The Routemaster is the well-loved red double-decker bus that has served Londoners for over half a century, instantly recognisable around the world as an icon of London.
An open-platform design with staircase at the rear and engine at the front, the Routemaster was designed by London Transport, AEC and Park Royal Vehicles in the 1950s. The lightweight aluminium monocoque construction avoided the need for a separate chassis, using front and rear subframes to mount the mechanical components. A total of 2,876 examples were built between 1954 and 1968, mostly by AEC and Park Royal Vehicles. For a 1950s design, it was a bus with a number of features that would not become standard for many years to come, such as a fully automatic gearbox, independent front suspension and -rare in the 1950s – a heater!
Originally designed for a 17-year working life, the Routemaster was finally retired from frontline London service in December 2005, after nearly 50 years of continuous operation. The Routemaster was the last conductor-operated bus, as well as the last fully open-platform bus in service in London. As such it was the end of a long line, and the passing of an era in UK bus types.
The last few years of operation, together with the 50th anniversary of the type in 2004, saw immense interest in the Routemaster, both in the media at large and with potential owners wishing to save a slice of London history, with virtually all surviving examples finding new owners as they were released from service. Today, there are nearly 700 preserved Routemasters in the UK, many still in active service on specialist tourist and heritage routes.
This extensively illustrated manual provides a brief history of the Routemaster, and a fascinating insight into the construction, maintenance and operation of this iconic bus, both during its service life and in preservation today.
Andrew Morgan is a lifelong Routemaster enthusiast and has been actively involved with the preservation and restoration of Routemasters for 30 years. He was co-founder of the Routemaster Association in 1988, and is the Chairman and Vice President. He owns a single- deck Routemaster – the only example converted by London Transport