Classic Buses Profiles

LONDON 'LTL' AEC RENOWNS - The single deck "Scooter"


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LT1076 at Brighton 2005

This picture, kindly supplied by John Perthen, and photographed at Brighton by his wife Margaret, shows LT1076 from the London Transport Museum after years of careful restoration, on its first public outing - the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society London-Brighton Run on 1 May 2005.

Last updated 7 January 2016

The London General Omnibus (LGOC) first introduced 3-axle / 6-wheel vehicles in 1927 with the LS ('London Six') double deckers. Produced by the Daimler / AEC combine, they were the first double deckers with pneumatic tyres.

There were two main potential advantages to the 6-wheel arrangement. Firstly there was a legal restriction at the time on the permitted weight per axle, which meant that the increase to six wheels would allow a heavier, longer, and therefore larger capacity vehicle to be used. Secondly the two rear axles could both be driven by the engine, providing more traction.

In August 1929 the prototype (LT1) of a double-deck AEC Renown 6-wheeler was delivered, proving to be the precursor of a large and successful batch of buses that eventually ran to over 1400 vehicles. There was a somewhat 'dated' air about the vehicle, with its outside staircase, but such features were to be modernised as batch delivery got under way and the designed evolved. Production vehicles started to arrive in 1930 and, slipped into the deliveries were five batches of single deckers, also known by the designation 'LT', although their technical classification was 'LTL'.

The single decker AEC Renown Model 664 was 29 feet 1 inch in length, and with an 18 ft 7 inch wheel base, both measurements being slightly longer than their double deck relatives. All seated 35. Since the petrol engine was the same as installed in the double deckers, with the weight of the vehicle considerably less, the performance was quite sprightly. This resulted in them being christened 'Scooters' by their drivers.

Three batches of single deck LT's were delivered for 'central area' work, in lots of 50, 85 and 64 respectively, with all the buses painted red. In 1932 a pair of green vehicles were purchased for use on LGOC's country routes (LT 1427 and 1428). This made a total of 201 buses and coaches, and the whole lot were transferred from the LGOC to London Transport on its formation on 1st July 1933. Lastly, a single private hire coach (LT 1429) was transferred directly from Hillmans to London Transport when its London operations were compulsorily acquired by LT in 1934.

With a typical design life of ten years for a bus at that time, none of the vehicles was expected to be running past the mid-1940s, but the onset of war changed all that. Shortages of replacements resulted in buses all over the country being required to soldier on well past their expected lives, and a large proportion of the single and double-deck LTs were still running after the war. The ex-Hillmans private hire saloon had unfortunately succumbed to enemy action in 1940.

Over the next few years a process of body refurbishment took place, and 'Scooters' were converted from petrol engines to oil. Some of the discarded petrol engines may have been used to extend the lives of other pre-war London buses living on borrowed time. So, while the double deck LTs were being progressively retired (the last ones expiring at Upton Park garage in January 1950), their single-deck counterparts were having life-extensions while waiting for delivery of the RF class single deckers that were to replace them.

The last of the LT 'Scooters' could still be seen operating from Bromley, Hounslow and Sutton garages in the early 1950s, and were finally retired as replacement RF's came into service during 1952/53. None was formally preserved, and it was generally considered that the type had disappeared without trace. One example of the double deck version (LT 165) was earmarked for preservation after the war, and can now be seen as part of the London Transport Collection.

Many enthusiasts were surprised, therefore, when two 'Scooters' (both from the second batch to be delivered) suddenly appeared on the market some years ago. Although in extremely poor repair, such rare finds could not be ignored by the preservation fraternity and both have subsequently gone to the best possible homes. LT 1059 is now on long-term restoration at the London Bus Museum, Brooklands, while the other example (LT 1076) passed to the London Transport Collection, and emerged fully restored in 2005 (see photo above).

Seeing a living, breathing 'Scooter' is an absolute delight for many enthusiasts, and a dream come true of 'Jurassic Park' proportions. The possibility of seeing TWO defies belief !

Henry Harwood wrote to me in 2014. He said "I spent the first twenty five years of my life growing up at Plough Green, Worcester Park (1938 to 1963). Travelling on single deck LTs was part of my everyday life and it is wonderful to see that 1076 has been completely restored. Referring to route 213, which still operates to this day, the section between Kingston and Sutton garage was at that period in history every 2/3 minutes interval, with every third bus extended to Belmont station. Two out of every three buses terminated at Sutton Garage."

"The route was also worked after the war by T Class and TD class as well as a few forward entrance Q class, some of the latter having a centre entrance having been transferred from country area use. Some of the single deck LTs came back into service in 1945, from war office use during the war still retaining military grey livery. After the war with the shortage of vehicles some hired private coaches also worked route 213 including OB Bedfords. Worcester Park was also served by Route 127 with low bridge STs and after the war by utility D class and a few hired Bristol K5Gs from country operators, before the RLH type buses took over. Sometimes I remember seeing an occasional Green Line Q and (I think) a T type operating route 213 in green country or Green Line livery."

"The 213 route had everything; T, LT, TD and Q types and as a child because the service was so frequent I used to make my Mother wait with me at Kingston Garage until the type I wanted to return home on came in. I was in Worcester Park last Sunday and the 213 today is using red biscuit-tin type vehicles, but it is good to see that this route more or less remained the same since the 1930s or before. Perhaps it should be celebrated by returning restored LT 1076 to the route for a day! I hope this information may be of interest." Thank you Henry.

Many thanks also to Ian Smith for two excellent images to illustrate this profile.

   

For more London buses see the AEC Regal 'T' class the Leyland Tiger PSI 'TD' class, and the Trolleybus / Routemaster conversion programme.


FLEET LIST

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LT 1001-1050  (Total 50)

LT 1026 (GO 689)

Thanks to Ian Armstrong's fine website about London bus routes, we can track this picture down fairly accurately. LT1026 was based at Sutton depot in Bushey Road ("A"). It was working route 213 which ran (at that time) Kingston - New Malden - Cheam - Sutton - Belmont, although on this occasion the bus was only going as far as Sutton. LT single deckers shared this route with T-class Regals working out of Norbiton garage. At the rear of the bus is the Fountain Hotel, which was (and still is) in Malden Road, New Malden, so we know exactly where the picture was taken. The allocation number "21" on the side shows that it was taken on a weekday between May 1952 (when the allocation "21" came into use) and May 1953 when RFs took over the route. It is reasonable to assume that this bus was not re-allocated elsewhere after that, so we are seeing it in its last few months of service. Perhaps the photographer knew that, and that's why he was there. (Photo by kind permission of Michael Rooum, London W1Y 2LP)

Delivered: January - April 1931

Chassis: AEC Renown 664 (1LT1), 110 mm bore engine. Survivors in 1950 converted to 7.7 litre / 95 bhp diesel from scrapped STL class buses.

Chassis numbers; 664003 to 664052.

Body: 29 feet 5 inches long, 35 seat bus bodies. Front entrance with central rear emergency door.

Notes: LT 1001 delivered Jan 1931, all the others in April 1931. All red. Most allocated to Muswell Hill, survived to 1952.



LT 1052-1136  (Total 85)

LT1101 (GO 7150) at Victoria Station. Allocated to Leyton depot, this bus is working route 10 which ran from far-off Abridge via Chigwell, Leytonstone, Bow, and London Bridge to Victoria Station. RTs were running this route by 1950, so it must be before that. It certainly appears to be in very good condition for a bus that was probably to be retired in a couple of years' time. (Photo: London Trolleybus Preservation Society)

Ray Wilkinson emailed me in 2012 and said "Most interesting website. I don't remember the 'Scooters' although they were running in the area I lived in (at Wanstead) in the 1940s and 50s. However, I do just remember the double-deck LTs, primarily on route 10. My mother used to shop in George Lane, South Woodford and I remember seeing (and occasionally riding on) the open-staircase LTs going to Abridge. That's why I found your photo of a single-deck LT on route 10 most intriguing: it was only ever a double-deck route in my memory (and in all the other photos I've seen of the route)."

"Incidentally, the 10A, which went from Green Man, Leytonstone to Epping, couldn't get under the railway bridge at Snaresbrook, so it went via the level crossing in Eagle Lane. When the Central Line was electrified, the road under the bridge was lowered and the buses were re-routed under it, and the route number changed to 20."

"As for the LTLs, it wasn't until the middle 50s that I discovered route 236 that ran at the back of Leytonstone station (I knew the other side well!). By that time the LTLs had been replaced by Mann-Egerton TDs from T and AR garages, and I did ride on them a couple of times."

Delivered: May-December 1931

Chassis: AEC Renown 664, 100 mm or 110 mm bore engine. Survivors in 1950 converted to 7.7 litre / 95 bhp diesel from scrapped STL class buses.

Chassis numbers; LT 1052-1101; 664063 to 664112. LT 1102-1136; 664114 to 664148.

Body: 29 feet 5 inches long, 35 seat bus bodies. Front entrance with central rear emergency door, 1LT1 (Eleven were 1LT1/1 with front and rear destination boxes).

Notes: All red



LT 1138-1201  (Total 64)

LT 1149 (GP 3457)

Croydon-based LT 1149 (GP 3457) around 1947 before its rebuild by Marshall's of Cambridge. Route 234 ran Wallington - Purley - Selsdon, but this bus has obviously finished its working and gone back to the depot in London Road, South Croydon ("TC"). (Photo by permission of "Remember When", London W5 4NG)

Delivered: June-December 1931 Chassis: AEC Renown 664, 100 mm bore engine. Survivors in 1950 converted to 7.7 litre / 95 bhp diesel from scrapped STL class buses.

Chassis numbers; 664150 to 664213.

Body: 29 feet 5 inches long, 35 seat bus bodies. Front entrance with central rear emergency door.

Notes: All red



LT 1427/1428  (Total 2)

Delivered: August 1932

Chassis: AEC Renown 664.

Body: 35 seat front-entrance bus bodies.

Notes: Both green, delivered in 1932 to London General Country Services, passed in 1933 to Country Department of London Transport (the only 'Scooters' used in the Country area), transferred to Central Area in 1944 and painted red. Converted to oil engines in 1949/50.(2LTL3)



LT 1429  (Total 1)

Ex Edward Hillman of Romford, private hire saloon as their No.119, destroyed by enemy action in October 1940.

Delivered: To Hillmans September 1932

Chassis: AEC Renown 664 petrol engine

Body: Harrington coach body, 30 feet long, 32 seats, front sliding door.


TOTAL 202 ( with 2 Survivors )

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For more London buses see the AEC Regal 'T' class the Leyland Tiger PSI 'TD' class, and the Trolleybus / Routemaster conversion programme.


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