London Transport
Central Area Routes 156–159

Last updated 26-01-10.

156 MON.-FRI.
This “E” plate could have come from either the 1963 or 1971 occurence of route 156.
This “E” plate likely came from the extension to Remploy Works during the 1970s.
A timetable for the Remploy Works journeys was probably mounted on the bus stop post below this “E” plate.
This “E” plate may have come from Barking, where a large number of routes ran.
156 MON.-FRI. -  199 MON.-SAT.
◀ This plate would have come from a stop in Barking Town Centre and is probably just one of a single pair (of which I have the other in my collection). It is highly desirable as it combines two rather obscure and unusual routes from a very short period: 17 June 1972 (when the 199 began operating) to 10 March 1973 (when the 156 began running on Saturdays)—just 8½ months!

An early route 156 ran a daily circular service from Morden Station via Sutton and Cheam back to Morden, but it was withdrawn in 1961.

The next route 156 was introduced in 1963 and ran on Mondays to Fridays from Parliament Hill Fields to Clapham Junction via Kentish Town, Camden Town, Hampstead Road, Tottenham Court Road, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Lambeth Bridge, Vauxhall and Wandsworth Road, and was extended during rush hours to Wandsworth (Town Hall). It was withdrawn in 1965 having lasted just two years.

A new 156 was introduced in 1971, running on Mondays to Fridays between Barking (London Road) and Becontree (Chittys Lane) via Longbridge Road and Becontree Avenue, replacing part of route 106. In 1973 it was extended from Barking to Creekmouth (Power Station) via Ripple Road, Movers Lane and River Road replacing route 23C which was withdrawn. Some peak hours journeys ran to Creekmouth (Remploy Works). A limited Saturday service was also introduced. The route was withdrawn in 1982 and partly replaced by route 87.

Today’s route 156 runs between Vauxhall and Wimbledon but this was only introduced in 1983, after the use of enamelled metal “E” plates had been discontinued.

In June 1972 route 199 replaced the southern end of route 179, operating Monday to Saturday between Thames View Estate (Abridge Way) and Barking (London Road) via Bastable Avenue, River Road and Movers Lane. In 1978 it was extended from Barking to Ilford Station (Ley Street) via Longbridge Road, Fair Cross, South Park Drive and Green Lane, replacing the withdrawn route 291, and providing an evening service between Barking and Ilford. In September 1982 the 199 was withdrawn: the Thames View Estate end was replaced by an extended route 169, and South Park Drive was covered by additional journeys on route 148.

Route 157 ran between Raynes Park and Wallington Station via Martin Way, Morden, St. Helier, Wrythe Lane and Carshalton Station. In 1959 it was extended from Walllington to Crystal Palace (White Swan) via Stanley Park Road, Stafford Road, Epsom Road, Waddon, West Croydon, Whitehouse Road, Selhurst, Norwood Junction and Anerly as part of the replacement for trolleybus route 654. In 1970 it was withdrawn on Sunday between Morden and Raynes Park, apart from afternoon journeys; however, full Sunday service was reinstated in 1973. In 1982 northbound journeys were diverted via the Wallington Station forecourt. In 1988 all service was withdrawn between Morden Station and Raynes Park.

A bus stop timetable panel for route 157 dated 13th March 1946. The reverse side shows journeys in the opposite direction, to Raynes Park.
This “E” plate would have come from the section between Morden and Raynes Park during the years 1970–1973.


Route 158 began running in May 1950 between Watford Junction and Ruislip Lido via Watford High Street, Bushey, Bushey Heath, Brookshill, Harrow Weald, Wealdstone, Harrow, Bessborough Road, Lower Road, South Harrow, Eastcote Lane, Ruislip Station and Bury Street. Initially operated by RTW class Leylands, they were withdrawn in favour of RT vehicles one year later when the RTWs were transferred to Central London routes after permission from the police following the successful Notting Hill Gate, Threadneedle Street and Shaftesbury Avenue trials. In 1966 the 158 was withdrawn between Harrow and Ruislip Lido and instead diverted over the withdrawn section of route 114 to Rayners Lane Station via Porlock Avenue, South Harrow, Eastcote Lane and Kings Road. In 1970 it was withdrawn between Harrow Weald and Watford Junction, being replaced on this section by new route 182 between Wembley and Watford Junction. Two Monday to Friday morning peak hours journeys were extended to Harrow Weald (Halls Corner) in this direction only. The route was withdrawn in October 1971 and replaced by an extended route H1 from Rayners Lane to South Harrow and diverted 114 via Porlock Avenue.

A new route 158 was introduced in 1981 running on Mondays to Saturdays between Stratford Bus Station and Chingford Mount (Prince Albert) via Stratford Broadway, Great Eastern Road, Angel Lane, Leyton, Markhouse Road, Blackhorse Road and Crooked Billet. In 1991 a Sunday service was introduced. Initially operated by DMS buses, this type was replaced by Titans after only eight months. In 1987 the 158 was withdrawn in early evenings between Crooked Billet and Chingford Mount, and late evenings altogether. In 1991 evening and a new Sunday service were introduced, replacing part of withdrawn route 58A. Operation was also transferred to Capital Citybus. In March 2005 the 158 was transferred to Stagecoach, operating from their Stratford base. The 158 must have been one of the very last routes to have “E” plates made.

This “E” plate came from the bus stop in Stratford Broadway to show that buses were only going one more stop to the bus station. There would have been only two “E” plates like this, and both are in private collections.


159 MON.-SAT.
This “E” plate came from the section of route between Thornton Heath (Clock Tower) and South Croydon Garage between 1964 and 1978.
These red SATURDAY “E” plates would not have appeared on very many stops.

This “E” plate would have been posted on a stop between Streatham and St. John’s Wood. It is one of the rare ones where the routes are displayed in day-of-the-week instead of numerical order. The strange appearance of this image is due to a poor scan being repaired in Photoshop.
RML 2366
Arriva London South long Routemaster RML 2366 [JJD366D] at the terminating stop outside the former Streatham Garage at 7.44 a.m on Friday December 9th, 2005: the last day of regular Routemaster operation in London.
Matthew Wharmby photo; courtesy

Route 159 ran from Streatham Garage via Green Lane to Thornton Heath (Clock Tower), extended Monday to Saturday in the north to West Hampstead (West End Green) via Brixton, Kennington, Lambeth Bridge, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Baker Street and St. John’s Wood, and in the south to South Croydon Garage on Saturday afternoons, and further on to Old Coulsdon on Sundays. In 1956 the Sunday service was withdrawn, the Old Coulsdon section replaced on that day by route 190. In 1964 all Saturday journeys were extended to Croydon Garage. In 1972 the route was diverted at St. John’s Wood via Rossmore Road, Lisson Grove and Abbey Road instead of Lords. In 1978 Saturday service was withdrawn beyond Thornton Heath (Clock Tower). At the same time Sunday service was reintroduced, running between West Hampstead and Thornton Heath (High Street) via Westminster Bridge instead of Lambeth Bridge. In 1988 the 159 was withdrawn between Streatham (Green Lane) and Thornton Heath except for Sundays and Monday to Friday peaks. In 1990 it was withdrawn beyond Streatham. In 1992 the Sunday service was withdrawn, and all service between Baker Street Station and West Hampstead was replaced by new route 139. In 1994 it was withdrawn between Streatham Station and Green Lane. In May of 1999 the route was diverted to run the full length of Oxford Street and terminate at Marble Arch instead of via Gloucester Place to Baker Street, and four months later Sunday service was reintroduced.

Route 159 was originally operated by STLs and LTs from Croydon [TC], Old Kent Road [P] and Streatham [AK] Garages. The type was changed to all RT in 1951, with RTLs added in 1954 when Old Kent Road closed and was replaced by Camberwell Garage [Q]. Croydon Garage withdrew from the 159 in 1956, but Brixton Garage [BN] joined in in 1964. RTLs were withdrawn in 1966, and Brixton dropped out in 1969. Routemasters replaced the RTs in 1970. In 1982 Brixton Garage once again began operating the 159. In 1984 Streatham's allocation was withdrawn when that garage was shut for rebuilding work. Brixton operated crewed Daimlers on the route for a brief eight weeks during early 1985. In 1986 a Clapham Garage [CA] allocation was introduced, but it was withdrawn in February 1987 in favour of Streatham. In July of the same year the Brixton allocation was again withdrawnn and Sunday service converted to one-person-operation using a mix of Olympians and Titans (L and T types), with Metrobuses (M) added the following year. Later the same year long Routemasters (RML) were added and the Titans withdrawn. In January 1990 the Olympians were withdrawn and a Brixton allocation was again reintroduced. Six months later D class Daimlers began operating on Sundays. In 1991 the Streatham allocation was withdrawn, followed by Camberwell and the RMLs in 1994. In 1999 a Thornton Heath Garage [TH] allocation began. In 2001 new low-floor DLA type buses were introduced. On 10 December 2005 the 159 was ignominiously converted to OPO, ending the last crew operation in London apart from the “heritage” routes 9 and 15.

Route 59 was a long-standing route and ran on Sundays only 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 1964 it was diverted at St John’s Wood via Rossmore Road instead of St John’s Wood Road, and later that year was converted from RTs to Routemasters. In 1966 it was rerouted via Westminster Bridge instead of Lambeth Bridge. In 1970 it was diverted at Coulsdon to run to Old Coulsdon (Tudor Rose), replacing route 190 on Sundays. In 1978 the route was withdrawn completely and replaced by routes 159 and 190. The 59 was worked from Croydon [TC], Streatham [AK] and Thornton Heath [TH] garages.

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