RLH on the road

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Nick Larkin reports on an event marking 50 years since London’s last lowbridge RLH-class double-deckers ran

Fifty years since the last London ‘low bridge’ buses – the RLH class – ran, a special tribute event was organised. And now you can hire an RLH from a heritage operator which is definitely back in business after lockdown.

London Transport took delivery of 76 AEC Regent III buses with Weymann bodywork from 1950-2, designating them the RLH (Regent Low Height) class. At 13ft 6 ins tall, they were a foot or so shorter than standard double-deckers, meaning they could be used on certain routes in both the London Transport Central and Country Areas where bridges might be a problem. This was achieved by upper deck passengers accessing their seats via a sunken gangway.


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The last RLHs operated on 16 April 1971, and an event commemorated 50 years on from that date when eight examples operated again along the final route, the 178 from Clapton Pond to Maryland. A timetable was adhered to but sadly passengers couldn’t be picked up due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Organisers’ spokesman Ewen Pring, of St Albans-based heritage operator Timebus said: “The 50th anniversary was marked in style and luckily coincided with high streets starting to open up from lockdown and excellent weather, which combined to create a memorable event.”

Timebus owns three of the eight RLHs used on what was the largest working gathering of the type in 50 years. RLH 23 is in London red, whilst RLH 32 sports the blue and grey colours of legendary Yorkshire-based independent Samuel Ledgard, which bought several RLH second-hand. The third Timebus example, RLH 44, was converted to a uniform store by London Country.
Other vehicles present at the event included RLH48 from the London Bus Museum, privately owned RLH 53, RLH 61 (the last example to operate in 1971) from Ensign, and from London Bus Company freshly repainted RLHs 69 and 71.

Timebus owns a fourth bus, RLH 29, which is currently stripped down.

The operator also has AEC Routemasters of various specifications, along with an AEC RF and other vehicles. Said Ewen: “Timebus has weathered the Covid-19 storm and is now beginning to get back to operating again. At present our two open-top Routemasters are very popular as their open air deck cuts the virus risk. Over the summer we plan to be operating close to normal with even our dedicated Exhibition bus RCL Routemaster available in South East England.”