London Transport
Country Area Routes 300–303

North of the Thames

Last updated 23-03-10.

Route 300 first appeared on the 63/64 Country Area map running between Grays (War Memorial) and Dartford via South Stifford and the Dartford Tunnel. A note states that a surcharge is required for going through the Tunnel!—one must wonder why there just weren’t fare stages at each end of the tunnel. In 1964 it was been diverted to run via West Thurrock instead of South Stifford, and had been extended from Grays to Stifford Clays (Whitmore Avenue) via Socketts Heath. (Also, appearing just on the 64/65 map was route 300A, which operated between Stifford Clays and Purfleet via Socketts Heath, Grays and West Thurrock.) In 1965 the Dartford Tunnel service was withdrawn and the 300 had replaced the old 300A as a daily service between Stifford Clays and Grays via Fairway and Turps Corner, extended on Mondays to Saturdays to East Purfleet (Mill Road) via West Thurrock and Stonehouse Corner, with some journeys extended to Purfleet Station. This service was renumbered 375 quite late in London Country days (by 1978) as the 300 number was needed for the renumbering of the 303A to eliminate the “A” suffix.

300
300 MON.-FRI. PEAK HOURS
I believe the MON.-FRI. PEAK HOURS plate came from the Purfleet Station extension.

300 LIMITED STOPS

A Maidstone & District service 300 ran well into the London Transport area. It provided journeys on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Thamesmead (Eynsham Drive/Harrow Manorway) to Leysdown (Bus Station) via Abbey Wood, Plumstead, East Wickham, Welling, Bexleyheath, Crayford, Dartford, Stone, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Newington, Bobbing, Queenborough, Sheerness and Minster. In the 1978 timetable, buses were shown as leaving Thamesmead at 0900 on Saturdays and Sundays, and at 1930 on Fridays, arriving in Leysdown two hours and 47 minutes later. Return journeys from Leysdown departed at 1230 on Saturdays and 1730 on Sundays. Journeys on other days ran only between Gravesend and Leysdown. The service was designed to take people on holiday. There wouldn’t have been any number conflict with London Transport’s services, as routes south of the Thames were in the 4xx series.

This plate is especially interesting as it is unusual to find ones with red numbers on white backgrounds which are not for Saturday or Sunday routes. Also, limited stop and express services normally had white on blue “E” plates.


Route 301 was one of the country area’s major trunk services and ran between Watford Heath and Aylesbury via Watford, Huntonbridge, King’s Langley, Apsley Mills, Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead, Boxmoor, Berkhamsted, Northchurch and Tring. When the route was extended from Watford to Little Bushey via Bushey on 29 January 1964 (replacing the 312), the main Sunday service remained Watford Junction to Aylesbury. To serve Little Bushey an irregular, infrequent service was provided from Garston Garage to Little Bushey.

Route 302 is described below. Route 306 ran between New Barnet Station and Leavesden (Ganders Ash) via Barnet, Arkley, Borehamwood, Elstree, Bushey Heath, Bushey and Watford. During rush hours some journeys ran to Leavesden Works instead of Ganders Ash. The Sunday service ran only between Borehamwood and Leavesden.

A more detailed history of route 301 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

RT 3238
RT 3238 [KYY 967] pauses opposite Tring Garage in July 1969. The B(C)C(C) stop has “E” plates for United Counties route 61, Country routes 301 and 387, and Green Line coach 706; the latter two displaying FARE STAGE as well. Also, note the finials at the top of the post.
Kevin McCormack photo; HLB3
301 FARE STAGE
These plates have the extra FARE STAGE wording, meaning that it was on a bus stop where a particular fare started and ended. This indication was for the benefit of both passengers and conductors. There were fewer plates with this wording and they have become particularly collectable.
301 FARE STAGE
301 FARE STAGE
For some unkown reason, the number is off-centre on this “E” plate.
301 SUNDAY
Stops between Garston Garage and Watford Junction were posted with examples of this plate.
301 BERKHAMSTED
This plate may have come from the vicinity of Watford Junction, where there were many destinated “E” plates.
1973 timetable for routes 302 & 302
This London Country bus stop timetable card for routes 301 and 302 dates from 7 July 1973.
301-302
This plate could have come from any stop on the common section between Two Waters and Bushey, most likely in Watford town centre. As with all split plates, they were produced for stops where there were too many routes for each to have its own plate, and as such they tend to be rather desirable and uncommon.
301-306
Split “E” plates tended to be made for specific bus stops where there was insufficient space to display all route numbers on separate plates. This one would probably have come from a bus stop in Watford town centre, or possibly at Bushey & Oxhey Station.

301A

Route 301A provided just one Monday to Friday rush hour journey between Ovaltine Works and Watford By-Pass (Savage & Parsons) via Kings Langley and Watford Junction. It was a rarely-seen short-lived route and the journeys only ran from 1959 to 1967.


Route 302 ran between Watford Heath and Bennetts Gate via Bushey & Oxhey, Watford, Ridge Lane, Langleybury, King’s Langley, Apsley Mills, Two Waters, Moor End, Hemel Hempstead town centre and Longlands. Along with the 301 it provided the main trunk service between Bushey, Watford and Two Waters, at which point the 301 ran on to Aylesbury via Tring. The routes were very long established and were operated by RTs for many years.

Route 377 ran between Apsley Mills and Redbourn via Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead and Cupid Green.

A more detailed history of route 302 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

302
With its larger numbers and somewhat heavier than normal surface wear and edge chipping, this “E” plate is probably rather old.
302
302-377
Split plates are much rarer as they were usually produced where there was insufficient room to accommodate every route on a separate plate, and this tended to be on just a few stops in town centres. My guess is that this one came from Hemel Hempstead.

302A SUNDAY

Route 302A was apparently a Sunday-only variant of the 302, as I have not been able to find reference to it on any of my Country Area maps. My guess is that it operated during the early- to mid-1960s, at the zenith of the suffixed routes in the Watford area.


Route 303 ran between Hitchin (St. Mary’s Square) and New Barnet Station via Little Wymondley, Stevenage, Knebworth, Mardley Hill, Welwyn, Welwyn Garden City, Stanborough, Hatfield, Bell Bar, Brookman’s Park, Little Heath, Potters Bar and Barnet.

The 303A also ran between the same termini, and is described below.

A more detailed history of route 303 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

303
303
The numbers on this “E” plate are noticeably bolder than usual.
303
This is a vinyl sticker, as used by London Country on a standard MoT stop sign.
303 FARE STAGE
303 SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY
I do not know where this “E” plate would have been posted.
303-303A
The 303 and 303A changed hardly at all over the years, which accounts for this plate being old and a little weathered.
303/303A
This plate is particularly unusual in that the line splitting the two routes is diagonal rather than the usual horizontal, and I cannot establish the reason why. This treatment was applied to just this route combination and one other (the 802/802A) as far as I can tell. It also has no black line at the top and bottom, as was the case with some very early plates.

303A
303A

The 303A followed an almost identical route as the 303 between Hitchin (St. Mary’s Square) and New Barnet Station, except that it diverted between the Rookery and Little Heath to serve Welham Green and Brookman’s Park Station while the 303 served Brookman’s Park (Town Centre). During the ’70s the 303A was renumbered 300 when London Country was busy eliminating suffix letters from its routes; the original route 300 being assigned the new number 375.

A more detailed history of route 303A can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).


Route 303C ran between Hitchin (St. Mary’s Square) and Stevenage Industrial Area via Symonds Green during Monday to Friday rush hours, and was introduced in the 1970s after the 303 and 303A had been converted to one-man-operation in order to retain some crew operation for the remaining conductors. (As there never was a 303B, I wonder if the “C” stood for Crewed?) It was a relatively short-lived operation and used RTs from Stevenage Garage [SV]. Of course, routes with “C” suffixes were always less common.

303C
303C
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