1950s London Double-Decker Bus: Testing to the Limits

1950s London Double-Decker Bus: Testing to the Limits

Famous London Double-Decker Bus Testing in the 1950s

In 1853, the first double-decker bus was invented in Paris as a horse-drawn omnibus. In addition, the first double-decker with a motor, the Brillie P2, made its appearance in 1906. From there, double-decker buses became a method of transport in a few cities around the world. One of the most known cities for double-decker buses is London. In the 1950s, double-decker buses were undergoing testing to ensure safety and stability on the road. Furthermore, the double-decker bus pushes the limits of engineering.

Stability Testing with 2 Tons of Sandbags

The YouTube video shown below displays the double-decker bus undergoing testing in 1957 in Aldenham, Herfordshire. The stability test is the main feature of the video showing the double-decker bus tilting over. For this test, the commentator mentions 2 tons of sandbags which are strapped to the upper deck. The 2 tons of sandbags represent 30 passengers in testing. Therefore, the purpose of this test is to ensure that the bus will not tilt over under daily driving conditions.

The London Double-Decker Bus Didn’t Tilt Over at 34 Degrees

In the double-decker stability test, the bus is not secure and the only protection devices are 2 rubber buffers. The buffers act to prevent the bus from tilting over if it fails the test. To tilt the bus, a hydraulic ram of 1.25 tons pressure provides the force. In the test, the goal is to ensure the bus will not tilt more than 28 degrees without falling over. Most noteworthy, the engineers take this to the limit as they approach 34 degrees tilt. For your knowledge, this means that the double-decker wouldn’t tilt over even if it were leaning over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Double-Decker Bus is a Symbol of London


Overall, the double-decker bus is a worldwide symbol of the city of London. The video’s combination of film and music provide an experience that fits the 1950s era. In addition, it is great news that these buses undergo such limit pushing tests. Consequently, this ensures the safety of any passengers aboard the bus. Back in the 1950s, the double-decker buses were stripped down and renovated every 3 years. In conclusion, the double-decker bus is absolutely safer than most people suspect.

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