London Buses route 137
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (May 2009)|
|Vehicle||DAF DB250LF 10.2m / Wright Pulsar Gemini
VDL DB300 10.4m / Wright Gemini 2
|Peak vehicle requirement||30|
|Night-time||Night Bus N137|
|Length||8 miles (12 km)|
|Frequency||About every 6-10 minutes|
|Journey time||36-72 minutes|
|Operates||4:59am until 11:57pm|
|London Transport portal|
Route 137 traces its roots back to a service numbered 536, which was introduced in 1925 by the "Independent operator" "City". It supplemented the long established route 36. The 536 group of routes ran as follows: 536 Highgate (Underground Station) - West Wickham ; 536A Highgate - Southend Village; 536C Highgate - Elmers End. These services were later taken over by London Transport.
As from 3 October 1934, the newly constituted London Passenger Transport Board instituted its own numbering system. Route 536, which by then had developed into a self-contained route was renumbered 137, running as a daily service between Highgate (Archway Station) and Elmers End via Kentish Town, Camden Town, Euston, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Vauxhall, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Brockley Rise, Catford and Beckenham. The route was further extended on Sundays to West Wickham. This was the fifth time that the route number 137 had been used on a London bus route.
London Transport soon set about reducing duplication of services. The 137 duplicated tram route 19 between Camden Town and Highgate (Archway Station). Therefore it was withdrawn on Monday to Friday evenings as from 30 October 1935. The Sunday extension to West Wickham was also withdrawn as from 12 April 1935. Six months later on 7 October 1936, the 137 was withdrawn between Catford Garage and Elmers End and re-routed to Bromley (Chatterton Arms). One journey was also extended via Bromley Common, Keston, Biggin Hill to Westerham Hill. At the same time the Monday to Friday evening service to Highgate (Archway Station) was re-instated.
As from 8 September 1937, the 137 became much more of the route that it is today. It was withdrawn between Hyde Park Corner and Bromley /Westerham. This withdrawal of an established service was very unpopular with the travelling public and was only re-instated fouteen years later when a route 36A was introduced on 7 October 1951. Sections of the withdrawn part of the route were covered by a re-routed 21A and a newly introduced 89. The 137 was re-routed to Clapham Common via Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Chelsea Bridge, Queens Road now Queenstown Road to Clapham Common replacing tram route 32 (Chelsea Bridge - Clapham Common) which was withdrawn at the same time. On 4 May 1938, the 137 became a daily Highgate (Archway Station) - Crystal Palace route, when it was further extended to Crystal Palace via Streatham and Upper Norwood.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War on 3 September 1939, most bus services in London were subject to restrictions, many of which were still in operation after hostilities ceased in 1945. The evening service on the 137 was withdrawn between Clapham Common and Crystal Palace from 29 November 1939 until 23 January 1940. As from 28 October 1942, evening service was withdrawn between Knightsbridge and Highgate (Archway Station). 1942 also saw the first use of RT type vehicles on the route. RTs continued to appear on the route until the late 1970s. Service was totally withdrawn on Saturdays PM and all day Sundays between Oxford Circus & Archway as from 27 October 1943.
By the end of 1946, the wartime restrictions had been relaxed and the route settled down to run daily between Crystal Palace and Oxford Circus, extended Monday to Friday except evenings and Saturdays until 14:00 via Camden Town to Archway Station. This operation became very stable and remained so until 1987. Although small change did occur on 24 January 1970, when the Saturday service was brought into line with the Monday Friday service, operating to Archway Station until 19:00.
In 1951 the Festival of Britain was celebrated. One of the special services introduced was a service "B" which ran between Sloane Square and the Festival Gardens at Battersea Park. This service ran every summer until the late 1970s, It was re-numbered 137A as from 16 April 1954, being converted to one person operation as from 1973.
In 1987 a period of frequent route changes was ushered in. On 7 February, a small re-routing at Clapham Park was introduced, the 137 swapped a short section of route with the 118 to serve Brixton Garage, enabling easier crew change-overs. At the same time, the Sunday service was converted to one-person operation. Later that year, on 21 November, the 137 was withdrawn north of Oxford Circus, with this section being given over to a new route 135.
As from 2 February 1991, as part of a scheme to increase one-person operation, the 137 was withdrawn completely between Crystal Palace and Streatham Hill (Brixton Garage). This section was covered by a new 137A, which was also extended from Streatham Hill to Oxford Circus in the evenings and on Sundays, replacing the 137 at those times. This change was partially reversed on 25 April 1998 when the 137 was re-introduced on Sundays and evenings, becoming a daily service between Streatham Hill and Oxford Circus again. At the same time, the 137A was revised to run daily between Crystal Palace and Clapham Common. As suffixed route numbers had "gone out of fashion", this service was re-numbered 417 as from 18 September 1999.
The Routemaster buses which had been working on the 137 since 1 November 1964, were eventually replaced by one-person operated vehicles as from 10 July 2004 ending a remarkable forty years of service on the 137.
Current route 
- Oxford Circus Station John Princes Street
- Oxford Street
- Bond Street Station
- Oxford Street
- Marble Arch Station
- Park Lane
- Duke of Wellington
- Hyde Park Corner Station
- Knightsbridge Station
- Sloane Street
- Sloane Square for Sloane Square Station
- Lower Sloane Street
- Chelsea Bridge Road
- Chelsea Bridge
- Queenstown Road
- Queen's Circus
- Battersea Park Station
- Queenstown Road Station
- Cedars Road
- Clapham Common North Side
- The Pavement
- Clapham Common Station
- Clapham Park Road
- King's Avenue
- Atkins Road
- Streatham Place
- Streatham Hill
- Streatham Hill Telford Avenue
Previous route 137s in London 
The route number 137 had been used four times prior to its current use.
- Between April 1925 - November 1925 for a Camberwell Green, <to> Epping Town (Cock), via Elephant & Castle, London Bridge, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Dalston, Clapton, Lea Bridge Road, Woodford New Road, Woodford Green and Epping New Road; Sunday Route 137
- Between July 1926 - 1927 for a Burnham Beeches (Wingrove's Tea Rooms), <to> Ealing Broadway Station, via Farnham Common, Slough, Colnbrook, Bath Road, Great West Road, South Ealing Road, High Street Ealing and Ealing Broadway; Saturday P.M. & Sunday Route 137
- Between 1929 - 1930 for a Golders Green, <to> Welwyn, via Hendon; Mill Hill, Stanborough and Lemsford Summer Only Route 137
- Between 1932 - 2 October 1934 for a Chertsey, <to> Hounslow Garage, via Shepperton; Sunbury, Feltham and Hounslow Heath; Route 137
There were also in London:
- Between April 1925 - November 1925 for a Camberwell Green, <to> Epping Forest (Warren Wood House), via Elephant & Castle, London Bridge, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Dalston, Clapton, Lea Bridge Road, Woodford New Road, Woodford Green and Epping New Road; Sunday Route 137A