History - 1974 to 1976

1974 - Doored crew buses

The staff and spare parts shortages continued into 1974. The only new vehicles delivered during the year were DM / DMSs which were used to replace the RTs and Merlins. The proposal to use DMSs to replace the Red Arrow Merlins (MBA) was not excepted by the LTPC, who preferred if the DMSs were used to replace the SMSs in the suburbs and then for the SMSs to replace the MBAs. On the 12th of March the LT delegates to the TGWU announced that it had been agreed to permit woman bus drivers. This along with the recruitment of staff without car driving licences, who would be trained to take both car and PSV tests, helped to ease the staff shortage.

DMS 1500 under took a tour of Britain between the 4th and 19th of January to promote "London Entertains '74". This was a first for LT as other tours had always been abroad. The first conversions of the year occurred on the 5th of January. At Croydon the 130 was converted to DMS on Sundays only, a new DMS allocation was gained on route 154 and the Sunday only 197B was replaced by the 197 which became a daily DMS route. Route 132 at Bexleyheath was converted from SM to DMS, the Swifts were used indirectly to replace Merlins. The other conversions on this day were the 144 at Wood Green and Walthamstow, the 277 at Clapton and Poplar and the 280 at Sutton. Night route N84 at Popular was also converted. The DMSs at Walthamstow were the first for this garage.

On the 2nd of February the last batch of crew operated DMSs entered service at Edmonton and Stamford Hill to replace the Routemasters on route 149. On the 23rd of February the Monday to Saturday service on route 179 went over to DMS, the route was already DMS on Sundays, this saw off the last single deckers from Barking. On the 1st of March crew DMSs from route 16 were used on Night route N94 at Cricklewood. Route 109 used SMSs on early Sunday morning Journeys, on the 23rd of March they were replaced by DMSs. On the same day Enfield (Ponders End) got DMSs for Monday to Saturday route 191, spare buses were used on route 135 on Sundays only. Flat box DMSs were used at Wood Green on flat fare route W8 to replace MBSs. During March the order for 679 DM/DMSs was placed for delivery in 1975/1976, all were to have Park Royal bodies.

Route 137A was seasonally reintroduced to serve Battersea park on the 12th of April. It was operated by Victoria on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays until the 22nd of September. On the 20th of April route 23 was converted to DMS on Sunday only and route 145 went from RT to DMS. London Transport must have been keen to show of it's Londoners during the year, DMS 835 was on the Easter Parade in Battersea Park, DMS 833 was at Brighton on the 5th of May on the occasion of the HCVC London to Brighton run and DMS 1659 attended a Gala day on the 19th of May to celebrate the LT Museum's first anniversary at Syon Park.

From May there were very few omo conversions, the replacement of the Merlins gathered pace instead. Merton lost all of it's Merlins in May, routes 152 and 293 went over on the 18th, flat fare route M1 was delayed until the following day to allow the transfer of the fare boxes from the Merlins to the DMSs. On the 20th of May a three month trial was started on route 10 to encourage greater use of the afc equipment. The afc half of the split entrance was painted yellow and had promotional advertising pointing to it, the driver service half of the doors remained red. The DMSs on route 10 had been using the door colour arrangement for a few months before the advertising trail commenced. At the same time a similar trial was carried out on single deck route 227.

On the 1st of June Alperton lost it's Merlins in favour of DMSs when routes 79, 79A and 182 were converted, the 182 retained SMS operation on Sunday. During June DMS 864 was sent to the Chiswick experimental department where it received a Rolls Royce Eagle engine, this made no change to it's chassis code, it remained a CRL6. The next route to loose it's Merlins was the 282 at Southall on the 27th of July. DMS 884 was displayed at the Castrol Motor Extravaganza at Olympia between the 23rd of July to the 13th of August.

During the year development was started out to produce a "quiet" Fleetline in preparation for any future noise reduction legislation. DMS 854 was taken into stock in April but went to Leyland to become the prototype B20, Leyland gave it's projects numbers, the B series was for Buses. DMS 854 arrived back in London in November '75. In August DMS 1665 was used at Chiswick to have a mock up engine compartment made of wood and fibre glass applied. This was removed and it entered service in October as a standard bus.

The first DM entered service on the 14th of September on route 16. the replacement of the crew DMSs was to be a phased conversion, being complete on the 3rd of October. The DMs, was well as DMS 1698-1702, had the front number plate moved up from the removable towing hatch to the panel above. This was to allow interchanging of towing hatches without having to change the number plates. During September the Certificates of Fitness of the Merlins at Wood Green began to expire. Slow deliveries of DMSs meant that only route W3 was converted in September, on the 22nd. Another Londoner to be displayed during the year was DM 940 which was at the Commercial Motor Show between the 20th to the 28th of September. DMS 46 emerged from repaint during September in a revised livery with white upper deck window surrounds, sometimes called the 'white top' livery. This attractive livery was to become the standard of a short period, the 1975/1976 batch of DM/DMS, the MDs and the first of the Metrobuses and Titans received it.

On the 5th of October DMS route 19A was withdrawn, the following day the rest of the Wood Green Merlins were replaced on routes W1, W2 and W4. New DMs began to replace the crew DMSs on route 134 from the 7th of October, the conversion being completed on the 31st of November. Route 149, which had only received crew DMSs in February began to loose them, the first DM arrived on the 31st of October, the last crew DMSs was replaced on the 5th of December.

The Merlins at Plumstead were the next to go on the 10th of November went routes 99 and 122A went over to DMS. On the 30th of November the RTs from route 232A at Southall were replaced by DMSs and new DMS route 272 was started at Abbey Wood garage. The last London to be displayed to the public during the year was DMS 1681 which took part in the Lord Mayor's Show on the 1st of November. DM 1000, the 1000th PRV Londoner was handed over to L.T. in a small ceremony at the Park Royal factory during December.

1975 - Year of the DM

The staff shortages were over come in the year but the lack of serviceable buses due to the spare parts shortage got worse. Buses waiting for parts were cannibalized to keep other ones serviceable. It was another year of Merlin and RT replacement, the only omo conversions of the year were of the 183 and N97. It was decided to retain the Merlins on Red Arrow routes, although DMS 1601 was briefly at Chiswick in an experimental Red Arrow livery with red on white blinds. DMSs at West Ham were fitted with pantograph windscreen wipers, a feature that would be used on the 1975/1976 Fleetlines, which weren't delivered until '76.

The first conversion of the year was of route 183 on the 4th of January, Hendon garage had recently been modernized to allow the operation of the larger DMS buses. Over the weekend of the 25th/26th of January major changes were introduced, mainly involving DM buses. Holloway got DMs for routes 4 (Saturday only), 17, 104 (Saturday and Sunday only), 168A, 172 (Saturday and Sunday only), 214, 253 (Saturday and Sunday only), N92 and N93. Stamford Hill used spare DMs on route 253 on Sunday only. Muswell Hill got DMs for routes 43, 102 and DMSs for the W7. At Wandsworth route 295A was withdrawn and new DMS route 296 introduced. Cricklewood started to use DMSs on Sunday only route 245A from the 16th of February. A week later Walworth got DMs for route 45, they were also used on Sundays on route 12. At the same time Camberwell got DMSs for route 42.

The conversion of route 252 to DMS took place on the 1st of March, a day earlier than planned. The following day Croydon got DMs for routes 130 and 130B, Saturday and Sunday only route 130A received DMs on Saturdays, the Sunday allocation was already DMS operated. Brixton was the next garage to receive DMs, for route 133, Sunday only route 57A and night route N87 from the 23rd of March. The S1 at West Ham was converted from MBS to DMS on the same day and the N83 was officially converted to DM but Stamford Hill continued to use it's Routemasters. a new DMS route to serve London Zoo, the 74X, was operated over the Easter Holiday, it resumed operation in the summer from the 24th of May to the 11th of October. DM 1068 was on the Easter Parade in Battersea Park.

On the 20th of April Fulwell's route 281 was converted from SM to DMS on Sundays only, the Monday to Saturday service remained in the hands of the Routemasters. A week later DMSs replaced MBs on three routes, the 126 and 138 at Bromley and the 143 at Holloway. Flat fare route W21 was due to change over to DM vehicles but used as omo with fare boxes. This conversion was delayed until the 1st of June when sufficient DMSs had been delivered. Now new buses comprised of DMs from Park Royal and DMSs from MCW. On the 23rd of June Holloway received more DMs to use on route 4 on Mondays to Fridays, the Saturday allocation having been converted earlier in the year. Merton temporarily received new DMs for a special service to Epsom on Derby day.

On the 19th of July the Brixton Saturday allocation of route 109 was converted from RT to DM, the Thornton Heath allocation remained unchanged. Also on this day the weekend allocations on route 285 went from SMS to DMS, Fulwell operated the route on Saturdays and Norbiton on Sundays. The following day route 276 at Walthamstow lost it's Merlins in favour of the DMS. On the 3rd of August Camberwell and Holloway got DMs for route 172, Holloway was already using DMs at weekends, Camberwell started to use them on the weekend allocation on route 40. North Street got DMSs for the 103 and Sunday only route 66B and route 276 was also converted on this day, being delayed due to tree pruning. On the 31st of August route 168 at Stockwell and Wandsworth went from RT to DM on Monday to Friday, the Wandsworth Saturday DMS allocation remained unchanged. At the same time route 84 at Potters Bar was converted from MB to DMS.

Route 296, only introduced in January was withdrawn on the 13th of September. From the 14th of September the "Multi-Ride" scheme started in Wood Green on routes W1, W2, W3, W4 and W7. Pre paid tickets could be bought giving a 23% discount, the buses had ticket cancelling equipment fitted. On the 19th of September the second omo conversion of the year took place, that of night route N97 from Turnham Green. The practice of using spare DMSs to convert routes on Sundays continued with the 238 on the 28th of September. On the same day Potters Bar lost it's last Merlins when route 242 went over to DMS. This meant that the FRM route, 284, would occasionally see DMS operation.

Chalk Farm received DMs on the 19th of October for route 24, the small Sunday allocation on route 3 also gained doored buses. Night routes N68, N81 and N88 were converted to DM on the 24th of October, although in practice Stockwell continued to use Routemasters on it's share of the N68 and on the N81. More use was made of spare DMSs at weekends from the 1st of November, SMSs were lost from the 125 and 231 on Sundays, the 239 on Saturdays and the 299 on Saturdays and Sundays. The Stockwell allocation of route N87 was converted to DM at the same time, bringing it into line with Brixton which went over to DM in March. On the 16th of November the 147 at Upton Park and the 181/181A at Stockwell were converted from SMS to DMS. Sunday only route 59 had it's Croydon allocation converted to DM on the 30th of November, the Streatham allocation remained RM operated. The first two Ealing flat fare routes, the E1 and E2 were converted to DMS on the 7th of December. A week later route 29 was converted to DM, Wood Green used spare DMs on the 123 on Saturdays and the 141 on Sundays only. By the end of the year MCW had finished it's 1974 order up to DMS 1967 but Park Royal was still about 3 months behind. It was expected that 200 of the remaining Fleetlines (DMS 1968 to DM 2646) would be transferred to MCW.

D 1175, Photograph by BusSpotter
Delivered as DM 1175 in December '75, it was re-classified D 1175 in January '81. Seen at Streatham on the 24th of April 1981, it was withdrawn in August '82 and re-classified DM 1175 before being sold.
Photograph by BusSpotter

1976 - White Toppers

A further 100 bodies which were transferred from Park Royal to MCW, added to the 200 from the previous year, meant that 300 of the remaining Fleetlines would have MCW bodywork. This comprised the last 30 of Park Royal's 1974 order (DM 1218-1247) and DMS 1968-2057 & 2167-2346 of the 1975/76 order. The 1975/76 order, which began to arrive in February '76, had a number of improvements as a result of the experiments that had been previously carried out. There was also a name change- they were now known as Leyland Fleetlines and lacked the Daimler badge on the bonnet. The white top livery, as tried on DMS 46, was carried by this last batch, with the now standard yellow entrance doors and solid white roundels. Other changes were two piece �glider� doors, a pantograph nearside windscreen wiper and fluorescent tubes in the blind boxes (instead of bulbs). The handle for the rear blind was now concealed behind a flap and the fire extinguisher was fitted in the front internal panel (instead of being kept in the driver�s cab). The last 400 were to be B20s and the last 120 of these would be DMs. DM 1199, delivered the previous November, was at Chiswick in February, where it received an experimental Rolls Royce Eagle engine. It entered service at Stockwell in April. Other Eagle engines were fitted to DMS 1968, DMS 2059 and DMS 2120 during the year, plus an extra engine was acquired as a spare. DMS 854, the prototype B20, was seen on test runs in London early in the year. From about September it returned to Leyland in Lancashire for further tests. The first production B20s were not taken into stock until January 1977. In the middle of the year L.T. announced that there had been 1200 Fleetline gearbox failures.

The first conversion of the year was that of Cricklewood's route 616 on the 12th of January. Further changes at Cricklewood occurred on the last day of January when part of the allocation of route 16 was used for new route 16A, which served Brent Cross, in preparation of the opening of the new shopping centre there. On the 28th of February the Saturday allocation on route 57 went from SMS to DMS and Hanwell's large allocation on route 207 was converted from RML to DM. The Uxbridge allocation of the 207 was converted a month later, on the 28th of March. A week previous to this the Monday to Friday allocation of route 239 was converted to DMS, a route that was already DMS on Saturdays.

On the 10th of April the RFs on route 223 were replaced by DMSs on Sundays and the 224B lost its RFs on Saturdays. Route 137A operated on Easter Sunday and Monday only with DMSs from Victoria. During April DMS 1 entered Aldenham for a pilot overhaul, but numerous problems were encountered, not least being that the body and chassis could not be separated as the body was not strong enough on its own. DMS 1 did not leave works until nearly a year later, and even then it still had to be returned for further work to be carried out. Loughton got its first allocation of DMSs on the 25th of April for MB replacement on route 20. In April DM 1787 was sent to the Chiswick experimental department. It later went to the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride to have a revolutionary new transmission fitted, known as 'hydrostatic drive'. The gearbox was replaced by a pump, which fed oil to hydraulic motors in the rear wheel hubs. The experiment was part of the XRM project but was not a success, with overheating, excessive noise, high fuel consumption and oil leaks at high pressure being the main faults. DM 1787 was converted back to standard in 1980 and entered service in January 1981 at Uxbridge. It was the only standard DM to be overhauled, entering works at the end of '81.

North Street received more DMSs to convert route 66, from SMS, on the 9th of May. The next route to go from SMS to DMS was the 112 on the 23rd of May, which was made necessary due to overcrowding caused by the opening of the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. Derby day at Epsom, on the 2nd of June, saw a special service operated by Merton using new DMSs. Route 285 lost its SMSs on Mondays to Fridays on the 12th of June, now becoming a daily DMS route. DMS 2121 was delivered with a brown and orange seat moquette, as opposed to the blue moquette used on the rest of the class. This new design was to be used on future deliveries of Titans and Metrobuses.

More Swifts were replaced by DMSs on the 4th of July, on route 70 at New Cross and on route 188 at Camberwell. The single deck replacement continued with the 108B at Catford on the 15th of August, the 249 at Streatham and Merton on the 29th of August and the 167 at Loughton on the 12th of September. The Commercial Motor Show started on the 24th of September and featured DMS 2147, a prototype B15 (later to be called the Titan) and an MD. The DMS was billed as the new 'Leyland B20', which was unfortunate considering that it was a standard with a Gardner engine. A B20 was unable to attend, and so DMS 2147 was substituted in its place.

Route 10A was withdrawn on the 8th of October, and the following day Victoria was given a part allocation on route 10. Also, Loughton received more DMSs for the conversion of route 20A and Seven Kings received its first omo buses when route 129 was converted to DMS. The 129 was introduced on Sundays, replacing Sunday only route 169C. Routes 20A and 129 were the only omo conversions of the year. Changes in the support given by Surrey County Council on the 23rd of October resulted in part of the 280 allocation being used for new route 280A at Sutton garage. The following day, at Enfield, route 121 was converted from RF to DMS and the 231 went from SMS to DMS Monday to Saturday, already being DMS on Sundays.

North Street lost its last SMSs when route 294 was converted to DMS on the 7th of November. On the 29th of November London Transport announced that it was to completely replace the Swifts and that replacement of the DMS/DM classes would begin in 1980. The Merlins, Swifts and Fleetlines were all disastrous failures, off-the- peg buses which had not been able to cope with London conditions. 450 double deckers (200 Ms and 250 Ts) would start the replacement programme, along with more Leyland National (LS) single deckers.

Sidcup received its first DMSs for routes 21A and 22 on the 5th of December, and a week later Uxbridge lost its last RFs when DMSs took up the remaining duties on routes 223 and 224B. During December DMS 118 entered Aldenham as a pilot for the next batch, but it wasn't to emerge until October '77. Also at Aldenham during December was DMS 2349, the first B20.

MCW Drawing by Ian Smith
A white top MCW DMS with two piece glider doors. Body code DM7.

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