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Welcome to the RTL 554 website
This is the homepage for KGU 4 (RTL 554), an ex London Transport RTL owned by Ian Macbeth and now in preservation in York. The site shows details of some of the restoration done since the bus was acquired by me in 2001.
This bus was built in 1949 and was one of almost 7000 'RT' type vehicles built for London Transport between 1939 and 1954. The RTL type was one of 1631 built with a Leyland 9.8 litre engine developing 125 bhp. Drive is through a 4-speed pre-select gearbox and fluid flywheel. Bodywork is by Metro Cammell.
With ever-increasing car ownership, by the late 1950s there was a surplus of these buses in London and many were sold off for use elsewhere in the UK and abroad. The RTL buses, being non standard, were some of the first to go, and by the early 60s withdrawals were already under way. Considerable numbers of the RTL class were exported to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and served for up to 20 years throughout the island. Many also went to South Africa and a few remained in the UK. Some, though, went to the scrapyard and by 1966 the last service buses were withdrawn with just a few being retained as trainers for a couple of years.
RTL 554 was sold in 1966 to Acrow Engineering in London for use as staff transport until sold by them in 1972 for preservation. At the time the vehicle was in a poor state but over many years it was almost totally rebuilt. The bus changed hands in 2001 and is now owned by Ian Macbeth and kept in York. In 2002 the exterior adverts were applied and are appropriate to the early 50s. The interior was refurbished in 2005/6 and the exterior repainted in 2006.
Out of the 1631 built there are thought to be 16 left in the UK and 25 overseas. Of these just four have Metro Cammell bodies. This information was provided by David Thrower and Mike Lloyd, editors of the 'Friends of Classic London Buses of the Fifties' society.