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London Transport
Central Area Routes 50–59

Last updated 22-08-06.

Route 55 originally ran daily from Hayes Station to Chiswick (Edensor Road) via Yeading, Greenford, Hanwell, West Ealing, Northfields, Acton and Turnham Green, with a bifurcation to Chiswick (Grove Park Hotel) on Mondays to Saturdays. In 1955 it was extended beyond Hayes Station to Bourne Avenue. In 1968 it was withdrawn and replaced by new routes 274 and E3.

A new route 55 was introduced in 1969 running daily between Walthamstow Garage and Hackney (Well Street) via Leyton and Clapton. It was extended on Mondays to Saturdays, with some early Sunday journeys, via Cambridge Heath, Hackney Road, Old Street, Clerkenwell Green to Bloomsbury, and further extended on Mondays to Fridays via Oxford Circus and Baker Street to Marylebone Station. In 1971 the Monday to Friday extension was diverted at Holborn Station to run to Aldwych instead of Marylebone, and it was converted from RT/RM operation to to one-man-operated DMS buses in 1972. In 1978 it was extended daily to Aldwych, and the Monday to Friday peak hour service was extended to Waterloo Station. In 1981 it was one of just a few routes that were converted back to Routemaster operation, and was withdrawn between Walthamstow Central Station and Walthamstow Garage, and also diverted at Holborn to run via Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner to Victoria Station. In 1983 it was diverted at Leyton to run to Whipps Cross instead of Walthamstow Central. In 1987 the Sunday service was converted to single-deck Leyland National one-person-operation, and the Monday to Saturday service became opo later that year using Titans. Also that year the 55 was withdrawn between Tottenham Court Road Station and Victoria. In 1990 the route was withdrawn between Clapton Pond and Whipps Cross, and in 1992 was extended to Oxford Circus. In 1998 it was further extended from Clapton Pond to Leyton Green. In 2001 it was again re-comverted to crew operation, this time using low floor doored double-deckers as an experiment to see how boarding times might be improved using conductors, and this experiment ceased in 2003 when it again became one-person-operated.

This “E” plate could have come from the Bloomsbury to Marylebone section, or between Aldwych and Waterloo. Unusually, the text does not have any full stops, nor a dash between the words “MON” and “FRI”.
Timetable leaflet for the OPO conversion of route 55 starting 28 October 1972, with print code 972/3192S/47500. This is a fold-out leaflet with brief details of the changes and a fare table on the front. Inside are the bus stop timetables for the service and on the back are diagrams showing how to use split entrance buses.
← This plate would have probably come from one of the short-working terminals, such as Bloomsbury (Red Lion Square), or possibly between Leyton Green and Leyton (Bakers Arms), as the route never had any special journey sections other than stand workings. It is therefore quite a rare plate.


Route 57 was introduced in 1951 as a tram replacement route and ran daily between Tooting Broadway and Victoria via Longcroft Road, Streatham, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall. The Sunday service was withdrawn in 1958. In 1964 it was extended from Tooting Broadway to Kingston via Merton, Wimbledon, Worple Road, Raynes Park, Coombe Lane and Norbiton. It was also withdrawn between Stockwell and Victoria. The service beyond Streatham (St. Leonard’s Church) was reduced to Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday shopping hours. In 1966 it was withdrawn completely between Streatham and Stockwell. In 1967 it was extended from Streatham to Brixton Garage. A Sunday service was introduced in 1992, and the route still runs today.

Route 57A was introduced in 1955 as a Sunday-only route, and ran between Streatham Garage and Victoria via Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall. In 1956 it was extended from Streatham Garage to South Croydon Garage via Thornton Heath High Street and West Croydon. In 1959 it was extended for the summer from Victoria to Hampstead Heath via Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Baker Street, The Zoo and Camden Town. During 1960 and 1961, the summer-only extension ran to Camden Town. In 1966 it was withdrawn between Stockwell and Victoria, but extended from South Croydon Garage to Selsdon via Purley and Riddlesdown. In 1969 it was withdrawn between South Croydon Garage and Selsdon. In 1971 it was withdrawn between Thornton Heath High Street and Croydon. The route was withdrawn completely in 1978. Sunday-only routes are not at all common. The 57A was operated by RTs and later by some RTWs, with some RM operation later in the 1960s. By the early 1970s it was back in the hands of RTs, and DMs came in 1975.

Note the subtle differences between these three “E” plates.


Route 58 ran on Mondays to Saturdays between Golders Green Station and Archway Station via Temple Fortune, Finchley, Falloden Way, Lyttleton Road and Archway Road, but was withdrawn in 1958.

The number was re-used in 1960 and the new 58 ran daily between Walthamstow (Crooked Billet) and Canning Town via Markhouse Road, Church Road, Wanstead Flats, Forest Gate and Upton Park, extended Monday to Saturday peak hours to Silvertown, and further extended during Monday to Friday peak hours to North Woolwich. In 1970 it was withdrawn between Canning Town and North Woolwich except for Monday to Friday peak hour journeys to Silvertown. In 1978 it was extended from Crooked Billet to Chingford Mount to replace part of route 256. In 1981 it was withdrawn between Leyton (Gloucester Road) and Chingford Mount apart from a service to Walthamstow (Crooked Billet) during Monday to Friday peak hours, Saturday shopping hours and all day Sundays, and replaced by new route 158. The peak hour service to Silvertown was extended to North Woolwich. In 1987 it was extended at all times to run to Crooked Billet, and further extended during evenings to Chingford Mount. In 1988 it was withdrawn between Walthamstow and Chingford Mount and rerouted to Walthamstow Central Station, and also withdrawn between Canning Town and North Woolwich, and also withdrawn on Sundays. It was reintroduced on Sundays in 1991. In 1993 it was diverted at Upton Park to run to East Ham (White Horse) instead of Canning Town.

Route 59 is a long-standing route and ran on Sundays only 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 1964 it was diverted at St John’s Wood via Rossmore Road instead of St John’s Wood Road, and later that year was converted from RTs to Routemasters. In 1966 it was rerouted via Westminster Bridge instead of Lambeth Bridge. In 1970 it was diverted at Coulsdon to run to Old Coulsdon (Tudor Rose), replacing route 190 on Sundays. In 1978 the route was withdrawn completely and replaced by routes 159 and 190. The 59 was worked from Croydon [TC], Streatham [AK] and Thornton Heath [TH] garages.

A later route 59—which did not start operating until February 1985, by which time “E” plates had been phased out in favour of vinyl stickers—ran between Brixton Station, Croydon (Park Street) and Purley, with varous peak hour and Sunday extensions.

DMS 447
DMS 447 [OJD447R] at Brixton Station in the late 1980s. The B(C)E6 stop flag has “E” plates for routes 50, 59, 95 and 133.
Mark Pitman photo, courtesy of London Bus Routes.
Route 59 afares charts
Two card fares charts for the Sunday-only 59: West Hampstead (West End Green) to Old Coulsdon (Tudor Rose). They were displayed behind a glass panel at the rear of the lower saloon. One is dated 3/75 and the other 11/75. Both have minor creases and grubby finger marks from the handling they received every week.
For many years the 59 was London Transport’s longest route and ran in parallel with other routes for its entire length, which makes these very common “E” plates.
Although both incarnations of route 59 had Sunday-only sections, these plates are all from the earlier route—I bought the one in 1978! The subtle differences in colouring and spacing are one of the things that makes collecting “E” plates so fascinating.
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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.