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London Transport
Central Area Routes 50–59

Last updated 22-08-06.

51 51 SEE BELOW

Route 51 ran daily between Sidcup Station and Farnborough via Foots Cray, St. Mary Cray, Sevenoaks Way and Orpington. Some journeys were extended on Sunday afternoons to Bromley Garage via Locksbottom. In 1958 it was extended during Monday to Friday peak hours and on Saturdays and Sundays from Sidcup Station to Blackfen, and further extended on Saturdays and Sundays to Welling Station. The peak hour extension to Blackfen was withdrawn in 1962. In 1963 it was extended on Saturdays and Sundays from Welling to Woolwich (Hare Street) via Plumstead Common, and further extended during Saturday peak hours to Victoria Way. In 1964 it was extended on Mondays to Fridays from Sidcup to Woolwich, also with peak hour journeys to Victoria Way. Some p.m. journeys were also extended daily from Farnborough to Hayes Station. In 1968 it was withdrawn between Woolwich and Victoria Way, and new route 51A covered this extension. In 1977 the 51 was converted to one-man-operation and was extended during Monday to Friday peak hours from Woolwich to Charlton Station. It was also diverted at Orpington to run to Green Street Green instead of Farnborough. The Hayes and Bromley Garage journeys were not replaced. In 1982 it was withdrawn between Orpington and Green Street Green, and diverted to Orpington Station. In 1985 the extension from Woolwich to Charlton Station was withdrawn. In 1986 some Monday to Friday peak hour journeys were diverted to Green Street Green, but these were withdrawn in 1989.

The second plate is an especially interesting one and is likely to have come from a single stop at a bus stand. Normally, “E” plates along sections of route served only on Sunday—such as to Hayes and Bromley—had the days of operation shown and were red, hence my theory on this one.


Route 51B was introduced in 1952 running during Monday to Saturday rush hours between Orpington Station and Sidcup Station via St. Mary Cray and Foots Cray. In 1958 it was extended during Monday to Friday rush hours from Sidcup to Eltham (Well Hall Station) via Blackfen. In 1964 it was withdrawn on Saturdays and revised to run all day on Mondays to Fridays between Sidcup Garage and Woolwich via Foots Cray, Blackfen, Welling and Plumstead Common. In 1968 it was withdrawn between Blackfen and Woolwich and reduced to rush hours only. In 1969 the route was withdrawn. This “E” plate would have therefore been used only between 1964 and 1968 when the route ran all day on Mondays to Fridays.

51B MON-FRI

52

Route 52 ran daily from Victoria to Mill Hill (Green Man) via Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove, Kensal Rise, Willesden, Neasden, Blackbird Cross, Kingsbury and Burnt Oak. It was extended during Monday to Saturday rush hours to Borehamwood (Warwick Road) via Apex Corner and Stirling Corner, with some journeys further extended to Borehamwood (Drayton Road). In 1951 it was withdrawn in Borehamwood between Warwick Road and Drayton Road, and the terminus was changed to Elstree Way Hotel, but in 1954 it was extended to Brook Road. In 1955 it was withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Mill Hill and Borehamwood except for rush hour journeys to Drayton Road, and replaced by new route 52A. In 1956 it was extended on Sundays in Borehamwood from Brook Road to Rossington Avenue. In 1963 the Monday to Friday rush hour service was extended in Borehamwood from Drayton Road to Rossington Avenue. In 1966 it was diverted to run to Mill Hill Broadway and withdrawn on Mondays to Saturdays between Mill Hill and Borehamwood. In 1969 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Mill Hill Broadway and Borehamwood. In 1992 it was withdrawn between Willesden and Mill Hill Broadway.


Olympian in Regent Street
An Olympian on route 53, trundling down Regent Street during the height of the summer sales in 1993, on its way home to Plumstead garage.
Photo courtesy dublo19
53
Route 53 was renumbered from 53A in 1952 and ran daily between Camden Town and Plumstead Common via Great Portland Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Elephant & Castle, Old Kent Road, New Cross, Deptford, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich, extended on Sundays to Plumstead Garage. In 1956 it was further extended on Sundays from Plumstead Garage to Erith via Wickham Lane, King Harolds Way and Bedonwell Road, replacing route 122A on this day. In 1963 it was withdrawn and the 122A reintroduced between Plumstead Garage and Erith on Sundays. In 1981 the Sunday service was diverted to terminate at the new Plumstead Garage at Plumstead Station, and the old garage was closed. In 1984 it was extended on Mondays to Saturdays from Camden Town to Parliament Hill Fields via Kentish Town, but was cut back to Oxford Circus at all times in 1987 when a local C2 route was introduced. In 2003 the 53 was withdrawn between Whitehall and Oxford Circus and replaced by new route 453.

A detailed history of route 53 can be found in Kenneth Warren’s book, The Motorbus in Central London (Ian Allan, 1986; ISBN 0 7110 1568 6).


54 54

Route 54 ran daily between Plumstead Common (Woodman) and Selsdon (Farley Road) via Plumstead Common Road, Woolwich, Charlton Park Road, Blackheath, Lewisham, Catford, Beckenham Hill Road, Beckenham, Elmers End, Shirley Road, Addiscombe Road, East Croydon and Upper Selsdon Road. In 1959 the Sunday service was withdrawn between Woolwich and Plumstead Common, and in 1963 the Monday to Saturday service was similarly withdrawn. In 1965 some Monday to Friday peak hour journeys were extended at both ends of the route: from Woolwich to Woolwich Industrial Estate, and from Selsdon to Riddlesdown. A couple of journeys ran through from Riddlesdown to Woolwich Industrial Estate, and the timetable shows a running time of 1 hour 45 minutes! In 1969 the route was diverted on Sundays to run to the West Croydon bus station instead of Selsdon. In 1973 the Saturday service was similarly diverted, and the Riddlesdown journeys were withdrawn and replaced by route 12A. The Woolwich Industrial Estate journeys were also withdrawn later that year. In 1985 it was rerouted to run to West Croydon at all times, and the Saturday shopping hour service was extended from Woolwich to Charlton (Asda), although this was withdrawn in 1986. In 2000 the route was withdrawn between Elmers End and West Croydon to try to force people onto the new Tramlink service.

The second “E” plate appears to have been ground off below the route number where the lettering “MON-SAT” may have possibly appeared or a place name had been. Also, the remnants of a sticker is also visible.

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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.