15 vintage photos of London’s buses over the years

The bus is London’s oldest form of public transport, helping commuters get around the capital since the early 19th century.

On July 4 1829, George Shillibeer began operating the city’s first Omnibus service, running from Paddington along the New Road to Bank.

He imported the idea from Paris where the service was already popular.

These buses were drawn by horses and by 1832 there were 400 Omnibuses operating in London.

The vehicles came from the same workshops as stage coaches, private carriages and agricultural vehicles, fashioned from wood and painted by hand in a variety of colors.

The first ‘horseless’ buses had similarly crafted bodies, now attached to factory-built chassis with motors.

In 1902 the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) implemented so-called motorbuses in order to compete with the newly unveiled Central London Railway; now known as the Central Line.

900 of these B-Type buses were used to transport troops during the war effort, some of which even housed carrier pigeons.

In 1954 the iconic Routemaster was introduced, complete with a half-cab, front-mounted engine and open rear platform.

In the late 1960s and 70s, as bus ridership fell, London Transport chose cheaper off-the-peg buses and driver-only operation on some routes to reduce costs.

The new buses were intended to replace the Routemaster, but they were not always successful.

In the end the RMs outlived many of them, but one-person-operated (OPO) buses were the norm by the 1980s.

London buses have evolved from basic wooden open-topped vehicles to highly sophisticated and intricately designed pieces of computerized technology.

Here are 15 vintage photos of London buses through the years.