1959 AEC Routemaster bus – RM140

Date built: 1959
Registration: VLT 140
Acquired by Museum: 2012
Current State: Fully restored to original condition

 

The Routemaster

The Routemaster has in recent years become the most well-known London bus and, perhaps, the most famous bus in the world.

The first Routemaster enters service. RM1 at Crystal Palace in February 1956. Unknown photographer.

Despite there being other London bus types of equal significance (the STL-type of the 1930s or the RT-type of the 1950s, for example), the RM has achieved its fame, firstly, because it is the very last of a long line of buses specially designed for service in the capital and, secondly,  on account of its longevity. The Routemaster has been seen on the streets of London since 1956 and, even though the buses came out of front-line service in 2005, some still run today on heritage routes 9 and 15.

More to follow

RM140

Originally numbered RM158 (London buses changed identity each time they were overhauled), this bus was delivered to London Transport in November 1959 and entered service at Walthamstow garage in February 1960, replacing electric trolleybuses on routes in east London. (As a matter of interest, the bus originally numbered RM140 was part of the same batch.) The bus then saw a long period of service in London, going through a total of four overhauls with identity changes before finally emerging in 1980 with the identity of RM140 which it carries to this day. Its final operational garage was Clapton from which it was withdrawn in October 1984. It passed straight into private preservation and, after a number of private ownerships, was purchased by the Museum in 2012 following a fundraising appeal.

RM140 at Finsbury Square in July 2011, showing blinds for the only route ever to see joint Routemaster & trolleybus operation. © Graham Smith

Due to its relatively early withdrawal (by London Routemaster standards), RM140 is representative of the early deliveries of standard Routemasters and retains all its original features such as the front upper-deck non-opening windows, radiator grille, ‘bullseye’ badge, brake-cooling vents in the front wings, full-depth heater intake etc. The interior is also completely original with its tungsten lightbulbs, maroon rexine and classic seat moquette. The bus is powered by an AEC engine to original specification.

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(c) Ian Jackson

 

RM140 is now displayed in the museum’s reception, greeting visitors and serving as our cinema bus. Here it is seen welcoming Prince Michael of Kent on a visit in 2016.

Sub-frames: AEC R2RH
Body: Park Royal 64-seat,  rear entrance, open platform
Engine: AEC AV590 9.6 litre diesel, front-mounted, with air operated automatic gearbox
Vehicle Classification: RM, standing for RouteMaster
Date into service: 1960
Date of withdrawal: 1984