Saturday, 8 February 2014


There are two surprising aspects to the recent tube strike in London. 

One was how far the news had travelled. Both the New York Times and New Zealand Herald thought it worthy of reporting to their readers.

The second is the reintroduction of old Routemaster buses back onto London’s streets to help get workers to their workplace.  These old buses served London from 1954 until 2005 and over 2,760 were built at the Park Royal bus garage during the 60’s. I know all this from a poster stuck to the coving inside the lower deck.  Comfortable bench seats, old fashioned light bulbs and panels riveted together combined with the sound of a thunderous engine, never seeming to get out of second gear, made travel into the office a trip back to a bygone era.  

Then there is the bell. This consisted of a cable from one end of the bus to the other, which when tapped would give that distinctive ring.  Windows with wind up / wind down handles. The driver open to inspection in a glass half-cab, cut off from the rest of the travelling passengers, waving to other Routemasters as they passed on the opposite side of the road.

The spotless interior must have been due to the bus being mothballed since 2005 and the front mounted engine, having done literally hundreds of thousands of miles, was still up to the job.  The red and cream interior all added to this trip down memory lane but the best aspect of all was the open rear platform. With no closing doors the passengers could experience the noise, clatter and aroma of London while a waft of cool air constantly flowed over your shoulders.  It also provided the opportunity of getting off the bus while it was still moving. This is an art form perfected by every former school boy now of a certain age. The most daring could alight from a moving bus travelling at quiet a speed.

Passersby took photographs, the conductor nodded and called me Sir and the whole atmosphere was somehow relaxed and cosy.  Strike, what strike?

File:Routemaster RM1 A.jpg

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