London Transport
Country Area Routes 406–409

South of the Thames

Last updated 13-11-09.


Route 406 ran daily for 70 years or so beginning in 1920. It was numbered S6 in the East Surrey series from 1921, and renumbered 406 in 1924. It ran between Kingston (Bus Station) and Redhill Station via Surbiton, Tolworth, Ewell, Epsom, Tattenham Corner, Tadworth, Lower Kingswood and Reigate. It still operates today as part of the London Buses’ network, albeit no further south than Epsom. In its peak, it required 22 RT-type buses from Leatherhead [LH] and Reigate [RG] garages, but is operated today by just four Tridents.

A more detailed history of route 406 and its variants can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

Route 406A ran between Kingston (Bus Station) and Tadworth Station via Surbiton, Tolworth, Ewell, Epsom, Epsom Downs, Tattenham Corner and Merland Rise. It was essentially a “short” of the 406 except for the diversion via Merland Rise between Tattenham Corner and Tadworth. (This has now become the main line of the 406.) The 406A began operating in the 1950s and was withdrawn in 1970.



Route 406F was a shuttle service between Epsom Station and Epsom Downs which operated on special race days. It was the only “F” suffix route within the entire London Transport network. It was also noted for its eclectic collection of vehicles assigned—on Derby Day normally anything that was available from almost every garage south of the Thames!

Alas, this “E” plate never actually existed, as the stand for 406F journeys was marked with a portable dolly stop sign.

Sybil Andrews (using the pseudonym “Andrew Poewr”) designed this poster for the new London Passenger Transport Board. in 1933.


Route 407 ran between Langley Village and Cippenham via Slough, and the 407A provided some rush hour journeys which also served the Slough Trading Estate.

Routes 446 and 446A were a pair of daily services running between Slough Station and Farnham Road (George), the 446 via Whitby Road and 446A via Manor Park. In later years they became a circular pair serving Wexham Park Hospital.

Obviously, split “E” 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. The second plate is rare enough as a triple, but is the only one that I can recall that has four route numbers on it!


This “E” plate is in quite good condition, just a little weathered from its long stay on the street—perhaps 30 years or more
I thought this plate may have come from Croydon bus station; however, Ray Rock writes: “I spent many boyhood hours bus spotting at West Croydon bus station in the late sixties/early seventies and recall the ‘E’ plates being plain numbers, as the route destinations were displayed on a poster in the timetable panels, along with the stop locations.”
This “E” plate is made of lighter metal and is hand-painted with a much darker shade of blue than is normal for express plates. The back is plain grey paint.

For very many years route 408 ran from Guildford to West Croydon via Merrow, East Horsley, Great Bookham, Leatherhead, Epsom, Ewell, Cheam, Sutton, Wallington, Beddington and Croydon; and from the 1930s until the 1970s, on to Warlingham Park Hospital or Farleigh via Sanderstead, Warlingham and Chelsham. It can trace its origins to 1921 as East Surrey route S6B, renumbered S8 in 1922 and 408 in 1924. It still operates today, albeit only as a short local route in the Epsom area. In its peak, it even had express journeys, and—together with associated route 470—required 23 RT-type buses from Leatherhead [LH], Guildford [GF] and Chelsham [CM] garages.

A more detailed history of route 408 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

Route 408A ran daily between Guildford (Bus Station) and Merrow (Bushey Hill). It was a short shuttle service taking under 30 minutes to make the entire round trip, and I would think that there would only have been a couple of stops in Guildford town centre fitted with “E” plates.

A more detailed history of route 408A can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).



When London Country Bus Service needed another “E” plate for route 409, they took a surplus route 461 plate and affixed self-adhesive vinyl numbers to the back. It appears that the EXPRESS wording has been salvaged from yet another plate.
This plate is believed to have come from a stop at Godstone Green when the London Transport bullseye flags were replaced with standard London Country signs in the late ’70s.
This plate would probably have come from West Croydon Bus Station where many of the “E” plates carried destinations.
There were a total of only 11 stops on the express section of route 409, making this a very rare “E” plate.
409 - 411 - 455
◀ This has got to be quite a late use of metal “E” plates, as the 455 had been a High Wycombe–Uxbridge route until High Wycombe Garage [HE] closed in October 1977, when the service was then renumbered as the 325 (which number had been vacated from the St. Albans area). There can’t have been many new metal plates after then, and I’m guessing no triplets on one plate after this one. Triple-split “E” plates are especially uncommon, and this one would have come from a bus stop in the Croydon area.
A double-sided bus stop poster listing times on routes 409 and 411 for services between WEST CROYDON & FOREST ROW and WEST CROYDON & GODSTONE. The reverse shows journeys in opposite direction. It is dated December 1937. ▶
1937 route 409 & 411 timetable

Route 409 began operating on 1 December 1924, when it assumed the identity of London General Country Services’ route S4, which dated from 3 June 1922. It took 2 hours and 58 minutes to run from West Croydon to Uckfield via Purley, Old Coulsdon, Caterham, Godstone, Blindley Heath, Lingfield, Felbridge, East Grinstead, Forest Row and Chelswood Gate. In 1933 it was withdrawn beyond Forest Row (which was now Southdown territory), and remained in that form for the next 46 years (although the “up” terminus eventually moved to West Croydon Bus Station). On Sundays, there was no service between Godstone (Bus Garage) and Felbridge, so through journeys from Croydon to Forest Row could not be made on this day and Green Line route 708 was the alternative. On 26 October 1979 the 409 was withdrawn between East Grinstead and Forest Row, and a limited stop express service was introduced, partly replacing withdrawn Green Line route 719 which had, in its turn, replaced route 708. From 31 December 1981 bus journeys on the 409 operated only as far south as Lingfield (Stoats Nest Road).

Route 411 was another long-established London Transport route dating back many years. The 411 ran from West Croydon to Reigate and followed the 409 as far as Godstone, then continued via Bletchingley, Nutfield and Redhill. The 455 was a London Country invention (replacing the previous 405B), and ran between West Croydon and Crawley, similar to route 405.

A more detailed history of route 409 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in London Country (Ian Allan, 1984; ISBN 0 7110 1360 8).

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