When RT buses went to Aldenham works, the chassis and body refurbishment could not be
synchronised due to the differing effort required by each. Since both were immediately added
to the works 'float', the identity of the vehicle arriving would be taken for licensing purposes
by another that was ready to leave. So chassis and body were not only not united for life, but
both would operate under a number of different 'bonnet numbers'. It is the body of RT3496 that
is unique, so the story of the body will be recounted here...........
When RT production resumed in 1947 it was quickly discovered that bodies took longer to build than the chassis. Batches of nominally identical bodies were therefore contracted to different works - Weymann, Park Royal, Cravens and Saunders. The first batches of bodies were designated RT3 and all had front route-number boxes. The first Weymann bodies were numbered 1651-1900, and of these bodies 55 (1846-1900) remained green for their entire life with LT. They entered service with bonnet numbers RT597-651.
Body number 1855 started out with bonnet number RT606 and entered service at Hemel Hempstead, (Two Waters Garage, HH) which operated part of the trunk service between Watford and Aylesbury. At first overhaul in 1956, this body became RT1048 and was allocated to Leatherhead (LH) in Surrey, where it stayed until the next overhaul in 1960. This time the present identity of RT3496 was applied, and again allocation was to Hemel Hempstead until the end of her life with LT in March 1964. The older bodies were withdrawn first as traffic requirements reduced, but all of the the early batch of green RTs were sold quickly.
Initially RT3496 was destined for the Ceylon Transport Board, but their preference for the Leyland RTL type saw disposal to PVS Sales instead. She was sold on to Samuel Ledgard of Leeds, who modified the destination blind apertures and repainted her into the 'Sammy Blue' livery. Life in Yorkshire was destined to be cut short by the acquisition of that business by the West Yorkshire Road Car Company - who had no time for RTs, so it was back to PVS and then resale to Isleworth Coaches, and Pioneer Coaches for the last couple of years as a school bus and on private hires. Finally in May 1970 she was delicensed for disposal.
RT3496 was saved from the torch, and the long process of restoration to original appearance began. Bodywork, interior and running gear repairs continued for ten years while regular appearances were made at rallies and events. The condition of the body was a concern, and eventually she changed hands - passing to a group who appeared able to continue the restoration. Sadly this did not transpire, and she was discovered part-dismantled and mouldering away on a farm in 1989. Quickly restored to mechanical fitness, the subsequent restoration of the body was as traumatic as expected, but has been completed to exemplary standards. In the past year a full repaint has restored 'as-new' external condition to ensure an appropriate celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the very last original 'Country RT'.