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London Transport
Central Area Routes 15–19

Last updated 12-07-06.

Back in November 1949, route 15 ran from Kew Green (Sundays), via Kew Bridge, Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, Acton Vale, East Acton, Wormwood Scrubs, Barlby Road, St Marks Road, and Ladbroke Grove (Mondays to Saturdays), extended via Westbourne Grove, Paddington, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Fleet Street, St Pauls, Bank, Aldgate, Stepney, Limehouse and Poplar (Monday to Friday mid-days), being further extended via Canning Town, Plaistow and Upton Park to East Ham White Horse during Monday to Friday peaks and evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. On Sundays, buses operated in two sections: East Ham & East Acton or Aldgate & Acton—Kew Green. In connection with the Trolleybus Replacement Programme, route 15 was extended from Poplar to East Ham at all times. During January 1967, Kensal Rise journeys were introduced as a result of the Ladbroke Grove canteen closure, and in October 1969, the route was suspended between Acton & Kew Green for winter months, being reinstated in 1970, with this continuing for future years. In May 1975, the Sunday service was rerouted at Kew Road to Richmond Bus Station. This extension was all through the year instead of just seasonal. In May 1985, the route was diverted between St. Paul’s and Aldgate via Cannon Street and Tower of London. In June 1987, the Sunday service was withdrawn between East Acton & Ladbroke Grove and converted to OPO on Sundays. During March 1991, route 15 was extended to the Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s. During July 1992, the Monday to Saturday service was withdrawn between Ladbroke Grove & Paddington, being replaced by new route 23. May 1993 brought the withdrawal of service between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove, and in September 1999, route 15 was withdrawn between Poplar and Canning Town, with buses diverting from East India Dock Road via Cotton Street to Blackwall Station DLR. During August 2003, route 15 was withdrawn between Blackwall and East Ham, and is running nowadays between Paddington and Blackwall Station. Of course, the 15 is now one of just two routes running in London using Routemasters, and this Heritage Route 15 runs between Trafalgar Square and Tower of London.

A more detailed history of route 15 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

15 15


Route 16 ran between Victoria Station and Sudbury Town Station via Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Maida Vale, Kilburn, Cricklewood, Neasden, North Wembley and Sudbury. In 1970 it was withdrawn between Neasden (Dog Lane) and Sudbury Town and replaced by route 245. The same year an express service numbered 616 was introduced between Cricklewood and Oxford Circus, but was eventually replaced by route 16A. In 1973 the terminus changed to Neasden (Shopping Centre). In 1985 the 16 was extended during Monday to Saturday shopping hours to Neasden (Tesco), and similarly extended on Sundays in 1992. In 1997 it was withdrawn between Cricklewood Garage and Neasden and replaced by new route 316.

A more detailed history of route 16 and its variants can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

Route 16A was introduced in 1976 as a replacement for express route 616, running on Mondays to Saturdays between Victoria and Brent Cross Shopping Centre via Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Maida Vale, Kilburn, Cricklewood and Staples Corner. In 1981 it was rerouted at Marble Arch to run to Oxford Circus instead of Victoria. A Sunday service was introduced in 1994. The route was withdrawn in 1997, and partly replaced by new route 189.


17 MON-FRI↔ Spot the difference? The plate on the left has no full-stops after the abbreviations. Differences like these are what makes the collecting of “E” plates so interesting.17 MON-FRI
The “SPECIAL JOURNEYS” “E” plate wasn’t from part of the route; rather, it came from a single stop on a short working, possibly Farringdon Street, where through buses didn’t stop. →17 MON-FRI SPECIAL JOURNEYS

Route 17 was introduced in 1961 as a trolleybus replacement route replacing part of the 517 / 617 routes, and ran daily between North Finchley and King’s Cross via East Finchley, Highgate, Archway, Holloway and Caledonian Road. It was extended on Mondays to Fridays and during Saturday mornings to Farringdon Street via Grays Inn Road and Holborn Crcus, and further extended on Mondays to Fridays to Camberwell Green via Blackfriars and Elephant & Castle. In 1966 it was extended on Sundays from King’s Cross to South Kensington, running beyond Camberwell Green via Brixton, Stockwell, Clapham Common, Clapham Junction, Battersea and Fulham Road, replacing route 45 on that day. In 1971 the Saturday and Sunday service was withdrawn, and it was also withdrawn between Archway and North Finchley, and replaced by new route 263 over that section. In 1978 the route was withdrawn completely. Today’s route 17, introduced in 1985 after “E” plates had been discontinued, covers many of the same roads and runs between Archway Station and London Bridge Station.

Route 18 ran between Wembley (Empire Pool) and Edgware Station via Sudbury, Harrow, Wealdstone, Belmont and Canons Park. Some Monday to Friday rush hour journeys were extended to Aldenham Works. It was also extended on Sundays from Wembley to London Bridge Station via Stonebridge Park, Craven Park, Harlesden, Kensal Green, Harrow Road, Paddington Green, Marylebone Road, Euston, King’s Cross, Grays Inn Road, Holborn Circus, Ludgate Circus and Southwark Bridge. In 1962 the extension to London Bridge became daily, replacing route 18B and trolleybus route 662. In 1966 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Paddington Green and London Bridge, but in 1969 it was extended as far as Baker Street Station. In 1970 the 18 was withdrawn between Sudbury and Edgware/Aldenham and replaced by new route 182. In 1982 it was withdrawn on Saturdays between King’s Cross and London Bridge. In 1985 it was withdrawn between Farringdon Street and London Bridge and replaced by new route 17. In 1986 the 18 was converted to one-man-operation and revised to run from Sudbury to Baker Street Station daily, extended to Euston Station on Sunday afternoons, to King’s Cross on Mondays to Saturdays and to Farringdon Street during Monday to Friday peak hours. In 1991 it was withdrawn between King’s Cross and Farringdon Street. In 1992 the Sunday afternoon extension to Euston was cut back to Baker Street. In 1995 it was revised to run daily beyond Baker Street Station to Euston Station. In 2003 the 18 was converted to articulated bus operation. It was one of the earliest London bus routes to be operated by bendy-buses on the Pay-Before-You-Board principle.

A more detailed history of route 18 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

18This is one of the plastic plates which superseded enamel “E” plates and vinyl stickers. This type of plate has a fitting on the back which fits into a kind of keyhole mounting on the bus stop flag. →
This plate has a yellow background colour to denote Pay-Before-You-Board. I think it would have been from a stop at the extreme eastern end of the route around Euston in the central PBYB area. In this area all route numbers are shown on a yellow background above a single sign reading something like “PAY BEFORE YOU BOARD ON ALL ROUTES”. Outside this zone PBYB would only have applied to route 18, so I think individual plates would have carried the PBYB legend.


Route 18A was introduced in 1967 between Acton and Kings Cross via North Acton, Harlesden, Kensal Green, Paddington Green and Euston during Monday to Friday rush hours. It finished its days between Acton and Baker Street Station and was withdrawn during 1982. It was never converted to one-man-operation and was RM operated for most of its life from Middle Row Garage [X], only receiving crewed DM vehicles during its last year.

The earlier plate carries the “RUSH HOURS” wording, which in later years was changed to “PEAK HOURS”. Note also on the first plate that there is a “.” after “FRI” but one is missing after “MON”. Although “E” plates were made both with and without periods (see the ones for route 17, for example), this is the only one that I have seen that is “half and half”.

Route 19 ran daily from Finsbury Park (Plimsoll Road) to Tooting Bec Station via Highbury Barn, Highbury Corner, Upper Street, Angel, Roseberry Avenue, Bloomsbury, New Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccaddilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Kings Road, Chelsea, Battersea Bridge, Falcon Road, Clapham Junction and Trinity Road, with a Sunday afternoon extension to Streatham Common (Greyhound) via Tooting Bec Road and Streatham High Road. In October 1956 the Sunday afternoon extension was withdrawn, then reinstated just seven months later, but withdrawn once more in October 1957. In 1966 Sunday service was extended to Streatham Garage via Tooting Broadway and Southcroft Road. In January 1972 the route was curtailed to Finsbury Park–Tooting Bec Station at all times, however, that July Sunday service was cut back from Tooting Bec to Clapham Junction and replaced with new one-man-operated service 19A. After the 19A was withdrawn in 1974, route 19 resumed daily operation between Finsbury Park and Tooting Bec. The following year Monday to Friday garage journeys were extended to Tufnell Park (Monnery Road) via Holloway and Tufnell Park Road. In 1984 all Monday to Friday service was extended from Finsbury Park to Archway Station via Holloway, Tufnell Park Road and Dartmouth Park Hill. In 1985 the 19 was withdrawn between Archway and Finsbury Park except for garage journeys to Tufnell Park. In 1987 it was withdrawn—except on Sundays—between Clapham Junction (Boutflower Road) and Tooting Bec and replaced by new route 219. When Holloway Garage [HT] lost its weekday allocation on the 19 in 1989, all the Tufnell Park journeys were withdrawn, but the next year Sunday garage journeys were added between Tooting Bec and Merton Garage via Tooting Broadway and Colliers Wood Station when part of the Sunday allocation was transferred to Merton [AL]. In 1991 the route was withdrawn between Battersea Bridge (South Side) and Tooting Bec. From April 1992 buses were diverted to Worlds End, Chelsea whilst repair work was carried out on Battersea Bridge, and reurned back to normal in February 1993. Later in ’93 Kentish Bus assumed operations of the route. In 1998 operation was transferred from Kentish Bus to Arriva London South, but Sundays were sub-contracted to Grey Green.


An even more detailed history of route 19 and its variants can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).


Route 19A ran on Sundays only from Finsbury Park to Hammersmith via Highbury, Islington, Bloomsbury, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth and Putney. It was introduced in February 1969 and withdrawn in March 1971.

Another Sunday-only 19A was introduced in July 1972 between Battersea Garage and Tooting Bec Station via Clapham Junction and was withdrawn in October 1974.

Both route 19As were very short-lived, and this “E” plate could have been used for either of them. It is not a common plate, and is rather interesting being a Sunday-only route.

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