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The London Leylands (Hardback)

The Last Years of RTL and RTW Operation in London

British History Transport London 20th Century England Buses London Transport

By Jim Blake
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 165
Illustrations: 200
ISBN: 9781473861428
Published: 26th March 2018

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LONDON'S FAMOUS RT-TYPE BUSES were an iconic symbol of our Capital city in the 1950s, before being superseded by the Routemasters. Most were built between 1947 and 1954 to replace worn-out pre-war and wartime buses, as well as our remaining trams. More than 7,000 were built in all and although London Transport favoured A.E.C. chassis, which the first batches of RTs had, so pressing was the need for new buses that not enough could be supplied by that manufacturer to match demand. Therefore Leyland Motors were contracted to adapt their Leyland "Titan" PD2 chassis to fit bodies that, for the most part, were identical with those on RTs. The result was the 1,631-strong RTL class, together with the 500 RTWs, which had bodies also built by Leyland to the same general design, were built between 1948 and 1954. Always in a minority compared to the 4,825-strong RT class, these Leyland buses had a character all of their own, perhaps personified by their louder engine note. They also had a reputation for being heavier on their steering than the RTs, making them unpopular with staff, and therefore general withdrawal of them commenced in 1958, taking almost ten years to complete (in November 1968), whereas the RTs soldiered on until April 1979. During the RTL and RTW class buses' final years, Jim Blake was out and about photographing them throughout London. A selection of his photographs of them, most previously unpublished, is presented here. Nearly fifty years after their demise from London's streets, the RTLs and RTWs still have a firm following amongst bus enthusiasts and preservationists alike, and it is to them that this book is dedicated!

As featured by

TruckModell, February/March 2020

Comprehensive photographic coverage.

Buses, July 2018 – reviewed by Alan Millar

This is a very detailed and informative book, of much interest to London Transport enthusiasts and others.

PSV Circle
 Jim Blake

About Jim Blake

Jim Blake was born in December 1947, just before the nationalisation of Britain's railways and London Transport, born and brought up in Canonbury in today's London Borough of Islington, he lived in the heart of London's legendary trolleybus system and also had North London's last trams, which served Kingsway Subway, on his doorstep.


This ensured a life long interest in buses, trolleybuses and trams, as well as railways, which most young lads had in the 1950s.


He begun transport photography in 1961, subsequently taking over 100,000 still pictures and went on to cover transport subjects with his cine camera in colour during the late 1960s and 1970s.


Since 1977 he has had a considerable number of books published covering bus and railway subjects across the country, looking at a wide number of fleets and operations.


Much of his work encapsulates a time of great change in the world of transport, with many types of vehicle and chassis types diminishing owing to standardisation.


The operators were in themselves also changing and his books reflect the changing transport scene of this interesting period, showing the social changes as well as that of the corporate.

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