The Original Tour

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The Original Tour logo.png
The Original Tour bus EMB765 (E965 JAR) 1988 Hong Kong tri-axle (CMB ML64, DV 4883), Wellington Arch, 26 June 2011.jpg
MCW Metrobus in June 2011
Parent Arriva
Founded June 1951
Headquarters Wandsworth Garage
Service area Central London
Service type Tourist bus operator
Routes 6
Fleet 84 (February 2014)

The Original Tour[1] is a London bus tour operator using open-top double-decker buses. It also holds the franchise to run City Sightseeing's London tour. It is based in Wandsworth and is a subsidiary of Arriva.


Alexander RH bodied Leyland Olympian in June 2008
Plaxton President bodied DAF DB 250 in April 2011
Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7L in October 2007
East Lancs Visionaire bodied Volvo B9TL in October 2008
MCW Metroliner in August 2008

The Original Tour was founded in by June 1951 by the London Transport Executive at the time of The Festival of Britain. In 1986 it was privatised, being sold to London Coaches / Blue Triangle. In December 1997 it was sold to Arriva.

Sightseeing Tours[edit]

After purchase of a 24-hour ticket, ticket-holders may board any of the tour routes at over 80 different stops without further charge. Services operate daily, with a recorded commentary in English and several other languages which can be listened to with headphones. A river cruise and three walking tours are included in the ticket price.

The Original Tour operates four sightseeing routes, with two connectors from other places linking to them:[2]

Route Number & Colour Route Name Places served Duration (approx. Other notes
The Original Tour Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), London Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey 2 hours English commentary provided by live tour guides
City Sightseeing Madame Tussauds, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), London Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey 2 hours Pre-recorded commentary in a number of languages, including one for children. This is the route operated for the City Sightseeing franchise.
The Loop Line National Gallery, Trafalgar Square (& Nelson's Column), Westminster Pier, London Eye, Lambeth Palace, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, Piccadilly Circus. 50 minutes Connects London's West End with Westminster and Waterloo Station.
Museum Tour Kensington Palace, Baden-Powell House, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Brompton Oratory, Harrods, Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols, Hyde Park, Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue, British Museum, Russell Square, Apsley House/Wellington Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Albert Memorial, Kensington High Street, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain 90 minutes Pre-recorded commentary in a number of languages, including one for children. Runs every 15 minutes between 08:15 and 17:15.
Station Connector St Pancras Station, King's Cross Station, Marble Arch, Paddington Station, Marylebone Station, Euston Station 30 minutes Links main London stations to the main tours. From St Pancras at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00; from Marble Arch at 15:50, 16:50, 17:50
Capital Connector Holland Park, Notting Hill, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate, Notting Hill
Holland Park, Notting Hill, Lancaster Gate, Kensington Gardens, Madame Tussauds, Paddington Station, Baker Street, Oxford Circus
45 minutes Links into the main tours every 15 – 20 minutes. The bottom route runs between 08:15 and 10:15

Pre-recorded language commentaries provided on the T2 and T4 routes are English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, as well as the "Kids' Club" children commentary in English.

T-prefixed Route Numbers[edit]

The "T.." route numbers were introduced with the entry into service of the Ayats bodied Volvo B7Ls, which were specified with electronic destination displays. Previously, the routes were only distinguishable by a coloured triangle, propped up on the dash on the bus, although some had a metal holder on the front. Now the triangle (which still exist for the older tour buses) have "T.." printed on them for the appropriate coloured triangle. Also, some buses now have destination display blinds, traditionally removed from these buses, which have the coloured triangle on them with the "T.." route number inside that.


Local fares are available on the sightseeing routes, but the main tickets are valid for 24 hours, which is sometimes extended to 48 hours in Winter to attract custom.[3] Each ticket includes three Walking Tours (Changing of the Guard, London Legends and Jack the Ripper) and a 24-hour River Cruise Pass;[4] tickets can also be used for Choice tickets and certain discounted attractions.[5] Price as of June 2012 was £26 for adults, £13 for children, and £91 for a family group of two adults and three children, with a modest discount for Internet purchase.

The Original London visitor centre[edit]

At the end of 2007 The Original Tour opened a visitor centre on 17-19 Cockspur Street, off Trafalgar Square. It sells tickets to the major London attractions, out-of-town tours, and tickets for The Original Tour buses. General advice is also given.

Transport for London Route 337[edit]

In May 2004 Wandsworth garage commenced operating route 337 under contract to Transport for London bringing route service buses to the garage.[6] Route 337 passed to London General in 2011.[7]


Historically the fleet consisted of former double deck route buses, that after being converted to open top configuration, were given a second life. However in 2005 ten Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7Ls were purchased new.[8]

Current fleet[edit]

The fleet as at February 2014 consisted of:[9]

Number Type Fleet numbers Open-top status Notes
15 Leyland Olympian/Alexander RH OA315, 317-319, 321-324, 326-332 Some fully open-top, some partial ex Arriva London between 2003 and 2005
33 DAF DB250/Plaxton President DLP201-216, 240, 244, 246, 250, 252-256, 258, 259, 261-265 Some fully open-top, some partial ex Arriva London
10 Volvo B7L/Ayats Bravo City VLY601-610 All are fully open-top New in 2005
10 Volvo B9TL/East Lancs Visionaire VLE611-620 All are partial open-top New in 2007
16 Volvo B9TL/Optare Visionaire VXE721-736 All are partial open-top New in 2011

Past Fleet[edit]

The Original Tour runs the past fleet. These include -


Some of the buses are in the standard City Sightseeing livery, rather than the Original Tour version, for use on route T2, which is branded as City Sightseeing. However, in practice, buses can be mixed up.

See also[edit]

Competitors and similar businesses[edit]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 2328599 The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited
  2. ^ Original Tour Services The Original Tour
  3. ^ Tickets to be valid for 48 hours The Original Tour
  4. ^ Original Tour Free River Cruise The Original Tour
  5. ^ Original Tour Special Offers The Original Tour
  6. ^ Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 2 February 2004
  7. ^ Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 6 September 2010
  8. ^ New order gives the original tour the first new open top buses in London Arriva 1 June 2005
  9. ^ Original London Sightseeing The Open Top Bus Site

External links[edit]