Routemaster RMF1254
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Notes About This Vehicle

The first of London’s famous Routemasters entered passenger service in 1959. The chassisless construction of the basic design had already been adapted in 1961 to create the successful RML, taking the seating capacity from 64 to 72. However, outside London the inexorable march towards one-man operation was gaining momentum and this demanded a front entrance.
With no great conviction it is said, London Transport further evolved the flexible design with an experimental front (officially ‘forward’) entrance vehicle in the guise of RMF1254. Park Royal Vehicles, the body builders, and AEC, were keen to sell the new design elsewhere in the UK and it was exhibited at the Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court in September 1962.
Though based on the RML configuration, the front jack-knife doors negated the emergency exit lower deck window, being replaced by a rear offside door. With the staircase now at the front, the seating layout was necessarily different too, resulting in an overall capacity reduction to 69.
Though intended initially to still be operated with a conductor, the obvious intention for one-man operation caused the lower deck front window by the platform, to be angled forward about halfway along. Without this, the driver would not have been able to turn sufficiently to collect the fares.
At the show it was dressed with 104 blinds, similarly to the RMLs that had gone before it at Finchley and was the first to sport the triangular AEC radiator grille badge, fitted to all Routemasters notably later on. It was delivered to London Transport on 18th October 1962 though in the event it never saw passenger service by its new owners.
The bus was trialled for short spells in Liverpool and Canterbury (and elsewhere later) though no orders resulted. One operator though, Northern General, did see merit in the bus and bought 50 of them for use in Tyneside.
RMF1254 did not see much action, though it was used for a few exterior design changes which were adopted as standard later on in the fleet. It was sold to Northern General in 1966 where it operated for nearly 14 years.
Not an entire white elephant, a fleet of 65 similar vehicles were operated on behalf of British European Airways as airport coaches, augmented with luggage carrying trailers, for the service between Kensington and Heathrow.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing from 1961, (‘ER001.Z.1’) revised a few times to 1965. Body variations have also been interpreted from drawing ‘BEA 401Z’ from 1967 produced for the later RMAs. These types of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, are not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from several black & white photographs of sufficient quality that could be found and attempts to show the vehicle as closely as possible to how it looked when it was exhibited at Earls Court in 1962. 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 March 2018
 
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