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Photos of Routemasters around Britain

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outside London

Perhaps one of the most surprising consequences of deregulation in 1986 was the way  operators up and down the UK took to the Routemaster as a cheap and reliable tool to protect or develop their services.  More recently, as the remaining Routemasters were withdrawn from London service in 2003-2005, Routemasters again started to appear around the country, often for their novelty value and special services. The photos on this page are just a selection of the varieties of colours and locations in which Routemasters have found themselves.

The photographs on this page are from the author's personal collection unless credited otherwise.  If you would like to contribute photographs or news of AEC Routemasters in service please email the author at

NMY 660E
Pockets of Routemaster operation are still available around the country if you know where to look. One such is provided by Southern Transit of Beeding on three Bank Holiday Mondays each year when an enhanced frequency is operated on service 3 from Horsham to Shoreham. Vintage buses are used from the company's own fleet along with some guest vehicles. Routemaster RML2660 is seen near Shoreham station on the first of two May Bank holiday operations in 2018.

JJD 290D
The phenomenon of London Routemasters being bought by operators all around the United Kingdom for private hire and wedding hire use has continued unabated throughout the second decade of the 21st century. After a spell in the north-west RML2290 had found its way down to Cornwall in 2014 to see service with OTS of Falmouth. As well as being available for hire it was also used on regular service, the 325 "Headland Hopper" around Falmouth, on which it was pictured in August 2014. It has now returned to the North West.

NML 657E
RML2657 is a heritage vehicle in the Stagecoach Cheltenham & Gloucetsr fleet, where its official fleetnumber is 12657. In May 2014 it was used in service alongside a number of other heritage vehicles to commemorate 85 years since the inception of Cheltenham & District and the retirement of a key member of staff. The picture is taken at Churchdown

JJD 565D
Stagecoach subsidiary Midland Red South have heritage Routemaster 12565 (RML2565) in the fleet, painted in the colours of the former Stratford Blue company, which was absorbed into Midland Red in the mid 1970s. It was also in action at the Cheltenham & Gloucester running day

202 UXJ
Classic Bus North West launched summer seaside service 12 in 2012 using Routemasters and other classic vehicles. RML887 remained in London for most of its life, passing to London General in 1994 and being the last bus to operate on route 14 in November 2004. It remained in the London General events fleet for a few more years before eventually being sold to CBNW. It was pictured in action in July 2012 by Ken Jones.

KGJ 403A
Former BEA front entrance Routemaster RMA29 was for many years in the fleet of Shaftesbury & District, where it was lengthened with the insertion of an additional bay and known as RME1. It's pictured here in July 2011 at Ferndown while on hire to Verwood Travel for their once a week service between Verwood and Bournemouth. The plaque indicates it is the last day of operation of that service, as the associated school contract passed to Go South Coast's Damory division and the commercial operation was no longer viable. S&D sold RMA29 to a new owner in Yorkshire in 2013.
Carousel Buses RML896 in service on New Year's Eve 2009.
WLT 896
Carousel Buses of High Wycombe had two Routemasters in their fleet. They were used mainly for special duties, but ran occasional peak hour journeys on the company's routes. They were retained by the owners as preserved vehicles when the operation was sold to Go-ahead Group in 2012. RML896 was seen in service at Wooburn Green on a running day on New Year's Eve 2009.

CUV 280C
Former London Routemasters are now popular all over the country as private hire vehicles for special events, especially weddings. RML2280 is with Doncaster independent Wilfreda Beehive and was seen at Doncaster Lakeside shopping centre in May 2006. Photo by Stephen Gow.

CUV 322C
Another Routemaster in use as a wedding hire vehicle is Redroute Buses' RML2322, pictured here at Greenhithe in December 2012. Although I've put it on the "outside London" page this is traditional Routemaster territory, as country green Routemasters were allocated to Dartford and Northfleet depots and ran on the frequent service between Dartford and Gravesend.

NML 623E
First Eastern Counties still occasionally run RMLs in the Great Yarmouth area during the summer months, although RML2623 is no longer in the "Flying Banana" livery that it had when seen at the Showbus rally in September 2006.
RM 2151 'Holt Flyer' at Holt Station on the North Norfolk Railway. April 2006. Photograph Copyright Terry Gower 2006.
CUV 151C
RM2151 is used on the "Holt Flyer" between Holt Station (of the North Norfolk Railway) and Holt town centre, where it was photographed in April 2006. Photo by Terry Gower.

JSJ 746
Lothian Transport owned Edinburgh tour operator Mac Tours runs a number of open-top AEC Routemasters. Ten of these were acquired from the Arriva Original London tour fleet and had an extra bay inserted when converted for open-top duty in London and were classified ERM. Number 4 in the Mac Tours fleet, former ERM90 was seen ascending to The Mound in April 2007.

792 UXA

RM787 was converted to open top after withdrawal from London service and used for a couple of seasons as a special events vehicle in the Quantock Motor Services fleet. It was pictured on the lengthy Minehead-Lynmouth-Ilfracombe service in the summer of 2005. Photo by Bob Wingrove.
RM787 later moved to York Pullman for open top tours of York, although thst operation was sold to Transdev in 2011. A picture of it in London service in 2003 is on Before and After page. Quantock still run between Minehead and Lynmouth but no longer with a Routemaster and are well known for their classic bus running days.

NMY 634E
One of the former BEA Routemasters used originally for passenger transfers between Heathrow and central London, and later on a variety of duties in the London Transport ancillary fleet, former RMA50 was seen working for Lothian subsidiary Macs Tours in livery for the Britannia Tour in July 2003. This bus is now in the Ensignbus fleet. Photo by Stephen Gow.

CUV 106C
The Big Red Bus Company ran RM2106 in full LT livery on their summer Sunday and bank holiday service between Seaton Sands and Beer during 2006 and 2007. Proprieter Pat Avery provided this photo of it in the summer 2006 season. It has now passed to Alpha Bus Company and is in use for wedding and private hires. Photo by Martin Fowler.
Click for full size picture of 214 CLT
214 CLT
Halifax Joint Committee made a name for themselves as operators of Routemasters in the Halifax area.  Dennis Darts and Metrobuses thern became the mainstay of the fleet, until operations were sold to Centrebus in 2010. Former RM1214 was pictured in April 2000. This vehicle has retained by HJC for special operations in the Yorkshire Heritage fleet.

WLT 316
Reading Mainline ran Routemasters in Reading for a six year period, the last two years until July 2000 under Reading buses control. The vehicles themselves came from various sources including Scottish operators and Southend, and many later returned to London for the TfL refurbishment programme. Former RM316 was seen in use in July 1996 as Reading Mainline No. 14. Unlike many it still had its original registration number.
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650 DYE
Another that managed to keep its original registration number was former RM1650. It was seen at work in May 1999, by which time Reading Mainline was under Reading Buses control and the routes were being wound down. This returned to London after its time in Reading and is now a silver liveried special events vehicle in the First London fleet. More pictures are on the Before and After page.

AST 415A
A rear-view shot of no. 12 as it loads in St. Marys Butts in January 2000. This was one of those acquired from a Scottish operator and retained the Scottish registration mark it received while there. It was running on Line A to Turnham Farm, which was withdrawn a month later as the run-down of Mainline got under way. For more Reading Mainline pictures see the Mainline last day feature on the features page.

XVS 319
Another user of Routemasters was Southend Transport. Following takeover by British Bus and passing into the control of London & Country they were rapidly withdrawn and many in fact passed to the Reading Mainline fleet. Here Southend number 106, former RM949 is seen in the resort's bus station on a local service to Canvey Island. Photo by Ian Banks.

183 CLT
RM1183 was another member of the Southend fleet, numbered 109 by them. Under London & Country management it passed to the parent company who intially numbered it 4109. In December 1983 it was seen on a Santa Special working of route 406 at Ewell. Subsequently it was painted into the company's light green livery and ran on Surrey heritage services for a couple of years before being painted in Lincoln green and renumbered RM1183 again.
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USK 625
Routemasters continued in service with Stagecoach at Perth until 1997. Number 605 (RM980), having lost its original registration number and received a dateless Scottish one, was seen in the city in August 1996. This bus is now preserved and is pictured on the Preserved AECs page.
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One of the Perth Routemasters was transferred to Western and worked alongside Volvo Olympians in a version of A1 livery. Former RM650, numbered 1101 by Western, was seen at Kilwinning on the former A1 main road service in August 1997. This bus has now been painted in traditional Alexander (Midland) livery and is available for private hire and special events. It is usually kept at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum at Lathalmond.
Likn to Mike Moran's SWT Routemaster page
SWT Routemasters
South Wales Transport hired RM26 from Strathtay Scottish in 1989, due to a shortage of vehicles, and then repeated the exercise five years later by hiring RML2735 directly from London Transport. Hugh Jones captured both events and the pictures are featured on Mike Morant's PSV Archive pages. Photos by Hugh Jones.
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WLT 367
Clydeside were also an avid user of Routemasters, and some of these survived merger with Western and the second demerger to remain in use at Paisley into the mid-90s. RM367 was seen at Johnstone in September 1986, shortly after making the trip north from London.
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WLT 512
United Counties managed to get hold of some Routemasters even before passing into the Stagecoach empire, and made sure that passengers would have no doubt about what sort of bus they were travelling on. Former RM512, numbered 701 by United Counties, was seen at Kempston on the cross-Bedford service in March 1988.

RCN 699

Stevensons of Uttoxeter always kept an interesting fleet, one of which was this former Northern General front-entrance Routemaster seen at the Spath depot in July 1982. This bus was later sold to Stagecoach and ran in their Magicbus fleet from 1986 to 1991, when it was sold back to Go Northern for preservation. It is now registered PCN 762 having lost its original registration while with Stagecoach.

FPT 593C
Seen with Northern General in National Bus Company red is Routemaster 3107 alongside 3145 which had a London registration and acted as a demonstrator for four years before being purchased by Northern. Photo courtesy of Northern Routemasters, www.northernroutemaster.co.uk

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