Routemaster Long - ER882
72 (40 upstairs and 32 downstairs)
In 1961 London Transport gained permission to build 24 Routemasters to a slightly longer design so that they could seat 72 passengers. Initially only 24 were built as an experiment and 882 is one of these trailblazers of its class and indeed was one of the first three that gained the ER (Extended Routemaster)classification rather than the RML (Routemaster Longer) of its younger siblings. The experiment was successful and the last 500 planned Routemasters were all delivered to this longer specification. The early 24 always stood out by having a number of the features that the later RML’s never had, which is the specification we have restored ours back to, right down to the period adverts of the early 1960s. The extra capacity of the long version comes in handy to this day, as vehicles such as this allow you to move as many people as a modern double deck but in a vintage feel of a gentler era.
Routemaster Class History:
The Routemaster or RM is without doubt one of the most famous types of bus ever to run in the capital. The original necessity was for vehicles to replace the Trolleybus which was due for replacement in 1959. Following a lot of research it had been decided to increase the capacity of London’s buses from 56, such as the RT, to 64. Following numerous changes and nearly five years of development the RM finally entered service.
By 1962 the entire Trolleybus fleet had been replaced almost exclusively by Routemasters. In this period RM8-879 were all built and had entered service. Increasing the length and capacity of the RM was another contentious point, with both the Unions and Met Police being against the idea. However in 1961 a batch of 24, 30’ long 72 seat versions, known as the RML or Routemaster Lengthened, were built to trial. These took the numbers of RML880-904. Following this batch, whilst the trial continued with the longer versions, production continued on the standard length RM producing numbers RM905-1452.
The next version was the batch between RMC1453-1520, which were built as Routemaster Coaches (RMC). These had such delights as deeper more comfortable seats, Green Line livery, powered rear doors, twin headlamps and interior luggage racks and were far quicker.
Following this batch production again returned to the standard RM which ran through from the number RM1521-2217 which became the very last standard length RM built.
Following the success of the RMC’s the next batch to be built, which were by many, seen as the zenith of RM design being the RCL’s. These took the numbers from RCL2218-2260 and were built to replace the Green Line RT’s on the busy (but declining) routes from Essex into Aldgate. Similar in comfort levels to the RMC they were a longer and more powerful version
Permission had now been granted to run the longer RML’s in Central London and the final production batch ran from RML2261-2760 were all built to this specification. Two batches of 50 of these RML’s were built for the Country Area and were delivered in Green being RML2306-2355 and RML2411-2460.
The final type of RM to enter service with London Transport was the RMA, or Routemaster Airport, version which originally ran for British European Airways bringing passengers to and fro between Central London and Heathrow before the Underground was extended there.
The Routemaster was gradually withdrawn from London in the 1980’s before a change of plan saw many of the longer versions (and some standard length ones) be refurbished in 1990-92 when they received new engines, lighting and seating. In 2000-01 some had another refurbishment where they were fitted with more environmentally friendly engines and new gear boxes.
However, the policy changed in 2003 and the final 20 routes were given warning that at next change of contract the vehicles required would not be RM’s. One by one these routes were withdrawn with the very last, the 159’s, finishing on December 9, 2005. However, such is the popularity of this type of vehicle that around 16 were retained for use on two heritage routes in Central London.
For more on this class why not visit Ian's Bus Stop
The idea of making London’s central area buses longer was not a new one but resistance from the Unions in regards to bigger buses meant less buses and consequently jobs, as well as more seats meant more work for the conductors and at a time of industrial sensitivity meant that the introduction of a longer Routemaster was a moot point. However, one route about to be converted from Trolleybuses lent itself as the perfect opportunity to trial the longer vehicles as the Trolleybus capacity and size were almost the same as the extended Routemaster. So it came about that the Route 104 from Finchley became the first route to get the experimental RML’s.
ER882 was one of that batch. The very first three buses (880-881-882)were numbered ER for Extended Routemaster, whereas all the remaining RM’s of both this batch and the next 500 after the trial had proven to be successful would all be known as RML’s.
882 was part of this trial and then spent spells as a trainer at Middle Row garage, Fulwell and Shepherds Bush before returning again to Finchley. In January 1971 the vehicle moved to Muswell Hill for use predominantly on the 43’s before moving on to Hanwell and Stonebridge Park. By 1984 it was working from Highgate (Holloway) before moving onto Clapton.
Whilst at Clapton the first of the Routemaster refurbishment programme went ahead and at this point 882 received, a new engine type, fluorescent lighting, changed interior colours and a raft of other modifications that meant it lost some of its distinctive marks of one of the pioneers of the RML class.
Earning its keep on route 38, it became a privatised bus when Cowie purchased the Leaside Buses business, which would later be swallowed up into Arriva plc. It continued to ply its trade through the West End and onto Victoria on route 38 until this route was converted from Routemasters in the final withdrawal programme, the end coming in 2005.
The vehicle then passed through the Ensignbus dealership stock and was sold into private preservation where much work was done returning it back to the condition it would’ve been in when new as one of the very first RML’s. Coming up for sale in 2009 Ensign again acquired it this time for use within its heritage fleet where it continues to be an ever popular vehicle.
Date of first registration: 30 October 1961
Chassis: AEC Routemaster
Chassis number: RML882
Engine: Cummins C series
Chassis/Body Code: tbc
Body: Park Royal
Body Number: B889
Seating: 72 seats (40 upstairs & 32 downstairs)