London Transport
Miscellaneous “E” Plates

Last updated 03-03-10.

The “E” plates in this section have no routes numbers, and are all either symbols or text-only.


These FARE STAGE plates were a new way of showing fare stages at bus stops. Fare stages were the points from which a new fare was calculated. They previously had been shown by means of a small circular black disc near the top of the post (an example of which is shown to the right). In a few cases, such as on bus shelters or in bus stations, there was not a suitable pole and an “E” plate was used instead, sometimes placed in runners on top of the shelter. It was a short-lived method, and was subsequently changed to a tall vertical red strip, the depth of the bus stop flag, attached between the post and the flag.

◀ This pair of “E” plates probably came frome somewhere in the vicinity of Edgware Station (Station Road or Edgwarebury Lane maybe?), and would likely have applied to routes 18, 107/A, 142 and 292A. I believe they pre-date the red FARE STAGE plates because of their colour. ▶ FARE STAGE FOR BUSES VIA WATFORD BY-PASS
The FARE STAGE “E” plates were made both with and without a black top and bottom edge, although the former version seem to be slightly more common.
Red “E” plates were never particularly common, being used only for a few special purposes, and are not easily found nowadays.
40 cm x 8 cm FARE STAGE PLATE “E” plate FARE STAGE plates were replaced by vertical red plates, approximately 40 cm x 8 cm (1534" x 318") affixed to the bus stop poles adjacent to the stop flag.

Head stop “E” plates normally had black letters on a white background.
The black head stop versions came in at least three sizes of lettering, and this one has the top line 75mm (3") wide.
This head stop plate has larger letters and the top line is 95mm (3¾") wide.
This is the one-line version, with the smallest lettering.
Occasionally green lettering was used for head stop “E” plates. I don’t know if they were made to match Green Line coach stops.
A white on red plate similar to this one was spotted on the internet, but was probably experimental.

Tail stop “E” plates are rather uncommon, and in that case it was to tell the driver of an opo bus to pull forward and stop with their rear (or “tail” of the bus) at the bus stop. It was more usual for the bus stop post to be moved to a more conventional position on the pavement, and avoid the queue of intending passengers having to turn round and walk to the front of the bus.TAIL STOP

A head stop sign was used to indicate to bus drivers of crew operated (rear entrance) vehicles that they should stop with the front—or “head”—of the bus at the bus stop post. They were needed in cases where just forward of the stop there might have been a driveway or some such which was not to be obstructed by a stopped bus, or the bus stop post could not be located in the normal position for some reason. Head stop signs became more common when one-person-operated buses were being introduced, and shared stops with conventional rear entrance buses. (If there was only a rear entrance bus serving the stop, the bus stop post would normally have been moved further back about 10 meters (30 feet) so the bus could stop in the correct position.) Sometimes the sign was on a red G3 “Q” plate the width of the stop flag, but where there were a number of routes stopping and space was tight, the message was placed on a conventional “E” plate. Similarly, there were also tail stop signs. The latter were quite unusual.

1966 Luton Hoo timetable
A copy of the special Luton Hoo Wernher Collection timetable taken from the local Luton road and rail timetable booklet dated 2 October 1966. The map shows it ran out of the Luton Bus Station (which closed on Sunday 6 January 2008)—as did the 365 and 366—as far as Park Road where those routes turned left to Viaduct Arches. At that left turn this service carried straight on through the Lodge gate and into Luton Hoo Park. The same timetable is shown in subsequent issues (with slight dates of operation variations) up to and including the 19 February 1972 issue—the last of such publications, so I don’t know when it finished. The operator is simply shown as The Wernher Collection Special Bus.
There must have been very very few “E” plates for this service. They are an unusual shade of blue that is only known to have been used in one other instance, for an Eastern National pair that may be a manufacturer’s error.

Luton Hoo, located 2½ miles (4 km) southeast of Luton, is a handsome country mansion begun by Robert Adam in 1767 and completed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1816. It was rebuilt between 1903 and 1907 following a fire. It housed a splendid art collection assembled by Sir Harold Wernher, which included fine jewelry, Goblin tapestries, porcelain, 18th century furniture and works by Rembrandt, Memling, Constable, Reynolds and Titian. The superb gardens were designed by Capability Brown. The collection is now displayed at Ranger’s House, London. The mansion is no longer open to the general public, and the estate, including the country house, has been converted into a luxury hotel.

An limited-stop or express service operated to Luton Hoo from Luton (Midland Road Station) to the Manor House via Park Square. The service was seasonal, running Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. In later years I think a Victoria–Luton Hoo service was started up as a Green Line Summer Special, but nothing so far has surfaced to confirm this. It probably ran one season only, as something in the back of my mind tells me that the service was withdrawn mid-season for whatever reason.

This “E” plate would probably have come from Stevenage, and date from the earliest days of development of the new town when a large number of route variations ran to the Gunnells Wood Road Industrial Area. Thus this generic plate would have saved the production of a great many individual route plates for routes 800/800A/800B/800C, 801/801A/801B/801C and 802/802A/802B. It would most likely have come from Stevenage Bus Station.

Unusually, this “E” plate does not have the black edged top and bottom, and I therefore assume it is a much older plate. This is a very unusual wording in my experience, and I have only seen one of these before (so it may be one half of an unique pair). The text is also bolder than normal.


“E” plates showing arrows were used on top of aluminium bus shelters to show whether people should queue to the left or right—or in the case of double arrows, in two separate queues. How successful they were is unknown, it is not believed they were common, and were most likely to have been used in bus stations in the country area. They are now exceptionally rare.

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In traditional times London Transport went to the trouble of producing enamelled blank plates which could be used to stick temporary numbers on if a need arose until proper enamel plates could be produced. Blank “E” plates were also used to fill spaces behind the wider “G” and queue plates so that the “E” plates above would not slip down behind, although sometimes simply a square piece of aluminium would be used.

It has been suggested that these “E” plates were used at bus or Underground depots—perhaps as signs on doors—since there is (unused) self-adhesive tape on the back for affixing them. Given that they sport the more modern roundel rather than the two-colour bulls eye used up through the 1960s or the outline style of the ’70s, I think that these plates are most likely souvenirs.


Bus Station Signs

These large plates were from Turnpike Lane Bus Station and date from 1968 when special signs were installed in the new bus station. Stricktly speaking, they don’t have any connection to “E” plates, other than their similarity in appearance. They are exceptionally unusual and rarely seen, having only recently been discovered in a garage. Potentially there were four of each made, if there was a post at each end of each bay, and each post carried a sign on each side. But I never saw this arrangement at the station, so I can’t be sure.

Depth:8"200 mm
Width:734"195 mm
Weight:1834 oz535 g

Route 123 was introduced in 1960 as a replacement for trolleybus route 623 and ran daily between Manor House and Ilford Station via Tottenham Hale, Forest Road, Walthamstow, South Woodford, Southend Road and Gants Hill. In 1968 it was rerouted at Tottenham Hale to run to Enfield Town instead of Manor House via Bruce Grove, Turnpike Lane Station, Wood Green, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill. In 1977 it was withdrawn between Winchmore Hill and Enfield Town, and in 1988 it was withdrawn between Wood Green and Winchmore Hill.

Route 221 was introduced in November 1961, replacing trolleybus routes 521/621. It ran daily between North Finchley and King’s Cross via Friern Barnet, New Southgate, Bounds Green, Wood Green, Turnpike Lane Station, Manor House, Finsbury Park, Holloway and Caledonian Road. It was extended on Mondays to Saturdays and some early Sunday journeys to Farringdon Street. In January 1966 it was extended on Mondays to Saturdays from North Finchley to Edgware via Woodside Park, Mill Hill East and Mill Hill Broadway. In June 1970 the evening service was withdrawn between King’s Cross and Farringdon Street. From June 1972 the terminus at Farringdon Street was altered with buses now standing at Holborn Circus. The 221 was converted to one-man-operated DMS buses in March 1973. In March 1979 the Sunday service was standardised to run to Edgware, in line with the Monday to Saturday service. In February 1992 the service was withdrawn between King’s Cross and Holborn Circus apart from a few Monday to Friday early journeys. In April 1995 the 221 was withdrawn between Turnpike Lane Station and Holborn Circus.

221 NORTH FINCHLEY EDGWAREA second copy of this plate surfaced on ebay in November 2007.



Route 294 was the number that was going to be used for route W2 if agreement with the unions had not been reached in September 1968 over the introduction of new high-capacity one-man single deck buses. All of the new one-man lettered-prefix routes did have conventional route numbers allocated to them, which found their way onto signs owing to the late agreement being reached. However, the W2 was introduced in September 1968, running between Turnpike Lane Station and Finsbury Park via Hornsey, Priory Road, Alexandra Park (Victoria), Crouch End and Stroud Green.

This one is especially unusual as it is rare to find signs produced for routes that were never introduced.

This is a very old plate which would have been positioned on top of the old aluminium style shelters, and would have come from a Country Area bus station such as Hertford (illustrated here). Point identifiers in the central area used stop letters rather than numbers as there could otherwise have been confusion with route numbers.

Depth:10"250 mm
Width:1012"270 mm
Weight:2 lbs915 g

Most of the pairs were split apart so that the seller could make more money by selling the two halves separately. This one was purchased at the Showbus bus rally at Duxford in 2005 for £100 (but would likely fetch much more today!).
BUSES ONLY - Golders Green
← One of these signs survived at what was the entrance to the trolleybus turning circle (or lay-by) at Golders Green until February/March 2004. It was photographed on 8th February 2004, but was gone when visited on 9th March 2004. Attached is an earlier picture of it—not a great photograph because of the need to shoot contra-jour on account of the sign being one-sided, the reverse being black. Note that the direction of use of the lay-by was reversed in June 2003 (after a period of operational disuse) when the stand for the Hampstead Garden Suburb routes H1, H2 and H3 was moved there to free up space in the main bus station for terminating route 260 buses following that route’s truncation (with new route route 460 covering the bit onwards to North Finchley).
Amazingly enough, one of these signs survived in the former Country Area into 2006 (and may still be there)! It is of interest as it has a black on yellow IN plate attached to the top. →
Both photos, Andrew Colebourne
BUSES ONLY - Country Area

These signs were in brass frames and located at the entrance to bus stations and garages (obviously!). Some were mounted back-to-back in pairs when affixed to poles or posts. Although having approximately the same proportions as a “double-vertical” “E2” plate, it is about 30" high × 17" wide. The more common version read BUSES ONLY rather than BUSES & COACHES ONLY.

London Coastal Coaches Ltd. was an association of coach operators. The company provided London terminal facilities, most famously the Victoria Coach Station which opened in 1932. In 1968 LCCL became a subsidiary of the National Bus Company.

This Coach Stop flag was located in Uxbridge High Street 20m south of Harefield Road. The flag is flat and appears the same size as the London Transport BUSES ONLY – NO ENTRY… signs, in a similar bronze frame. Unusually, it is not set in London Transport’s Johnston typeface, which is used for virtually all their signage.

Click on any of the tiles below to go to images of the “E” plates and the route descriptions for that number series.
Clicking on any stop flag will return to the home page.
“E” Plates
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