London Transport
Central Area Routes 25–26

Last updated 23-08-10.

Route 25 is a very long-established central London route and in 1950 was running between Victoria Station and Becontree Heath via Hyde Park Corner, Berkeley Square, Oxford Circus, Holborn, St. Paul’s, Bank, Aldgate, Whitechapel, Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Green Lanes, Goodmayes and Becontree. During Monday to Friday rush hours it was extended to Hornchurch Station via Rush Green. The Hornchurch extension was withdrawn in 1958, but an additional shuttle service was introduced between Dagenham East Station and Dagenham (Fords) via Ballards Road during Monday to Friday peak hours, replacing route 193. This shuttle service was totally separate from the main 25 service except for the garage runs. There were no further changes to the 25 until 1969 when the weekend service was withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Victoria, although this was reinstated in 1978. The shuttle service to Dagenham was reduced to just a few morning rush hour projections during 1977. In 1982 the 25 was withdrawn completely east of Ilford, being replaced by new route 225. In 1987 the Sunday service was extended from Ilford to Becontree Heath via Goodmayes and Becontree again, and became daily in 1988. At the same time route 25 was converted to one-man-operation, and rerouted on Saturdays and Sundays between Aldgate and Bank via Tower of London. In 1992 the 25 was withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Victoria and replaced by route 8 over this section, and later that year a few morning peak hour journeys were again extended from Becontree Heath to Dagenham (Fords). In 1993 the weekend diversion via Tower was rerouted via New Change and Cannon Street instead of Bank. The route now runs daily between Oxford Circus and Ilford Broadway via Bank at all times and is operated by articulated buses.

A more detailed history of route 25 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

Route 25 farechart
◀ This farechart titled
VICTORIA & BECONTREE HEATH
DAGENHAM EAST & FORD WORKS
SERVICE
25
was issued on 5 May 1963. All fares are singles, with the lowest being 3d (1¼p) and the highest 3'2 (just under 16p). It is a single-sided sheet measuring 39 × 54 cm (15¼" × 21¼"), and is printed in two colours on white card.
The top half of a bus stop timetable dating from the mid-’60s. These were sometimes accompanied by a SEE BELOW “E” plate on the stop flag, like the one shown below. ▶
Route 25 bus stop timetable
25
The rusting and wear, plus larger numbers and black back suggest that this is an older “E” plate that was in use for a very long time.
25
The numerals on this “E” plate are slightly bolder than usual.
25
The left-side stroke of the figure 5 on this plate is upright to the point of being vertical. Also, notice the variation from plate to plate in the hooks of the number 2.
25 FARE STAGE
25 FARE STAGE
25 WEEKDAY
25 MON.-FRI. PEAK HOURS
The PEAK HOURS and SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY plates would have probably come from the short section of route between Dagenham East Station and Dagenham (Fords), and there would have been few bus stops over those roads which displayed “E” plates.
25 MON.-FRI. EVENINGS SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Chris Hall (a former bus driver) writes:
“I was studying [this plate and] I think this would have been in the Park Lane to Marble Arch section of that route as in the ’80s the 25s were diverted at those times from the Stratton Street / Berkeley Square area because of continuous bad parking by the Rolls Royce / Bentley brigade in the narrow streets, particularly in the eastbound direction as there is a 90-degree corner in Stratton Street which was tight at the best of times with an RML and sensibly parked cars! I was driving this route in the ’80s but cannot guarantee the plate 100% as we very rarely stopped in Park Lane as most punters didn’t know we were coming that way, which gave us a chance to put our foot down along that road for that much-needed cup of tea at Vic[toria].
“I found it amazing that a bus service which had been around from the year dot, so it seemed, was diverted under those circumstances but it’s true. When we used to get stuck in Stratton Street, especially on a Saturday night, the police would eventually get a vehicle moved, but it took so long to do it and, as I said, they were inevitabley expensive cars that you knew if you damaged one you’d be for the high jump. I suppose in view of traffic trends this was an unsuitable road for buses, and I don’t know which route they take now as I moved on from the buses in 1989—oh, and they are bendy jobs on that route now.”
25 SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY
25 SEE BELOW
◀ “E” plates that show SEE BELOW are rather rare as they were usually produced for specific bus stops, perhaps where a limited service operated. It is possible this plate came from the stop in Old Cavendish Street at Oxford Circus, where, for a while, buses terminated during evenings and at weekends.

26
This “E” plate could have come from either the trolleybus replacement service or the Finchley route 26, but all of the others (except maybe the SEE BELOW plate) came from the latter.
26 MON.-SAT.
This “E” plate was purchased from the London Transport Museum in Syon Park in the late ’70s when closing down to move to Covent Garden.
26 MON-SAT
These “E” plates display an interesting variety of number sizes, and apparently the use of full-stops after abbreviations was optional.
26 MON-SAT
26 MON-SAT FARE STAGE
26 SEE BELOW
This “E” plate would probably have come from a bus stop where there was only a limited or occasional service.
26 BARNET - 210 FINSBURY PARKAndrew Colebourne writes, “After a few minutes thought I realised that this plate must date from post-1980, and is from the Brent Cross area though not—if memory serves—the bus station. There was a stop (or stops) in either Templehof Avenue or Tilling Road (I cannot be sure of which, and it could be both!) which could have been served by both routes. Route 26 never ran to Brent Cross on Sundays, and neither did the 210 before the 26 was withdrawn. I think, therefore, that this “E” plate must have been displayed in combination with a MONDAY TO SATURDAY ONLY “G” plate. Incidentally, Tilling Road may be so-called because Thomas Tilling was born at Gutter Hedge Farm, which was somewhere near here. (It’s very difficult to relate Victorian maps with the present-day road layout!)” Route 26 & 26D bus stop timetableA London General Omnibus Company timetable panel for routes 26 and 26D. At the time the 26 ran on Sundays only from Chigwell Row to Victoria Station via Barkingside, Cranbrook Road, Ilford Broadway, Stratford Broadway, Bank and Tottenham Court Road. Route 26D was a weekday short-working from Chigwell Row as far as Ilford (Ley Street). The reverse shows journeys the in opposite direction. It is dated 14th April 1933 (shortly before the formation of London Transport) and titled SUMMER SERVICE 1933.
RML2599RML2599 [NML599E]—the first of the 1967 delivery of Routemasters—stands at the route 261 bus stop by (I believe) New Barnet Station, likely in October 1980 after the withdrawal of the 261.

The orginal route 26 ran from September 1948 to August 1958 between Lambourne End (Beehive) and Ilford Station (York Road) via Chigwell Row, Manor Road, Grange Hill Station, Fenpiece Road, Barkingside, Cranbrook Road and Gants Hill, renumbered from the 25A. The Chigwell Row to Lambourne End section was replaced by extended journeys on route 150 when the route was withdrawn in 1958, but the Barkingside to Chigwell Row section was left unserved.

From August 1959 the number 26 was reused for a replacement for withdrawn trolleybus 661 operated between Aldgate and Leyton (Bakers Arms) via Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Leytonstone High Road, Leytonstone and Whipps Cross (extended in 1964 at the Leyton end along Lea Bridge Road to Gloucester Road). It was withdrawn in 1966 and replaced between Leyton and Stratford mainly by new route 262.

A new Monday to Saturday route 26 was introduced in June 1970 between New Barnet Station and Victoria (Wilton Road) via East Barnet Road, Longmore Avenue, Whetstone, North Finchley, Finchley Central, Golders Green, Swiss Cottage, Lords, Baker Street, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, replacing the withdrawn sections of route 2 between Golders Green and North Finchley and route 260 between North Finchley and New Barnet. In 1978 it was withdrawn between Golders Green and Victoria, but extended on Sundays from New Barnet Station to Barnet (Chesterfield Road) via Meadway, Barnet Church, Manor Road and Mays Lane to further replace the 260. In 1980 the service was expanded to run at all times between Barnet and Golders Green, replacing withdrawn route 261, converted to one-man operation, and further extended from Golders Green to Brent Cross Shopping Centre via The Vale, Pennine Way, Claremont Road, Tilling Road and Templehoff Avenue during Monday to Saturday shopping hours. In 1986 the Sunday service was withdrawn, replaced by new route 82, and in February 1991 the route withdrawn entirely, replaced by new route 326 between New Barnet and Whetstone, a revised 84A between Chesterfield Road and New Barnet, and revised 102 between Golders Green and Brent Cross.

Today’s 26 began running in September 1992 between Hackney Wick (Eastway) and Waterloo via Cassland Road, Hackney, Cambridge Heath, Hackney Road, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Bank, St Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street and Aldwych. It was introduced to replace the withdrawn section of route 6 between Aldwych and Hackney Wick.

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