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Friday, 30 July 2010

An American Werewolf in London

Well you won't be surprised that THE event of the year was today's launch of fully-restored pre-war RT8.

This early member of the RT family last carried passengers in London 55 years ago.

It was exported to the US for promotional work, and after use in Chicago ended up in a Transport Museum in St Louis where it was to stay for 40 years. Eventually it was to fall outside their collections policy and in 1970 was parked outside. Twenty five years of weather ravaged the bus and it was taken inside pending a decision on its future. Some six years ago Ensignbus started negotiations with the owners and in 2006 it was shipped home.

Even then the bus suffered considerable damage during the shipping process and as a result a complete rebuild was commenced and today the bus was displayed with 99.9% of the work completed.

With 40 or so guests from across the transport industry, including all those who had helped and representatives from the St Louis Museum, RT8 left the confines of Purfleet driven by Ross Newman.

Thanks to TfL, RT8 was able to enter Aldgate Bus Station where another 15 or so guests joined the bus.

With blinds now set for route 15, I drove RT8 around the Aldgate one-way system in a specially-choreographed photographic opportunity before taking her via Tower Hill to Embankment where the passengers were treated to an excellent lunch. In a bizarre combination of history 70 years apart, I parked this 1940 bus in a coach parking bay on the Embankment and paid for its 2 hour parking by mobile phone and received an email receipt.

Lunch over, Ross took us all up to Trafalgar Square for a public run on route 15 where we were joined by some amazed passengers, mostly tourists. On arrival at Aldgate we dropped off our passengers before being escorted into the Tower of London by two Yeoman Warders. Then to the amazement of thousands more tourists RT8 edged its way along the cobblestones before being parked in the shadow of Tower Bridge.

As if by magic Tower Bridge itself then lifted in recognition of the return to its home of this - the oldest complete pre-war RT in preservation.

Whilst Ensignbus provided the resources for the restoration numerous other people provided invaluable assistance including Tony Beard co-owner of the only other 2RT2 in preservation - RT113. Both vehicles live close together at Purfleet. Tonight they are probably exchanging stories about the good old days.......

RT8 in position at the Tower of London and disgorging its amazed passengers at Tower Hill today. All in all a great day - not every day you get chance to drive a pre-war RT either!



  1. Leon,

    Fantastic photos

    Was the craven bodied RT a design copy of the early RT as they both incorporate the roof mounted number boxes???


  2. Nick,

    Its funny you say that - from the blind boxes and one or two other features, it looks like Cravens based a lot of their design on a pre-war RT. Cravens did brake the mold however with the different windows and larger openers. PD