RLH Bus Information Centre

RLH Surrey Routes

Reminiscences

Mr M. Carney writes in 2008 about Growing Up with Green RLHs in Chertsey;

I was born in Chertsey, a medium sized market town in the gravel raising area of the Thames valley. Chertsey was an interesting place for buses and trains in the 1950s/60s, and a brief description of the bus scene will demonstrate that it was probably unique in being served by green and red buses and green line coaches from London Transport (LT) as well as a strong presence by Aldershot and District (A&D) buses.

London Transport provided four country routes (from Addlestone garage, code WY), a central route (from Hounslow garage, code AV) and a Green Line route (from WY and others).

WY provided;

WY was privileged to have CRL4 and later a fleet of RMCs for the 716.

AV provided central red RFs on the 237 (Hounslow to Chertsey).

Aldershot & District (remember that beautiful livery?) provided three routes (from their Guildford and Woking garages). They provided;

Most services were hourly, but clever timing gave most towns two, four or more buses an hour and if you wanted to travel the length of Guildford Street you had up to nine buses an hour in both directions, including at least six RLHs each hour!

Chertsey's main shopping street was Guildford Street, perhaps eighteen foot wide or less with some gentle bends and parked cars and delivery vans! A typical High Street of the time, but what was not typical was that the nine bus routes mentioned above all passed along this stretch of road in both directions. You rarely looked up without seeing a bus and when LT introduced 8ft. wide RMCs on the 716 and A&D 8ft. wide Lolines on their 48 and 48A you can imagine the fun!

As far as the RLHs were concerned I grew up using them frequently as I went to school in Guildford and my bus pass allowed me on the direct 436 and any journey variations I cared using the 436A and 463 with perhaps changes at Send, Woking or Addlestone. Typical LT, the 436 route took in every town centre and housing estate it could find in an elongated (mileage and fares) journey, while A&D made a quick dash cross country (cheaper, faster and with uncomfortable, rattling body work and noisy engines - we called it "Have a Shot and Risk it!"). LT vehicles were certainly built to a higher specification.

On my school run I would catch an early morning 436 and usually enjoy the rear of the nearside bench seat to watch the comings and goings as we proceeded. Another favourite seat was just behind the front bulkhead with an eye on the driver and his speedometer. It was nearly full as we departed Woking Station and often three to a seat downstairs with many standing the normal practise as we proceeded through Send to Burnt Common, joined the main A3 for the fast run to Burpham and Guildford. This was often a highlight of the journey as after struggling through a succession of towns and country lanes some of the drivers would let the RLH have its head for about four miles of slightly downhill gently curving dual carriageway. Who needs a Jaguar? On the way home from school in the evening you went where there was a seat available, or indeed stood, but apart from the rear seat I tried to avoid the crowded, neck aching and condensation running windows which you often leant against upstairs!

Apart from the crowded school runs most of our other journeys tended to be on an RLH for local shopping trips and cinema to Staines, Addlestone, Woking or Guildford. We didn't have a car and often had trips using the Green Rovers, which again usually started and ended with an RLH before we continued on RTs and GSs to Windsor, Beaconsfield northbound or perhaps south to Dorking, and the Surrey Hills.

I end this article with the fact that two thirds of the 76 RLHs were green country buses and I never saw a red one until I saw David's preserved RLH 23, which of course started life as a green bus on my 436/436A/461/463 routes radiating from Addlestone and took me to school on many occasions!

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© Timebus Travel 2008