Back in 1966/67, British European Airways placed an order for 65 new Route Masters for use in its airport bus services between the West London Air Terminal and Heathrow Airport geared for 70 mph running on the M4 Motorway.

One of those vehicles was NMY645E, BEA45 or RMA22, which went on to work for London Transport amongst others before crossing the sea to Ireland in 1995 to be known as 67 KK 501 and used for sightseeing tours.

BEA 22 in its original colours

RMA 22 at JJ Kavanagh's premises in September 1999

RMA 22 pictured at JJ Kavanagh's yard in September1999. The photograph is courtesy of Andrew Morgan, Chairman of the Routemaster Association

Time moves on and the last 20 years have seen RMA22 sat quietly in the corner of a yard in Urlingford, no longer in day to day service, watching on hopefully as every day other buses and coaches come and go around it.

However, every cloud has a silver lining as the yard it was sat in the corner of belonged to the new owners of Mullanys Coaches, J J Kavanagh & Sons Ltd.

RMA 22 in corner of JJ Kavanaghs yard

Routemaster arrival at Mullanys Coaches in Watford

To that end the decision was made that there was only one place it should be and arrangements began to bring it home. The ignition was turned on and the starter lever was pulled and...... the engine started!

2018 saw the long wait for the winter weather to finally pass before it commenced its long journey back to London and hopefully restoration to its former glory.

  • New Category
  • 1
    One dark and dreary rainy day in May sees RMA 22 (67KK101) waiting patiently in the yard in Ireland, where it's been for nearly 20 years watching as vehicles come and go around it.
  • 2
    With help from a super bit of kit owned by Stathams, its all loaded and ready to head over the water, through South Wales, over the second Severn crossing, along the M4, around the M25 to Watford
  • 3
    And finally, after an overnight stay in Dunstable (we're sure they just wanted to take a sneaky peek) on a beautiful sunny morning down at Mullanys Coaches in Brookdell Yard - HOME!
  • 4
    Everyone waited as the engine started and it was driven off the trailer for its first time on UK soil in over 20 years.
  • 5
    Naturally, as you would expect, the engineers are the first to move in - bonnet open, big smiles, heads down and tail feathers up .....
  • 6
    Looking better than we thought and have to say it's looking pretty straight panel wise albeit we're sure we will find just a little something for Malcolm to do!
  • 7
    Whilst most of our engineers used to work on or with them, it's quite a novelty for others! This may have been captured on the 10th circuit around the yard.....
  • 8
    No MOTs today so ideal moment to pop it over the pit for a good look underneath - we knew they couldn't be able ot resist!
  • 9
    A temporary parking place found, where everyone can take part in the 'meet and greet'. It's been a long time since it's had so much fussing and attention.
  • 10
    Not looking too bad inside either upper deck to the rear (we'll have lots more images to follow)
  • 12
    A nice hot steam clean, the perfect job for an early summer's day albeit the rather wet engineer may say differently!
  • 13
    Given how long it has stood for it's in suprisingly good condition undeneath. First job, the brakes - actually no, first job, order the maintenance manual BEFORE working on the brakes!...
  • 14
    Finally, with the underneath done, the opportunity to give the engine a quick wash and brush up. Looking good and original and considering how long its been standing - purring nicely......
RMA 22 in JJ Kavanagh yard Ireland

Click to hear the sound of the engine- very distinctive!

RMA 22 and frriends Battersea March 1987

RMA 22 and friends back in Battersea in March 1987