Prototype RT1 second 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, when it was till unlicensed.

At that time the bus had the front roof number box sides painted in silver, as was the roof from the front along to, but not including, the rearmost roof panel seam. A set of scalloped, polished, aluminium beadings surrounded the upper deck windows, along with a pair, one above and one below the mid-deck red band; another ran beneath the lower deck windows. Surprisingly for the time, a nearside front mirror was in place, though unpainted.

Within days a slightly revised livery was applied, as depicted in this drawing. The aluminium beadings were regarded as somewhat over-prominent and painted red, as was the entire roof expanse. The fuel filler surround also lost its silver appearance. Presumably in order to relieve the monotony of red, the mid-deck relief band was also re-painted, this time in white.

The subsequent photographs were recorded as taken in April 1939 with no specific day noted. Interestingly, the front nearside mirror in place for the first livery had been removed for these subsequent photographs. Nearside mirrors were not fitted to London buses until wartime.

In these photographs the unladen weight can be seen clearly. With a full load of passengers the bus was found to be slightly in excess of the then regulations and one of the upper deck seats was removed in July 1939, reducing the overall capacity from 56 to 55.

This second visit from the camera still showed blinds and route plates for route 164A, though this time with a plausible destination for the route, unlike the unfeasible ‘Aldgate’ from the first visit. Stencils were also now in place, with ‘A’ for Sutton garage, appropriate for this route, though it is thought there was no implication intended that RT1 would perform on it.

It is difficult to discern from the photographs but it would seem that the licence holders, removed from above the front trade plates, had still not found their way to their customary home inside the nearside cab window. With the trade plates no longer needed, a conventional pair of registration plates displayed EYK396, with that on the front now just above the lower edge of the radiator frame.

RT1 was to go through several transformations during its lifetime, notably: losing and later regaining its registration, more than one usage conversion, two chassis changes, multiple delapidations and restorations – but through it all its aluminium beadings hung on.

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 London Transport black & white photographs taken in April 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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