Object of the Week : A is for Aldenham Bus Works

Monday 4 January 2021

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : A is for Aldenham Bus Works

Aldenham Bus Overhaul Works was situated in Elstree on land now occupied by Centennial Business Park.  The site had originally been acquired for the Northern Line extension to Bushey Heath, as part of the 1930s New Works Programme to link up all Underground trains and overground bus passenger services from London and surrounding areas.  This Underground extension will be the subject of a new temporary exhibition in the Museum sometime later this year.

Construction of the railway extension was underway and a tube depot was partially complete when World War II broke out.  The works were stopped and the site taken over for use as an aircraft factory.  When the War ended, the railway extension work was not restarted and the plan was dropped in September 1949.

Aldenham Bus Works opened in 1956 to support the existing Chiswick Bus Works with overhauling of body and chassis structures.  The site became well known and featured in films such as Overhaul, a British Transport film in 1957 documenting the work taking place.  In 1962, the opening scene of Cliff Richard’s bus centric musical film Summer Holiday was filmed at the Aldenham Works. 

Financial pressures led to a decision to discontinue the practice of completely overhauling a bus every four to five years.  This and the private sector looking to take over London Transport as a bus operator, led to the inevitable closure of the Aldenham Works in November 1986.

The Museum collection includes this souvenir magazine and many photographs.  The Overhaul film can be found on YouTube here.

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