London Transport
Central Area Routes 4–6

Last updated 27-01-10.

Route 4 ran on Mondays to Fridays between Finsbury Park Station and Surrey Docks Station via Highbury Barn, Highbury, Islington, Aldersgate, St Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Blackfriars Bridge, Elephant & Castle, New Kent Road and Bermondsey. It was withdrawn in 1966.

The route number 4 was reintroduced in 1971 as a renumbering of the 4A and ran on Mondays to Saturdays between Tufnell Park (Monnery Road) and Farringdon Street via Holloway, Finsbury Park, Highbury Barn, Highbury, Islington, Barbican and St. Paul’s, extended on Mondays to Fridays to Waterloo Station via Aldwych. In 1978 the Saturday service was also extended to Waterloo. In 1981 it was extended from Tufnell Park to Archway Station via Dartmouth Park Hill. In 1982 the service between Farringdon Street and Waterloo was reduced to Monday to Friday peak hours only although it was reinstated at all times on Mondays to Fridays in 1984, and at the same time the service beyond Finsbury Park to Archway was reduced to just garage journeys, with the 19 covering this section. It was converted to one-man-operation in 1985 and was again extended to Archway Station. In 1986 the Saturday service was again extended to Waterloo. In 1991 a Sunday service was introduced between Archway Station and Islington (Angel). This was one of the few routes operated by London Suburban Buses in the early days of tendering.

Route 68 ran daily between Chalk Farm Station and South Croydon via Camden Town, Euston, Russell Square, Aldwych, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, Camberwell Green, Denmark Hill, Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Upper Norwood, Thornton Heath and West Croydon. It was extended to South Croydon Garage in 1957. In 1986 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Euston Station and Chalk Farm. In 1996 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Euston and Chalk Farm, and it was also cut back from South Croydon to Norwood Garage.

1971 route 4 leaflet
A timetable booklet for new route 4 dated 4 September 1971. Its eight pages contain details of the route changes, a full timetable and diagrammatic map of the new route and the routes replaced on the centre page.
This plate could have come from either version of route 4; however, if it came from the newer 4 it would have been from the stretch between St. Paul’s and Waterloo from 1971 to 1978, or between Farringdon Street and Waterloo in 1984–1986.
This “E” plate likely came from the vicinity of Aldwych where routes 4 and 68 ran together for a short way.

This plate must have been made for the earlier route 4A, as the term WEEKDAY was generally used to mean Monday to Saturday. It became ambiguous as more people no longer had to work on Saturdays, and “Weekday” could also have been taken to mean Monday to Friday, which was why London Transport later spelt out the days as either MON-FRI or MON-SAT.
This “E” plate is from the second incarnation of the 4A, as the original route did not have any Monday to Friday only sections.
This plate likely came from the vicinity of Aldwych where routes 4A and 68 ran together for a short way.

Until 1957 Route 4A ran daily between Finsbury Park and Elephant & Castle via Highbury, Islington, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus and Blackfriars. It was extended on Mondays to Saturdays to Clapham Common via Camberwell and Brixton. The Sunday service was withdrawn in 1957, and the route was withdrawn completely in August 1958. A subsequent Route 4A was introduced in 1961 between Finsbury Park and Waterloo via Highbury, Islington, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street and Aldwych running on Mondays to Fridays only, and this service was renumbered 4 in September 1971.

Route 68 is described above.

During November 1953, buses ran between Shepherd’s Bush Green (Roseford Gardens) and Ladbroke Grove (St. Charles Square) via Holland Park Avenue, Royal Crescent, St Annes Road, Mortimer Square, Latimer Road, Bramley Road and Lancaster Road on Mondays to Saturdays, with this route being withdrawn on 19 May 1954.

1971 route 5 leaflet

New-type one-man double-deck buses were introduced to route 5 on 17 April 1971, making it one of the first routes to receive DMS buses. At 16 pages, this booklet was fairly comprehensive, containing details of the route changes that also included the 15 and 615, a full timetable and fare table, and first and last times for routes 15 and 23. ▶

In November 1959, route 5 was back, this time as a replacement for trolleybus routes 567 and 665 between Clerkenwell Green and Barking Garage, via Old Street, Commercial Street, Aldgate East, Stepney East, Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, Plaistow, Barking Road, East Ham and Barking. In October 1961, the Monday to Saturday service was extended from Barking Garage to Becontree (Chittys Lane) via Bennetts Castle Lane, replacing the withdrawn section of service on route 238 (which was diverted to Little Heath), and also extended daily from Clerkenwell Green to Bloomsbury. In May 1962, route 5’s Sunday service was extended from Barking Garage to Becontree via Becontree Avenue and renumbered route 5B, and in August of the same year, the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between East Ham and Becontree and diverted at East Ham to the White Horse. The Saturday service was also withdrawn between Barking Garage and Becontree and renumbered route 5B. In September 1968, the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Clerkenwell Green and Bloomsbury, and the Saturday service introduced between Clerkenwell Green and East Ham partly replaced route 5C which was withdrawn. The Sunday service was introduced between Bloomsbury and Poplar with early morning journeys extended to East Ham. This partly replaced withdrawn route 5B. It was converted to one-man operation in 1971. In 1978, the route was revised to run daily between Bloomsbury and East Ham (White Horse). In January 1981 the 5 was extended daily from Bloomsbury to Waterloo Station via Kingsway and Aldwych (over route 68). In April the service was yet again extended daily from East Ham to Becontree Heath via Barking and Longbridge Road, replacing withdrawn route 23. It was also one of the few routes reconverted to Routemaster operation on Mondays to Saturdays. In October it was rerouted at Shoreditch via Liverpool Street over route 78 to Aldgate instead of via Commercial Street. In September the following year route 5 was withdrawn on eveings and weekends between Old Street and Waterloo, and the Sunday service became crew operated. It again received one-man vehicles in 1985. In March 1989, the 5 was withdrawn between Old Street and Waterloo except for early journeys to Holborn Station on Mondays to Saturdays (replaced by new Red Arrow route 505). Various changes occurred during April 1990, including the Monday-Saturday service withdrawn between Poplar and Old Street/Holborn (partly replaced by new route D3) and introduced instead between Canning Town and Becontree Heath replacing withdrawn section of route D5. The Sunday service between Canning Town and Old Street was withdrawn after the market closed. In September 1999 the Sunday extension from Canning Town to Old Street was withdrawn, with buses running nowadays between Becontree Heath and Canning Town Station. At the end of March 2006 the 5 was extended from Becontree Heath to Romford to replace route 87. As can be seen by the preceding history, there have been many changes to route 5, along with its variants 5A, 5B and 5C.

1981 route 5 & 23 notice
This bus stop notice dates from March 1981, when the 5 replaced part of route 23. Despite the illustration of a Leyland National, after the change the 5 was worked by Routemasters on Mondays to Fridays, and Titans and DMSs on Sundays.
Although the lettering on “E” plates was never entirely consistent, the number 5 is somewhat bolder than normal on this plate.
I cannot place exactly where the Sunday “E” plates came from. Suffice to say they are more unusual than the weekday versions.
The FARE STAGE “E” plate is rather unusual since it is a red Sunday plate with FARE STAGE shown in black.


Route 5B was introduced in 1962, running on Sundays only between Bloomsbury and Becontree (Chittys Lane) via Clerkenwell Green, Old Street, Commercial Street, Stepney East, Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Barking and Becontree Avenue, replacing the Sunday service on route 5. Later that year it was also introduced on Saturdays between Bloomsbury and Barking Garage. In 1965 the Saturday service was withdrawn and replaced by new route 5C. In 1966 the 5B was extended to Becontree Heath. The route was withdrawn in 1968.

The 5B was relatively short-lived, running for just six years, but an even shorter time running on Saturdays and Sundays only from 1962 until 1965. Thus, this is a very rare “E” plate to find.

Route 5C ran between Bloomsbury (Red Lion Square) and Becontree Heath via Clerkenwell Green, Old Street, Commercial Street, Stepney, Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Barking, Becontree Avenue, Becontree and Green Lane. It began operating in January 1965 when the 5B service was diverted on Saturdays, at Becontree via Bennetts Castle Lane, and renumbered. It was replaced in September 1968 after only 312 years of operation when the 5 was reintroduced on Saturday.

The short life span of route 5C accounts for its excellent condition. There were likely very few FARE STAGE plates made for this route.


The pattern of weathering on this “E” plate attests that it was used for route 6, not the 9.
The existence of this plate suggests that there was a scheduled short service for the 6. My guess is that this plate would have been posted in the vicinty of Edgware Road (Met.) station to differentiate from the regular buses running through to Kensal Rise.
Plates with the wording SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY are usually rather rare as they were designed for specific stops
◀ This “E” plate is an extremely rare one as it might have come from just a single bus stop where there was a curtailment point, and it could well have come from the stop at Kensal Rise Station to draw attention to the fact that some buses did not serve the stop when they were running through from Willesden Garage.
Map adapted from The Greater London Bus Map. ▶
Route 6 map

Routes 6 and 11 are two of London’s oldest and most well-known routes, and their history goes back to the start of motor-buses in around 1910. They also hung on to their Routemasters until relatively recently. Route 6 ran between Hackney Wick and Kensal Rise Station via Well Street, Hackney, Cambridge Heath, Hackney Road, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Bank, St Paul’s, Fleet Street, Aldwych, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Warwick Avenue, The Chippenham and West Kilburn. A Monday to Saturday peak hours extension ran from Hackney Wick to Leyton Town Hall via Ruckholt Road. Willesden Garage journeys continued on from Kensal Rise via Staverton Road and Brondesbury Park. In 1964 Saturday service was withdrawn and replaced by new route 6B and regular service on the 6A. In 1966 Saturday service was reintroduced between Hackney Wick and Warwick Avenue Station. In 1968 Saturday service was extended from Warwick Avenue to Kensal Rise but withdrawn between Aldwych and Hackney Wick. (The latter was replaced by increased service on the 6A.) In 1969 the 6 was withdrawn between Hackney Wick and Leyton Town Hall. In 1970 Saturday service was re-introduced between Aldwych and Hackney Wick, but operation was split into two overlapping sections: Hackney Wick to Oxford Circus and Aldwych to Kensal Rise, replacing the withdrawn 6A. In 1973 Saturday through service was re-introduced. In 1992 the Aldwych to Hackney Wick section was replaced by new route 26. In 2005 it was extended from Aldwych to Willesden Garage via Kensal Rise, Chamberlayne Road, Donnington Road and Pound Lane.

A more detailed history of routes 6, 11, 15 and 18 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

6 - 116 - 11

Route 11 ran daily between Liverpool Street and Shepherd’s Bush via Bank, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Victoria, Sloane Square, Chelsea, Fulham Broadway and Hammersmith. In 1970 it was withdrawn between Hammersmith (Brook Green) and Shepherd’s Bush, and in 1983 further cut back to Hammersmith Broadway. In 1986 it was re-extended to Shepherd’s Bush on Mondays to Saturdays except evenings, but cut back again in 1992 when it terminated at Hammersmith (Bus Station). In 1993 it was withdrawn between Fulham Broadway and Hammersmith and replaced by route 211 over this section. In 2003 it was converted to one-man-operation.

These two plates came from stops over the common section of routes 6 and 11 between Trafalgar Square and Bank where the two routes traversed the same ground. Note that the two 1s are much closer together on the second plate. These variations add to the interest of collecting “E” plates.

6 - 15 - 23
A triple split “E” plate is especially unusual, and this example combines three busy central London routes, each with a very long history. It would have come from a stop between Edgware Road and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Back in November 1949, route 15 ran from Kew Green (Sundays), via Kew Bridge, Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, Acton Vale, East Acton, Wormwood Scrubs, Barlby Road, St Marks Road, and Ladbroke Grove (Mondays to Saturdays), extended via Westbourne Grove, Paddington, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Fleet Street, St Pauls, Bank, Aldgate, Stepney, Limehouse and Poplar (Monday to Friday mid-days), being further extended via Canning Town, Plaistow and Upton Park to East Ham White Horse during Monday to Friday peaks and evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. On Sundays, buses operated in two sections: East Ham & East Acton or Aldgate & Acton—Kew Green. In connection with the Trolleybus Replacement Programme, route 15 was extended daily from Poplar to East Ham. During January 1967, journeys to Kensal Rise were introduced as a result of the Ladbroke Grove canteen closure, and in October 1969, the route was suspended between Acton and Kew Green for the winter months, being reinstated in 1970, with this continuing for future years. In May 1975, the Sunday service was rerouted at Kew Road to Richmond Bus Station. This extension was all through the year instead of just seasonal. In May 1985, the route was diverted between St. Paul’s and Aldgate via Cannon Street and Tower of London. In June 1987, the Sunday service was withdrawn between East Acton & Ladbroke Grove and converted to one-person-operation on Sundays. During March 1991, route 15 was extended to the Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s. During July 1992, the Monday to Saturday service was withdrawn between Ladbroke Grove and Paddington, being replaced by new route 23. May 1993 brought the withdrawal of service between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove, and in September 1999, route 15 was withdrawn between Poplar and Canning Town, with buses diverting from East India Dock Road to Blackwall DLR Station via Cotton Street. During August 2003, route 15 was withdrawn between Blackwall and East Ham, and is running nowadays between Paddington and Blackwall Station. Of course, the 15 is now one of just two routes in London that continue to use Routemasters, and this “heritage” route 15 runs between Trafalgar Square and Tower of London.

London General Omnibus Company route 23 ran weekdays between Rainham and Marylebone Station. London Transport introduced a Sunday extension to Aldgate. In November 1947 the route ran between Becontree Heath and Marylebone via Longbridge Road, Barking, East Ham, Upton Park and Plaistow (Monday to Saturday evenings), extended via Canning Town, Poplar, Limehouse, Stepney, Commercial Road, Aldgate, Bank, Holborn, Oxford Circus and Baker Street Mondays to Saturdays except evenings. From 1959 it was extended to Aldgate during evenings. In September 1968 route 23 was withdrawn between Aldgate and Marylebone, but introduced on Sundays to replace a withdrawn section on route 9. During October 1970, some Monday to Friday morning journeys were projected from Aldgate to Bank. In 1977 the Monday to Friday peak hour service was extended from Aldgate to Farringdon Street via route 15. But just four years later, in January 1981, the peak hour service via Bank to Farringdon Street was withdrawn, and the whole Monday to Saturday service was extended from Aldgate to Oxford Circus via Tower, St Paul’s, Aldwych, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Then from April of that year the service was completely revamped to run daily between East Ham and Ladbroke Grove. In May 1985, this service was renumbered route 15.


Routes 6 and 18 ran together past St. Paul’s and along Ludgate Hill, which is the likely origin of this “E” plate. It would not have come from Harrow Road, as the 18 operated past that point daily and the 6 only served Paddington Green with Special Journeys.

Route 18 ran between Wembley (Empire Pool) and Edgware Station via Sudbury, Harrow, Wealdstone, Belmont and Canons Park. Some Monday to Friday rush hour journeys were extended to Aldenham Works. It was also extended on Sundays from Wembley to London Bridge Station via Stonebridge Park, Craven Park, Harlesden, Kensal Green, Harrow Road, Paddington Green, Marylebone Road, Euston, King’s Cross, Grays Inn Road, Holborn Circus, Ludgate Circus and Southwark Bridge. In 1962 the extension to London Bridge became daily, replacing route 18B and trolleybus route 662. In 1966 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Paddington Green and London Bridge, but in 1969 it was extended as far as Baker Street Station. In 1970 the 18 was withdrawn between Sudbury and Edgware/Aldenham and replaced by new route 182. In 1982 it was withdrawn on Saturdays between King’s Cross and London Bridge. In 1985 it was withdrawn between Farringdon Street and London Bridge and replaced by new route 17. In 1986 the 18 was converted to one-man-operation and revised to run from Sudbury to Baker Street Station daily, extended to Euston Station on Sunday afternoons, to King’s Cross on Mondays to Saturdays and to Farringdon Street during Monday to Friday peak hours. In 1991 it was withdrawn between King’s Cross and Farringdon Street. In 1992 the Sunday afternoon extension to Euston was cut back to Baker Street. In 1995 it was revised to run daily beyond Baker Street Station to Euston Station. In 2003 the 18 was converted to articulated bus operation. It was one of the earliest London bus routes to be operated by bendy-buses on the Pay-Before-You-Board principle.

6 - 59 SUNDAY

Route 59 was a long-standing Sunday-only route that ran all the way from West Hampstead (West End Green) to Chipstead Valley via St John’s Wood, Baker Street, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Westminster, Lambeth Bridge, Kennington, Brixton, Streatham, Norbury, Thornton Heath, London Road, West Croydon, Croydon, South Croydon, Purley and Coulsdon. In 1978 it was withdrawn and replaced by routes 159 and 190. The 59 was worked from Croydon [TC], Streatham [AK] and Thornton Heath [TH] garages.

This plate would have come from a stop along Oxford or Regent Streets, but it is a rather unusual combination of routes as it was more common to combine routes which ran parallel for a longer section. It is a highly desirable variation as it contains two routes in different colours.

Route 6A ran during Monday to Saturday rush hours between Waterloo Station and Leyton (Town Hall) via Aldwych, Fleet Street, St. Paul’s, Bank, Shoreditch, Hackney Road, Cambridge Heath, Hackney, Well Street, Hackney Wick and Ruckholt Road. In 1964 the service between Waterloo and Hackney Wick was increased to run all day. In December 1966 the Monday to Friday service was reduced to rush hours only, and the Saturday service was revised to run only during the morning between Waterloo and St. Paul’s. In November 1967 the Saturday service was changed to terminate at Farringdon Street instead of St. Paul’s. In September 1968 the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn, and the remaining Saturday service revised to run between Marylebone Station and Hackney Wick via Baker Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Fleet Street, St. Paul’s, Bank, Liverpool Street, Shoreditch, Hackney Road, Cambridge Heath, Hackney and Well Street. An all-day service was provided, except between Marylebone Station and Oxford Circus which did not run during the evening. The 6A was withdrawn completely in January 1970.

This “E” plate would have come from a stop between Aldwych and Hackney Wick between September 1968 and January 1970, and thus was in use for a very short time, accounting for its exceptionally good condition. Split plates are always scarcer, and this example shows one of the few Saturday-only routes. It is also the only one that I can recall seeing that has a red dividing line between the two routes.

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