AEC Regent III - RT3251
56 (30 upstairs and 26 downstairs)
New in 1948 this particular RT was delivered as a green Country Area bus, however its long life with London Transport would see it become a red bus before earning its moment in the record books by being the very last RT in London Transport service. After recovering the vehicle from Birmingham in 2004, the bus was readied after a years work to make its debut on the final day of Routemasters in service in December 2005. Completely restored to its 1979 condition, this particular vehicle holds a special place in many peoples memories being the last of one of London’s favourite vehicles to have operated. Now fully licensed to carry passengers why not take a journey on a real piece of London Transport history.
RT Class History:
The RT is surely one of the best know types of London bus with a look that is timeless as well as being a design classic. RT’s have featured in films, such as ‘Summer Holiday’ or James Bonds ‘Live and Let Die’ all adding to the familiarity of the type.The first RT took to the road in service weeks before the start of World War II and hence became the only true Pre War RT, however with the other 149 of this batch entering service throughout the next two years before hostilities ceased, these first 150 are universally all known as the Pre War batch.
Following the end of the war it had been decided that the RT would form the majority of London double deck fleet and some modifications were made to the post war design to improve on what had been learnt from the operation of the pre war batch, thus started one of the great fleet replacements of war weary types as quickly as possible. By 1948 RT’s were entering service in a steady stream, there were however numerous delays and shortages caused by the lack of parts and skilled workers so soon after the end of hostilities. Body production was quicker than chassis leading to some new RT bodies being mounted onto STL chassis, thus making the short lived SRT class, (of which our very own RT4421 is one, formerly SRT 119). To also help production non standard body builders were used in addition to Park Royal and Weymann, Saunders and Cravens also built a few hundred examples see our RT1431 and RT1499 for Cravens examples.By 1955 bus use had dramatically declined and LT had more buses than it was ever going to need, so the first non standard types, the Cravens, were withdrawn and sold on. Further withdrawals continued as the new Routemasters started to appear in the late 1950’s.However the RT was a survivor and following its hey day, where nearly 7,000 were in service, they took a very long time to replace. The last one (RT624 also now in our fleet) ran on the East London route 62 in April 1979 bringing to an end 40 years of continuous operation of this type, a record many thought would never be beaten. However, its successor the RM did manage to achieve this extraordinary feat lasting in service until 2005.It’s true to say that when people are asked to draw or describe a London bus it is generally one of these two types people will think off, such is the iconic regard they achieved however with the RT having been built in such austere times and having operated through such harsh conditions its longevity is a real credit to its type.
RT3251 was new in July 1950 as one of the distinctive Romford Green Line vehicles. It would remain based there for the first 15 years of its life plying its trade on the routes 721/722 and 726. Its next homes would be High Wycombe and Leatherhead, which is where it was based on New Years Day 1970, when London Country was separated from London Transport, being a country area garage 3251 passed over to London Country ownership.
Two years would pass with 3251 based at Leatherhead and then Staines, before in 1972 the vehicle was acquired by London Transport and was overhauled and repainted red, the first time this RT had been red after some 22 years in service. Having been more recently overhauled than many of the RT’s it was no surprise that 3251 followed the ever receding RT tide as more and more garages phased them out. Stints at Bromley, Catford, Stonebridge Park, Bexleyheath and Croydon followed before her last transfer to the very last bastion of RT’s and close to where 3251 had started her career was to Barking. She was used on the very ast day of RT’s in service and took part in the farewell cavalcade in April 1979. From here she was sold on before passing on to Tony Langley and Robin Abbott in 1986 for preservation. Much was done to bring her into fine fettle by them and they would continue to own and rally the vehicle for the next 26 years before Tony sadly passed away. The vehicle was then offered to Ensign to join its heritage fleet and having a close association to the Romford and Barking vehicles of the day we were happy to acquire it. Recertified in November 2012, the vehicle is a welcome member to our fleet.