Red RF routes

Route 240A

Page last updated 1 January 2017


Much more famous for being the last route to operate the last TDs, London's last half-cab single deckers, the 240A became RF operated for a few years before the road was lowered under the bridge at Mill Hill.
Just as Land Rovers can have raised air intakes, the RF air intake is behind the driver.  Flood water therefore holds no fears for the driver of RF423 as he heads west under the railway at Mill Hill into Hale Lane; presumably his colleague will now decide to continue.  Further along Hale Lane, the ford across Deans Brook meant no buses there until 1927.
Photo © David Smith collection
Dates of RF operation
10 Oct 62 to 22 Jan 66
(total 3 years 3 months, all crew-operated)
RF Garages
EW    Edgware
Reason for single-deck operation
The low railway bridge at Mill Hill Broadway, before it was reconstructed along with the building of the M1, meant the double-deck 240 terminated east of the bridge and the 140 to the west.  Earlier, the low bridge at Mill Hill East station (then Mill Hill LNER station) restricted double-deck workings on the 240 to the section between Holders Circus and Golders Green, until the road was lowered during the war.
The low bridge at Mill Hill which caused single-deck operation of the 240A.  TD104 heads into Mill Hill Broadway from Hale Lane.  See also here for a picture of the reconstruction in progress.  Another picture of the bridge is in John Hambley's 1962 book, showing TD101 coming the other way.
Photo © Mike Beamish
Route history

On the same day in April 1922 as the 110 (later 210) was introduced to Golders Green, the General introduced new route 104 linking Golders Green with Mill Hill, both rapidly developing areas.  The route was extended in July alongside the new LCC Watling Estate via Deans Lane and Deansbrook Road to Edgware and on to South Harrow.  The route was operated by Hendon garage (AE), this being some three years before Edgware (EW) opened.  The route was single-deck operated due to the low railway bridge at Mill Hill, but a supplementary double-deck service operated by Cricklewood (W) ran between South Harrow and Harrow Weald, all buses being B types. 


In 1924, the double-deck section was extended, first to Stanmore and then to Edgware, being renumbered 114 in December that year.  This replaced this section of the 104, which then terminated at Edgware Station, with both routes now being operated by W.


In October 1926, LGOC registered a route which extended the 104 beyond Golders Green along the 110 (now 210) as far as Highgate Village.  Although the full route (which ran north to Elstree) never operated, the route ran between Edgware and Highgate Village in summer 1927 only.  Under the Bassom system, the previous 104 was renumbered 104E and the Highgate route was numbered 104C.  Perhaps in lieu of 104C, summer 1928 saw short workings on the 110 between Golders Green and Highgate Village.  Various other permutations of the 104 were registered, ensuring confusion to historians and no doubt also to passengers.


The present routing along Hale Lane to Edgware was introduced in February 1929, when the route was extended in an S-shape to Burnt Oak.  The section of Hale Lane between the station and the Green Man had been first used only in 1927 (by an extension to the 114), before which the road had a watersplash at Deans Brook and was unsuitable for buses.  


TD124 in smart suburbia on 2 Apr 62.

Photo © Geoff Plumb


The revolution in bus design that saw the double-deck LT and ST classes and the single-deck Ts arrived early at Cricklewood, with an allocation of the new T class from 12 Dec 29, a week after the first of the type entered service in Romford.  13 buses (T11-25 except for 15, 21) were allocated.


Two years later, and a year after Edgware garage (EW) started working on the route, the 104 was the first to operate the new single-deck LT Scooter, in January 1931.  LT1001 was delivered to EW (the parent garage was AE, so this was the official allocation), enabling comparison with the Ts from EW and W as well as the experimental single-deck London Six LS6 at W.  LT1001 moved to Muswell Hill for the 111 (later the 212) in March, but six and seven Scooters respectively were delivered to EW and W for the route in June 1931, replacing the Ts.  By that time, the route again featured a double-deck section, this time between Mill Hill East (south of the station) and Golders Green, operated on Saturdays by Chalk Farm (CF).


As primarily a single-deck route, the 104 was renumbered 240 in October 1934, when it operated a fascinating mix of buses – as well as 3 Scooters from EW and 2 from W (and a Sunday allocation of 3 from Holloway (J)), Cricklewood allocated one T and the LS, with NSs for the double-deck section.  These ran alongside STs from Edgware but were replaced on Saturdays by STLs from Chalk Farm (CF).


The outbreak of war saw the allocation simplified, with just W providing LT Scooters and STLs. A diversion via Sanders Way in Mill Hill East was introduced in 1940, meaning the route no longer served the LNER station, which had closed in 1939.


Mill Hill East station opened in 1867, on the GNR line from Finsbury Park to Edgware via Highgate.  This line became part of the pre-war Northern Heights project, under which the Northern Line would be extended beyond Highgate (the station now known as Archway) over existing steam-operated rail lines.  The line from Finsbury Park had branches to High Barnet and Alexandra Palace, and the plans also envisaged an extension north of Edgware to Bushey Heath.  Steam services ceased in 1939 and were replaced (in part) by rail-replacement buses from Finchley Central to Edgware.


Mill Hill Broadway short working

RF407 on the short-working to Mill Hill Broadway.

Photo © Michael Rooum, Peter Gomm collection


The war meant that the Northern Heights project was never completed.  The extension from Archway to High Barnet opened in 1940, and to serve the Mill Hill Barracks the branch to Mill Hill East was electrified and opened, still as a single track, in 1941 – the last element in today’s Northern Line.  The Alexandra Park branch, which passed under Muswell Hill by a weak bridge that forced London Transport to work the busy 212 with single-deckers, continued to operate a shuttle from Finsbury Park until 1954, but the section between Mill Hill East and Edgware was freight only and never reopened to passenger traffic; it closed completely in 1964.  Despite considerable work, including the building of the depot (which later became LT’s Aldenham Works), the extension north of Edgware was never built.


Returning to the 240, later in 1940 the single-deck section was shortened to run only to Mill Hill Hendon Way, and the allocation for this section moved back to EW; the double-deck section was extended to run to Mill Hill (the Sanders Way diversion avoiding the low bridge at Mill Hill East station).  When Mill Hill East station reopened in May 1941, the single-deck section was extended to terminate there and the rail replacement service from Finchley was withdrawn.  By 1944, the road had been lowered under the railway and the double-deck service resumed the former through route. From 1945, the single-deck extension became peak-hours only.


Being effectively a rail replacement service, certain Underground tickets could be used on the 240 (later 240A).  More information on this unusual circumstance, and other examples we have discovered where rail tickets were accepted on buses, are now on a separate page.


From being largely open country in 1930, the area around Mill Hill was now becoming built up and new roads required new services.  In consequence, part of the 240’s single-deck service was extended (using the same Scooters from EW) on 12 Nov 47 to Page Street, at the end of Bunns Lane, as new weekday route 240A


In May and June 1949, Edgware's Scooters on the two routes were replaced by nine new TDs, a year after Cricklewood's STLs on the 240 had been replaced by new RTs.  The following year, the LMR station at Mill Hill was renamed Mill Hill Broadway, but still only offered the north-south service that is now Thameslink (officially 'First Capital Connect').


RT4772 (which in 2010 returned to the UK from Canada) on the 240A and RM516 on the 240 share the stand at Edgware Station.

Photo © N Rayfield, Ian Armstrong collection


 In July 1951, the 240’s single-deck section was withdrawn completely and the 240A was extended (and made daily) over the new Bittacy Rise and Pursley Road to Mill Hill East Station.  The new TDs were highly prized and thinly spread, so when the service was increased on the 240A in November 1951, a pair of former Green Line 10T10s were required until a couple more TDs could be found after the winter.  Apart from this period, the TDs settled into a routine throughout the 1950s. 


The introduction of the RFs and in particular the service reductions after the 1958 strike saw the TD fleet diminish so that by late 1959 they were working only at EW and at Kingston, where the 215A was deemed too tight for RFs.  These latter finally gave way in February 1962, leaving the 240A to run London's last half-cab single-deckers on 9 October 1962.


Throughout this period, the route had run a more frequent service between Edgware and Mill Hill Broadway than further east, with the short-workings described in the timetable as Mill Hill Watford Way and on the blinds as Mill Hill Broadway.  The RFs continued this arrangement, running for just over three years until more changes came to the 240 and 240A in 1966.


At the time of the building of the southern M1 extension, the road under the railway was lowered, permitting through-operation by double-deckers.  This was introduced on 23 Jan 66 by the extension daily of the 240 over its 'natural' routing through to Edgware, using a mixture of RMs from Hendon, RTs from Edgware and RTLs from Cricklewood.  In addition, trolleybus-replacement route 221 was extended on Mondays to Saturdays from North Finchley to Edgware over the full route of the 240A, replacing it on those days.  The 240A remained as a Sunday-only route, now RT-operated and extended to Golders Green Station, replacing half the Sunday service on the 240.


This rather fragile arrangement lasted a further nine years, with the RTs giving way to OMO SMSs in January 1971 and the route finally being replaced by Sunday operation of the 221.  The last day of operation was 25 Mar 79.

SMS773 at Golders Green on a Sunday in the 1970s.
Photo © Paul Davis, Ian Armstrong collection
RF route in detail, with timing points

EDGWARE LT Station, Station Road, Hale Lane, Mill Hill Green Man, Hale Lane, Mill Hill Broadway, Mill Hill Broadway Flower Lane, Flower Lane, Bunns Lane, Page Street Bunns Lane, Page Street, Pursley Road, Sanders Lane, Bittacy Rise, Engell Park, Bittacy Hill, MILL HILL EAST STATION


Extract from the 1964 bus map (c) LT

Year Mon-Fri Sat Sun
1951 12 mins 10-15 mins
1953 8-12 mins * 8-10 mins * 15-16 mins *
1959 6-15 mins * 10-11 mins * 16-18 mins *
1964 9-15 mins * 10-12 mins * 24 mins *
* more frequent Edgware - Mill Hill Watford Way
The route took about 20 minutes from end to end.  The July 1967 timetable, by which time the route was Sundays only, RT-operated and ran through to Golders Green, is here.
RF allocation
PVR 1962 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 7, Sun 3
PVR 1963 (Oct): Mon-Fri 9, Sat 6, Sun 3



Alan Bond recalls Edgware Garage in 1962:


When I transferred to EW in January 1962 after Colindale closed, I was spare for a while and I got stuck on the 142 rota, a road generally described as 'all brake and bell.'  I worked with various drivers for quite a while and did conducting duties on all the EW routes at various times, including the 240A.  After a bit of wait I managed to get a slot on the 140 roster, first with an ex-trolleybus driver named Wally, whose surname I cannot now recall, and later with Joe Gowan who was my regular driver until I went driving myself in 1964/65.


On the 140 rota we had two Sunday 'make up' duties on the 240A, in those days TD operated. One of these had eighteen return journeys between Edgware Station and Mill Hill Broadway, i.e 11 on the first spell and 7 on the second. It was the only duty where you needed a continuation waybill for your Gibson machine as each of the 36 trips had to be accounted for individually and there were only four values in use, i.e. 3d & 6d adult and 2d and 3d child.


When the TDs were finally withdrawn in October 1962, we got a little batch of red RFs without doors and these made quite a bit of difference, especially as far as drivers were concerned. Due to the fact that they had no doors, there was always a risk of runners trying to get on at the last minute after the bus had started moving and there were a number of incidents which gave cause for concern, one of which led to a serious injury to someone who lost their footing when trying to board while the bus was moving. Fortunately, the front wheels were steering to the right but even so, the nearside front wheel ran over this guy's foot and broke several bones. After that it became the general practice for the conductor to stand on the bottom step when leaving Edgware Station to discourage late comers from attempting to board.


In February 1963 we received a further batch of RFs for the 251 road, which EW hadn't operated since about 1942. This was a delightful road to work as the route took us up through the more salubrious parts of Mill Hill and along Totteridge Lane. We did have one 251 duty on the 140 rota and that was a plum which many tried to get on to.  Surprisingly, there were quite a few staff who didn't like the 251 road and they would willingly swap the duty for one on their own road.  For a while it was a middle turn but later it became a late turn which included an unadvertised short working from Arnos Grove Station to the Standard Telephone works up at Brunswick Park and back again. 


I also did this duty as overtime on my rest day once with an elderly driver whose first name of Fred I can recall but but not his surname and he was close to retirement.  The first half took over at Barnfield Road at Burnt Oak and we travelled down on either a 142, 245 or 266 to take over the bus which we took back into the garage for our break.  The second half started at EW sidecourt and, if I remember correctly, we ran light down to Burnt Oak, a most unusual occurrence in LT days. We did three round trips and then ran in to the garage in service, this time 'when working' up the Edgware Road via the Bald Faced Stag.  On each of the three occasions that we stood at Arnos Grove Stn, my driver went across to the pub (can't remember the name of it now) and had a beer and by the end of the evening he was still as sober as a judge and his driving was still smooth and immaculate, so he had obviously had plenty of practice at both the beer and the following driving. He probably felt that bus knew its own way home.


One of the 140 drivers (Alfie Harmes was his name) who occasionally worked on the 251 road always referred to it as the 'sore shoulder' road due to the habit of passengers along Totteridge Lane not ringing the bell but coming to the front and tapping the driver on the shoulder and saying "Next stop please driver."


When I passed out as a driver at the end of 1964, I was put on to the 142 rota, a road that I detested even when the roster was merged with the 292 so that we had alternate weeks on each road.  We also lost the 140 and gained the re-vamped 114, which swapped ends with the 158 to run between Edgware Station and Ruslip Lido. There were no early finishes on the 114 and the last bus didn't get in to EW until almost 1 am. The 292 road had a number of early finishes and I eventually solved the 142 problem by volunteering for the staff bus duty on my 142 weeks.


This was a night shift which started at midnight and finished at about 6 am and you did seven consecutive nights each of which paid 7hrs 36mins at double time, so I was quids in AND saved on beer as I wasn't out at night drinking.  The allocated bus was always an RF and it was like owning your own personal bus as the garage foreman was not averse to allocating your favourite bus if it was available.  The staff bus route was officially fixed but in practice the driver would drop off staff as required and there were three official routes which started off with the eastern area out to Borehamwood and Elstree and points in between while the other covered Stanmore, Queensbury and Kingsbury.  One of our drivers lived at Bushey Heath and it was always the done thing to drop him off by the Three Crowns, unfortunately it would have been closed by the time he got there.


I had occasion to drop someone off at Cricklewood one night and coming back up the Edgware Road I saw a chap thumbing a lift between Staples Corner and West Hendon so I stopped and he asked if I was going anywhere near Edgware so I picked him up and dropped him at the traffic lights by the Mason's Arms while I was waiting to turn right and he slipped a crisp new pound note into my hand as he got off - well, it would have cost him a lot more in a cab!  I made few bob like that on a number of occasions on the staff bus and I was quite happy with a regular night shift even in the winter as I would spend most of the night in the games room playing snooker with the driver of the Underground staff bus, who used to have his break at EW.  


There was a regular staff bus driver who lived up by Rossington Avenue at Borehamwood and if the driver of one of the late buses on the 292 lived in Borehamwood he would swap over with him so that he could go home while the staff bus driver took the bus back to the garage to start his staff bus shift, all unofficial of course. As I lived at Colindale, I was able to travel back and forth on the Northern Line between home and Edgware. I was usually walking back from the station at about 6.45 am and one week in the summer, on each morning I heard a blackbird singing in the trees on the green in Booth Road where we lived. On the Saturday I was disappointed to be met with silence and the most stupid thought occurred to me that the blackbird didn't work on Saturdays...!


The canteen that Edgware bus crews used (I remember it very well) was actually provided as much for Underground staff as for busmen.  There was even a small canteen at Kilburn Park Station which we used on the odd occasion when there was extra stand time there at the time of day when the transition to peak schedules on the 142 began.  There was also a Sunday duty which had about 23 minutes at KPS in the early evening. That one was a bit annoying as it was a middle turn and you were finished when you got back to Edgware and another crew on late turn took over the bus to go to Watford.


On this particular occasion we pulled out on to the Kilburn High Road and stopped at the first stop and a few got on so I checked that there were no more and rang the bell but nothing happened. I waited a minute or two before investigating and then the engine stopped so I went around the back and along the offside to the cab but my driver wasn't there. I walked across to the kerb and saw him chasing a tall thin chap across the pavement, which was very wide at that point. Apparently, this guy had run up to the bus and banged on the bonnet and told Paddy that his mates were coming out of the pub and to wait for them. Paddy said he wasn't going to wait, whereupon the guy stood in front of the bus to stop it moving. That was the point at which Paddy switched off the engine and got down with the intention of shifting this guy out of the way.  This guy was about six foot thirteen but as skinny as rake and Paddy was five foot four in his stockinged feet but weighed about fourteen stone and I saw him chasing the other guy across the pavement towards the shops and the next thing I saw was Paddy pick him up bodily and hurl him through the window of the furniture shop, which had this massive plate glass window which was about eight feet by sixteen.  The guy ended up on a sofa in the front of the shop covered in glass and blood and someone called the police, who were there like a shot (unlike today) so we were stuck there until that was sorted out. Paddy was arrested and carted off to the nick and the skinny guy was carted off to St Mary's at Paddington in an ambulance. The result was that I got overtime and Paddy got the sack. Fortunately he wasn't my regular driver and I only worked with him on the odd occasion when I did a rest day or some overtime.


He is also the only driver who ever put me on the floor, his driving was so bad, so I guess he wouldn't have lasted much longer as most conductors used to complain about him. My regular old mate when I was on the 140 road was the late Joe Gowan and he could go like the wind but I never had any problem with getting the fares in and we very seldom finished late.  I had a lady say to me one day that she thought his driving was a bit fast so I told her not to complain to Joe or else he would go really fast. The moral of the story is, that if you want highly skilled and smooth drivers for your buses you need to put conductors back on them. Very few passengers will actually bother to complain about a driver but conductors were always told to tell a driver if he was giving them a rough ride.  When I went driving, the first thing I said to any conductor I hadn't worked with before was to tell me if I was giving them a rough ride. A few did at first but I learned what was needed and didn't get any complaints after that.  Team work!'




RFs operated the 240A at our Colindale Running Day in 2010.