3RT 70th anniversary

10 May 2017

Page last updated 25 May 2017

Victoria Bus Station 1947 or 2017?  3RT3s 1705, 190 and 1784 are joined by G351; RT191 is hiding behind RT1705 and STL441 behind RT190.

Photo © Thomas Drake
The first post-war RT (known as the 3RT) entered service on 10 May 1947, seventy years ago this May.  Whilst similar in design to the prototype RT1, which entered service on 9 August 1939, the body of the post-war RT was completely different under the skin from the 150 RT2s built in the early part of the war, which were timber-framed.  The new standardised and jig-build design was built in huge numbers, with 5,450 completely interchangeable bodies built between 1947 and 1954, lasting in London service until 1979.
The first 500 post-war RTs, classed 3RT3, were built equally by Park Royal Vehicles and Weymann's of Addlestone.  The first to enter service was RT402, built by Weymann's, followed within two weeks by RT152 from Park Royal.  This 500, and a further 100 built by Park Royal, were the only 3RTs with the deep valence over the bonnet and the vertical route-plate holder on the nearside front pillar.
Celebration road run
To mark the 70th years of the 3RT, London Bus Museum organised a road run of all four of the 3RT3s believed to be roadworthy and preserved in Central Area livery.  They started at Victoria Bus Station with a spectacular line-up, with great support from TfL and older London Bus Museum buses.  The RTs followed route 10 all the way to Abridge in Essex, the first route operated by 3RTs, then on to Leyton Garage, from which those first buses operated.
Arrival at Victoria; getting organised.  Two older buses first - RT1 stood in for London Bus Museum's RT2657, which could not be made roadworthy in time for the event.  The RTs were joined at Victoria by G351 and STL441.
Photo © Steve Bidey
RT190 arrives at Victoria ready for a 38 to Epping Forest Wake Arms.  Such very long bus routes lasted for many years after the war.
Photo © Steve Bidey
RT1705 leaves Victoria for Abridge, flanked by utility Guy G351, the type that operated the 76 when the 3RTs arrived, and STL441 working a 38A.  Leyton in 1947 operated a few STLs alongside its LTs on the 38 and 38A.  The RT carries a slip-board for the British Museum, served by 38A but not the 10.
Photo © Peter Zabek
56-seater STL441 again, ahead of a more modern 52-seater.
Photo © Mike McDermott
STL441 again, departing via Victoria Street.
Photo © Neil Edwards
Passing through Aldgate, RT191 passes RT1 and is followed by 3RT8 RT1702, which joined the run to Abridge.
Photo © Peter Zabek


A welcome extra member of the party was Saunders 3RT3/3 RT3062, brought out of temporary retirement specially by Roger Wright for the occasion, ran from Woodford Bridge to Abridge and is seen here in Chigwell.  Note that the distinguishing central offside route plate holder is shared by RT1.
Photo © John Parkin

The traditional stand at the Blue Boar, Abridge.  Thanks to Nick Agnew, Keith Valla and Roger Wright, the stand (now car parking spaces) was available for our arrival.  RT3871 kept the space warm.

Photo © Steve Bidey


At Abridge, RT1705 pulls away from the stand on the garage working to Leyton via Whipps Cross.  Special Abridge guest RT113, a 2RT2 and several years older, pulls onto the stand in its wartime guise.

Photo © Steve Bidey


Leyton Garage, home of the first 3RTs.  Prototype RT1 intrudes in a line-up of three of the four 3RTs to take part, RTs 1784, 190 and 191.

Photo © Peter Zabek


Three RTs ran back to London along the 38, a route initially only converted to RT on Sundays.  RT191 and RT1 in Rosebery Avenue engage in the traditional sharing of the road; unfortunately, RT1's destination blind was incorrectly set! 
Photo © Peter Zabek
Finally a peek inside Leyton garage.
Photo © Peter Osborn
London Bus Museum wishes to thank the bus owners for their participation, TfL for their support and Stagecoach and Go Ahead London for the use of garage facilities.
Finally, a reminder of the old days:

In 1972, the 10 still reached Abridge on a few peak journeys.  RT484 on the 10 is accompanied on the stand by RT517 on the 167A.

Photo © Nick Agnew


The 167A was a circular route via Loughton, hence the complicated blind display.  Once a day, two RTs stood at the Blue Boar, on this occasion in 1976, RTs 1710 and 2268.  The route was withdrawn shortly afterwards.

Photo © Graham Burnell