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London Transport
Night Routes N1–N88

Last updated 14-07-06.


London Transport used black “E” plates with white lettering for night routes to distinguish them from the daytime services. These plates are far less common than the white versions as there were, until the 1990s, relatively few all-night routes. They are rarely seen nowadays, especially as it was such a small network of routes with many “E” plate variations. Unfortunately, the black enamel plates never seem to survive particularly well.


Route N18 runs between Trafalgar Square and Harrow Weald via Paddington Green, Harlesden, Wembley, Sudbury and Harrow.

← This plate is one of the plastic ones which superseded enamel “E” plates and vinyl stickers. This type of plate has a fitting on the back which fits into a kind of keyhole mounting on the bus stop flag.

Route N18 in 2005. Adapted from The Greater London Bus Map. →

Route N18 map

Route N68 was introduced in the ’70s, renumbered from the night service on the 168, and ran between Wandsworth (Armoury Way) and Farringdon Street via Clapham Junction, Lavender Hill, Vauxhall, Millbank, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Aldwych. It replaced the night service on route 168, and was the last night route to be introduced using “E” plates, and also before the major enhancement of the night bus network during the ’80s, when a great many more routes were introduced. It is mainly covered now by route N77, and today’s N68 covers the 68 day bus.

Route N88 was renumbered from route 288 in 1960. Both routes ran between Wandsworth and Farringdon Street via Vauxhall and Trafalgar Square. The N68 ran via Clapham Junction and Millbank, while the N88 ran via Battersea and Albert Embankment. They had the meal relief journeys to Liverpool Street “livened up” in 1975, and both were also diverted to run via Strand and Aldwych instead of Victoria Embankment during the ’70s. The N88 is now largely covered by today’s N44.

N68 N68-N88


Route N81 was introduced in 1971 to replace a single late night journey on route 181 which was converted to one-man-operation, the night N81 retaining crew operation. It was worked by an RT or RN and ran from Stockwell to Streatham Common via Clapham, Balham, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway and Southcroft Road, returning to Stockwell and on to Kennington where the bus either ran back to the garage, or in latter days out of service to Victoria where the crew took their meal break before going back into service on the 168 or N68. It was London Transport’s least frequent bus route, providing just one return journey each week on Saturday night.

Route N83 was introduced in 1960 replacing the night trolleybus services on routes 543 / 643. It ran between Tottenham Garage and Trafalgar Square via Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston Junction, Shoreditch, Old Street, Clerkenwell, Farringdon Street and Strand. During the 1980s the route was extended to Wood Green via route 243. The route now forms part of route N243.

Route N91 was introduced in 1960, replacing night route 291 and ran between Liverpool Street and Willesden Garage via Bank, St. Paul’s, Fleet Street, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Kensal Green and Harlesden. It was later diverted to serve Paddington Station, and has since been withdrawn and mainly replaced by route N6 (simply as route 6 these days).

▲ Fare Stage plates have always been much less common, and this is a superb example in excellent condition.
▲ Needless to say, split “E” plates are always rare as they tended to be made for specific bus stops where there was insufficient space to display all route numbers on separate plates. This one is notable as there is the word “AND” instead of a dividing line, making it rather unusual. It would have come from a bus stop between Ludgate Circus and Trafalgar Square.


Route N84 was introduced in 1960 replacing the night trolleybus services on route 665. It ran between Becontree Heath and Trafalgar Square via Longbridge Road, Barking, East Ham, Upton Park, Plaistow, Canning Town, Poplar, Limehouse, Stepney East, Aldgate, Shoreditch, Old Street, Clerkenwell, Farringdon Street and Strand. The service was very irregular, and comprised just one bus running along the route, with only a single journey to both of the outer ends, the main journeys running between Bloomsbury and Barking. The route now forms part of route 15.

Route N85 was renumbered from 285 in 1960. It ran from Victoria Embankment to Grove Park Station via Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle, Old Kent Road, Bricklayers Arms, New Cross, Lewisham, Catford and Downham Way. It was subsequently rerouted to serve Trafalgar Square via Fleet Street and the Strand. The route now forms part of today’s route N36. Routes N86 and N87 are described below.

N85-N86This split “E” plate is unusual in several ways: it is painted aluminum, there is no dividing line between the two routes, and the figure “8”s are in a slightly different type-face.
N85-N86-N87It is astonishingly rare to find triple split “E” plates at the best of times, and being a night plate makes this one even more desirable. The routes ran parallel between Victoria Embankment and Elephant & Castle and this plate would have been produced for a stop which had a great many routes serving it.


Route N86 was renumbered from 286 in 1960. It ran from Victoria Embankment to Brockley Rise (Chandos) via Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle, Camberwell Green, Peckham, New Cross and Brockley. It was subsequently rerouted to serve Trafalgar Square via Fleet Street and the Strand and now forms part of route N171.

The N87 was a long-standing night-route with its origins as an all-night tram service. Introduced as route 287 after the withdrawal of the trams in 1952, it ran as a circular route in a figure of “8” from Victoria Embankment via Westminster, Kennington, Balham, Clapham, Tooting, Streatham, Brixton, Stockwell, Kennington, Elephant & Castle and Blackfriars back to Victoria Embankment. It was re-numbered N87 in 1960 in order to free up its original number for the new bus routes which were replacing the trolleybus services from the late 1950s. In later years it was rerouted to serve Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Strand and Fleet Street instead of Victoria Embankment. Buses ran both ways around the loops every 24 minutes, which in those days made it the most frequent (and regular) night bus! It was replaced in the mid ’90s by a number of other routes when the re-organisation and enhancement of the night bus network took place, and is now covered mainly by the 88, today’s N44 and the N133.

Like many night-bus plates, the first “E” plate was not manufactured to a particularly high quality and bears a number of small chips and scratches. It probably dates from the 1970s. Of special note is the smaller than usual “N” on the second plate.

N87 N87
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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.