Morden, over 50 years agoExpress routes

Page last updated 19 August 2014


In 1954, the Chambers report into London Transport raised the prospect of the introduction of Express bus services, in addition to Green Line coach services.  The following year duly saw the introduction of a number of Express operations on existing services, both in the Central and Country Areas.


The Express buses served a restricted number of stopping places.  All carried special destination and route blinds (blue with white lettering), a separate fare table, and a special slip-plate, showing stopping places, fitted in the brackets on the front of the bus.  Traffic circulars asked staff 'to ensure that all are displayed correctly when buses are operating 'Express' and that the ordinary blinds, etc, are displayed, and the plate on the front of the bus reversed, when buses are operating normal service'.

Sutton's RT4276 waits at Morden ready to set off to Epsom on the 93 Express.

Photo © Tony Wright, David Ruddom collection

The Central Area express routes introduced in 1955 were (in order of introduction):


130  East Croydon Station and New Addington Homestead Way

Ran during peak periods Mondays to Fridays and initially Saturday shopping hours, stopping at Gravel Hill Addington Bypass, Headley Drive, Parkway Salcot Crescent. 

Introduced 10 Aug 55 using RTs from Croydon, withdrawn Saturdays after 21 Jul 56.  Linking the remote Addington estate with the station, this route was clearly successful in the peaks, although not on Saturdays, and was effectively a precursor to the trams.  Converting to RM in 1964 and RML in 1967, the Express was replaced in 1970 by the XA-operated C1, then in turn by the C3.  This changed to DMS operation, but reverted to the 130 Express on that route's conversion to DMS in 1982.  The DMSs were replaced by Ls in 1987 and the Express was further renumbered X30 later that year.  This ran (although as 'Limited Stop' not Express from 1995) until the introduction of Tramlink to Addington in 2000.


93   Morden Station and Epsom Station

Ran during peak periods Mondays to Fridays, stopping at Sparrow Farm Road, Ewell Spring Hotel, Epsom 55 High Street (proceeding towards Epsom) or Epsom Clock Tower (proceeding towards Morden).

Introduced 12 Oct 55 using RTs from Sutton, last day of operation 31 Jan 56.  Timetable leaflet here.  This operation was designed for passengers from Morden Station travelling beyond the short-working destination of North Cheam, and vice versa, and whilst some extra shorts were provided, the through stopping service was cut by half.  In practice, the expresses ran nearly empty and the stopping service was inadequate, leading to many complaints.  The service reverted back to normal in less than three months.


212  Muswell Hill Broadway and Finsbury Park Station

Operated during Monday to Friday peak periods, calling at Muswell Hill Victoria PH and Crouch End Broadway only.

Introduced 12 Oct 55 using Muswell Hill's RFs; ran until 6 Sep 68, when replaced by Route W2.  This new MBS route was extended as a limited stop service from Alexandra Park Victoria to Finsbury Park during Mon-Fri peak hours.  The limited stop service ran only until 21 Mar 69.

The 212 was the only regular RF-operated express route, although express services continued into the RT era.  A very heavily used route and one of the most frequent in London (it was effectively a substitute for the Alexandra Palace - Finsbury Park line which should have been developed during the war as a tube line), it always ran full in the morning peak towards Finsbury Park.  Ken Glazier (London Buses in the 1950s) reports that standing passengers were not permitted from Crouch End at these times, as there would otherwise have been no chance of passengers further south being able to board at all.  The express services permitted slightly faster running, enabling more services to run with the same number of buses.  Southbound passengers before 0945 were charged the fare to Finsbury Park, whatever their destination.


52A  Borehamwood Brook Road/Gateshead Road and Colindale Trolleybus Depot

Ran during peak periods Mondays to Fridays and initially Saturday shopping hours, calling at Borehamwood Gateshead Road/Theobald Street, Borehamwood The Crown, Borehamwood Red Lion, Elstree Way Manor Way/Ripon Way, Burnt Oak Station.

Introduced 30 Nov 55, Saturday operation ceased 1 May 57.  The Express was replaced on 4 Jan 62 by the 292 Express until withdrawn on 26 Jan 65.  Another station feeder service from outlying estates, operated by RTLs from Willesden (52A) and RTs from Edgware (52A and 292).


Romford Station174  Harold Hill Gooshays Drive and Romford Station

Ran during peak periods Mondays to Fridays and initially Saturday shopping hours, calling at Hilldene Avenue Gooshays Drive, Hilldene Avenue Chatteris Avenue, Straight Road Faringdon Avenue, Romford Market Place.

Introduced 30 Nov 55 using RTs from Romford North Street; Saturday operation ceased 25 May 57.  The express buses ran until 23 Jul 77, with all stops in Harold Hill and central Romford being served from 20 Apr 74.  Converted from RT to RM in 1966.

Again, a station feeder service from outlying estates.  As for the 52A, the Saturday shopping service was obviously not successful. 


North Street's RM114 lays over at Romford Station before returning to Harold Hill on the 174 Express.

Photo © John Reed, Ian Armstrong collection


It can be seen that the routes enjoyed a varied degree of success.  Whilst Saturday shopping services all ceased within a year or two, four of the five peak hour services ran for periods of at least ten years.  However, in the Central Area (unlike the Country Area), there were no more introduced after this initial group, apart from the central London Red Arrow routes from 1966 onwards, until much later. 


With one small exception.  The other RF-operated express route was the "210 Express" - special workings in the early 1960s to serve concert-goers at Kenwood.  Operating on summer Saturdays only, between 10 Jun and 22 Jul 61, then again in 1962 and 1963, these ran between 1830 and 2400, between Golders Green Station and Archway Station, stopping only at Kenwood.  Buses carried blue blinds marked 'EXPRESS'.


In a glimpse of the detail in which LT planned its services, the following note was published in the Traffic Circular dated 25 Nov 55: Early Morning Single fares will apply only up to the time and point shown on the time card, and passengers who are unable to complete their journey by 8.0 am must be charged the EMS fare up to this point plus the Express fare, or the full Express fare, whichever is cheaper.  Cash total sheets: When working on Express buses, conductors must insert the garage ticket number reading where applicable on the reverse side of their cash total sheets and segregate and mark clearly the 'Express' portion of their duty.