About Us

The Society

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.

The Founders - Dennis Denton

Dennis Denton (Standing on the far left of the photograph) was a driver at Hounslow Garage until moving to live in the Orpington area where he then began working at Catford Garage. He became a regular driver alongside Bob Wilkin on routes 180 and 160. Dennis came up with the original idea to buy RT1702, and for many years helped maintain RT1702 until he sadly passed away in July 2001 (After 33 years working with the buses).

The Founders - Len Field

Len Field (Standing between Dennis Denton and Bob Wilkin) started as a Conductor in 1955 following in the family transport connection after his dad who was a Tram Driver. Len worked at Catford Garage all of his working life, remaining a Conductor, before he finally retired in 1992. This was after the last conductors were withdrawn on Catfords last Crew Route 36B.

The Founders - Bob Wilkin

Bob Wilkin (Sitting in the cab of RT1702) started as a driver at Catford Garage in 1969 and then progressed to a Fitter and finally Engineering Foreman before leaving to go Coach driving in 1976. He then returned to Bus driving in 1990. In 1995 Bob joined London Underground as a Station Assistant and progressed to Guard, Train Operator and at present is an Instructor Operator.




History of RT1702

In the Beginning

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.

Reunited

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, & Inter-Station.

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.




History of RT227

Working Life

The chassis of RT 227 No 0961099 was delivered from AEC in Oct 1946 and stored at Reigate, returning to AEC in Feb ’47, Reigate in March ’47, AEC in Oct ’47 and finally also in Oct ’47 to Park Royal to be fitted with body No 1476. It was then delivered to London Transport at Chiswick in Nov ’47 as RT 227 in Central red livery. It was allocated to Croydon Garage (TC) in Nov ’47 to operate routes 12, 59, 64, 68, 115, 130, 133, 159, 166, 166A, 197 and 234 until it’s first overhaul in Sept ’51.

In Nov ’51, RT 227 returned from overhaul still with it’s original chassis and body, the chassis having London Transport No C.U. 1103 added. In Oct ’52, RT 227 was transferred to Thornton Heath Garage (TH) to operate routes 109 and 190 until Oct ’54 when RT 227 was transferred back to Croydon Garage (TC) where it stayed for the rest of it’s working life with London Transport.

In March ’55, RT 227 want to Aldenham for overhaul for the last time and emerged in April ’55 with the same body but with the chassis from RT 278, No 0961301, LT No: C.U.1157. (The chassis from RT 227 ended up on RT 4547 in June ’68 exported to USA). In April ’58, RT 227 was withdrawn from service at Croydon and in Nov ’58 was transferred to Stockwell for storage.

After the disastrous bus strike in 1958, a decision was taken to sell surplus RT’s and in April ’59, RT 227 was sold to Birds Commercial Motors, Stratford-upon-Avon. Following this, it was then sold to Warners of Tewkesbury, Gloucester. Prior to entering service with them, the bus was fitted with platform doors and painted green by Carlton Coach works of Cheltenham. After serving Warners faithfully for fourteen years (longer than it was in service for London Transport), RT 227 was sold for scrap in July ’73 to a local dealer. RT 227 was purchased by some young enthusiasts and was next seen in Sept ’73 in a field in Wilmington in Kent. In 1974, it was then seen in Poplar Garage (PR) in a partly dismantled and very dilapidated condition. The bus stayed in this condition until March ’77 when it was purchased by the 1702 Preservation Society for spares for RT 1702. However, it was decided to restore the bus back to it’s working order and so the mammoth task of fitting everything back together, including re-wiring electrical circuits and restoring the but to a roadworthy condition again, commenced.

Finally, in 1981, RT 227 went to the M.O.T station at Mitcham for it’s class 5 M.O.T after restoration. It failed on two minor points, the brake light lens had gone orange with age and the exhaust had a small hole in the pipe. The lens was replaced and the exhaust bandaged and it passed at the second attempt. After laying derelict for 4 years and then a further 4 years of restoration work by a few dedicated hardworking enthusiasts, RT 227 was back on the road and ready for it’s debut.

At 10am on the 5th April 1981, the inauguration ceremony of RT 227 took place at Poplar Garage (PR). Over 50 members and friends attended with champagne glasses raised in one hand and special inauguration cake in the other. With the final speech over and the ceremonial tape broken to the sound of three cheers, RT 227 moved off to take part in a bus rally in Barking to mark the second anniversary of the last RT route in London (service 62).

Green Becomes the New Red

The original livery of RT 227 was red and not the present livery of LT Lincoln Green. The reasons for this change in colour are as follows:

* The last operator fitted platform doors and LT did not have them to their red RT’s.
* RT 227 was already in green livery and thus ideal for painting in LT Lincoln Green.
* RT 227 would add to the number of green RT’s now preserved.
* This livery represents LT Country Area services seen in the Bromley and Dunton Green area (e.g. routes 402, 410, etc.).

RT 227 is now back on London’s roads after an absence of 22 years and has been to many rallies. These include: Barking, Canvey Island, Cobham, North Weald and many more, picking up prizes as well. RT 227 has also attended many open days at London Transport Garages such as Crawley Garage (CY) in 1984, Plumstead (PD) in 1991, Aldenham (ON) in 1992/93, Croydon (TC) in 1992, Fulwell (FW) in 1993 and Peckham’s (PM) closure in 1994. It has attended transport events such as Chiswick in 1984/85, Muswell Hill Odeon in 1988, RT 50th in 1989, LT 60 at Staines in 1993, East Anglia Transport museum in 1995 and a ‘Transport in Bexley’ Exhibition at Hall Place, Bexley alongside RT 1702 & RM 8 in 1995. RT 227 has also done members trips for the London Passenger Transport League (L.P.T.L.) and London Omnibus Traction Society (L.O.T.S.). RT 227 has operated in service at many rallies and on 7th July 1989 it operated in service for SELKENT alongside RT 1702 on route 160 from Catford to Welling.

On suggestion from SELKENT M.D. Bryan Constable, RT 227 was painted in wartime livery including netting on windows, reduced blinds etc, for D-Day celebrations at Goldsmiths College, New Cross on 5th June 1994. It stayed in wartime livery for VE-Day celebrations on 5th May 1995 and VJ-Day celebrations on 18th August 1995.

When purchased by the 1702 Preservation Society in March 1977, RT 227 was stored, as previously mentioned, in Poplar Garage (PR). On closure of Poplar Garage in 1985, RT 227 moved to Bexleyheath Garage (BX) courtesy of SELKENT. In 1986 RT 227 moved to Plumstead Garage (PD) until in 1993, due to overcrowding, it was moved to Catford Garage (TL). In 1994 the newly privatised STAGECOACH SELKENT decided they no longer wanted RT 227 in the garage, London Central came to our rescue and RT 227 moved to New Cross Garage (NX) where it is stored alongside RT 1702. In 2001 New Cross decided that they did not have enough room and we moved back to Catford, courtesy of Stagecoach alongside RT 1702.

In 2003. it was decided to look for someone else to look after RT.227. Because of storage, spares, and the fact that we are all getting older, and to look after two buses was getting beyond us. We were approached by Mr Colin Mudie from Devils Bridge near Aberystwyth in Wales, who after inspecting the bus and agreeing that the bus would still be preserved we agreed to transfer the bus to him. We assisted him in taking RT.227 to Wales on 4th May 2004. Arriving 5th.May.2004



Festival of Britain

London Transport and the Festival of Britain organisers met at the start of 1950 and selected four of London Transport’s latest buses to tour Europe, to promote and publicise the forthcoming Festival of Britain which was to be held in 1951. The four buses were to travel through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France and covering 4,000 miles in three months. A.E.C supplied the chassis’s, transmissions and engines whilst Park Royal carried out the bodywork.

Three of the buses were converted into travelling exhibition galleries with an information centre laid out in one of the lower decks, with fitted carpet on the floor and specially built furniture. The exhibition galleries had models and illustrations of the festival. The buses front destination blinds showed “Festival of Britain 1951” and above the rear entrance to the buses hung the Union Jack. The side advert panel also showed “Festival of Britain 1951” and GB plates were placed on the rear of the buses.

The fourth bus was converted for the crews’ quarters and an area for carrying spare parts for the buses; a crew of eight were selected by London Transport for the venture, with the party leader being Mr Frank Forsdick.

On the 28th July 1950 the four buses and their crews were lined up on Horse Guards Parade for the sending off ceremony. Herbert Morrison "Lord President of the Council”, Gerald Barry and members of London Transport came to say good bye and god speed. The crews’ wives were also there to wish them goodbye. Two of the buses were shipped from Hull dockyard, on the S.S.Tinto whilst at the same time the other two buses went to Millwall docks in London’s East End to be shipped out on the S.S.Silvio. All four buses went as deck cargo.

The first stop for the buses was Oslo in Norway, where they were given a grand reception, as was the case everywhere they went in Europe. The tour had its problems to overcome, in Oslo the over head cables for the trams had to be raised so the buses could get through the streets. This also meant turning off the electricity. In Sweden the buses caused a thirty mile traffic jam in Stockholm. Not one of the bus crews spoke any foreign languages, but they managed very well and received many letters to say how well they handled themselves, thereon spread news of the British busman’s manners. Letters flowed into the Festival office in Paris with praise for the bus crews.



By the time the tour was coming to an end, the crews had been to many banquets, eating strange dishes and drinking wine, but they were waiting to get back to GB and have some roast beef or fish and chips and a Pint of British Beer. The buses arrived back in the UK on the 30th October 1950 and the tour had been a great success. In the three-month tour the buses exhibitions had been opened for 485 hours and had been visited by 122,000 visitors. In France 62,750 visitors came to the Exhibition Buses, many letters and telegrams of congratulations went out to A.E.C and Park Royal from the Festival organizers and well wishers.

The buses were converted back to passenger carrying vehicles and the only difference to other buses in service were the GB plates on the rear of the bus and two interior plaques informing the passengers that they were onboard one of the buses that travelled 4000 miles advertising the Festival of Britain. The four buses were put into service the next year on Service J, the first ever London sightseeing tour during the Festival of Britain in 1951.

As the years rolled by the buses were taken out of service, retired and disposed of. In 1972 RT1702s turn carne to be withdrawn. But a group of employees at Catford Garage where the bus spent most of its working life, decided to buy the bus and restore it. This is how the 1702 Preservation Society was formed. The bus can be seen at many rallies up and down the country. RT1702 was used in the 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain which was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Called “A Tonic to the Nation” the exhibition was opened by the Queen Mother on 24th November 1976. It was also used in one of the first exhibitions that the Festival of Britain Society helped to put on at the Royal Festival Hall in 1991, forty years after the Festival RT1702 was at the Greenwich Museum on the opening day of Remember 1951 - The Festival of Britain. Due to its connections with the Festival of Britain RT1702 spent the year 2000 in the Millennium Dome on show to the public with scenes from the Festival of Britain being shown on the lower deck windows and the Festival of Britain adverts on each side of the bus.



Technical Data

Under the London Transport overhaul system, carried out at Aldenham Works, bodies and chassis’ were usually overhauled separately with the body and chassis seldom being reunited. The end of the overhaul resulted in a “new” bus which was given the identity of another bus entering the works. This allowed road tax not to be wasted and was known as the “float” system. RT 1702 however, was considered a special vehicle due to its historic interest and for this reason, chassis and body were kept together and special plaques were fitted in both saloons to commemorate its 1950 European tour. The mandatory GB plate was also fitted and became a badge of honour and instant recognition

Specifications

Chassis :  AEC.3RT
Built :  1950
Chassis Number:  09613644
L.T. Number :  Cu.3330
Body :  Park Royal RT8
Park Royal Body Number :  L1435
L.T. Body Number :  3675
Fleet Number :  RT1702
Registration Number :  KYY 529
Original Owners :  London Transport
Present Owners :  1702 Preservation Society
Type When New :  3RT8
RT Code Changed To :  3/3RT8
Heaters Fitted On :  11th August 1966
Certificate of Fitness Dates :  23rd January 1951, valid for 5 years
  2nd September 1954, valid for 5 years
  4th July 1958, valid for 7 years
  July 1962, valid for 7 years
  August 1968, valid for 7 years
  February 2009, valid for RT1702's remaing life span


History of Movements Since New

Key: D/Lic = De-Licensed, O/H = Overhaul, R/P = Repaint
DATE FROM CODE TO CODE
22/03/50 Park Royal New Chiswick D/Lic
21/04/50 Chiswick D/Lic Conversion for Tour  
26/07/50 Chiswick D/Lic European Tour  
30/10/50 European Tour   Chiswick D/Lic
19/01/51 Chiswick D/Lic Mortlake (M)  
10/05/51 Mortlake (M)   Old Kent Road (P)  
19/10/51 Old kent Road (P)   Holloway (J)  
30/07/54 Holloway (J)   Chiswick O/H
26/08/54 Chiswick O/H Victoria (GM)  
25/04/58 Victoria (GM)   Aldenham O/H
02/07/58 Aldenham O/H Victoria (GM)  
01/08/59 Victoria (GM)   Stockwell (SW) D/Lic
06/08/59 Stockwell (SW) D/Lic Seven Kings (AP) D/Lic
19/08/59 Seven Kings (AP) D/Lic Seven Kings (AP)  
26/06/62 Seven Kings (AP)   Aldenham O/H
19/10/62 Aldenham O/H Hornchurch (RD)  
04/07/66 Hornchurch (RD)   Aldenham O/H
11/08/66 Aldenham O/H Catford (TL) D/Lic
01/09/66 Catford (TL) D/Lic Catford (TL)  
30/10/69 Catford (TL)   Aldenham R/P
03/11/69 Aldenham R/P Catford (TL)  
20/07/72 Catford (TL)   Bexleyheath (BX) D/Lic
02/08/72 Bexleyheath (BX) D/Lic 1702 Preservation Society