1910 London General Omnibus Company’s ‘B’ Type Motor Bus


Early Buses and Trams 1863-1919

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The most successful and most famous of the early motor buses was the London General Omnibus Company’s ‘B’ type. The bright red ‘˜Generals’ became part of the London scene, over 3,000 of them in operation by 1914. They remained in service until 1926. Because early buses were noisy and dirty the Police restricted their weight to 3 ½ tons in 1909. To Frank Searle, Chief Engineer to the LGOC, this was a challenge. At s Walthamstow Works he developed the ‘X’ type bus to which the police granted a licence. The famous ‘B’ type developed from this and first ran in 1910. Sixteen passengers sat facing each other on upholstered seats below whilst 18 more could sit on double slatted wooden seats above (with rolled tarpaulins for the rain). The bell was rung by a cord passing along the ceiling of the lower deck and by a brass striker at the head of the stairs. The ‘B’ type was a combination of horse bus body and flitch-plated timber chassis mounted on cast steel wheels. Power came from a four-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine developing 30 bhp at 1000 rpm. During the First World War, over 1,300 were taken across to France and Belgium as troop carriers and ambulances. Of those that served abroad 300 returned. B43, affectionately named ‘Ole Bill’, can be seen at the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road, London. The only other ‘B’ type to survive is this one, B340, which can be seen at the Acton Depot of the London Transport Museum in Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, West London.

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Dimensions 47.5 × 34.5 cm