Clapton Pond in the 21st CenturyThe RF Story

London Transport's AEC Regal IV single-decker


A preserved example of the red RF, dating from 1953.  A family resemblance between the RF (first built 1951) and the Routemaster (first built 1954) can be seen, but the increased height of the RF saloon, caused by the underfloor engine, is clear.  The similarity is not a coincidence - the RF body was designed by consultant Douglas Scott, who also 'was largely responsible for the shape and decor of the Routemaster' (Ken Blacker).
RF486 ran over route 208A (which ended in 1959, and which it had worked in 1956/7 when based at Dalston) on 21 July 2005, and is seen here on the old stand at Clapton Pond, three months before the last Routemasters operated route 38 on 28 October.
Photo © Peter Osborn
The RF was the standard single-decker in the London Transport fleet in the 1950s and 1960s, before replacement by modern, mostly rear-engined buses.  The AEC design incorporated an engine under the floor, a pre-war idea that reached its peak in this fleet.  The same design was used for coaches and buses, both red and green, with detailed differences.
Get the quick story of red RFs (written for the 60th anniversary) or the 'full' RF story...
RF391 on 204 passes RF568 at UxbridgeThe RF story is told in the following pages, arranged as follows:
·        Development - the early post-war period

·        Diversity - the use of a standard design for different purposes

·        Into service - the 1950s

·        Rejuvenation - OMO and other changes

·        Maturity - 1960s and 1970s

·        RF classification
·        Red RF garages, with routes operated
·        Recertified RFs, the last days at Kingston
·        Semaphore trafficators - the experiment
·        Green RFs in the Central Area
We are indebted to many sources for the information used, see the Bibliography.  See also the Red RF memories of crews and passengers.
Red met green (and Green Line) at Uxbridge, amongst other places.  Late in the RF story, Uxbridge RF391 on the 204 passes London Country Windsor's RF568 on the 458, one of the last few country RF routes.  A modernised Green Line RF on London Country route 457A is behind.
Photo © John Parkin
Other parts of this site concentrate on the Central Area buses.  Details of the routes worked by red RFs are in the Routes section, with some general background to London Transport operations here