In 1972, 3 colleagues at Catford bus garage decided to purchase RT1702. From this the Preservation Society was founded in order to preserve this iconic Ambassador of Great Britian. Since then they have worked hard to preserve and show RT1702 at many shows and events. A vast majority of the work has been completed by members of the Society, to whom we are eternally grateful, as without their continued support we would not have completed the many tasks that arise during the preservation of such a historic vehicle.
RT1702 began its life when chassis number 09613644 was delivered by AEC to Park Royal in March 1950 and allocated to Park Royal body number L1435.
The completed bus was delivered to London Transport at Chiswick in May of the same year and given LT body number 3675 and fleet number RT1702. It
was registered on 24th July 1950.
At that time plans had been made by the Government for four buses - RTs' 1692, 1702 (Photo), 3070 and 3114 (the latter two being Weymann bodied buses) - to make a goodwill tour of eight European countries to publicise the forthcoming 1951 Festival of Britain. Although London Transport was introducing a new livery of all red with a cream band to their fleet, these four buses had the older livery of cream surround on the top deck windows. Three buses were converted for the tour into mobile exhibitions, showing views and information about Britain; whilst RT3070 was to be used to give passengers rides around the towns they visited. RTs' 1702 and 3144 were driven to Hull Docks and shipped to Oslo on the SS Tinto and at about the same time RTs' 1692 and 3070 were shipped from Millwall docks on the SS Silvio.
Reunited at Oslo, the buses - the first ever Ambassadors abroad for London Transport - were checked for the tour which would take them through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. They travelled over 4000 miles without any mechanical trouble visiting 26 towns en route including Oslo, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, The Hague, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Liege, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Dijon, Lyons, Marseilles, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Poitiers, Tours, Orleans, Paris, Rouen, Lille and Dunkirk.
One small problem was caused by single-deck tram overhead wires having to be lifted, in several towns, to allow the buses to pass underneath. Over 122,000 people visited the buses and on their return to Great Britain on 30th October 1950, the buses and their crews were welcomed back by the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin.
After the tour the buses went to Chiswick to be converted back to passenger service condition and between December 1950 and March 1951 the buses entered service with RT1692 going to Hackney Garage, RT3070 to Willesden Garage, RT3114 to Catford Garage and RT1702 going to Mortlake in January 1951 to operate on such routes as 9, 33 and 73.
In May 1951 the buses were reunited at Old Kent Road Garage to operate London Transport’s Service “J” sightseeing tour during the Festival of Britain
and Routes 1, 4, 13, 17, 21, 53, 53a, 78, 89, 153, 159,
In November 1951 RT1702 was transferred to Holloway Garage where it was used on routes 4, 4a, 14, 19, 27, 27a, 58, 134, 143, 171, 172 and 292. In June 1952 the four buses were once again reunited for the “Excursion 1” sightseeing tour following which RT1702 returned to duties at Holloway.
In June 1954 RT1702 had its first overhaul coming out with its original body 3675 to work at Victoria on such routes as 10, 11, 16, 24, 52 and 137. Four years later in July 1958 the bus went to Aldenham Works for its second overhaul returning to Victoria, again with its original body 3675. In early August 1959 it was transferred to Stockwell Garage and de-licensed. It was almost immediately moved to Seven Kings Garage and on 19th August it was re-licensed to work on such routes as 62, 62a, 129, 139, 147, 148, 150, 169a 193 and N98.
Following its third overhaul in June 1962 it was moved in October of that year, still with its original body, to Hornchurch garage to work such routes as 86, 165, 174, 193, 246 and 252 until its final overhaul in July 1966. In August 1966 it was taken to Catford garage where it remained unlicensed until 30th October of that year, still with its original body. At Catford it worked such routes as 1, 47, 54, 75, 94, 108b, 124, 124a, 160, 160a, 180 and 192. Whilst at Catford it paid another visit to Aldenham in November 1969 for a repaint.
In 1971 the bus was re-certified, rather than being overhauled, and remained in service at Catford garage until July 1972 when, finally, it was withdrawn from service, and de-licensed at Bexleyheath Garage. Unlike other RTs which were usually given a different body following overhaul at Aldenham, as a GB Bus RT1702 kept its original body throughout its life.
In July 1972 RT1702 was purchased from London Transport by three Catford staff members Dennis Denton, Len Field and Bob Wilkin. Sadly Dennis Denton passed away in July 2001 and it was decided to keep the bus on the road in memoriam to him.