondays to Fridays between Cricklewood and Oxford Circus via Kilburn, Edgware Road and Marble Arch, supplementing the 16. In latter days it was reduced to peak hours only, and was eventually replaced by route 16A (which has also now disappeared).

A more detailed (or at least more readable) history of routes 1 and 12 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

1
1 WEEKDAY
The term WEEKDAY was generally used to mean Monday to Saturday; however, it became ambiguous as fewer people had to work a six-day week, and it therefore could also have been taken to mean “Monday to Friday”. This is why London Transport later spelt out the days of operation as either MON.-FRI. or MON.-SAT.
1 MON.-FRI.
Route 1 had two Monday to Friday only sections: Bromley Garage to Catford Garage, and Oxford Circus/Trafalgar Square to Marylebone Station; the former from 1966 to 1978, and the latter during the years 1969 to 1987.
1 MON-FRI
One interesting aspect of otherwise-identical “E” plates is the presence or absence of full-stops after the days of the week abbreviations.
1 MON.-SAT.
From 1966 to 1978 there was no Sunday service on route 1, and this “E” plate probably came from the section between Catford Garage and central London.
1 MON.-SAT.
Otherwise-identical “E” plates often display small differences in spacing between letters and numbers. In this example, compare MON.-SAT. with the plate to the left.
1 MON-SAT
This plate is extremely scruffy and grubby, no doubt due to becoming “close-up and personal” with the pavement at some time in its life.
1 MON-SAT FARE STAGE
FARE STAGE plates are far less common than the normal variety.
1 SATURDAY - 12
Although the 1 and 12 also intersect at Elephant & Castle, it is my opinion that this plate would have come from Trafalgar Square where route 1 terminated on Saturdays after 1969, and probably shared a stop at a different location from the Monday-to-Friday through service. If that is indeed the case, then this “E” plate would be one half of an unique pair.
1 MON.-FRI. - 616 MON.-FRI. EXPRESS
◀ This plate is interesting because it combines the lowest-numbered route with the highest-numbered Central area one, and would presumably have come from a stop in Oxford Street. I would imagine that London Transport avoided making split-background-colour plates as far as possible owing to their additional complexity.

1A SUNDAY
1A SUNDAY FARE STAGE
This plate was obtained in the late 1970s at Garston (Country Area) garage—no idea how it got there!
1A SUNDAY AFTERNOONS
I am not aware of any special workings of the 1A that ran only on Sunday afternoons.

Route 1A was introduced in 1966 as a RT-operated Sunday replacement for route 1, running from Willesden Garage to Greenwich (Cutty Sark) via Kilburn, Maida Vale, Marylebone, Warren Street Station, Tottenham Court Road, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Waterloo,Elephant & Castle, Southwark Park Road, Surrey Docks Station and Deptford. In 1969 Routemasters replaced RTs, and the route was withdrawn between Trafalgar Square and Willesden Garage. In 1978 it was withdrawn, replaced by a reintroduced route 1. In 1984 the 1A returned, again as a Sunday replacement for route 1 running between Trafalgar Square and Greenwich, but this time with one-person-operated Titans. The following year the route was again withdrawn, and once more replaced by route 1.


Route 2 ran between Crystal Palace and Golders Green via West Norwood, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell, Vauxhall, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Baker Street, Finchley Road and Swiss Cottage. It was the first to be operated by a Routemaster, when RM1 ran on it in 1956. In 1962 the route was extended from Golders Green to North Finchley via Finchley Central. In 1970 it was withdrawn between Golders Green and North Finchley (replaced by route 26), and between Norwood Garage and Crystal Palace (replaced by route 2B). In 1972 it was withdrawn between Baker Street Station and Golders Green except during peak hours and at weekends, but re-extended there at all times in 1974. In 1978 it was withdrawn on Saturdays between Swiss Cottage and Golders Green, and diverted daily at West Norwood to run to The Rosendale. In 1982 it was withdrawn between Baker Street Station and Golders Green at all times. Between 1983 and 1985 it was extended to the Zoo on Summer Sundays. In 1986 it was revised to run daily between Stockwell Station and West Norwood (Rosendale), extended Mondays to Saturdays to Victoria. In 1987 the Sunday service was withdrawn. In 1988 it was withdrawn on Saturdays between Stockwell and Victoria. In 1992 the route was withdrawn, and replaced mainly by new route 322, but in 1993 the route number 2 was resurrected for the renumbering of the 2B.

Route 26 was introduced in 1970 between Victoria and New Barnet Station via Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Baker Street, Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage, Golders Green, Finchley Central, North Finchley and Whetstone, replacing part of route 2. The route was withdrawn between Golders Green and Victoria in 1978, and extended on from New Barnet on Sundays to Barnet, Chesterfield Road. In 1980 it was converted to one-man-operation and extended from Golders Green to Brent Cross Shopping Centre on Mondays to Saturdays. The route was withdrawn completely in 1991, and mainly replaced by routes 84A and 326.

A more detailed history of route 2 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

RM 1
Route 2 is known as the proving ground for prototype Routemaster RM1 [SLT 56]. The tower in the background with the UNDERGROUND roundel suggests that this photo was taken in Finchley Road.
London Transport photo; BM3RM
2
2 FARE STAGE
This plate was bought from London Transport Museum in Syon Park in the late 1970s when it was closing down for its move to Covent Garden.
2 MON-FRI & SUNDAY
2 MON-FRI & SUNDAY
This “E” plate is particularly notable in having SUNDAY in black rather than the usual red.
2 MON-FRI PEAK HOURS SAT SUN
These two “E” plates (↑ →) came from the section between Baker Street Station and Golders Green during the years 1972 to 1974.
2 MON-FRI PEAK HOURS SAT SUN FARE STAGE
This  FARE STAGE  label is particularly unusual as it is the smallest one I have seen.
2 - 26 MON-SAT
This “E” plate would have come from the common section of routes 2 and 26, between Golders Green and Victoria.

2A MON.-FRI. ◀ Wide space between the characters 2 and A.
No space between the 2 and A, but space around the dash. ▶
2A MON.-FRI.

Route 2A began in May 1954 as a Monday to Saturday route between West Norwood (Rosendale) and Golders Green Station via Herne Hill, Effra Road, Brixton, Stockwell, Vauxhall, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Baker Street, Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage and Childs Hill, replacing route 178 and route 2 short journeys between Golders Green and Victoria. In 1961 the Saturday service was withdrawn mornings between Swiss Cottage and Golders Green, and afternoons between Victoria and Golders Green. In 1964 the Saturday p.m. service was withdrawn between Victoria and Swiss Cottage. Two years later the Saturday service withdrawn entirely, replaced by extended route 172. In 1970 the route was withdrawn between Stockwell Station and Victoria outside of peak hours, and in 1972 this peak hours extension was discontinued. The route was withdrawn and replaced by route 2B in January 1974.

A new route 2A started in February 1988, running Monday through Saturday between Crystal Palace and Brixton Station via West Norwood and Tulse Hill, with an evening extension to Baker Street Station via Stockwell, Vauxhall, Victoria and Marble Arch. The new route replaced the 2B between Norwood Garage and Crystal Palace, and in effect brought one-man-operation to the 2 during evenings. In 1991 Sunday service was introduced between Crystal Palace and Baker Street, replacing the 2B on this day. In 1993 the evening and Sunday service was replaced by journeys on route 2. In 1994 the route was withdrawn and replaced by the 2.


Route 2B began running in 1956 as a Sunday-only route between Golders Green Station and Norwood Garage via Swiss Cottage, Baker Street, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Vauxhall, Stockwell, Brixton and Tulse Hill, with an afternoon extension to Crystal Palace. It replaced route 195 which was withdrawn on Sunday. In 1964 daily service was introduced, replacing part of route 186. The 2B now ran daily between Swiss Cottage and Norwood Garage, with a northern extension to Golders Green Sunday through Friday, and a southern extension to Crystal Palace Sunday afternoon through Friday. In 1970 Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Swiss Cottage and Golders Green except for peak hours, but Sunday journeys were extended from Golders Green to North Finchley. In 1972 the peak hours journeys between Swiss Cottage and Golders Green were withdrawn. In 1974 Monday to Saturday journeys were diverted from Crystal Palace to West Norwood (Rosendale), replacing withdrawn route 2A. (These journeys started from Stockwell Station.) In 1978 Monday to Saturday service was extended from Swiss Cottage to Golders Green, Sunday service was withdrawn between Golders Green and North Finchley, and West Norwood (Rosendale) journeys were replaced by changes to route 2. In 1986 the 2B was withdrawn between Baker Street Station and Golders Green, replaced by new route 82. In 1988 Monday to Saturday evening journeys were withdrawn in favour of an extended 2A service. In 1991 the route was withdrawn daily between Norwood Garage and Crystal Palace, and replaced entirely on Sundays by the 2A. In October 1993 the 2B was renumbered 2.

2B
2B FARE STAGE
2B FARE STAGE
2B SUNDAY
2B SUNDAY FARE STAGE
This “E” plate came from the London Transport Museum when closing down to move from Syon Park to Covent Garden in the late 1970s.
◀ Sunday Fare Stage plates can be found with the   FARE STAGE   element in either black or red (but I have yet to see both types for the same route).

3
3 FARE STAGE
3
This split “E” plate would have come from the common section of routes 3 and 53 between Camden Town and Westminster, and it is interesting to have two very long-established routes together on the same plate. Both these routes remained unchanged for many years and this plate will be particularly old, hence there is some surface discolouration due to age.
July 1976 timetable

Route 3 is a very long-established route and ran daily between Camden Town and Crystal Palace via Great Portland Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Millbank, Lambeth Bridge, Kennington, Brixton, Herne Hill and West Dulwich. In 1981 it was extended on Mondays to Saturdays from Camden Town to Parliament Hill Fields via Kentish Town, and cut back to Camden Town again in 1984. In 1986 it was cut back further to Oxford Circus except for Saturday shopping hours and Sundays, and completely cut back to Oxford Circus in 1987.

Route 53 ran from Camden Town to Plumstead Common via Great Portland Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Elephant & Castle, New Cross, Deptford, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolich and Plumstead. The return journeys ran via Portland Place instead of Great Portland Street. A Sunday extension continued on to Erith via Plumstead Garage, Wickham Lane, Bedonwell Road and Parsonage Manor Way. The 53 was extended to Parliament Hill Fields in 1984, cut back in 1987 to Oxford Circus, and further back in 2003 to its present northern terminus in Trafalgar Sqare.

A more detailed history of route 3 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

◀ Route 3 timetable to Crystal Palace from July 1976.
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