London Transport
Central Area Routes 17–19

Last updated 22-03-10.

◀ Spot the difference? The plate on the left has no full-stops after the abbreviations. Differences like these are what makes the collecting of “E” plates so interesting. ▶ 17 MON.-FRI.
The SPECIAL JOURNEYS “E” plate wasn’t from part of the route; rather, it came from a single stop on a short working—possibly Farringdon Street—where through buses didn’t stop. ▶ 17 MON-FRI SPECIAL JOURNEYS

Route 17 was introduced in 1961 as a trolleybus replacement route replacing part of the 517 / 617 routes, and ran daily between North Finchley and King’s Cross via East Finchley, Highgate, Archway, Holloway and Caledonian Road. It was extended on Mondays to Fridays and during Saturday mornings to Farringdon Street via Grays Inn Road and Holborn Crcus, and further extended on Mondays to Fridays to Camberwell Green via Blackfriars and Elephant & Castle. In 1966 it was extended on Sundays from King’s Cross to South Kensington, running beyond Camberwell Green via Brixton, Stockwell, Clapham Common, Clapham Junction, Battersea and Fulham Road, replacing route 45 on that day. In 1971 the Saturday and Sunday service was withdrawn, and it was also withdrawn between Archway and North Finchley, and replaced by new route 263 over that section. In 1978 the route was withdrawn completely. Today’s route 17, introduced in 1985 after “E” plates had been discontinued, covers many of the same roads and runs between Archway Station and London Bridge Station.

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 In 1966 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Paddington Green and London Bridge, but in 1969 it was extended as far as Baker Street Station. In 1970 the 18 was withdrawn between Sudbury and Edgware/Aldenham and replaced by new route 182. In 1982 it was withdrawn on Saturdays between King’s Cross and London Bridge. In 1985 it was withdrawn between Farringdon Street and London Bridge and replaced by new route 17.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.

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

18 MON.-SAT.
This plate is of the somewhat earlier style, where the Saturday element was still denoted in red.
This is one of the plastic plates which superseded enamel “E” plates and vinyl stickers. This type of plate has a fitting on the back which fits into a kind of keyhole mounting on the bus stop flag. It has a yellow background colour to denote Pay-Before-You-Board, so I think it would have been from a stop at the extreme eastern end of the route, around Euston in the central PBYB area. In this area all route numbers are shown on a yellow background above a single sign reading something like Buy Tickets Before Boarding On All Routes. Outside this zone PBYB would only have applied to route 18, so I think individual plates would have carried the PBYB legend. ▶ 18

◀ This plate carries the older RUSH HOURS wording, which in later years was changed to PEAK HOURS. Note also there is a full-stop after FRI but one is missing after MON. Although “E” plates were made both with and without periods (see the ones for route 17, for example), this is the only one that I have seen that is “half and half”. It dates from the mid-’70s when the route ran between Willesden Junction and Baker Street. 18A MON.-FRI. PEAK HOURS

Route 18A was introduced in 1967 between Acton and Kings Cross via North Acton, Harlesden, Kensal Green, Paddington Green and Euston during Monday to Friday rush hours. It finished its days between Acton and Baker Street Station and was withdrawn during 1982. It was never converted to one-man-operation and was Routemaster-operated for most of its life from Middle Row Garage [X], only receiving crewed DM buses during its last year. It was one of the few routes that only ever ran during Monday-to-Friday peak hours.

Route 19 ran daily from Finsbury Park (Plimsoll Road) to Tooting Bec Station via Highbury Barn, Highbury Corner, Upper Street, Angel, Roseberry Avenue, Bloomsbury, New Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccaddilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Kings Road, Chelsea, Battersea Bridge, Falcon Road, Clapham Junction and Trinity Road, with a Sunday afternoon extension to Streatham Common (Greyhound) via Tooting Bec Road and Streatham High Road. In October 1956 the Sunday afternoon extension was withdrawn, then reinstated just seven months later, but withdrawn once more in October 1957. In 1966 the Sunday service was extended to Streatham Garage via Tooting Broadway and Southcroft Road. In January 1972 the route was curtailed to run between Finsbury Park and Tooting Bec Station at all times; however, in July the Sunday service was cut back from Tooting Bec to Clapham Junction and replaced with new one-man-operated service 19A. After the 19A was withdrawn in 1974, route 19 resumed daily operation between Finsbury Park and Tooting Bec. The following year the Monday to Friday garage journeys were extended to Tufnell Park (Monnery Road) via Holloway and Tufnell Park Road. In 1984 the whole Monday to Friday service was extended from Finsbury Park to Archway Station via Holloway, Tufnell Park Road and Dartmouth Park Hill. In 1985 the 19 was withdrawn between Archway and Finsbury Park except for garage journeys to Tufnell Park. In 1987 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Clapham Junction (Boutflower Road) and Tooting Bec and replaced by new route 219. When Holloway Garage [HT] lost its weekday allocation on the 19 in 1989, all the Tufnell Park journeys were withdrawn, but the next year Sunday garage journeys were added between Tooting Bec and Merton Garage via Tooting Broadway and Colliers Wood Station when part of the Sunday allocation was transferred to Merton [AL]. In 1991 the route was withdrawn between Battersea Bridge (South Side) and Tooting Bec. From April 1992 buses were diverted to Worlds End, Chelsea whilst repair work was carried out on Battersea Bridge, and reurned back to normal in February 1993. Later in ’93 Kentish Bus assumed operations of the route. In 1998 operation was transferred from Kentish Bus to Arriva London South, but Sundays were sub-contracted to Grey Green.

An even more detailed history of route 19 and its variants can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

2d ticket
This “E” plate has the older font as used on earlier plates. (Note the rounder loop without a “teardrop”, and straighter down-stroke.)
19 MON.-SAT,
19 SUN
This “E” plate was very inexpertly (but likely officially) modified; probably in 1987 for the section between Clapham and Tooting.


The first route 19A began running in July 1921 as a Sunday-only working of the 19 between Highbury Barn and Thornton Heath via Islington, Angel, King’s Cross, New Oxford Street, Picaddilly Circus, Sloan Street, King’s Road, Battersea Bridge, Clapham Junction, Tooting Bec Station, Streetham and Norbury. By the following summer Monday to Saturday journeys had been added between Highbury and Tooting (The Mitre) via Clapham, Tooting Broadway and Mitcham Road, and the Sunday service had been withdrawn between Tooting Bec and Norbury, rerouted instead to Burgh Heath via Merton, Morden, Sutton and Belmont. In 1923 the 19A was rerouted to South Croydon at all times via Tooting Bec and Thornton Heath, but in 1924 the route was shortened to run only between Tottenham Court Road and Clapham Junction, then withdrawn completely later that year.

My knowledgeable contact cannot recall any 19A that ran on Mondays to Saturdays during the post-War years, nor is aware of any scheme that was aborted so late that “E” plates would have been made; therefore, it is most likely that this plate is simply an error.

A more recent route 19A ran on Sundays only from Finsbury Park (Plimsoll Road) to Hammersmith (Brook Green) via Highbury Barn, Islington, Angel, Bloomsbury, Holborn, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Battersea, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth, Putney and Fulham Palace Road. It was introduced in February 1969 and withdrawn in March 1971.

A later Sunday-only 19A was introduced in July 1972 between Battersea Garage and Tooting Bec Station via Clapham Junction and Trinity Road. It was withdrawn in October 1974.

1972 route 19A leaflet
A double-sided leaflet for new route 19A STARTING JULY 16 and operated by omo DMSs. The front of the tri-folded sheet has a timetable and fare chart for the route, and the back explains How to use the new split entrance buses.
1972 route 19A leaflet
Both of the Sunday-only 19A routes were very short-lived, and this “E” plate could have been used for either of them. It is not a common plate, and is rather interesting being a Sunday-only service.
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