AEC Regent Cravens Post-War RT
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Notes About This Vehicle

The material and supply chain shortages manifest after the Second World War had a significant effect on London’s bus re-construction programme. By autumn 1946 it became clear that the speed of replacement of old vehicles would need to run more quickly, though the manufacture of new running units and bodies were not keeping in sync.

Existing chassis, engines and mechanical units supplier AEC were asked if they could increase their output and they agreed they could; however, existing body suppliers Park Royal Vehicles and Weymann could not.

London Transport advertised in the trade press for additional body suppliers but the response was poor as the industry was already heavily committed to work elsewhere. Five companies responded positively but in the event only two were appointed: Saunders and Cravens.

Delivery forecasts proved highly optimistic with the advert requesting completion by the end of 1948. Saunders were awarded a contract to build 250 bodies and later a further 50; the order to Cravens was for 120.

London Transport was in no position to dictate to these two suppliers to adhere precisely to the standard design. Despite this, Saunders bodies were very similar, though not identical, to those from Park Royal and Weymann. Cravens were a much smaller operation and could only fulfil their order by utilizing designs for other operators outside London.

Some of the external differences of the Cravens bodies were obvious, even to the casual viewer. Standard RTs had four window bays on the lower deck, as did those from Saunders. However, the Cravens buses had five. In fact the only standard section of their bodies was the cab.

The Cravens vehicles had a much more upright front profile to the upper deck. Furthermore, instead of the sweeping curved panel transition from front upper deck to side elevation, the Cravens buses had much less tapered front sides, with inelegant double vertical seems at the corners. The lesser taper resulted in a wider space for the front adverts. Far more noticeable was the uneasy join of the upper body to the standard width cab with an awkward overhang on the offside corner being a consequence. This may not show well here in two dimensions.

Conversely, the rear elevation was more curved than standard. Additionally, with its much smaller platform rear window, a knock-on effect was a much smaller non-standard lower deck advert.

The bus in this drawing was new in July 1949 and is correctly portrayed still displaying ‘restricted blinds’, a hangover from wartime austerity.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on an undated Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing ‘RT0027’ (probably). 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 the 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 the two current preserved vehicles. 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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