St Richard of Chichester School

St Richard of Chichester School was a Catholic Secondary School based in Royal College Street in Camden Town, London. They bought two ex-London Transport RT buses, firstly RT4802 followed later by RT2688. The first one was used between 1973 and 1976 until it sustained some major damage during a trip abroad. They then purchased RT2688 to use as it's replacement and this time were slightly more careful during their various outings.

RT4802, registration number NXP944, was new in February 1954 at Hendon Garage. After only nineteen years of use at eight London bus garages and just three overhauls,  it was purchased by the school in October 1973.

They used it for pupil transport both in the UK and on a successful trip to Morocco in 1974 with 31 pupils and 4 teachers. A photograph of the vehicle featured in the "Where Did They Go?" section on page 24 of LBM18 (London Bus Magazine) in the Autumn 1976 issue. ©London Omnibus Traction Society (LOTS)

Two years after going ‘to and from’ Morocco, they planned a trip to Turkey – a 37 day, 6200 mile round trip with 16 pupils and 2 drivers: Cliff and Geoff. The story of the journey is quite amazing and reads like a ‘Famous Five’ story of jolly jaunts and a big adventure. It was to be a gruelling experience for the drivers,the children and the RT.

The intended departure was June 30th 1976 at 10.30pm following a disco at the school. As the bus wouldn’t start, they did not leave until 4am the following day after assistance from the staff of a “number of bus garages”. During the trip, rear end damage was sustained in Turkey on some level crossings followed by an incident with a low bridge in Yugoslavia that prompted the scrapping of the vehicle after it had returned to the UK.

The relevant section of the story was later related in the school magazine as follows:

Cliff had just handed over to Geoff at the wheel and Rita was making lunch when disaster struck. The bridges in Yugoslavia were pretty low and the signs showing their heights were wildly inaccurate. With the bus 4.30m high, we went comfortably under bridges marked 3.50m high. The grinding tearing noises of tortured metal and the paint and dust falling onto the shell-less eggs and chopped cucumber heralded the lowering of the roof by three inches! Two great holes appeared on the roof but no one was unduly perturbed.The rest of the bridges were now no problem so we zoomed on through the fields of sunflowers and maize.

We camped at a nearly finished motel for the night. It started to rain through the holes in the roof of the bus all over the drivers who were sleeping on the top deck. Buckets, pans and towels were brought up quickly then we woke the kids and told them to get the tents down and get on the bus in their nightclothes and at 6am we set off.

Next day was a rest day, the sun was shining and we mended the roof with plastic bags and adhesive tape.

A pupil's view of the trip was found on Friends Reunited:

15 of us went to Turkey in the Summer of '76. Due to leave after a school disco but would not start so spent a few hours in Staff room and then went under a low bridge in Greece! A great experience for a 15 year old and only £110 for the 2 1/2 weeks. Escorted by Mr Young, Miss Carey and Mr Day. You wouldn't see the likes of a trip like this again with health & safety.....

RT4802 at an unknown location showing the front roof damage.©unknown

The school scrapped RT4802 soon after it returned to the UK, but not before removing any useful items. The rear door assembly, rear mounted spare wheel and all of the tables and other bits and pieces were fitted onto RT2688 which they purchased in December 1976.  It is seen here in the Continental Pioneer yard at Richmond, painted into the school's diagonal red and black livery. ©David Joseph

This is the front cover of a booklet from one of the school's expeditions which had been left inside RT2688.  The registration number of LYR624 is incorrect and relates to RT3405, another RT which was not owned by the school, having been exported to Cape Town back in 1964 after only thirteen years of London service.

RT2688 in Muswell Hill Broadway (1978) ©Jim Blake

This photograph was taken at the same location, although in the opposite direction, as the 1951 photo of the 'original' RT2688 on route 102, twenty-seven years earlier.

When we bought RT2688 via Cobham Bus Museum in 1981, we were told that it too had made at least one similar long distance trip to Turkey and that the only thing that had gone wrong was a starter motor failure in France.


RT2688 at Cobham Bus Museum in April 1981 ©David Fisher

We removed a sink unit, timber screens (just visible in the 1976 LBM photograph on the top deck of RT4802), bunk beds built on cut down seat frames and small wall mounted tables fitted between the remaining seats which had been swapped around so that they faced each other in pairs.

RT2688 upper and lower interiors in 1981 ©David Fisher

Fortunately, RT2688 still lives to tell the tale unlike RT4802 which was scrapped after just 19 years hard work in London followed by a few tours of the UK and two arduous trips across the world.


The school was closed in 1998, and in later years opted to use more modest means of transport, as spotted here in the car park of a sports centre.


Is it possible that one of the designers of London Transport's 'LT' class "new bus for London" was an ex-St Richard of Chichester School pupil?!!!!