London Transport
Green Line Coach Routes 721–723

Last updated 27-03-10.

Route 721 ran between Aldgate (Bus & Coach Station) and Brentwood via Whitechapel, Mile End, Bow Road, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gallows Corner and Harold Park. While the 721 was once one of the busiest Green Line coach routes, running every 10 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays in the mid-60s, it was withdrawn on 2 July 1977, coincident with the closing of Romford Garage. The routes running from Aldgate were much shorter than the rest of the cross-London network, and “E” plates for the 721 are amongst the rarest to find.

Tony Harris writes, “I thought you might want to know why the 721 ‘E’ plate is rare. It’s because on the last night of the route in 1977 almost the whole garage staff went on the last bus and took down every single ‘E’ plate from every stop and they all had one as a souvenir—I don’t think the last bus kept to time! My Dad was one of these drivers and I have his 721 ‘E’ plate. There was great camaraderie at Romford and the drivers still meet every year with children now coming along too; they also hire a Green Line RCL now and again on significant anniversaries and drive down the old route, or ‘memory lane’ as you might say.”

721
1969 route 721 timetable
TIMETABLE AND FARES booklet for route 721, STARTING 7 SEPTEMBER 1969: the last issued by London Transport before the Green Line network was hived-off to the National Bus Company.

E A S T B O U N D
721 ILFORD ROMFORD BRENTWOOD
This plate is from an eastbound stop and may have come from Stratford. It also existed as an “E2” (or “double-vertical”) plate, as illustrated to the right. Although recreated in Photoshop, an example is known to have existed at Aldgate Bus Station, as evidenced by this photo of RT 3253.
721 ILFORD ROMFORD BRENTWOOD
RT 3253
A.B. Cross photo; London Bus Handbook 1955-62

W E S T B O U N D
721 STRATFORD ALDGATE
721 STRATFORD ALDGATE
This “E” plate sold for £440.01 on ebay in February 2006.

722 STRATFORD ALDGATE 722-722A

Route 722 ran from Aldgate via Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Becontree Heath, Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster to Corbets Tey. Route 722A was planned to run from Aldgate to North Romford (Chase Cross), but it was cancelled before service started.


◀◀ The scarcity of “E” plates for the 722 accounts for their high price. This one sold for a remarkable £621.24 in February 2010.
◀ This 60-plus-year old split plate is in perfect mint condition, as the 722A was never introduced.

Route 722A route was planned to run from Aldgate, following the 722 from Aldgate via Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford and Becontree Heath to Romford, from where it would have continued to North Romford (Chase Cross). However, the plans for the 722A were cancelled at the last minute owing to objections from Central Buses. Nevertheless, the number 722A did find its way onto “E” plates, and also into one timetable dated 14th October 1959.

This is an unique “E” plate, as routes rarely had plates made if they were not actually introduced. It sold on ebay for a tidy £600.

722A ALDGATE

bus

Route 723 ran between Aldgate and Tilbury (Ferry) via Stepney East, Poplar, East Ham, Barking, Dagenham, Rainham, Wennington, Aveley, Stonehouse Corner, Purfleet, Grays and Chadwell St. Mary. The 723 was worked initially by TF class vehicles from Grays garage and ran every 15 minutes daily between London and Grays, and hourly on to Tilbury.

This timetable leaflet for route 723 is dated On and after March 6, 1946, which date saw the reintroduction of the Green Line service between London (Aldgate), Grays and Tilbury, and was therefore the first leaflet issued for the newly-numbered route. (Before the War Green Line route Z1 ran to Tilbury, and the Z2 ended at Grays.) It is a single sheet of paper, folded to give eight 3½" × 5¼" pages, showing full timetables and boarding regulations, with a note that “single journey tickets only issued”. There were only 1,000 copies of this leaflet produced. ▶

Route 723 timetable 6 March, 1946
This route 723 destination blind is from the now-closed Grays [GY] Garage. It is dated 25/10/71, coded C37, and was manufactured by London Transport to fit the AEC RF, RC, RP and MB/SM classes, measuring 36" across. ▶
Route 723 destination blind
723
723
723
This plate was originally a 723A with a destination, but the “A” suffix and place name have been officially ground off by London Transport, no doubt when the 723A was withdrawn at the end of December, 1966. Route 723A followed the 723 between Aldgate and Wennington (Lenard Arms), but then diverted via Usk Road, Aveley, Belhus, North Stifford and Nutberry Corner to Grays.

E A S T B O U N D
723 DAGENHAM GRAYS TILBURY
723 GRAYS TILBURY
This “E” plate once had an extra name—likely BARKING—above GRAYS, but it has been officially ground off for some reason by London Transport.
723 COACH
I believe that this plate may once have carried the destination GRAYS, but it has been altered to show the word COACH, which has resulted in some damage. This plate is also thicker, and therefore heavier than most similar ones (which I find slightly surprising for a Green Line plate with white, rather than the older cream, text). The reverse is also white enamel.

W E S T B O U N D
723 ALDGATE CANNING TOWN
723 CANNING TOWN ALDGATEThis is a rare gem: a factory reject. This plate was never used (and is in pristine condition) because the locations are printed the wrong way ’round (Aldgate being the final destination). It was intended for use on a westbound stop near East Ham, but an error was made and instead the place names are reversed!.
723 POPLAR ALDGATE
This is a rare example of a painted plate which was probably produced because of an urgent need. It was sign-written—in a slightly extended version of the Johnston typeface—by specially-trained staff at London Transport’s Works & Buildings Department.
723 ALDGATE
There weren’t many destinated “E” plates on this route. Two examples of this one existed at Movers Lane (The Volunteer) and New Road (Cherry Tree Lane).

Route 723B began running in June 1954 between Aldgate and Tilbury (Ferry) via Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, East Ham, Barking, Dagenham, Rainham, Aveley, Stonehouse Corner,South Stifford and Grays. In 1964 the 723B was cut back to Grays in the east. Two years later Sunday service was eliminated and the route was withdrawn west of East Ham except for a rush hour extension to Aldgate. The route was withdrawn completely in October 1968. As with so many of the traditional Green Line coach routes, there is no sign of it left today.

723B WEEKDAY ◀ This plate is I think particularly interesting as it combined the very rare use of a “B” suffix for a Green Line route with the use of WEEKDAY—which dates it from New Year’s Eve day 1966 or later—rather than the usual selection of place names.
This destinated STRATFORD ALDGATE plate is the current ebay high-price record-holder, having chaged hands in February 2010 for £901. ▶

723B WEEKDAY GRAYS TILBURY
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