Back in the day, London double-deckers had bells, paper tickets and there was always a smiling conductor to greet you. Now there’s a chance to experience an old-timey London bus ride exactly as it was, as pre-war buses are coming to south London for a special event.
Vintage double-deckers, some dating back to 1937, will be running up and down the 37 route all day on Saturday October 1. The 110-year-old route goes from Putney Heath to Peckham, passing through Herne Hill, Clapham and Dulwich. On the day you’ll be greeted by a volunteer conductor handing out mock paper tickets and answering questions about the bus’s history. The buses will leave Putney Heath every 15 minutes from 10am to 5pm.
The event is being organised by the London Bus Museum (LBM) which has the largest collection of buses in the world. The double-deckers being wheeled out of their retirement are classic RTs and RTLs, the double-deckers that preceded the famous Routemasters. RT buses are some of the oldest you can ride – they were chugging along London’s roads between 1939 and 1954, with their mass production being halted by the Second World War. In their heyday, they made up London’s biggest ever standardised bus fleet.
Deryck Fill, marketing trustee and events manager at LBS said: ‘People like seeing them on the roads. It’s evocative to see a bus from 70 years ago trundling along. It’s a trip down memory lane. People who come with their grandchildren can tell them about where the bus conductor would stand, where the bells were and say “I went to school on this bus.”’
The good news is you don’t even need to bring your Oyster card, because you can ride the buses for free. Hold tight, please!
Putney Heath-Peckham. Sat Oct 1, 10am-5pm. More details here.