The first production Routemaster introduced in June 1959. This vehicle has been restored to near original condition.
On 6 June 1959 RM 5 began trial running on route 8 between Willesden and Old Ford. In February 1960 the vehicle moved to West Ham to replace trolleybuses in Stage 5 of the conversion programme when routes 69 (Stratford – North Woolwich) and 257 (Liverpool Street – Chingford Mount) were introduced.
From May 1963 the number RM 5 disappeared into Aldenham Bus Overhaul works to provide a float for London’s first Routemasters to receive a full overhaul after 5 years on London’s streets. The body of the original RM 5 reappeared on another RM as was the way bodies were switched after overhaul. The Routemaster does not have a chassis but two sub-units (A and B frames). These could take longer to overhaul than the body so the most efficient operation of the works saw overhauled bodies fitted to the next available sub units.
The Routemaster bearing the number RM 5 reappeared in July 1972 to operate on route 221 from Wood Green, however with the conversion of the 221 to DMS the vehicle moved across the Thames to Peckham to convert the garage’s allocation on route 12 from RT to RM. In April 1976 RM 5 moved the short distance to Sidcup to help with the conversion of route 51 from RT.
Following an overhaul in February 1977 the vehicle returned to Wood Green. After a further overhaul just under 5 years later the bus moved to Palmers Green and provided 8 years service on route 29 between Enfield and Victoria until the route was taken over by Metrobuses.
It’s notoriety as London’s first production Routemaster came to the fore when the bus became popular for private hire.
In February 1992 RM 5 returned to front line London service on route 38 from Clapton to help out while the routes RML’s were being refurbished. An increase in frequency on route 38 kept the bus at Clapton until October 2001 when a change of fuel type at the garage was not compatible with a 40 year old engine design A move to Tottenham followed and 3 years operation on the 73 from Victoria to Tottenham ended with the bus performing the last service journey before artics took over. The bus had been well looked after at Tottenham with a gradual restoration to original condition. The bus featured at both last day operations on routes 38 and 159 before forming an integral part of the Heritage Fleet.
The bus is still fitted with an AEC engine, the type fitted when new nearly 50 years ago. The bus also retains the original Routemaster seat moquette and lighting, recreating nostalgic memories of operation in the 1960’s and 1970’s.