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Harrow Weald Garage

Last Day of RLH Route 230 - Reminiscences

by K. Mumford, Swindon, January 2009

At that time I was teaching as an Assistant Science Master at Saint David's Church of England Boys Secondary School at Hornsey, North London which was situated about half a mile from the ex-L.N.E.R. main line out of Kings Cross and Hornsey locomotive depot [coded 34B].At this school I had established a thriving transport club centring mainly around trains and buses.

... taking a trip on a 'last' went out of my head until I was reading the 'London Transport Magazine' a short while later [from May 10th 1969, the author's first 'last' day being the end of RTs on route 212, from Muswell Garage] when I noticed that route 230, one of LT's most famous lowbridge routes, was going to be replaced by a new flat-fare route 'H1' the following day and thus the last RLH on that route would be running that very evening.

As I already had a previous school engagement for part if the evening, it looked as though I might not be able to take a trip on route 230. However, that school engagement finished earlier than expected and after a quick supper a final decision was made at 10.30 pm. My wife [Tricia] accompanied me on this particular trip and we just got to Northwick Park Station in time for the last round trip to Rayners Lane Station and back before the RLH headed back to its garage at Harrow Weald (code - HD).

With the top deck filled mainly by bus enthusiasts, we left Northwick Park for the 22 minute journey aboard RLH 27 - a green vehicle borrowed from the Country Area of London Transport. Throughout the outward journey my wife assisted me in recording the sounds of an AEC 9.6 litre engine under the bonnet whilst at the stand at Rayners Lane Station, many people took photographs with some 'KEEP LEFT' bollards acting as tripods. Many of the passengers we picked up on the way back commented about the board on the front of RLH 27 which read: 'The Last 230 - 1933 to 1969'.

Normally on a London bus there is an uncanny quietness, but it was the opposite on RLH 27 as enthusiasts and the regular passengers alike reflected on the passing of this famous route.

Back at Northwick Park Station paper streamers were added to the bus and I chalked Last 230 on the radiator blanking-off plate. One lady, who seemed to have had more than one over the eight, plucked off the branch of a nearby tree and stuck it into the radiator filler-cap. After, the crew posed in front of the RLH for photographs, then the bus left for Harrow Weald Garage with a fanfare from the 'trumpet' of an upstairs enthusiast.

A police 'Panda' car suddenly arrived to see what was going on, but soon drove off. My wife and I journeyed to that garage in our Mark 1 Ford Cortina [RAN 717E - one of the last], getting in front of RLH 27 a few times to record it passing us. At the garage the vehicle was quickly serviced and parked outside the garage in readiness for a special tour over the 230 route the following day.

There were two things for which I was thankful that night in Harrow Weald - an all-night garage and a hot dog van! One thing that did cause a problem though was the fact that I put the tape-recorder on the car's back seat, switched it on to listen to the recordings I had made but found that I was changing gear on my car in accordance with the gear changing on the recording of RLH 27!! The tape-recorder was soon switched off!!

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