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London Transport
Central Area Routes 20–24

Last updated 18-07-06.


Route 20 ran daily between Leytonstone (Green Man) and Epping Town via Wanstead, Woodford High Road, Woodford Wells, Loughton and Wake Arms. In 1954 some Sunday journeys were extended to Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital), and these journeys became daily in 1963. In 1965 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays and replaced by new one-man-operated route 20B. This route 20 was withdrawn in 1966; however, the number cam back in 1968 for a route running between Walthamstow Central Station and Loughton Station via Leyton, Whipps Cross, Woodford and Woodford Wells, covering part of the withdrawn route 38A. In 1969 the 20 was extended from Loughton to Epping Town, with some journeys running on to St. Margaret’s Hosital. In 1976 it was rerouted at Loughton to run to Debden Broadway via Chester Road, swapping ends with the 20A. In 1982 the Debden end ran as a loop in both directions, either in via Debden Estate or Rectory Lane. Some schoolday journeys were diverted to Chigwell (West Hatch School). In 1986 the loop working at Debden was withdrawn with buses running both ways via Debden Estate. Under tendering, the route has been operated by Eastern National, First Capital and Grey Green.

This plate would have come from Loughton Station where buses ran both ways through the forecourt, and would probably have been one of just two made.

Route 20A was introduced in 1954 running daily between Leytonstone (Green Man) and Debden Broadway via Wanstead, Snaresbrook, Woodford Green, Woodford Wells, Loughton and Chester Road. In 1976 it was converted to one-man-operation and the northhern end was swapped with route 20, and therefore diverted at Loughton to run to Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital) via Wake Arms and Epping Town. In 1982 it was withdrawn between Loughton Station and Leytonstone, and reduced to run only on Mondays to Fridays except evenings, and during Saturday shopping hours. School journeys were extended from Loughton to Chigwell (West Hatch School) via Buckhurst Hill. The route was withdrawn later in 1982 and partly replaced by new route 201.



Route 20B was introduced in 1965 as a one-man-operated service running on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays between Epping (St. Margaret’s Hospital) and Loughton Station via Epping Town, Wake Arms and Church Hill. It was extended during peak hours to Buckhurst Hill Station. It was a part-replacement for route 20 which was withdrawn on these days. In 1966 a Saturday service was introduced between Epping and Loughton Station, using crew operation with RTs. The route was withdrawn in 1969, so this plate would have come from the period when it ran daily. It is an exceptionally rare route number to find on an “E” plate.

During April 1949, route 21 ran between Moorgate Finsbury Square and Eltham Well Hall via London Bridge, Borough, Great Dover Street, Bricklayers Arms, Old Kent Road, New Cross, Lewisham and Lee Green, with a Sunday extension to Farnborough Bull via New Eltham, Sidcup, Birchwood Corner and Swanley. In 1956, the Monday-Saturday service between Sidcup and Farningham was withdrawn and replaced by route 21A, then reintroduced in 1962, and yet withdrawn again between this section in June 1968! In January 1971 the Saturday service was withdrawn between London Bridge and Moorgate, and the Sunday service withdrawn between New Cross and London Bridge, with the Saturday service reintroduced between London Bridge and Moorgate in October 1978. During September 1980, the Sunday service was extended from New Cross to London Bridge. During the late ’80s, buses were extended to Foots Cray Tesco’s. Equally, in the late ’80s, one journey was introduced to West Kingsdown, with this being withdrawn in November 1997. During its time, buses ran out of New Cross, Sidcup and Old Kent Road garages, but buses now only run out of New Cross. This route now runs between Lewisham and Moorgate via New Cross, Old Kent Road, Bricklayers Arms, Great Dover Street, Borough, London Bridge, Monument and Bank.

A more detailed history of route 21 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

The route numbers appear to be stickers affixed onto a painted piece of aluminium, and the days of operation has been cut from what appears to be an “E” plate sticker. All this has been done officially. Aluminium “E” plates were produced by London Transport generally for one of two reasons: only one plate was required and was not worth producing a batch, or an “E” plate was urgently required. This style of plates were also more to economical to produce by LT, and were made during the era of enamel plates, although I believe this one might have been done during the early ’80s.



Route 21A ran Monday to Friday peak hours non-stop from Woolwich (Parsons Hill) to Eltham then to Farningham (Bull) via Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Sidcup, Foots Cray and Swanley. In 1952 it was withdrawn between Sidcup Garage and Farningham, but revised to stop between Woolwich and Eltham (running via Woolwich Common and Well Hall Road), and Monday through Saturday service was introduced between Eltham (Well Hall Station) and Sidcup Garage. In 1956 the 21A was extended from Sidcup Garage to Farningham. In 1962 Saturday service was withdrawn amd replaced by an extension of route 21. In June 1968 service betwen Swanley and Farningham was withdrawn outside of peak hours, but weekend service was introduced between Sidcup Station and Swanley to partially replace the withdrawn section of route 21. In November of the same year it was converted to single deck one-person-operation, and daily service was extended from Sidcup to Eltham (Well Hall Station). In 1972 the route was withdrawn between Swanley and Farningham. In 1976 double-deckers returned, and in 1982 it was further cut back between Sidcup and Well Hall Station. In 1983 Sunday service was withdrawn, and in October 1984 the route was eliminated entirely.

Route 22 ran daily between Homerton and Putney Common via Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Bank, Holborn, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner. Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Kings Road, Chelsea, Parsons Green and Putney Bridge. In 1987 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Bloomsbury and Homerton and replaced by new route 22B. In 1988 it was extended on Sunday evenings to Homerton Hospital. In 1990 it was withdrawn between Piccadilly Circus and Bloomsbury/Homerton. It was one of the last routes to use Routemasters.



Route 22A was introduced in 1972, running daily between Homerton and Liverpool Street via Hackney, Dalston and Shoreditch, thereby introducing an element of one-man operation to the northern end of route 22. It was extrended from Homerton to Clapton Park Estate later that year. In 1975 it was extended on Sundays from Liverpool Street to Wapping via Aldgate, Leman Street and The Highway, and in 1979 it was extended to Wapping to run there daily. In 1986 it was extended from Clapton Park to the Lee Valley Ice Centre during midday and evenings, and later that year it was rerouted to run along Queensbridge Road. In 1989 it was withdrawn between Aldgate and Wapping. In 1990 it was rerouted back along Kingsland Road instead of Queensbridge Road and revised to run daily between London Bridge Station and Clapton Park Estate. It was withdrawn in 1998 when it was replaced by new route 242. It was always one-man-operated, and was eventually tendered, being run by Kentish Bus for a period of time.

Timetable leaflet for new bus route 22A starting October 28 1972, with print code 972/3190S/35000. This is a fold-out leaflet with brief details of the changes and a fare table on the front. Inside are bus stop timetables for the service and on the back are diagrams showing how to use split entrance buses.


In November 1947, route 23 ran between Becontree Heath and Marylebone, via Longbridge Road, Barking, East Ham, Upton Park and Plaistow (Monday to Saturday evenings), extended via Canning Town, Poplar, Limehouse, Stepney, Commercial Road, Aldgate, Bank, Holborn, Oxford Circus and Baker Street Mondays to Saturdays except evenings, and being extended to Aldgate during evenings in from 1959. In September 1968, route 23 was withdrawn between Aldgate and Marylebone, but introduced on Sundays to replace a withdrawn section on route 9. During October 1970, some Monday to Friday morning journeys were projected from Aldgate to Bank.

This plate dates from the period until 1968 when the route ran on Mondays to Saturdays only, which was then described as “WEEKDAY”.
The word “WEEKDAY” was later replaced because it was ambiguous (as more people began following a five-day work week) and was sometimes taken to mean “Monday to Friday”.
This “SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY” plate is extremely rare, having been only used for a period of some weeks in October 1970 when some Monday to Friday morning journeys ran on from Aldgate to Bank! It is certainly in newer condition with black back, but with raised enamelling for the lettering, and is in extremely good condition. The latter days of “E” plates saw them with level enamelled lettering as the techniques later employed enabled thinner materials to be used.

Notice the subtle differences between these three plates? It is variations like this that make collecting “E” plates so interesting.

In 1977 the Monday to Friday peak hour service was extended from Aldgate to Farringdon Street via route 15 (from which section this plate came). But just four years later, in January 1981, the peak hour service via Bank to Farringdon Street was withdrawn, and the whole Monday to Saturday service was extended from Aldgate to Oxford Circus via Tower, St Paul’s, Aldwych, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Then from April of that year the service was completely revamped to run daily between East Ham and Ladbroke Grove. In May 1985, this service was renumbered route 15.

The number 23 was brought back into service as a route between Westbourne Park Station and Liverpool Street, via Elkstone Road and Kensal Road (Mondays to Saturdays), Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s (Sundays), Westbourne Grove, Paddington, Edgware Road, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Regent Street, Piccadily Circus, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, Strand, Aldwych (Saturdays and Sundays), Fleet Street, Ludgate Circus, St Paul’s, Mansion House Station, Bank and Liverpool Street Station (Mondays to Fridays). The current route is now 24 hours, running between Westbourne Park Station and Liverpool Street Station. It only lost its Routemasters as recently as 2005.

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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.