Ever wondered why we have those wonderful red double-decker buses in London?
In 1829 George Shillibeer (great name by the way) started to operate a horse-drawn ‘omnibus’ service from Paddington to the city. By 1855 the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) had been created and they attempted to regulate the somewhat haphazard, dangerous business of conveying passengers around London.
The last horse-drawn bus ran on October 25 1911, though buses using motors were introduced around 1902. I don’t know what George would think, but now standing on the site of his original Omnibus Depot in Holloway, is a hostelry known as ‘Shillibeer’s Bar and Grill’.
In 1912 the Underground Group bought LGOC, eventually becoming what we now know as good old London Transport, although its name has changed frequently to fit in with political changes. The most famous and beloved of all London buses and surely synonymous with red double-deckers, must be the iconic Routemaster, first seen on the roads in about 1956. A total of 2,876 Routemasters were built, but sadly they were gradually phased out and we don’t see them very much now, apart from the heritage routes in central London and sometimes loaded with wedding guests being ferried to wedding venues around the city.
The replacement ‘New Routemaster’, or ‘Borisbus’ was introduced in 2012 (boo) and as an old fossil I find them a poor replacement for the old original. However, they are modern, streamlined and probably safer because you can’t leap off the back before the bus has stopped-not that I ever would (don’t try this at home children..)
Which do you prefer?