Snatching a break, Kingston 1965Red RF routes

Route 215A

Page last updated 27 December 2018


The 215A Kingston to Downside route was the reason that Kingston retained its TDs until 1962, when it was finally accepted that the larger RFs could serve the village.


RF517 (once RF298, hence its early registration) in Kingston in June 1965.  The bus was converted for OMO in 1961, but is still crew operated here.  It looks as though the crew may have stopped off for some cigarettes before reaching the bus station; the bus is empty of passengers and the driver is flicking through a magazine.
Photo © Gerald Mead
Dates of RF operation
1 Mar 62 to 29 Dec 67
Converted to OMO 23 Jan 66
(total 5 years 8 months, of which 3 years 11 months crew-operated)
KINGSTON Bus Station and DOWNSIDE (Mon-Sat)
RF Garages
K      Kingston (to 22 Jan 66)
NB    Norbiton (from 23 Jan 66)

Reason for single-deck operation

In common with the other routes between Kingston and Esher, the 215A passed under the low bridge at Ditton Marsh, still there today under the London to Woking main line.


Route history

The 215A was introduced on 30 Jun 54 to provide a Monday to Saturday service to the isolated hamlet of Downside, south of Cobham.  TD-operated by Kingston Garage, it shared a timetable and bus allocation with its parent 215 throughout its existence.


TD128 runs under the 602 trolleybus wires up Portsmouth Road, Long Ditton, with Hampton Court Park on the other side of the Thames in the background. The date is 27 Mar 61.

Photo © Geoff Bannister


As the TDs were progressively replaced by RFs at Kingston, the 215A - and therefore the 215 on weekdays because of the joint operation - retained theirs, becoming the last TD-operated routes apart from the 240A, due to unsuitable roads between Cobham and Downside.  Indeed, at the introduction to the route, drivers were instructed not to exceed 5 mph when crossing the bridge over the River Mole.  However, a timetable on which one in four journeys extended beyond Cobham to each of Ripley (215) or Downside meant that there were duties that could take RFs, and approval was given for this in October 1961.  The Traffic Commissioner finally agreed to RF operation to Downside in 1962, and the conversion took place on Thursday 1 March, when a batch of newly overhauled RFs were licensed at Kingston.



Just over 4 years later, OMO-conversion of the 215 and 215A occurred on 23 Jan 66 at the same time as a transfer to Norbiton Garage.  Less than two years later, it wasn't Downside that lost its service when the 215A finished, but off-the-map Ripley that was cast adrift from the Central Area.  The Downside journeys were renumbered 215 from 30 Dec 67.


RF route in detail, with timing points

KINGSTON Bus Station, Clarence Street (return via Wood Street), Eden Street, High Street Kingston, Portsmouth Road, Dittons Winters Bridge, Portsmouth Road, Esher Marquis of Granby, Portsmouth Road, High Street Esher, Esher High Street, Portsmouth Road, Fairmile Lane Portsmouth Road, Portsmouth Road Cobham, Anyards Road (return by Between Streets, Street Cobham), Church Cobham Post Office, High Street Cobham, Church Street, Bridge Road, Downside Road, Downside Common Road, DOWNSIDE COMMON


Terminal working at Downside - reverse into Downsview Close, pull forward to stand in Downside Common Road at Hanow Cottage [not identified!].  Changed on OMO conversion to a reverse turn into Middleton Close.


Norbiton garage journeys - see note under 215.


Based on 1964 bus map ©  London Transport

Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1959 60 mins 60 mins -
1964 60 mins 60 mins -
The route took about 40 minutes between Kingston and Downside.  The July 1967 timetable is here.
RF allocation
Allocation joint with 215 Mon-Sat



See Stan Attewell's memories of driving the Downside service after it was worked from Norbiton.



RFs again operated the 215A to Downside at our Kingston 2009 RF event.