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London Transport
Central Area Routes 4–6

Last updated 12-07-06.

Route 4 ran on Mondays to Fridays between Finsbury Park Station and Surrey Docks Station via Highbury Barn, Highbury, Islington, Aldersgate, St Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Blackfriars Bridge, Elephant & Castle, New Kent Road and Bermondsey. It was withdrawn in 1966.

The route number 4 was reintroduced in 1971 as a renumbering of the 4A and ran on Mondays to Saturdays between Tufnell Park (Monnery Road) and Farringdon Street via Holloway, Finsbury Park, Highbury Barn, Highbury, Islington, Barbican and St. Paul’s, extended on Mondays to Fridays to Waterloo Station via Aldwych. In 1978 the Saturday service was also extended to Waterloo. In 1981 it was extended from Tufnell Park to Archway Station via Dartmouth Park Hill. In 1982 the service between Farringdon Street and Waterloo was reduced to Monday to Friday peak hours only although it was reinstated at all times on Mondays to Fridays in 1984, and at the same time the service beyond Finsbury Park to Archway was reduced to just garage journeys, with the 19 covering this section. It was converted to one-man-operation in 1985 and was again extended to Archway Station. In 1986 the Saturday service was again extended to Waterloo. In 1991 a Sunday service was introduced between Archway Station and Islington (Angel). This was one of the few routes operated by London Suburban Buses in the early days of tendering.

The first “E” plate could have come from either version of route 4; however, if it came from the newer 4 it would have been from the stretch between St. Paul’s and Waterloo from 1971 to 1978, or between Farringdon Street and Waterloo in 1984–1986.


This plate must have been made for the earlier route 4A, as the term “WEEKDAY” was generally used to mean Monday to Saturday. It became ambiguous as more people no longer had to work on Saturdays, and “Weekday” could also have been taken to mean Monday to Friday, which was why London Transport later spelt out the days as either “MON-FRI” or “MON-SAT”.
This “E” plate is from the second incarnation of the 4A, as the original route did not have any Monday to Friday only sections.
This plate likely came from the vicinity of Aldwych where routes 4A and 68 ran together for a short way.

Until 1957 Route 4A ran daily between Finsbury Park and Elephant & Castle via Highbury, Islington, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus and Blackfriars. It was extended on Mondays to Saturdays to Clapham Common via Camberwell and Brixton. The Sunday service was withdrawn in 1957, and the route was withdrawn completely in August 1958. A subsequent Route 4A was introduced in 1961 between Finsbury Park and Waterloo via Highbury, Islington, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street and Aldwych running on Mondays to Fridays only, and this route was renumbered 4 in September 1971.

Route 68 ran daily between Chalk Farm Station and South Croydon via Camden Town, Euston, Russell Square, Aldwych, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, Camberwell Green, Denmark Hill, Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Upper Norwood, Thornton Heath and West Croydon. It was extended to South Croydon Garage in 1957. In 1986 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Euston Station and Chalk Farm. In 1996 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Euston and Chalk Farm, and it was also cut back from South Croydon to Norwood Garage.

During November 1953, buses ran between Shepherd’s Bush Green (Roseford Gardens) and Ladbroke Grove (St. Charles Square) via Holland Park Avenue, Royal Crescent, St Annes Road, Mortimer Square, Latimer Road, Bramley Road and Lancaster Road on Mondays to Saturdays, with this route being withdrawn on 19 May 1954.

In November 1959, route 5 was back, this time as a replacement for trolleybus routes 567 and 665 between Clerkenwell Green and Barking Garage, via Old Street, Commercial Street, Aldgate East, Stepney East, Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, Plaistow, Barking Road, East Ham and Barking. In October 1961, the Monday to Saturday service was extended from Barking Garage to Becontree (Chittys Lane) via Bennetts Castle Lane, replacing the withdrawn section of service on route 238 (which was diverted to Little Heath), and also extended daily from Clerkenwell Green to Bloomsbury. In May 1962, route 5’s Sunday service was extended from Barking Garage to Becontree via Becontree Avenue and renumbered route 5B, and in August of the same year, the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between East Ham and Becontree and diverted at East Ham to the White Horse. The Saturday service was also withdrawn between Barking Garage and Becontree and renumbered route 5B. In September 1968, the Monday to Friday service was withdrawn between Clerkenwell Green and Bloomsbury, and the Saturday service introduced between Clerkenwell Green and East Ham partly replaced route 5C which was withdrawn. The Sunday service was introduced between Bloomsbury and Poplar with early morning journeys extended to East Ham. This partly replaced withdrawn route 5B. It was converted to one-man operation in 1971. In 1978, the route was revised to run daily between Bloomsbury and East Ham (White Horse). In January 1981 the 5 was extended daily from Bloomsbury to Waterloo Station via Kingsway and Aldwych (over route 68). In April the service was yet again extended daily from East Ham to Becontree Heath via Barking and Longbridge Road, replacing withdrawn route 23. It was also one of the few routes reconverted to Routemaster operation on Mondays to Saturdays. In October it was rerouted at Shoreditch via Liverpool Street over route 78 to Aldgate instead of via Commercial Street. In September the following year route 5 was withdrawn on eveings and weekends between Old Street and Waterloo, and the Sunday service became crew operated. It again received one-man vehicles in 1985. In March 1989, the 5 was withdrawn between Old Street and Waterloo except for early journeys to Holborn Station on Mondays to Saturdays (replaced by new Red Arrow route 505). Various changes occurred during April 1990, including the Monday-Saturday service withdrawn between Poplar and Old Street/Holborn (partly replaced by new route D3) and introduced instead between Canning Town and Becontree Heath replacing withdrawn section of route D5. The Sunday service between Canning Town and Old Street was withdrawn after the market closed. In September 1999 the Sunday extension from Canning Town to Old Street was withdrawn, with buses running nowadays between Becontree Heath and Canning Town Station. At the end of March 2006 the 5 was extended from Becontree Heath to Romford to replace route 87. As can be seen by the preceding history, there have been many changes to route 5, along with its variants 5A, 5B and 5C.

New buses leafletNew-type one-man double-deck buses were introduced to route 5 on 17 April 1971, making it one of the first routes to receive DMS buses.5 SUNDAY

I cannot place exactly where the Sunday “E” plates came from. Suffice to say they are more unusual than the weekday versions. →

The “FARE STAGE” “E” plate is rather unusual since it is a red Sunday plate with “FARE STAGE” shown in black. →

← Although the lettering on “E” plates was never entirely consistent, the number “5” is somewhat bolder than normal on the lower left plate.


Route 6 map
This “E” plate is an extremely rare one as it might have come from just a single bus stop where there was a curtailment point, and it could well have come from the stop at Kensal Rise Station to draw attention to the fact that some buses did not serve the stop when they were running through from Willesden Garage.
6 - 11
6 - 11
6 - 59 SUNDAY
These two plates came from stops over the common section of routes 6 and 11 between Trafalgar Square and Bank where the two routes traversed the same ground. Note that the digits “1” are much closer together on the second plate. These variations add to the interest of collecting “E” plates. This plate would have come from a stop along Oxford or Regent Streets, but it is a rather unusual combination of routes as it was more common to combine routes which ran parallel for a longer section. It is a highly desirable variation as it contains two routes in different colours.

Routes 6 and 11 are two of London’s oldest and most well-known routes, and their history goes back to the start of motor-buses in around 1910. They also hung on to their Routemasters until relatively recently. Route 6 ran between Hackney Wick and Kensal Rise Station via Well Street, Hackney, Cambridge Heath, Hackney Road, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Bank, St Paul’s, Fleet Street, Aldwych, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Warwick Avenue, The Chippenham and West Kilburn. A Monday to Saturday peak hours extension ran from Hackney Wick to Leyton Town Hall via Ruckholt Road. Willesden Garage journeys continued on from Kensal Rise via Staverton Road and Brondesbury Park. In 1964 Saturday service was withdrawn and replaced by new route 6B and regular service on the 6A. In 1966 Saturday service was reintroduced between Hackney Wick and Warwick Avenue Station. In 1968 Saturday service was extended from Warwick Avenue to Kensal Rise but withdrawn between Aldwych and Hackney Wick. (The latter was replaced by increased service on the 6A.) In 1969 the 6 was withdrawn between Hackney Wick and Leyton Town Hall. In 1970 Saturday service was re-introduced between Aldwych and Hackney Wick, but operation was split into two overlapping sections: Hackney Wick to Oxford Circus and Aldwych to Kensal Rise, replacing the withdrawn 6A. In 1973 Saturday through service was re-introduced. In 1992 the Aldwych to Hackney Wick section was replaced by new route 26. In 2005 it was extended from Aldwych to Willesden Garage via Kensal Rise, Chamberlayne Road, Donnington Road and Pound Lane.

Route 11 runs between Hammersmith and Liverpool Street.

Route 59 was a long-standing Sunday-only route that ran all the way from West Hampstead (West End Green) to Chipstead Valley via St John’s Wood, Baker Street, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Westminster, Lambeth Bridge, Kennington, Brixton, Streatham, Norbury, Thornton Heath, London Road, West Croydon, Croydon, South Croydon, Purley and Coulsdon. In 1978 it was withdrawn and replaced by routes 159 and 190. The 59 was worked from Croydon [TC], Streatham [AK] and Thornton Heath [TH] garages.

A detailed history of route 6 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

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Click on any of the tiles below to go to images of the “E” plates and the route descriptions for that number series.