Prototype RT1 first livery
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Notes About This Vehicle

The first photographs of the completed RT1 were taken at London Transport’s Chiswick Works on 27th March 1939. As depicted here, the registration plates had not been affixed and nor had the unladen weight figures been applied. When later put on the road the trade plates gave way to the registration EYK396.

The newly designed chassis and engine were a joint effort by London Transport and AEC of Southall and arrived at Chiswick in June 1938, when the new body was not yet ready. As a result, running trials were carried out from Hanwell garage (later Southall and now closed) which was very near to AEC’s works, using the Dodson body from withdrawn double-deck Leyland TD111. This temporary arrangement was designated ST1140 and the body removed on 31st December of the same year.

The now modified AEC equipment was finally united with its intended newly-built Chiswick body on the date of the photography noted above. The external livery was still not settled and this drawing attempts to depict it in its earliest form, though it was subtly altered within days, and made its first public appearance on 13th July.

In its first genuine guise as RT1 it was licensed for service on 17th July at Chelverton Road (Putney) garage for driver training and then passenger service on route 22 in August.

Some livery and external body changes were applied to RT1 before the production run of (later to be called) ‘Pre-War’ RTs 2-151, also which had minor areas of re-design. The first batch of these was licensed on 1st January 1940. Of these, RT19 had only seen brief service when it was taken back to AEC for modifications on 27th January 1940 and subsequently led a two-and-a-half-year life as a demonstrator.

In August 1945 RT1 was withdrawn from service. Then in October its body was fitted to RT19’s heavily modified chassis intended for ‘Post-War’ RTs, the latter of which eventually were fleet numbered upwards from 152. In its new chassis/body combination RT1 became RT19, retaining the latter’s FXT194 registration.

The vehicle had an adventurous time, becoming Mobile Instruction Unit 1019J in 1954, on an ex SRT chassis, itself an ex STL chassis. It was then mounted on RT1420’s chassis whose body had been wrecked by a railway bridge, and then received the service vehicle 1037J designation. In poor condition but intact it was rescued and restored with registration EYK396 and re-numbered RT1. It was then sold and lived in America for some while. It was rescued from a hideous potential fate of becoming a hamburger bar by being returned to the UK for restoration which was completed in 1979. In 1997 another restoration started and was completed in 2009. It is now in the safe hands of The London Bus Preservation Trust.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing dated July 1939. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.

I have used as much detail as could be inferred from black & white photographs taken at London Transport’s Chiswick Works on 27th and 29th March 1939. The livery is based on these and descriptions from Tony Beard’s ‘The Birth of the RT’ and ‘The First RTs’ by Alan Townsin and Tony Beard.

The colours of the adverts are based on how the bus looks now, though I have no idea if they are right. I have however drawn them, I hope, more accurately than on RT1 now.

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 November 2019
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