AEC Regent Country Area RLH
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Notes About This Vehicle

The height of London’s standard double deck RT bus of the time was roundly 14ft 4ins unladen; for routes with low bridges a small fleet of less tall vehicles was required. To be built on AEC Regent III chassis Midland General had ordered thirty ‘low bridge’ buses to a height of 13ft 4ins from body builder Weymann. The requirement was then reduced to just ten and the remaining twenty were offered to, and bought by, London Transport.

These bodies were very untypical for London Transport, notably not having the usual sliding cab door but a hinged one instead. The passenger sliding opening side widows were also very un-LT and this first batch also had polished chrome radiator surrounds. They entered service between May and July 1950, all in country area green livery.

A further batch of 56 was ordered, 32 more in country area green and 24 to be in central area red. These arrived between October and December 1952.

The buses in the second batch were very similar to the first but with a few small differences inspired by LT. Six roof ventilators were fitted to each of the buses in the first batch though were omitted on the second. The radiator surrounds were not polished and a customary black LT used tickets box on the platform replaced the style of the first.

The reduction of one foot in overall height was achieved by three means. Instead of a conventional upper deck central gangway with two seats either side, the gangway was moved to the offside with four adjacent seats to its left. The gangway was also about one foot lower than the seat legs, being dropped into the roof void between decks, with the lower deck roof also lowered. An appropriate warning message faced passengers on entering the platform. A third level of (slight) height reduction was achieved by not having a conventional double skinned, inner and outer roof, and thus the single inner skin left the structural ribbed framework exposed to the elements.

There were some interesting consequences from all this. Standard London Transport double-deck vehicles usually carried ‘Double Crown’ (30x20 inches) adverts either side of the front blinds; the reduction in the upper deck height impeded this and so none were displayed. Similarly, at the rear, there were no route number or destination blinds. At first RLHs carried a route number stencil at the top of the lower deck rear window but these were soon dropped with the holders remaining, as can be seen here. In later years some buses still carried these route number stencils.

The drawing attempts to depict a typical country area RLH as it might have looked in service in the mid 1960s. The front registration plate was originally fitted below the radiator and subsequently moved to where it is shown here. Also added by this time were the front ‘trafficators’ and rear reflectors, both of which have been included, as well as the later metal radiator plate having replaced the original two-piece leather rollers.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on an undated Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing ‘RLH.031.Z1’ dated 11th February 1964. 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.

All the fine detail has been interpreted from a very few black & white and colour photographs of sufficient quality that could be found. Owing to the age of the photographs, some fine detail has been gleaned from restored vehicle RLH48. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.

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 2019
 
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