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Saturday, 14 May 2011

14th May 1966

RTW467 back in 1979 celebrating
that year's Shilibeer anniversary
This is just a reminder of the anniversary this weekend which is significant in London bus terms for a number of reasons but specifically the last day of operation of London's first 8' wide motorbuses, the RTWs, which occurred on this date and which was, of course, also a Saturday.

This class of 500 had been progressively withdrawn over the past couple of years as part of not only a general plan to remove the non-standard elements of the fleet but also to extract the Leylands first.

Thus it was that on this day in 1966 RTWs finished their duties on route 95 and the very last in passenger service was RTW467. This vehicle was quickly secured for preservation and has remained owned by the same entity for the last 45 years (almost three times as long as its original owner!). As a result is must surely represent one of the longest surviving vehicles in private preservation and helping diffuse a suggestion that such activities are merely 'postponed scrapping'.

I have of course been associated with this vehicle for an equally long time and it has in the past month or so returned to its birthplace of Leyland to celebrate more than 60 years since it was built. It was there having most recently been at the BusWorks facility at Blackpool for its own Class VI test certificate and acting as a pattern for the restoration of RTW335 which a small number of us repatriated from France a few years ago and is now being restored for the Ensign Bus heritage fleet.

There are many other 14/15th May anniversaries in London bus history as it happens but this one is special to me and this Sunday we are celebrating a running day on routes 9 and 15 between Tower Hill and Kensington High Street overlaying the existing heritage services with guest vehicles. You will have to wait until tomorrow to see what they are but they are being provided by their owners at their own cost to allow Londoners and visitors the chance to ride on vehicles of the past.

The internet will be awash with pictures and one or two of them will be here!

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