Built : 1952
RLH 44 began its career in Country area green colours, at East Grinstead garage. It also worked from Addlestone, Godstone and Reigate garages before overhaul in 1956, one of three during its career.
It remained in the Country area, based at either Amersham or Addlestone, until the end of its passenger carrying career in 1970. RLH 44 was transferred to the new London Country Bus Services organization on the day of its formation on 1/1/70, but only lasted until 31/7/70, on which day it worked the last RLH service for London Country, a late night run on route 461A (more details).
By May 1971, RLH 44 was converted into a uniform distribution vehicle. The work was carried out by Brewsters Coachworks of Wrotham, and involved removal of all bus seats, panelling over the rear platform and most of the windows. Fluorescent lights were provided, using electricity from a shore supply, and perspex skylights were fitted in the roof.
The vehicle was given departmental number 581 J. The J suffix was used to signify service vehicles with AEC engines. Interestingly, 582 J and 583 J were both AEC Matador breakdown tenders, introduced at the same time.
581 J was then driven to various London Country garages, where crews would be handed new uniforms over a small counter, which they could then try for size in the fitting room, left of the new hinged entrance door. Upstairs, hanger rails stored the new uniforms. 581 J visited Garston and St. Albans garages particularly often.
A new uniform issuing bus, Leyland National number LNB 57, was introduced and 581 J was declared surplus in April 1982. Used as an office for a while at Stevenage garage, the vehicle was acquired for preservation by Mr Tippetts of Swindon in 1983.
Timebus purchased the vehicle in December 1990. During the next decade, the front upstairs windows were uncovered, and the vehicle was used as a Timebus crew/storage bus.
In 2008, a major refurbishment included repanelling most of the exterior, re-instating 2 windows downstairs and the front blindbox, and reconfiguring the interior. The vehicle is now available for static hire under the Timebus Space brand, known as the Control Bus, particularly for outdoor events.
UK registration number: MXX 244
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