London Transport
Central Area Routes 20–24

Last updated 15-03-10.

Although both route 20s were daily services, this “E” plate probably came from the original, as evidenced by the amount of weathering.
This plate would have come from Loughton Station where buses ran both ways through the forecourt, and would probably have been one of just two made.
route 20 timetable
A March 1981 bus stop timetable for the 20. The red shading indicates the flat fare section of the route, between Walthamstow Central Station and Woodford Wells.

Route 20 ran daily between Leytonstone (Green Man) and Epping Town via Wanstead, Woodford High Road, Woodford Wells, Loughton and Wake Arms. In 1954 some Sunday journeys were extended to Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital), and these journeys became daily in 1963. In 1965 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays and replaced by new one-man-operated route 20B. This route 20 was withdrawn in 1966.

The number 20 came back in 1968 for a service running between Walthamstow Central Station and Loughton Station via Leyton, Whipps Cross, Woodford and Woodford Wells, covering part of the withdrawn route 38A. In 1969 the 20 was extended from Loughton to Epping Town, with some journeys running on to St. Margaret’s Hosital. In 1976 it was rerouted at Loughton to run to Debden Broadway via Chester Road, swapping ends with the 20A. In 1982 the Debden end ran as a loop in both directions, either in via Debden Estate or Rectory Lane. Some schoolday journeys were diverted to Chigwell (West Hatch School). In 1986 the loop working at Debden was withdrawn with buses running both ways via Debden Estate. Under tendering, the route has been operated by Eastern National, First Capital and Grey Green.

Route 20A was introduced in 1954 running daily between Leytonstone (Green Man) and Debden Broadway via Wanstead, Snaresbrook, Woodford Green, Woodford Wells, Loughton and Chester Road. In 1976 it was converted to one-man-operation and the northhern end was swapped with route 20, and therefore diverted at Loughton to run to Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital) via Wake Arms and Epping Town. In 1982 it was withdrawn between Loughton Station and Leytonstone, and reduced to run only on Mondays to Fridays except evenings, and during Saturday shopping hours. School journeys were extended from Loughton to Chigwell (West Hatch School) via Buckhurst Hill. The route was withdrawn later in 1982 and partly replaced by new route 201.



Route 20B was introduced in October 1965 as a one-man-operated service running on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays between Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital) and Loughton Station via Ongar Road, Epping High Street, Wake Arms, Church Hill and Loughton. It was extended during peak hours to Buckhurst Hill Station via Alderton Hill, Roding Road and Valley Hill. It was a part-replacement for route 20, which was withdrawn on these days. In 1966 a Saturday service was introduced between Epping and Loughton Station, using crew operation with RTs. The route was withdrawn in June 1969, in part replaced by a revised 20A.

These plates would have come from the period when the 20B ran daily. It is an exceptionally rare route number to find on an “E” plate.

London General’s route 21 began running in April 1911 between Finsbury Park and Old Kent Road via Green Lanes, Newington Green, Moorgate, Bank, London Bridge, Borough, Great Dover Street and Bricklayers Arms. Later that year it was extended to Deptford Broadway via New Cross. The following year it was further extended, east to Greenwich (Tunnel Avenue) and north from Finsbury via Harringay to Wood Green (Fishmonger’s Arms), then shortly after to Crouch End. In 1914 the 21 was withdrawn between New Cross and Greenwich, running instead to Sidcup via Lewisham, Lee Green and Eltham, then further extended to Sidcup (Black Horse). In 1915 the route was withdrawn between Wood Green (Turnpike Lane) and Crouch End, but some peak hour journeys were projected beyond Sidcup to Foots Cray (Sidcup Garage). By 1930 the 21B had been absorbed into the main service, with some journeys travelling to Franingham (Bull) via Birchwood Corner and Swanley. In 1942 the 21 was withdrawn between Moorgate (Finsbury Square) and Wood Green as a War-time economy measure. By 1949 the weekday service only went as far as Eltham (Well Hall Station), but Sunday journeys to Farningham continued. In 1956, the Monday to Saturday service between Sidcup and Farningham was withdrawn and replaced by route 21A, then reintroduced in 1962, and withdrawn yet again along this section in June 1968! In January 1971 the Saturday service was withdrawn between London Bridge and Moorgate, and the Sunday service withdrawn between New Cross and London Bridge, with the Saturday service reintroduced between London Bridge and Moorgate in October 1978. From September 1980 the Sunday service was extended from New Cross to London Bridge. In 1983 Sunday journeys were withdrawn between Sidcup and Swanley. In 1988 the route was extended to Foots Cray (Tesco). In 1989 one Monday to Friday morning journey was extended to West Kingsdown. At the same time the route was shortened to run only between Lewisham (Riverdale Centre) and London Bridge Station, extended Mondays to Fridays to Moorgate (Finsbury Square), being replaced to Foots Cray by new route 321. In November 1997 the West Kingsdown journey was withdrawn. In 2002 the 21 was extended on Saturdays and Sundays to run daily to Moorgate, and in 2006 it was further extended daily to Newington Green via Old Street Station, Hoxton and Mildmay Park. During its time, buses ran out of New Cross [NX], Sidcup [SP] and Old Kent Road [P] garages, but is now only operated from New Cross.

A more detailed history of route 21 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

Route 21 & 21B leaflet
London General MOTOR-BUS GUIDE 11 for SIDCUP AND FARNINGHAM By Routes 21 and 21B issued to promote excursions into the Country Area on Sundays. It features a cut of Frognal Avenue, Sidcup, on the cover. Starting from August 1921, the 21B followed the 21 as far as Sidcup, then continued on to Farningham via Foots Cray, Ruxley and Swanley. It was merged into the 21 during the latter half of the 1920s.
1948 route 21 timecard
A conductor’s timecard dating from 1948 for the Monday to Friday service on the 21, between Moorgate and Sidcup Garage.
1965 route 21 & 21A timetable
A special bus stop timetable display dated 27/1/65 from Farningham for routes 21 (Saturday and Sunday) and 21A (Monday to Friday) for buses starting there. The other side of this display is blank. It is slightly larger than a sheet of A4 size paper. w/d – TT adjusted to obviate and a diagonal line have been written across part of the display in red biro, presumable to indicate that it was withdrawn and the timetable had been adjusted.
The route numbers appear to be stickers affixed onto a painted piece of aluminium, and the days of operation has been cut from what appears to be a vinyl “E” sticker. All this has been done officially.
◀ This plate would probably have come from the bus stop in London Bridge bus station where buses would have terminated during evenings on Mondays to Fridays and all day Saturdays, and thus served a different stop from through buses from Moorgate. It will be astonishingly rare and of particular interest with this very unusual combination of wording.

Note that the curve is less pronounced on the 2 on this plate, as well as the increased space between the two numbers.

route 21A timetable

Route 21A ran Monday to Friday peak hours non-stop from Woolwich (Parsons Hill) to Eltham then to Farningham (Bull) via Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Sidcup, Foots Cray and Swanley. In 1952 it was withdrawn between Sidcup Garage and Farningham, but revised to stop between Woolwich and Eltham (running via Woolwich Common and Well Hall Road), and Monday through Saturday service was introduced between Eltham (Well Hall Station) and Sidcup Garage. In 1956 the 21A was extended from Sidcup Garage to Farningham. In 1962 Saturday service was withdrawn amd replaced by an extension of route 21. In June 1968 service betwen Swanley and Farningham was withdrawn outside of peak hours, but weekend service was introduced between Sidcup Station and Swanley to partially replace the withdrawn section of route 21. In November of the same year it was converted to single deck one-person-operation, and daily service was extended from Sidcup to Eltham (Well Hall Station). In 1972 the route was withdrawn between Swanley and Farningham. In 1976 double-deckers returned, and in 1982 it was further cut back between Sidcup and Well Hall Station. In 1983 Sunday service was withdrawn, and in October 1984 the route was eliminated entirely.

A bus stop timetable sheet effective 20 May 1972, for route 21A to ELTHAM (Well Hall Station).

Route 22 ran daily between Homerton and Putney Common via Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Bank, Holborn, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner. Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Kings Road, Chelsea, Parsons Green and Putney Bridge. In 1987 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Bloomsbury and Homerton and replaced by new route 22B. In 1988 it was extended on Sunday evenings to Homerton Hospital. In 1990 it was withdrawn between Piccadilly Circus and Bloomsbury/Homerton. It was one of the last routes to use Routemasters.


1972 route 22A leaflet
◀ Timetable leaflet for new bus route 22A starting October 28 1972, with print code 972/3190S/35000. This is a fold-out leaflet with brief details of the changes and a fare table on the front. Inside are bus stop timetables for the service and on the back are diagrams showing how to use split entrance buses.
From 20 January, 1990, operation of the 22A, 22B and 55 was transferred to Kentish Bus, so this leaflet was likely issued in late 1989. ▶
1990 route 22A/22B/55 leaflet

Route 22A was introduced in 1972, running daily between Homerton and Liverpool Street via Hackney, Dalston and Shoreditch, thereby introducing an element of one-man operation to the northern end of route 22. It was extrended from Homerton to Clapton Park Estate later that year. In 1975 it was extended on Sundays from Liverpool Street to Wapping via Aldgate, Leman Street and The Highway, and in 1979 it was extended to Wapping to run there daily. In 1986 it was extended from Clapton Park to the Lee Valley Ice Centre during midday and evenings, and later that year it was rerouted to run along Queensbridge Road. In 1989 it was withdrawn between Aldgate and Wapping. In 1990 it was rerouted back along Kingsland Road instead of Queensbridge Road and revised to run daily between London Bridge Station and Clapton Park Estate. It was withdrawn in 1998 when it was replaced by new route 242. It was always one-man-operated, and was eventually tendered, being run by Kentish Bus for its last nine years.

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.

LPTB route 23/23B/87 ticket
This 1½d London Passenger Transport Board ticket for routes 23, 23B and 87 dates from the mid-1930s.
These two plates date from the period until 1968 when the route ran on Mondays to Saturdays only, which at the time was described as WEEKDAY.
23 MON.-SAT.
The word WEEKDAY was later replaced because it was ambiguous (as more people began following a five-day work week) and was sometimes taken to mean “Monday to Friday”.
◀ This SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY plate is extremely rare, having been only used for a period of some weeks in October 1970 when some Monday to Friday morning journeys ran on from Aldgate to Bank! It is certainly in like-new condition, with black back but with raised enamelling for the lettering, and is in extremely good shape. The latter days of “E” plates saw them with level enamelled lettering as the techniques later employed enabled thinner materials to be used.

In 1977 the Monday to Friday peak hour service was extended from Aldgate to Farringdon Street via route 15 (from which section this plate came). 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.

Notice the subtle differences between these three plates? It is variations like this that make collecting “E” plates so interesting.

23 23
This undated bus stop poster was produced to advertise the fact that the new route served several major tourist attractions.

The number 23 was brought back into service in July 1992 as a route between Westbourne Park Station and Liverpool Street, via Elkstone Road and Kensal Road (Mondays to Saturdays), Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s (Sundays), Westbourne Grove, Paddington, Edgware Road, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Regent Street, Piccadily Circus, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, Strand, Aldwych (Saturdays and Sundays), Fleet Street, Ludgate Circus, St Paul’s, Mansion House Station, Bank and Liverpool Street Station (Mondays to Fridays). In 1993 one early journey and two late journeys were extended from Ladbroke Grove to Ealing Broadway, but these were renumbered N23 after only eight weeks of service. In 2003 the Routemasters were withdrawn, and Saturday and Sunday service was extended from Aldwych to Liverpool Street. The current route is now 24 hours.

Route 23C ran between Becontree (Chittys Lane) and Creekmouth (Power Station) via Bennetts Castle Lane, Longbridge Road, Barking, Ripple Road, Movers Lane, River Road and New River Road, and provided an irregular service running at times when shift changes took place at the power station. In 1951 some Monday to Friday journeys were diverted to serve Remploy Works, but they were withdrawn in 1957. In 1966 the service between Barking and Becontree was revised to run during Monday to Friday rush hours, with the journeys to Creekmouth continuing as before as irregular journeys. The Sunday journeys were withdrawn in 1968, and the entire route was withdrawn in 1973, being replaced by route 156. A couple of Creekmouth journeys continue to run today under the route number 387.

route 23C timetable
A double-sided timetable sheet dated 27th January 1965, listing times for the route between Becontree and Creekmouth via Barking (LT Garage).
This plate dates from post-1966, from the Barking–Becontree section. It is unusual in that the text is not centered. It is very rare to find this variation on an “E” plate.
The 23C was an interesting route being designed around work shifts, and was unusual in that respect in the Central buses area. It’s rather nice to have a “C” suffix on this otherwise-trunk route and is a very rare “E” plate to find around nowadays, and more so containing the word ONLY.

24 - 27
This split “E” plate would have come from a stop between Warren Street and Camden Town.
24 - 29
In the 1980s coloured vinyl stickers were used to designate “tourist” routes. One location this particular combination appeared was in Trafalgar Square.
"Buses from this " for routes 24, 29 & N90
BUSES FROM THIS STOP bus stop poster for routes 24 to Hampstead Heath, 29 to Wood Green and Southgate Station, and N90 to Edmonton. It was posted at point C in Parliament Street, and has a print date of April 1976.
A green-on-yellow “Tourist Route” sticker is partially visible below the night bus stop on the north side of Trafalgar Square. In this 30 July, 1988 view, Selkent’s coach-seated Olympian L262 [VLT 14, but originally D262FUL] can be seen on the special 400 Armada service to Greenwich alongside Cityrama’s open-topper number 39 [KUC939P] (ex-London Transport DMS1939) which is waiting for sightseeing passengers. ▶
Photo © Andrew Colebourne.

Route 24 is a very old service that has hardly altered through the years. In 1910 it ran between Hampstead Heath and Victoria via Gospel Oak, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, Totten Court Road, Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square and Westminster. By 1914 it had been extended to Pimlico (Grosvenor Road) via Victoria Street. There have been no routeing changes since, other than those required by the imposition of one-way traffic schemes. Over the years almost every type of London bus has run on the 24: green British Automobile Traction Daimlers, the NS type, STLs, SRTs, RTLs, RTWs, RTs, Routemasters (both short—RM—and long—RML), the experimental Atlantean XAs, T-type Titans, MCW Metrobuses; and since the advent of tendering: VAs, S, DLAs, VPs, TEs and Es. Originally allocated to BAT’s Camden Town garage [AQ], London General and London Transport always ran the route from Chalk Farm [CF] (although Victoria Garage [GM] had a Sunday allocation in the 1950s and early ’70s). Grey Green operated the 24 from Stamford Hill Garage [SH] (later [SF]), then Tottenham [AR] garages. Metroline used Holloway Garage [HT], and—having gone full circle—the present-day London General has allocated the route to its Stockwell [SW] Garage.

Route 27 ran on Sundays only from from Archway Station to Hounslow via Tufnell Park, Kentish Town, Camden Town, Warren Street, Baker Street Station, Marylebone, Paddington, Notting Hill Gate, Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Kew Bridge, Richmond, Twickenham and Whitton. In 1952 the route was diverted at Twickenham to run to Teddington, and introduced on Mondays to Saturdays. From 1953 until 1965 the Summer Sunday service was extended to Hampton Court via Bushy Park. In 1970 the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Richmond (Bus Station) and Teddington and replaced by new route 270, and in 1982 the Saturday and Sunday services were similarly cut back. In 1991 the route was shortened at both ends to run only between Camden Town and Turnham Green, and replaced to Archway by the 135, and to Richmond by the 391. In 1995 it was extended from Camden Town to Chalk Farm (Safeway’s—now Morrison’s). It has been worked by Holloway [J], Shepherd’s Bush [S] and Turnham Green [V] garages amongst others, and has seen RT and Routemaster buses.

In 1949 route 29 ran from Victoria Station to South Mimms (Blanch Lane) via Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road, Camden Town, Holloway, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Green Lanes, Turnpike Lane Station, Wood Green, Palmers Green, Southgate, Cockfosters, Hadley Woods, Potters Bar and Mutton Lane, with a Monday to Friday peak hours extension to Borehamwood (Chester Road) via Barnet Way and Elstree Road. On Monday to Saturday it ran in two sections: Victoria—Hadley Woods and Turnpike Lane—South Mimms or Borehamwod. In 1951 the Borehamwood terminal was changed to the Elstree Way Hotel. In 1953 Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday journeys were introduced to Clare Hall Hospital. Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Potters Bar and South Mimms in October 1956, except for occasional journeys to Clare Hall Hospital, but was restored three months later. In 1968 Monday to Saturday service north of Southgate Station was replaced by new route 298, except for Monday to Friday peak hour journeys which now terminate at Cockfosters Station. In 1970 Sunday service was withdrawn between Southgate and South Mimms, replaced by new route 299. At the same time Monday to Saturday pm late journeys were terminated at Palmers Green (Triangle). In 1977 the 29 was diverted beyond Palmers Green to Enfield Town (Palace Gardens) via Winchmore Hill. In 1990 Monday to Saturday early morning journey to Enfield Garage were introduced following route 107. In 1991 it was withdrawn between Trafalgar Square and Victoria, and the next year it was withdrawn between Palmers Green and Enfield, replaced by new route 329. In 2006 service was withdrawn between Wood Green and Palmers Green and replaced by a revised route 141.

A more detailed history of routes 24 and 29 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

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