London Transport
Country Area Routes 380–389

North of the Thames

Last updated 23-03-10.

Route 380 map

Route 380 was a Grays local service to Linford via Chadwell St. Mary, and West and East Tilbury. It only ran during the mid 1950s.

Route 380 reappeared in the early 1960s, operating from Hertford (Bus Station) to Sawbridgeworth (Knight Street) via Ware, St. Margarets, Stanstead Abbots, Eastwick and High Wych. This service was withdrawn in 1963, replaced by routes 388—Hertford to Eastwick—and 390—Eastwick to Sawbridgeworth.

The 380 was reintroduced in 1966 as a local service in Harlow, running between the bus station and Mark Hall North via Mark Hall South. It was an extremely short route and would probably have only had “E” plates at one or two stops.

This “E” plate could have come from either the Grays, Hertford or Harlow services.


Because of the irregularities in the numerals on this “E” plate, I believe that it is hand lettered.
Route 381 map
Route 381 circa 1961–1963.
Route 381 map
Route 381 circa 1969–1972.

Route 381 began operating on weekdays in 1950 or 1951, between Epping and Toothill (Green Man) via Stewards Green, Mount End and Colliers Hatch. In 1959 occasional journeys were extended from Epping to Roydon via Epping Green and Tylerscross. By 1961 it had been further extended to St. Margarets. At the same time it was diverted in Epping through the Beaconsfield Estate, away from High Street and Lindsey Street. In 1963 some journeys diverted at Steward’s Green to terminate at Coopersale Common instead of Toothill. For 1965 the route was withdrawn beyond Tylerscross, diverted instead to Eastwick (Lion) via Great Parndon and Harlow, although occasional journeys continued to run to Roydon. In 1966 the timetable was revised so that Toothill and Coopersale Common were equally served. In 1968 the Coopersale Common journeys were extended back to Epping via Houblons Hill and Epping Road to provide a circular service. The route was withdrawn in 1972, and most of the roads and villages served by the 381 have long since been without a bus service.

In 1977 the number was re-used for the renumbering of the 384B, running between Stevenage (Bus Station) and Letchworth Station via Graveley and Letchworth Gate.

Route 382 ran on Mondays to Saturdays between St. Albans Garage and Codicote (The Goat) via Fleetville, Sandridge Road, Astwick Manor, Lemsford, Ayot Green and Welwyn. It was a rather infrequent route, with just four return journeys on Mondays to Fridays and six on Saturdays.

The weathering and larger numbers on the first “E” plate suggest that it is quite old. Note also the more pronounced “hook” on the “2”, which is also characterisitc of older “E” plates.

382 382


Route 383 was a local route in Hitchin and ran on Mondays to Saturdays between Oakfield Estate and Weston via Walsworth and Willian with part of the service running to Purwell Lane Estate. The only stops that would probably have had “E” plates would have been in Hitchin town centre, so this is likely to be a very difficult number to find.

Route 383 map

Route 384 was the long way ’round between Hertford (Bus Station) and Letchworth Station. On leaving Hertford the 384 left in the opposite direction, heading east to Ware, then on via the pretty villages of Tonwell, Sacombe, Dane End, Whempstead, Benington and Walkern before reaching Stevenage bus station via Pin Green nearly an hour and a half later for a journey of only ten miles via the direct route! It then continoued on to Letchworth via Graveley and Wilian. The route was cut back to Stevenage in the 1970s. Incredibly, the 384 still wends its way along this route five time a day, Monday to Saturday. There were also two variants: the 384A which branched off from Dane End out to the middle of nowhere to turn around in a farmyard at Great Munden, and the 384B (renumbered 381 in the ’70s) which ran via the 807’s routeing through Letchworth Gate. “E” plates for these latter numbers must be very rare indeed.

The larger numbers and heavy weathering suggest that this plate is quite old.
This “E” plate dates from the late 1960s.

This “E” plate may have come from Rickmansworth Station, where the network of one-way streets meant that buses passed the same stop heading for different destinations,
385 - 385A - 385B
Split plates are rather uncommon, but this one is particularly interesting as it is triple-split, which only occured in places where there was a great many routes serving one stop, and it is likely to have come from a stop at Watford Junction or in the town centre (or possibly Rickmansworth Station).
1934 route 385 timetable leaflet

The 385 group of routes ran in the Rickmansworth and Watford area. Route 385 ran between Rickmansworth (Berry Lane Estate) and Watford By-Pass (Savage & Parsons) via Rickmansworth Station, Croxley Green, Watford Junction, Bushey Mill Lane and Mill Way Estate.

Routes 385A and 385B are described below.

A folded timetable leaflet for route 385—RADLETT ROAD & WATFORD (MET. STN.)—dated 31st January 1934. It was produced by London Transport, but still bears the “General” logo. It contains a timetable, plus a map of routes and list of services in the Watford area. The map was drawn by F.H. Stingemore, who is best-known for the Underground maps he produced.

Route 385A ran between Rickmansworth (Berry Lane Estate) and Garston Garage via Rickmansworth Station, Croxley Green, Watford Junction, Bushey Mill Lane and Meriden Estate. The service was renumbered 389 in 1976 when London Country was dispensing with suffix letters.



Route 385B ran between Rickmansworth (Berry Lane Estate) and Aldenham Road (Bushey Mill Lane) via Rickmansworth Station, Croxley Green, Watford Junction and Watford By-Pass. There were just a couple of rush hour journeys in my 1965 timetable.

This is a very rare “E” plate as fare stage plates are much less common.

Route 385C was a schools service that ran between Watford, North Watford, Queens Schools and Bushey & Oxhey Station. There was just one journey in each direction from memory, as it is not shown in my 1965 timetable.

The  FARE STAGE  plate is astonishingly rare plate as they were much less common, and most of the (few) stops along this route carrying “E” plates would have had SPECIAL JOURNEYS ones.


It was, unusually for the country area, necessary to include the days of operation on the 286’s “E” plates because of its limited operation, and therefore these plates appeared on stops at many remote locations, which accounts for the weathering on many of them.
This “E” plate sold for £510.05 on ebay in June 2008.
This is the only “E” plate that I can recall where the destination is above the days of operation. Also, I believe it is the third-most expensive “E” plate to sell on ebay, changing ownership for £828.08 in January ’08.

Route 386 was a very infrequent rural route that meandered through numerous small villages in Hartfordshire on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays only, presumably for shoppers. On Saturdays it ran between Hitchin (St. Mary’s Square) and Bishop’s Stortford (Havers Lane Estate) via Great Wymondley, Titmore Green, Stevenage, Walkern, Cromerhill, Ardeley, Cotered, Buntingford, Hare Street, Dassels, Braughing, Puckeridge, Standon, Wellpond Green, Little Hadham and Bury Green. On Tuesdays it only ran from Hitchin to Buntingford, and on Thursdays it ran the other half of the route from Bishop’s Stortford to Buntingford. Latterly, the Tuesday service was extended from Buntingford to Hertford via Standon, then Colliers End, Wadesmill and Ware, and the Thursday service was diverted at Standon to run to Hertford the same way. Part of the Saturday service was also altered to run to Hertford. The through journeys from Hitchin to Bishops Stortford took 2 hours and 12 minutes! A few journeys ran to and from Hertford via Colliers End and Wadesmill. For most of its life, the 386 was operated by GS and RF single-deckers from the route 308 allocation out of Hertford [HG] Garage. It covered some of the most superb countryside in Hertfordshire, passing through many picturesque villages. Some of the lanes it served were so narrow that the bus brushed the hedges on both sides! No doubt these roads have since been widened.

Route 387 ran between Aldbury and Tring (Beaconsfield Road) via Tring Station, with no changes to the routeing through the years except for a short circular via Highfield Road, added in the 1960s. It was for a long time worked by XMB 15, and Albury Village with its picturesque pond was often used as a location for filming television series such as the Avengers. It still runs today (albeit operated by Red Rose Travel), and has been extended to Beech Park Estate via a circular through Tring and then Chesham Road.

This plate is also marked FARE STAGE. For a short route like this it does make it rarer.



In 1950 route 388 ran between Mardley Hill and Hertford (Bus Station) via Welwyn, Welwyn North Station, Digswell, Harmer Green, Burnham Green and Tewin. By 1959 it had been extended from Hertford to Sawbridgeworth (Knight Street) via Ware, St. Margarets, Stanstead Abbot, Eastwick, Gilston and High Wych, replacing route 389. In 1961 the route was bifurcated, terminating from the Hertford direction at Mardley Hill on Monday to Friday, but on Saturday some shopping-hour journeys were diverted at Welwyn to run to Welwyn Garden City Station. In 1964 the 388 was withdrawn east of Harlow (Bus Station), and the Hertford–Sawbridgeworth service was renumbered 390, rerouted to serve Harlow Bus Station and Roydon, and extended from Hertford to Stevenage. Only a couple of 388 journeys ran from Harlow, as the main service started at Hertford, and only four Monday to Friday journeys ran on to Mardley Hill from Welwyn North. By the ’70s, the service had been shortened to run from just Hertford to Welwyn North.

Red Country Area “E” plates are particulary unusual. This one would have come from the Welwyn North–Welwyn Garden City branch.

In 1950 route 389 ran between Hertford and Sawbridgeworth (Knight Street) via Ware, St. Margarets, Stanstead Abbots, Eastwick, Gilston and High Wych. However, it was replaced by an extension of route 388 by the end of the decade.

Judging from its weathered condition, this “E” plate probably belongs to the original 389.



The number 389 was reintroduced on 6 May 1964—lasting only until 12 January 1965—between Potter Street and Harlow Town Station via Harlow Bus Station. This service was replaced by route 805.

In 1966 the number was used for a circular service in Ware between Ware Station and Kingshill Estate. It was still operating in 1975 serving Musley Hill, Musley Lane and Kingsway. (Thanks to Richard Bradley for the expanded route history.)

Clifford Beeton adds, “The route number 389 was used in 1976 as a replacement for the 385A when London Country was dispensing with suffix letters. This number was in use until the Watford Wide scheme of 1979, when the 389 became parts of routes W1, W2 and W4.”

This destinated “E” plate clearly belongs to the very short-lived 1964 route 389, and would have been posted at Harlow Bus Station. It sold on ebay for a tidy £577.89!

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