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London Transport
Green Line Coach Routes 701–705

Last updated 06-09-06.

Green Line plates are very sought after nowadays and not easy to find, and are especially interesting as there are so many variations of wording. The “E” plates which show destinations were a feature of Green Line coach stops from the early days, but particularly from the early 1960s onwards when declining patronage forced London Transport to make a greater effort to market the coach network. Unfortunately, with so many of the traditional Green Line coach routes, there is no sign of them left today.

Laurie Akehurst writes: “My researches show that the stops were provided with destinated plates in two phases. The earlier ones at the more important points involved the use of the word “VIA”. On a route such as 716 this would be at points such as Finchley Road Station and Golders Green Station, for example. Having destinated the major stops they then turned their attention to the other stops along the route, by which time the plates had been modified to include another intermediate point instead of the word “VIA”. Some examples of newer plates with the word via are to be found. This is probably where they have been used to replace earlier plates, perhaps through weathering or damage.
“I surveyed the system in the spring of 1976 as it was announced that with the withdrawal of route 716A from 15th May 1976, all the stops along the route (with the exception of combined bus and coach stops within the LT area) would be converted to the then-new National Bus Company-style stops. This included any coach-only stops in the LT area. They actually erected NBC-type flags at the former coach-only stops along the route, including Marble Arch amongst others! London Transport apparently objected to this and the LT-style coach stops were reinstated fairly quickly, but not before I photographed the examples at Marble Arch.”

701
701 STAINES VIRGINIA WATER ASCOT
This “E” plate is an especially attractively destinated one.
701 GRAVESEND VIA DARTFORD
The chip on the left side of this plate is as a result of this being a very heavy and thicker-than-usual plate, and therefore a very tight fit into the stop flag runners. It sold on ebay for a very respectable £440.

Route 701 ran from Gravesend to Ascot via Northfleet, Swanscombe, Dartford, Crayford, Bexleyheath, Welling, Blackheath, New Cross, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle, Millbank, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Brentford, Hounslow, Bedfont, Staines, Egham and Virginia Water. This route was a very early casualty of the reduction of the Green Line network and was withdrawn around 1975. It is astonishingly rare to find “E” plates for this route (and certain other early casualties), especially destinated ones.


701-702 timetable to Gravesend

Route 702 ran from Sunningdale Station to Gravesend via Virginia Water, Egham, Staines, Bedfont, Hounslow, Brentford, Turnham Green, Hammersmith, Kensington, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Elephant & Castle, Old Kent Road, New Cross, Blackheath, Welling, Bexleyheath, Crayford, Dartford and Swanscombe. It was a very early casulty, being reduced to a couple of peak hour only journeys between Victoria and Sunningdale, and eventually being withdrawn in 1973.

This eastbound timetable for Green Line routes 701 and 702 dates from 1967.

702

703 703

Route 703 was introduced on 6 March 1946 as part of the post-war Green Line re-instatement programme, running initially from Wrotham to Baker Street via Swanley, Sidcup, Eltham, Lewisham and New Cross. It was extended the following year to Amersham via Harlesden, Wembley, Harrow, Pinner, Northwood, Rickmansworth and Chorleywood. In about 1965 the route was withdrawn, the southern section being replaced by extending the 717 from Victoria to Wrotham.

In 1974 the route number was resurrected to replace the southern ends of routes 712 and 713 when they were curtailed at Victoria. This 703 ran from Baker Street to Dorking via Victoria, Stockwell, Clapham Common, Tooting, Morden, Epsom and Leatherhead. It was withdrawn in 1976.

In 1977 route number was resurrected a second time for a new route from Bishops’s Stortford to Waltham Cross via Old Harlow, Harlow and Epping. The route proved to be a complete flop and lasted less than a year.

So, for which incarnation of the route was the second plate made? I acquired it in 1978, so it could be for any of the three, but it is my belief that it dates from 1977. The plate is late in manufacture as there are no black lines on the top and bottom edges and the white numbers are printed proud of the green background rather than the reverse. It would have come from a stop somewhere between Epping and Waltham Cross.


Route 704 was introduced in 1946 as part of the post-war re-instatement of the coach services. It ran between Tunbridge Wells and Windsor via Southborough, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Riverhead, Knockholt, Farnborough, Bromley, Catford, Lewisham, New Cross, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle, Millbank, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Osterley, London Airport North, Colnbrook, Langley, Slough and Eton. The first of the famous RF-class vehicles was introduced on this route in 1951 and this type stayed on the route until conversion to RCL (Routemaster Coach, Long) in 1966. These in turn gave way to one-person-operated RP coaches in 1972. Apart from some summer Sunday variations, the terminals of the route never changed until it was withdrawn later in the 1970s as the traditional Green Line network collapsed due to lack of patronage.

704 704 TUNBRIDGE WELLS VIA SEVENOAKS
This plate is interesting as it includes the word “VIA” rather than naming the places in sequence. It is also very much less common to have four lines of text on Green Line plates; the standard ones usually have three.
704 TUNBRIDGE WELLS VIA SEVENOAKS
This “E” plate is particularly unusual in that the word “VIA” is in smaller letters and is not on its own line.
704 WINDSOR via SLOUGH
This westbound plate was displayed in Great West Road at Oxford Avenue.
704 SLOUGH WINDSOR
Later “E” plates omitted the word “VIA”.
704 LONDON AIRPORT SLOUGH WINDSOR
This one is from a westbound stop, and dates from the days before the name Heathrow Airport was widely used, as later “E” plates carried that rather than “LONDON AIRPORT” as on this plate.

704-705
← Routes 704 and 705 ran together between Bromley and Windsor. Two examples of this plate were displayed: Slough High Street and Elephant & Castle; both towards Windsor.

Timetable leaflet for Green Line Coach Routes 704 and 705
This is a copy of a leaflet for coach routes 704 and 705 with a print reference of 1063/2806S 60M. It is a single sheet of paper, folded to give ten 3" × 6" pages. It has complete timetables and a faretable, showing four coaches per hour over the common section of route between Windsor and Bromley. The through fare for the 3 hour and 20 minute journey from Windsor to Tunbridge Wells was only 12 shillings (60p). It is printed in maroon throughout, with blue being used for the express section of the timetables for route 705 between Victoria and Windsor.
Timetable leaflet for Green Line Coach Routes 704 and 705

Route 705 was introduced in 1946 as part of the post-war re-instatement of the coach services. The 705 ran between Sevenoaks and Windsor via Riverhead, Sundridge, Westerham, Biggin Hill, Keston, Hayes, Bromley, Catford, Lewisham, New Cross, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, Hammersmith, Osterley, Heathrow Airport North, Langley, Slough and Eton. From 1963 until 1967 journeys from Victoria to Windsor ran as a limited-stop express service and white-on-blue “E” plates were used on that section of the route. Operated throughout most of the 1950s until 1967 by the famous RF-class coaches, conversion to Routemaster double-deck operation came in that year, followed by one-man conversion in 1972 with RP-class coaches. The Green Line route network began to be run down in the 1970s but the 705 survived longer than some others by means of a re-routing via Heathrow Airport in 1977 and journeys to Windsor safari park on summer Sundays. However, by 1978 it had been reduced to one weekday evening local journey between Tunbridge Wells and Westerham, plus a Sunday through service from Windsor. No trace of it remains today although the Kent part of its former route is covered by buses 402 and 405.

705 FARE STAGE
These three “E” plates are all from eastbound coach stops.
705 VICTORIA LONDON AIRPORT WINDSOR
This plate perhaps came from the start of the 705 in Windsor.
705 VICTORIA WESTERHAM SEVENOAKS
This plate is unusual in that the back of this plate is cream rather than the more common Lincoln green.
705 SEVENOAKS
This “E” plate was at Pimlico, St. George’s Square.
705 VICTORIA LONDON AIRPORT WINDSOR
This plate would have been from a westbound stop at the eastern end of the route, probably between Sevenoaks and Bromley.
705 VICTORIA WESTERHAM SEVENOAKS observe
The observe of the plate above.
705 HEATHROW AIRPORT SLOUGH WINDSOR
This plate is particularly interesting as the name “HEATHROW AIRPORT” is in smaller condensed lettering than the other destinations.
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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.