London Transport
Stop Flags

Last updated
Information contributed by Andrew Colebourne, Mike Harris, Matthew Keyte, Kim Rennie and Keith Williams

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BUS STOPS

Bus stop flags had their own coding system (as did everything in London Transport). A basic flag would be B(C) or B(R), standing for Bus (Compulsory) or Bus (Request). Coaches were C(C) or C(R), Coach (Compulsory) etc. “A” was the code for Red Arrow stops. A compulsory flag with “E” plates below would be B(C)E3 (or 6 or 9) with the numeral standing for the numbers of “E” plates that could be fitted. Bus and Coach could be mixed on the same flag, normally B(C)C(R) being Bus (Compulsory) Coach (Request). A real rarity was B(R)C(C). Similarly, “G” plates below would be B(C)G3 (or 6 or 9) with the numeral representing the size of the “G” plate. A maximum of three rows were available below the flag, and could be used by any combination of “E” and “G” plates, with the “G” plate affixed at the bottom.

The value of a stop flag varies greatly, depending upon its style, condition and scarcity. I have been tracking the sale of stop flags on ebay, and they are tabulated here.

This B(C)E9 stop flag, which also displays a FARE STAGE strip and a point identifier disk, was located outside of Charing Cross station.

Kevin McCormack photo; The Heyday of the London Bus


EARLY PROTOTYPES

In 1935 the noted graphic designer Hans Schleger was commissioned to redesign the bus stop flag. (He also took a stab at restyling the Underground diagram a few years later.) A few examples of the blank “bullseye” were experimentally erected, but were not believed to have been used for very long. The BY REQUEST versions were rejected, although the second bus request design is begining to point the way to what was ultimately adopted in 1937. It is interesting to note that the arrow motif of the alternate coach request stop was used for stop finials.

Schleger experimental stop flags
◀ The first samples of the new designs were erected at the London Transport Building Department’s Parsons Green works.
Early stop flag installation
London Transport Museum photos:
London Buses Before the War.
BUS COMPULSORY
B(C)
BUS REQUEST
B(R)
BUS REQUEST
B(R)
COACH COMPULSORY
C(C)
COACH REQUEST
C(R)
COACH REQUEST
C(R)


TRAMS & TROLLEYBUSES

Although blue had been chosen to identify the tram and trolleybus servies in the initial 1935 design exercise, very few of the silouette flags were made. The tram-only bar-and-circle versions were not very common, having only been put up in a few places towards the end of the life of the trams. Trams rarely shared stopping places with buses or trolleybuses because there would have been a conflict between passengers trying to board them in the middle of the road and buses pulling up at the kerb.

Initally, trolleybus stop flags were the same colours as tram ones, except that they (naturally) had the word TROLLEYBUS instead of TRAM on them. However, after World War II the decision was made to simply mark trolleybus stops with regular red BUS STOP flags. Only a few of the blue trolleybus stop flags were installed.

TRAM COMPULSORY
T(C)
TRAM COMPULSORY
T(C)
E3s in The EmbankmentA pair of E3s have just left the tram compulsory stop below Charing Cross Bridge in the Embankment. The lead car is heading for the Kingsway Subway and northeast London on route 33, while the 38 service will continue on to Blackfriars Bridge and utimately Abbey Wood. In the opposite direction an RTL approaches from the east.
TRAM REQUEST
T(R)
Besides the request stop sign erected at Crich Tramway Village (as it is now called), at least one other has survived in a private collection.
tram request stop
TROLLEYBUS COMPULSORY
?(C)
A number of these somewhat unattractive blue flags were erected in 1936, but their use proved to be short-lived.
TROLLEYBUS COMPULSORY
?(C)
TROLLEYBUS REQUEST
?(R)
D2 409
◀ To date only one photograph has come to light showing one of these prototype stops in use. D2 class 409 [DGY 409] was caught while working the 607. The experimental nature of the flag is quite evident, as the TROLLEYBUS STOP legend appears to be attached to the face of the sign.
London Transport Museum photo:
The London Trolleybus: Volume 1.

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