Converted STL Tree Lopper
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Notes About This Vehicle

One of the consequences of the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) in 1933 was the coming together under unified ownership of disparate fleets from many private operators. The LPTB also absorbed a large number of operators in the outer London (green bus) country area with an even greater variety of vehicle types.
Historically the mainstay of the central area’s buses was a double-deck vehicle with a rear entrance; the latest being the STL, introduced in January 1933. The STL fleet eventually numbered some 2700 vehicles with many different chassis and body styles.
In July 1933 twelve ‘low bridge’ front entrance country area STLs (1044–1055) with AEC’s Regent chassis and Weymann metal-framed bodies with a sliding door were ordered. These ‘Godstone’ buses were deemed a success.
In October 1934 a further batch of 85 was ordered and four more in June 1935 (STLs 959–1043 and 1056–1059). These had a wide entrance with an angled panel either side and regarded as not needing a door. (For clarification, as it is perhaps not obvious in this two-dimensional drawing: the upright panels left and right of the doorway formed a rhomboid, with their outer edges on the nearside closer to the rear of the bus.) These buses had Chiswick wooden framed bodies, entering service from February 1935. A further 50 such buses (STLs 1464–1513) had Weymann metal-framed bodies and were licensed for service between July and December 1936. The batches of 89 and 50 buses were outwardly very similar but not identical.
Open rear platform double-deckers did not need a lower deck emergency exit, as in the event of them toppling over onto their nearside, escape was still possible from the rear. Front entrance vehicles of this STL design however could not offer this and so an emergency exit was incorporated in the centre of the rear of the bus.
Despite the confidence of the designers and their wind tunnel tests, in operation the buses turned out to be draughty to travel in and as such not particularly popular.
STLs were fitted with a vertical draught relief strip at the front of the cab doorway after 1942; semaphore ‘trafficators’ were added when the bus was converted to a tree lopper.
When withdrawn, STLs 1039 (by then with a Weymann body), 1470, 1494 1503 and 1512 joined London Transport’s service vehicle fleet. Between December 1952 and April 1953 they had their roofs removed and became tree loppers. The vehicles chosen were from the second open entrance batch – having metal frames these would be stronger than those with wooden frames.
A small tip-out platform on the nearside was fitted to allow closer access to roadside foliage and to empty the contents later. When this was lowered a light was illuminated in the cab to warn that the vehicle should not be moved.
These five vehicles were withdrawn between January and June 1963. Depicted in this drawing, STL1470 became service vehicle 971J and so performed in this guise for about ten years. It was sold for private use in 1963 and then for preservation in 1973. It has been in the loving care of the owner of the Epping–Ongar Railway since 2007.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on extensive photography and measurements taken from the vehicle in its preserved condition in 2018. This may not be precisely as it looked when in service. My thanks are due to Roger Wright, the vehicle’s owner, for giving me unrestricted access to it on several occasions.
The guard rail for the tip-out platform is missing from the vehicle at present and this has been interpreted as best I can from one not-very-clear contemporary photograph.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
 
© drawing copyright Douglas Rose –September 2018
 
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