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Other Operators: N–S

Last updated 27-07-06.

“E” plates for other operators were relatively uncommon and would generally have only appeared on a few stops in town centres.
North Downs

Route 853 was introduced in April 1969, running between Orpington and Croydon via Locksbottom, Coney Hall, Addington and Coombe Road. It was run by North Downs, an independent operator based in Orpington, who already ran routes in the Horsham area, and the number was chosen to fit into their existing series. It initially ran every two hours but was increased to hourly and used a Ford Transit minibus. The route was tranferred from North Downs to Orpington & District in 1976, which in turn became Metrobus when O&D ceased operating in February 1981. Interestingly, the number 853 has been the basis of the similar route run for London Buses which today uses the number 353.

The first plate has the old-style numeral “8”, with round loops instead of teardrop-shaped ones. The second “E” plate is unusual in its use of black instead of green for a non-LT operator. This was sometimes done in areas where London Transport was the minority operator, but in that case the other operator’s name was usually omitted.

Oxford Motor Services

Unfortunately I have not been able to establish exactly where or when Oxford route 70 ran. It could have been a London to Oxford service, but I doubt it, and I would guess it is more likely to have been a more local service from perhaps High Wycombe to Oxford. It is very unusual to find “E” plates with numbers on a red background, although there are a few that exist. Interestingly, many of those that do are for Oxford services.

Rover Bus

“Mr. J.R.G. Dell founded Rover Bus in 1928 following a period of service with the ‘Gleaner’ bus business of Dunham, Chesham. Mr. Dunham had been a driver with the London General Omnibus Company (Gleaner is an anagram of General) and established his own business which eventually passed to Chesham & District, and thus in turn to Amersham & District and thence London Transport Country Area route 316.

“The well-known independent operator in the Hemel Hempstead area ran the service between Hemel Hempstead Bus Station and Chesham Broadway. The direct route from Chesham to Hemel Hempstead via Whelpley Hill had been jointly operated with London Transport until 1964—a very rare instrance of a joint LT working—while the service via Boxmoor, Bovingdon, Flaunden, Latimer and Lye Green has always been a Rover operation. By February 1969, Rover was providing a daily service, generally hourly (two-hourly on Sundays) although not all journeys served Flaunden and Latimer. During 1986 the services became Hertforshire County Council routes 51 and 52.”

This is an astonishingly rare “E” plate as independent operator’s names are very difficult to find nowadays.
Southdown Motor Services

Southdown Motor Services ran into the London Transport area, mainly at Crawley, East Grinstead and Horsham.


In 1966 Southdown route 30 ran daily between Chelwood Gate (Red Lion) and Brighton (Pool Valley) via Chelwood Common, Danehill, Horsted Keynes, Lindfield, Burgess Hill and Hassocks. It’s not obvious from this routeing why “E” plates would have been needed for the route, so it must have been altered in later years to run either in the Crawley or East Grinstead area. If anybody can add further information please so that I can add it to the description.

I am not sure where either of these two routes ran, and have looked in some timetable booklets during the era of “E” plates. If anybody knows where either of these two routes ran, please as I will be happy to add the info here.

It is possible that an enamel “E” plate was not produced using the same wordings as the aluminum plate we have here, so each pair could be unique.



Southdown 132 ran from East Grinstead to Uckfield from 1971 until 1976 when it was renumbered 172. Prior to that it was part of Southdown service 92 to Eastbourne. It then ran as Metrobus route 261 until the end of 2005 when it became Eastbourne buses route 54 all the way to Eastbourne.

I do not know where Southdown’s Summer Express services ran.

This is another hand-lettered aluminum “E” plate. I don’t know why Southdown had so many (relatively speaking) as they were rather uncommon.

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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.