Classic Buses Profiles

LONDON 'TD' Class LEYLAND TIGERS


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Last updated 28 December 2016

TD95 at Cobham 1996

TD95 at the Cobham Open Day, Brooklands runway, 14 April 1996 (photo Dick Gilbert)

The history of the TD class dates back to 1937 when London Transport took delivery of 100 double-deck Leyland Titan TD4 buses with metal Leyland bodies. These were classified as STD-type, and basically corresponded to the AEC equivalent vehicles, designated STL, that were acquired in large numbers from 1932 onwards. 100 were delivered, mostly based at Hendon garage, and they had 4-speed crash gearboxes.

In 1942 a further 11 STDs were delivered, which varied from the original batch in having a Titan TD7 chassis and, due to the constraints of war, iron and steel components in place of alloy, a Park Royal austerity body, and constant mesh gears. These vehicles worked from Victoria, and had a typical wartime utility appearance.

After the Second World War, London Transport took delivery of batches of single and double-deck AEC and Leyland vehicles as a stop-gap measure until the anticipated RT-type buses were scheduled to arrive from 1947. The AECs were designated STL (double-deck) and T (single-deck), as they had been before the war, while the Leyland models were classified as STD (double-deck), and the almost new designation of 'TD' for the single deck versions ('TD' had been used briefly for early Titans, one of which survived well into the 1960s, in use by Liverpool Corporation as a canteen!).

The TDs were based on the Leyland Tiger PS1 single deck chassis and 131 were delivered between 1946 and 1948 in order to bolster the single deck fleet until the arrival of the AEC Regal 'RF' class. Most of the Central area single deck routes were operated at the time by ageing LT 'Scooters' and '1T1' AEC Regals, so a stop-gap measure was required.

TD1 on route 216 from Kingston to Staines, via Hampton Court. (Photo courtesy of G.A.Rixon)

The first 31 (TD 1-31) had Weymann bodies, very similar to the 1946 'T' class AEC Regals (model 14T), with a drooping roof line below the front indicator blind box, and they were delivered during 1946-47. They were delivered with chromed radiator surrounds, but some were later replaced by cast aluminium examples from the second batch. These vehicles seem to have been rarely photographed, despite the fact that the last were not withdrawn until 1958.

The usual London Transport fleet number plate on the bonnet was not fitted, and numbers were displayed by transfers applied directly to the bonnet side. Seating was reduced from 33 to 32 in 1954, by replacing the front offside double seat (opposite the door) with a single seat. This provided more room for entry and exit, and for the conductor. Most worked from Muswell Hill depot until 1953, when they moved to Kingston.

Withdrawn during 1956-58, none survive, as virtually all of them were exported either to Yugoslavia or Ceylon, where no trace remains today.

The remaining 100 of the class (TD 32-131) had timber-framed Mann Egerton bodies, virtually identical to the 1948 batch of country 'T' class Regals (T 769-798), with a straight roof-line above the cab, but without the sliding doors of their country cousins. This batch seated 31 passengers (later reduced to 30), had cast aluminium radiator surrounds and, unlike TD1-31, they did have fleet number plates affixed to the bonnet side.

TD32-131 arrived during 1948-49 and initially operated out of Hanwell, Enfield, Hornchurch, Kingston, Muswell Hill, Edgware, Leyton, Tottenham and Harrow Weald. Many were to survive in service for over a decade, with a handful still around today.

TD2 and TD40

TD2 and TD40 on Kingston Railway Station forecourt provide a comparison of the two bodywork styles (Photo courtesy of G.A.Rixon)

All TDs were red, had front entrances, and operated within the Central Area. A 7.4 litre engine with a four-speed crash gearbox was standard.

As the RFs arrived, the TDs were withdrawn, with the Weymann-bodied batch departing early on and, by 1960, only 26 remained in service, all at Edgware and Kingston and mostly from the end of the class ('last in, last out'). They were;

TD 54, 74, 86, 87, 89, 90, 95, 99, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 112, 114, 116, 118, 121, 123, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131

I visited both garages in 1962 to see the last survivors. At Kingston I was too late, as a delivery of newly painted red RFs had taken over all the services on 1 March 1962 (the very last ones being TD 74, 87, 90, 122 and 131) but I managed to catch a final view of TD operation from Edgware to Mill Hill on routes 240 and 240a. The remaining Edgware buses were;

TD 86, 89, 95, 99, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 114, 121, 124, 130 (Total: 13)

Thus, by a system of elimination, the last TDs based at Kingston must have been;

TD 54, 74, 87, 90, 106, 112, 116, 118, 123, 126, 128, 129, 131 (Total: 13)

(Mark Jameson says that the very last Kingston TDs in service were TD 54, 87, 90, 118, 123, 128, 129, 131 = 8)

The final Edgware buses were withdrawn on 9 October 1962 (TD 124 operated the very last service), and RFs took over the routes the following day.

TD 100 at Edgware

TD 100, one of the last of the Edgware allocation, seen at Edgware garage in August 1960. Many thanks to Peter Green for the photo.

There are four survivors in preservation, all from the Mann Egerton-bodied delivery. Although, like the Weymann-bodied batch, a very large number went to Ceylon, enough of them stayed in UK after withdrawal for a few to be with us today; they are TD89, 95 and 130 from the Edgware allocation, and TD118 from Kingston. If you want to see a perfectly restored and immaculate example of the breed, you can do no better than to visit the London Bus Museum at Brooklands, Surrey, where they will be delighted to show you TD95 which has become their flagship. You can even buy a coffee mug with a picture of TD95 on it, and help to support the work of the Trust.

Once again, many thanks to Ian Smith for his excellent 4-view diagrams.

I have been sent this glorious colour slide of TD87 (JXC 280), taken at Battle, East Sussex in 1967. From the look of the roof luggage rack it would seem that this TD had been in use as a 'safari' bus. It may look battered, but what would the preservation fraternity (or me !) give for it now? A really great picture, and thanks to the donor.

Paul Blackburn was able to throw much more light on the subject;

"I was delighted to find your picture of TD87 at Battle (probably Ashburnham Place) in 1967. I was at the Mayflower Centre in Canning Town from 1965 to 1968 and drove JXC 280 regularly around London and on trips to Tonbridge, Worthing, Chichester, Southend (inevitably!!) etc., and recall taking it out for prospective buyers in late '67 or early '68. I believe it was sold for parts to a preservation group. It was always very sound mechanically due to TLC from the guys at Poplar Garage who looked after it for us and got it through its tests. Pity about the body though!"

"The Mayflower Family Centre was a Christian community centre and Church in Cooper St. / Vincent St., Canning Town. It ran activities for all ages, hence the need for Transport. In 1965 when I came to work in London (for RHM Flour Mills at Millwall Docks) I lived as a resident in the hostel and was a volunteer in the youth clubs. I helped with driving and maintenance of the vehicles (a Bedford Dormobile, Bedford OB coach and TD 87). The Warden and most famous passenger in these vehicles was Lord Sheppard - David Sheppard, former England & Sussex cricket captain, and later Bishop of Woolwich and then Liverpool."

Thanks very much Paul. This also rang bells with Peter Stevens, as below;

"I also lived at the Mayflower Family Centre for two years between university and ordination to the Church of England ministry. Starting with Paul Blackburn's instruction, I also regularly drove JXC 280 up to London, and down to Ashburnham Place and Hastings, where, on one visit, I fell into conversation with the driver of a retired RTW. I told him about JXC 280 and he said, "Oh, that has a clutch-stop." "A what?" I replied, and he said that only a half depression of the clutch was required to disengage, but that a full depression applied a brake to the lay-shaft, to assist engaging of gears as you change up towards 4th. This at once explained the difficulty we had with noisy up-changes (down was easy by double-declutching and revving the engine in neutral, but the box had the sensation that it was lubricated with porridge!). Almost immediately quiet and easy changes resulted. Thanks to the driver of that RTW!"

John Humphrey wrote the following in June 2010;

"I am mystified by TD87 with the Mayflower Family Centre. I joined St. Nicholas' Church, Sevenoaks with effect from Passion Sunday (the Sunday before Palm Sunday) in 1965. On my way home from morning service on Good Friday, I got as far as the pedestrian crossing at the fork at the top of Sevenoaks town centre, when there was a TD (complete with boat racks on the roof) coming up the road. I have sometimes wondered if this would have been the Mayflower vehicle, although it does seem a little unlikely that Mayflower would have been on the road on the morning of Good Friday. I wonder if there is perhaps anyone who could shed some light on this."

"I suspect that one or two other TD vehicles may have managed to find second owners who fitted boat racks. I recall a similar vehicle passing up (and later down) St. John's Hill in Sevenoaks on a Saturday in 1962 but I don't think that one was TD87. I remember the one being used by students at Brunel College for an overseas trip. My dad worked at Dunton Green bus garage and that TD came to DG for a tyre change pending the overseas trip for which a set of tyres had been loaned by Dunlop (c/o LT at DG). It called again at DG after the trip to be refitted with its own tyres in place of the loaned set."

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Here's a great picture of TD89, when newly acquired by the TD89 Group of Leatherhead in the early 1970s.

TD89

This bus is one of only four known survivors today. The picture belongs to Michael Clarke and was sent to me via Chris Stanley. Thanks very much to Michael and Chris for letting me use it.

For more London buses see the AEC Regal 'T' class the AEC Renown 'LTL' class, and the Trolleybus / Routemaster conversion programme.


FLEET LIST

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First batch ("1TD1") with bodies by Weymann, Addlestone (31 vehicles)


Second batch ("1/1TD2") with bodies by Mann Egerton, Norwich (100 vehicles)


TOTAL 131 ( with 4 Survivors )

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For more London buses see the AEC Regal 'T' class the AEC Renown 'LTL' class, and the Trolleybus / Routemaster conversion programme.

For many other buses, have a look at all the other profiles on the Classic Buses menu page.


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