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London Transport
Central Area Routes 36–39

Last updated 10-08-06.

Route 36 goes back to the days of Thomas Tilling, and ran daily between West Kilburn and Hither Green Station via Royal Oak, Paddington, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Vauxhall, Oval, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Lewisham and Catford. In 1969 the Saturday service was withdrawn between Victoria and West Kilburn, and in 1971 the Monday to Friday service was similarly cut back. In 1978 the Sunday extension to West Kilburn was withdrawn, but the Monday to Friday peak hour service was extended there instead. In 1986 the daily service returned to West Kilburn, and the terminus was redesignated Queen’s Park Station. In 1991 it was withdrawn between Lewisham and Hither Green. In 1992 it was extended on Saturdays from Lewisham to Catford Garage, and further extended during shopping hours to Grove Park via Downham. In 1994 it was again cut back to Lewisham, and in 2003 it was further cut back to New Cross Gate, and replaced by the new route 436 bendy-buses. It was one of the last routes to retain Routemasters, which operated the route from 1963 until 2005.

A more detailed history of route 36 and its variants can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

RT 2087
RT 2087 [LYF 25] in Park Lane on route 36, some time in the 1950s.
Photo courtesy of London Bus Routes.
36
This “E” plate has considerable edge chipping and this is probably because the route has had relatively few changes over the years and the plate is likely very old.
36
This one is unusual in how close together the two numbers are, and that the loop of the “6” is nearly circular rather than slightly teardrop shaped.

36A WEEKDAY 36A MON-FRI PEAK HOURS

Route 36A began running Monday to Saturday on 7 October 1951 between West Kilburn (Queen’s Park Station) and Brockley Rise (Chandos) via The Chippenham, Harrow Road, Royal Oak Station, Paddington, Edgware Road, Marble Arch, Park Lane, Victoria, Vauxhall, Oval, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross and Brockley Cross. In 1969 Saturday service was withdrawn between Camberwell Green and West Kilburn, and in 1971 Monday to Friday service was reduced to peak hours only. The next year Saturday service was withdrawn, replaced by route 171. In 1978 the 36A was withdrawn between Victoria and West Kilburn. In 1986 it was extended from Victoria to Paddington, but this was withdrawn two years later. The route was eliminated on 27 April 1991. Initially operated by RTs from Peckham Garage [PM] and RTLs from Camberwell Garage [Q], the route was transferred to Walworth [WL] in the 1950s and then Rye Lane [RL] (where it was converted to Routemasters), before returning to Peckham in 1969. MD-class Metropolitans ran on the route during the late ’70s.


Route 36B was introduced in 1958 as a renumbering of route 69 and ran daily between Victoria and Grove Park Station via Vauxhall, Oval, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Lewisham, Catford and Downham. In 1959 it was extended daily except Saturdays from Victoria to West Kilburn via Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Paddington and Royal Oak. In 1964 the Saturday service was similarly extended. In 1986 it was withdrawn between Victoria and West Kilburn, and in 1989 it was re-extended during Monday to Friday peak hours to Paddington, but this was cut back again in 1991. The route was withdrawn in 1994 and replaced by new route 136.

There is some discolouration due to weathering (visible in the picture), probably because the route has had relatively few changes over the years and the plate is likely very old.

36B

37

Route 37 is a very long-established route and ran daily between Hounslow Garage and Peckham via Isleworth, St. Margaret’s, Richmond, East Sheen, Putney, Wandsworth, Clapham Junction, Clapham Common, Brixton, Herne Hill, East Dulwich and Peckham Rye. The route remined unchanged for very many years until 1991 when it was split into three sections, with the 37 remaining between Putney (High Street) and Peckham. New routes 337 and H37 covered the remainder of the service.


Route 38 ran daily between Victoria and Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel) via Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, Bloomsbury, Islington, Dalston, Clapton, Leyton, Walthamstow, Crooked Billet and Chingford Mount. Until 1965, on summer Sundays it was extended to Epping Forest (Wake Arms). In 1968 it was withdrawn between Walthamstow Garage and Chingford and replaced by route 69. It was also diverted between Dalston and Clapton to serve Hackney. In 1969 it was withdrawn between Leyton and Walthamstow, and replaced by new route 55. In 1990 the 38 was withdrawn between Clapton Pond and Leyton, apart from Sunday garage journeys which ceased in 1997. It was one of the last routes in London to be operated by Routemasters, and was converted to bendy-buses in late 2005.

A more detailed history of route 38 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).

38

39
39 MON-FRI
39 MON-FRI OFF PEAK & SUNDAY

Route 39 ran daily between Camden Town and Southfields Station via Hampstead Road, Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross Road, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Victoria, Chelsea, Battersea Bridge, Clapham Junction and Wandsworth. In 1952 it was withdrawn between Victoria and Camden Town on Sundays. In 1953 it was extended during Monday to Friday rush hours and on Saturdays from Camden Town to Parliament Hill Fields via Kentish Town. From 1953 until 1957 the summer Sunday service was extended from Victoria to Parliament Hill Fields. In 1958 the Sunday service was withdrawn completely, but reintroduced that summer between Southfields and Parliament Hill Fields. Later in 1958 the Sunday service was withdrawn completely and the service was withdrawn between Camden Town and Parliament Hill Fields, and further withdrawn on Saturday afternoons between Trafalgar Square and Camden Town. In 1961 it was extended from Camden Town to Parliament Hill Fields. In 1963 the Monday to Friday service was diverted at Trafalgar Square to Finsbury Park Station via Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Camden Town and Holloway, and further extended during rush hours to Tottenham Garage via Manor House, partly replacing route 276. The Saturday service was renumbered 39A. In 1964 the Saturday service was reintroduced on the 39 between Victoria and Southfields, replacing the 39A. In 1970 the 39 was withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Tottenham, and in 1971 the Saturday service was diverted at Battersea Bridge to South Kensington via Fulham Road and renumbered 39A. In 1972 the route was converted to one-man-operation. In 1973 it was extended from Southfields to Putney High Street via Tibbetts Corner, and further extended outside peak hours to Putney Bridge Station, when there was less traffic congestion. In 1974 the 39 was introduced on Sundays between Battersea (Parkgate Road) and Putney Bridge Station. In 1978 a Saturday service was introduced between Victoria and Putney Bridge, and the service was extended to Putney Bridge at all times. In 1990 it was withdrawn between Clapham Junction and Victoria and replaced by route 239, and it was also rerouted via York Road and Plough Road instead of East Hill, although this reverted back to east Hill soon after.


Route 39A ran on Saturdays only from Southfields to Parliament Hill Fields via Wandsworth, Clapham Junction, Battersea, Victoria, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Tottenham Court Road, Camden Town and Kentish Town. This variation was a renumbering of the Saturday service on route 39, and it lasted only from August 1963 until November 1964.

Another Saturday-only route 39A was introduced in January 1971 between South Kensington Station and Southfields via Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham Junction and Wandsworth. It was extended from Southfields to Putney Bridge Station in March 1973, and the route was finally withdrawn in October 1978.

The 39A is particularly unusual as it has twice been introduced on Saturdays only. In any case, Saturday-only “E” plates for any route are rare.

39A SATURDAY
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