Leyland PD2 - RTL1014
56 (30 upstairs and 26 downstairs)
A London bus with a Californian accent! New to London in 1950 the vehicle spent only 17 years serving London before being exported to University of California where it spent the next 45 years of its life! Restored today to keep a blend of its British and American history, the only vehicle to go choose for any event that needs a transatlantic feel.
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declined and LT had more buses than it was ever going to need, so the first non standard types, the Cravens, were withdrawn and sold on.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.
For more on this class why not visit Ian's Bus Stop
RTL1014 has quite an association with Ensign having been sold by us to Unitrans California in 1967, it was acquired back from them by us in 2012. Indeed it was the Chairman Peter Newman who had delivered it to the docks back then, and was indeed Peter who collected it, a pretty good returns policy we reckon!
The bus though served London before its exile and was new in July 1950 to Clapham garage. In 1958 it moved to Stockwell where it stayed for four years before moving onto Middle Row and later in 1964 to Wandsworth. Withdrawn three years later it passed on to PVS Bus Sales (the forerunner of Ensignbus) who sold it to Unitrans at University of California, Davis.
It operated there for the next 40 years or so until on December 14, 2007 it was withdrawn from the Unitrans fleet due to stricter new emission laws that came into force in the state of California.
Despite some bureaucratic hurdles agreement was reached between Ensign and Unitrans to return the vehicle back to the UK, which duly happened on January 23, 2012 when the vehicle left its long term home for the docks. For the assistance in making this all happen we are indebted to Michael Dryhurst and the all the team at Unitrans who were keen to see us safely recover the bus.
Arriving back in the UK on March 6, 2012 the vehicle was returned to Purfleet and after some work needed to make it UK legal it was re-certified in November 2012 and debuted back on the UK roads for the first time in 45 years at the Ensignbus 2012 Running Day. Restored to a mix of UK and USA standards the vehicle proudly still wears a Californian number plate as well as its original UK marque.