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London Transport
Night Routes N89–N299

Last updated 02-08-06.


 

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.

N89
N89
N89 SOUTHALL
This plate came from the stop in Poultry towards Southall. Bus stop “E” plates with destinations are extremely rare, being made usually for just a couple of stops, but they are even more rare for “N” night routes as there were only around 20 routes in this series in the days of “E” plates.

Route N89 was renumbered from 289 in 1960. It ran from London Bridge Station to Southall (Brent Road) via Bank, Holborn, Oxford Street, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate/Notting Hill Gate, Shepherds Bush, Acton, Ealing and Hanwell. In 1976 the journeys that ran out of service to Liverpool Street were changed to run in service, and so at Bank some journeys ran to Liverpool Street instead of London Bridge, meaning that at that point the N89 ran in three different directions. The bus stops at Bank were therefore fitted with “E” plates with destinations to make it clear which way the bus was going. In later years the N89 was diverted to serve Paddington Station, and latterly was diverted at Southall Town Hall to Uxbridge via Hayes End and Hillingdon. The route has now been absorbed mainly by route N207, running between Holborn and Uxbridge.


Route N90 was renumbered from 290 in October 1960. It ran from Pimlico to Edmonton via Victoria, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Camden Town, Holloway, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Stamford Hill and Tottenham. The route was later extended to Ponders End and Waltham Cross, and during 1975 was also diverted to serve Euston and King’s Cross stations. For many years, it was the only night route running outside the Greater London area. After the use of enamel “E” plates ceased, route N90 was renumbered N279, but I am unsure of the exact date.

Route N95 is described below.

N90 N90-N95

N91 FARE STAGE-N94 FARE STAGE

← This split plate is especially interesting as it combines two “FARE STAGE” routes, which were always less common than plain numbers.


It is astonishingly rare to find triple split “E” plates at the best of times, and being a night plate makes this one even more unusual. The three routes ran parallel between Liverpool Street and Trafalgar Square and this plate would have been produced for a stop which had a great many routes serving it. →

N91-N94-N97

Routes N91, N94 and N97 were renumbered from 291, 294 and 297 respectively in 1960 to allow for the greater need of numbers for day routes. Route N91 ran between Liverpool Street and Willesden Garage via Bank, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Harrow Road and Harlesden. It was subsequently rerouted to serve Paddington Station, and the route now forms part of today’s route 6 which runs 24 hours.

Route N94 ran between Liverpool Street and Cricklewood Garage via Bank, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Edgware Road, Maida Vale and Kilburn. It was unusual at the time as there was a single journey provided on Sunday mornings, when most of the night routes did not run. The route now forms part of today’s route N16.

Route N97 started as the London General Omnibus Company’s route 189 in the mid-1920s and was re-numbered 297 by London Transport in 1934. In 1960 the 297 became the N97. It ran between Turnham Green, later Heathrow Airport, later Hammersmith and Liverpool Street, later Trafalgar Square. The N97 still runs today.


Route N92 was renumbered from 292 in 1960. It ran from Archway Station to Trafalgar Square via Holloway, Highbury, Islington, Bllomsbury and Aldwych. The route was subsequently absorbed into route N43 and now forms part of route N41.

N92

N93 SPECIAL JOURNEYS ONLY

Route N93 was introduced in 1960, running between Hampstead Heath (South End Green) and Trafalgar Square via Camden Town, King’s Cross, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street and Strand. Just one bus was required, which provided a mixture of through and short journeys. In subsequent years the route was diverted to serve Kentish Town, and later to serve Euston. The northern end of the route is now covered by a 24-hour service on route 24.

This plate is especially interesting and it would have come from a stop served by the scheduled short working to Farringdon Street, the stop being in Stonecutter Street. There is likely to be just one other plate the same.


Route N95 was introduced in 1960 when the night buses were renumbered with an “N” prefix from the 2×× series, and so the 295 became N95. It ran from Trafalgar Square to Becontree Heath via Tottenham Court Road Station, Holborn, St. Paul’s, Bank, Aldgate, Stepney Green, Limehouse, Poplar, Canning Town, East Ham and Barking. It had some journeys extended from Trafalgar Square to Victoria via Westminster in the ’60s for crews’ meal reliefs. It was operated by RTs, DMSs and Ts over the years, and the route now forms part of route N15.

Although it is true that the numbers were never of a constant size, they seem to be particularly small on the second plate, especially the word “NIGHT” being smaller than usual.

N95 N95

N96 N96-N97

Route N96 started as LGOC route 613 in around 1933 and was re-numbered 296 by London Transport in 1934. It was renumbered from 296 in 1960 in order to free up numbers for the new routes required for trolleybus replacement services. It ran from Waterloo to Leyton Green via Aldwych, Farringdon Street, Islington, Dalston Junction, Hackney, Clapton and Lea Bridge Road. A few years later one journey was extended from Leyton to run to Highams Park Station via Wood Street, and for many years this was the only bus to turn round at Highams Park Station, usually requiring a three-point turn! Later it was extended to Chingford Mount, then Debden and Waterloo, and ultimately Trafalgar Square. It was operated by Routemasters, Leyland Nationals and DMSs over the years. It was finally withdrawn in 1995, and the route now forms part of route N38.

Route N97 ran between Liverpool Street and Turnham Green Garage via Bank, St. Paul’s, Ludgate Circus, Fleet Street, Strand, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Fulham Broadway, Dawes Road, Hammersmith and Stamford Brook. It was subsequently rerouted to serve Earl’s Court. In 1977, when the Piccadilly Line was extended to Heathrow, the N97 underwent a major change when it was extended to Heathrow Airport via Chiswick, Gunnersbury, Brentford, Isleworth, Hounslow, Hounslow West, Cranford and Harlington Corner, and at the same time was introduced on Saturday night/Sunday morning and substantially increased in frequency. This was the start of a steady increase in the night bus network which has resulted in the extensive network that we have today. The route still runs today but only between Trafalgar Square and Hammersmith, having been replaced to Heathrow by route N9.

The second plate would have been used on the short section of road where the N96 and N97 ran together, probably in Fleet Street. It appears to be a very old plate; and judging by the thickness of the enamel, it could even date from the 1950s.


Route N98 was introduced in 1960 when the night buses were renumbered with an “N” prefix from the 2×× series, and so the 298 became N98. It ran from Trafalgar Square to Hornchurch Garage via Tottenham Court Road Station, Holborn, St. Paul’s, Bank, Aldgate, Stepney Green, Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Seven Kings, Chadwell Heath, Romford and Roneo Corner. The Hornchurch extension was cut back to Romford Station, but some journeys were extended from Trafalgar Square to Victoria via Westminster for crews’ meal reliefs. It was one of the few night routes in the early days to run on Saturday night, but the service only came into central London as far as Holborn. It was operated by RTs, RMs, DMSs and Ts over the years, and the route now forms part of route 25.

N98 FARE STAGE

N99 N99 FARE STAGE

Route N99 was introduced in 1960 to replace the staff trolleybus service. It ran between Chingford Mount and Victoria & Albert Docks via Crooked Billet, Walthamstow, Leyton (Bakers Arms), Thatched House, Maryland, Stratford and Plaistow. One journey was subsequently extended from Chingford Mount to Chingford Station, and latterly one journey was provided between Plaistow (Bull Road) and Canning Town. It was for many years the only night bus route West Ham Garage had and also, I believe, at the time the only nighter not to go into central London, but provided a maintained connection at Leyton with route N96 and at Stratford with route N98. West Ham later got the N76 which ran from Trafalgar Square to Hainault. The N99 was eventually withdrawn, being partly replaced by later and earlier running of today’s route 69 which now runs 24 hours. The N99 was a one-bus service.

The fare stage variation is obviously much rarer than the normal ones.

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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.