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Photos of Routemasters around Britain

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in London

The AEC Routemaster needs no introduction.  It is either the classic London bus of all time or a dinosaur, depending on your taste (or your age).   Although they finished on regular London routes at the end of 2005, there are still the two "heritage"routes with Routemasters in London.  For current operations, see the AECs in Service page. On this page I've tried to include some of the less usual RMs that have graced the capital's streets, along with some of the 21st century operations.

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

Click to enlarge CUV 336C
CUV 336C
One of the former country area Routemasters sold back to London Transport in 1980, RML2336 remained in use with London Central on route 12 up until 2004.  Here it is at Camberwell Green in May 2000, having just arrived on a short working from Central London and about to head for Camberwell depot for a crew change. After a spell in Lancashire and Nottingham, RML2336 was sold to Ensignbus in 2010. A picture of it in service with London Country can be seen on the Before and After page.

CUV 250C
Another of the London Country Routemasters that was sold back to London Transport, this is former Greenline coach RCL2250. LT put these vehicles directly into service on route 149, rather than on driver training duries as they did with the shorter RMCs. It is seen in July 1982 on a peak hour extension of the service beyond Liverpool Street to Victoria. The location is Bressenden Place, a fabled location in the 1980s for the many commuter coach services that used to start there. Grey Green and Maidstone & District Invictaway coaches can be seen in the picture.

Click ro enlarge RMC1461
461 CLT

Not your average London Routemaster.  Under Stagecoach ownership, East London restored RMC1461 to frontline service in Greenline coach livery, operating it on route 15 along with two red RMCs. The RMCs had been sold back to London Transport by London Country in 1979/80 for use as driver trainers. RMC1461 was seen at Upton Park in April 1998.  Routemasters on the 15 gave way to Dennis Tridents in 2003, and RMC1461 is now in preservation.

YTS 820A
Another of the specials on the normally RML operated 15 was RM1599, one of three RMs returned from Perth to East London to replace front-entrance RMA vehicles which were exported to Portugal for sightseeing duties. It was seen at Paddington awaiting it's next turn of duty early in 2000. A picture of it operating in Perth in 1996 is on the Before and After page.

510 CLT

Dateline December 1998.  Hardly peak time for open-toppers, but that didn't stop Centrewest from putting their RMC1510 out for a turn on the 23.  It is seen departing from Liverpool Street.  This is another of the former Greenline coaches that was repurchased by LT for training duties and then found its way back into service. It is still a member of the First London heritage fleet.


As London Central's oldest Routemaster, RM9 has been turned out in near original LT livery.  AECBus found it in a back street near Westminster Cathedral in May 2000.  It had been working some sort of private charter but the ultimate destination blind and route number under the overhang give away the fact that it could sometimes be found on route 36, and was also a visitor to route 12. This bus remains in Go-ahead London's special events fleet and also appears at rallies.
Click to enlarge FPT 592C
FPT 588C
Not all Routemasters were new to London Transport.  This is one of a batch of forward entrance models that were bought by Northern General. Following disposal by Northern, a few found their way onto London sightseeing services with various operators over the years.  Open top FPT 588C, one of three owned by the Big Bus Company, was seen at Victoria in 2004, and had been given an LT style fleetnumber, RMF588. FPT 588C is now working on Malta. Photo by Suzy Scott.

JSJ 747
London Transport's own RLST became branded as the Original London Tour and operated by London Coaches (now a part of Arriva). Some RMs were lengthened by addition of an extra bay (thus becoming half a bay longer than an RML) and given the code ERM (extended RM). One such, ERM47 (originally RM84), was seen at Victoria in May 1999. Most of the ERMs were subsequently bought by Mac Tours and are still used on tours of Edinburgh today.

JJD 586D
Kentish Bus won a contract from London Transport to operate route 19 during the 1990s. This was before the time when LT required all buses on London contracts to be red, so even though the RMLs used were supplied by LT they ran in Kentish bus maroon and yellow. RML2586 was seen in Picadilly in December 1993. Later when Kentish Bus and South London came into common Arriva ownership, the routes were transferred to operation by Arriva London South and the RMLs were painted red.

CUV 156C
For a while in 1998, Surrey heritage operator Nostalgiabus tried running a service between Kingston and Epsom, in competition with Arriva who were winding down their operations in the area. Routemasters were used, such as RM2156 seen in Epsom in April 1998. The service was not commercially successful and Nostalgiabus eventually ceased operations. The old 406 route continues as a London Transport sponsored service, allowing Travelcard holders to get well outside the old Greater London area, paralleling the situation at Watford in the north.
Click to enlarge RML895
WLT 895
The classic turn of the century London Routemaster scene. RML895, refurbished, re-engined and displaying Arriva logos, departing from the West End of London for Streatham on the 159 in 2001. The 159 was the last regular route to have Routemasters with final withdrawal on 21st October 2005. Photo by Stephen Howden.
Click to enlarge RM6
Arriva painted RM6 into Golden Jubilee livery for the 2002 celebrations. It remained in this livery throughout 2003, appearing regularly on route 137 until the Routemasters on this service were replaced in July 2004. This photo was taken at Clapham Common in May 2003. RM6 remains in Arriva London's fleet for special operations.
Click to enlarge RML880
WLT 880
Special liveried original RML, RML880 (latterly carrying original fleetnumber ER880) was a regular on London United's route 9 right up to the end of Routemaster operation in September 2004. AECBus caught up with it at Picadilly Circus in September 2003.
Route 13, run by Sovereign, was the first to get the RMs refurbished by Marshall and fitted with Cummins B series engines, when Transport for London expanded Routemaster use in 2000. RM1562, pictured here in September 2003, was unique in having an ISBe engine and was reputedly the fastest bus in London at the time. RM1562 has passed to First for operation on heritage route 9 and is currently employed on that service.
Click to enlarge RM787
WLT 787
Refurbished RM787 was seen near Kennington Oval tube station in September 2002 while running route 36. Routemasters on this route were replaced in January 2005. This bus went on to become an open-topper first with Quantock Motor Services and then with York Pullman, who were still using it on open-top tours of York in 2010. Further pictures can be found on the Before and After page. Photo by Stephen Gow.

JJD 422D
One of the last London routes was London General's 14, which ceased along with the 22 on 30th July 2005. RML2422 was seen at Putney Heath in February 2005.

WLT 652
The 38 was another route that kept Routemaster operation well into 2005. RM652, another of the RMs refurbished by Marshall and fitted with a Cummins engine, stands at Clapton Pond terminus in September 2003. This bus passed to East London for operation on heritage service 15 and is currently still employed on that service.
Click to enlarge RML2532
JJD 532D
Routemasters of various operators could be found on tube replacement services up to 2007, but such operations are rare now as most do not meet the requirements of the low emission zone. This is RML2532, in the hire fleet of Marshopper, New Romney, being used by Sullivan Buses in June 2004. Sullivan Buses also have two Routemasters of their own.
RM652 at Charing Cross July 2007
Routemasters can still be seen in London, on heritage service 15 between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill. RM2050 was seen on route 15 at Charing Cross in 2007.

RM871 outside St. Pauls Cathedral in April 2009
WLT 871

Another of the Cummins powered Routemasters still in service on heritage route 15, RM871 was seen outside St. Pauls in April 2009.
RMA50 at Lakeside in December 2009
NMY 634E
One of the former BEA Routemasters used originally for passenger transfers between Heathrow and central London, Ensignbus bought RMA50 from Mac Tours in 2009 to replace sister RMA58 which could not operate in the London low emission zone as it still had an AEC engine. It was seen in December 2009 at Lakeside on one of the company's popular X80 running days. RMA58 has been sold for further preservation.

ALD 966B
Another company that continues to run Routemasters in East London and neighbouring counties is London Bus Company, which continues the heritage operation of Blue Triangle. RM1966 was pictured at Epping in April 2014 on a service that runs in conjunction with the Epping-Ongar preserved railway.
Click to enlarge FRM1
The bus of many "if onlys".  Would AEC have had a rear-engined double-decker to rival the Atlantean, Fleetline and VRT?  Would LT have avoided the great DMS debacle? (seriously distorting the secondhand market by dumping, at the taxpayers' expense, thousands of perfectly good Fleetlines because they didn't suit LT's maintenance regime.)  In the event, FRM1 remained unique and AEC had no double-deck model to offer in the 1970s.  Here it is in April 1982, passing the former BEA terminal (now the Pallisades) opposite Victoria Coach Station on the Round London Tour. It is now preserved by the London Transport Museum and appears at some rallies and running days.
Click to enlarge RM1368
368 CLT
Another RM oddity was RM1368 which was converted to single-deck after its upper deck was badly damaged in a depot fire. It never seems to have run in service as a single decker, but spent a number of years in the LT departmental fleet before passing into preservation. It was seen in the sun at the 2003 Amersham running day.

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