London’s Gold Buses

There were 50 Gold buses in London for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Year, 2002. In 1977 there were 25 Routemasters in Silver, but obviously there were more Crew routes to put them on back then! The 50 Gold buses comprised Crew Routemasters, and the various types of OPO (One Person Operated) DD’s of the different companies which proliferate in todays privatised world. There were 10 each with 5 different sponsors – Celebrations Chocolates (Mars), Marks and Spencer, Friskies Cat Food (Nestle Felix),  Surf washing powder (Unilever) and Transport For London themselves. The entire package was set up by Viacom outdoor who sell  advertising space and sponsorship opportunities on the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, buses, trams and Inter-urban coaches across the UK. The sponsorship ran until mid November and was specifically set up so as each sponsor got at least 2 Routemasters each, along with various other types. Nicky Cheshire, a Viacom Sales Director  says, The Golden Jubilee presents a unique opportunity for prestigious brands to align themselves with celebration at both a national and community level. The 50 golden buses will be highly visible throughout London and will remain a key symbol of the event for years to come.’

RT4712 made the total 51, being finished in gold paint rather than vinyls, and following the official Jubilee week at the beginning of June, this vehicle made sporadic guest appearances on the streets too.. For those who don’t remember, the RT, or Regent Type was the vehicle on which the Routemaster styling was based, and was the mainstay of Londons bus fleet in the 50s, 60s and 70s, being finally withdrawn from it’s last route in Barking more than 20 years ago.

The Official Launch took place in Trafalgar Square on 2nd May 2002, though of the 5 vehicles (1 for each sponsor) 1 was very late and missed the official launch photo shown here, though it was there for the ‘rears’ pictures below. Most of the Routemaster vehicles entered service before the official launch without any adverts or jubilee symbols of any kind for a number of weeks.