Memories : Charing Cross, London, June 1977

The Silver Jubilee special

We’re on a day trip to London during the week of the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and we’re standing where The Strand meets with Trafalgar Square looking back towards Charing Cross. You couldn’t get more identifiably London, without bumping into a Beefeater chomping on a Steak and Kidney Pie.

It’s June 1977, and after what has been a rough couple of years economically, the national celebrations are doing a great job of lifting the nation’s spirits. Across the land, street parties are being celebrated, houses are bedecked with Union Flag tea towels and a large part of the population are joining in their appreciation of the Queen’s reign.

London Transport’s contribution to the celebration is to have 27 Routemaster buses in Jubilee silver and have them ply their trade on the city’s most important bus routes. It proves to be a memorable plan, no doubt aided in part by Corgi’s decision to sell its Routemaster toy buses in a limited edition silver as a nod to the celebrations. According to AROnline‘s resident bus expert Mike Humble, this one’s one of 17 that were sponsored by Woolworth’s…

Looks good, doesn’t it!

So, tell us about the cars

Obviously, centre stage is taken by the Routemaster. I mean, how can it not be star of the show on a weekend like this? Behind it, there’s a more conventionally-liveried Metro-Scania (or is it an RMS?), which just fades apologetically into the background here in Charing Cross.

Meanwhile, as for the cars, we have a Ford Capri Mk1 and Ford Escort Mk2 in Popular trim, and they are both sporting actual wing mirrors (not door mirrors that get referred to wing mirrors these days), which were already falling out of favour by the late 1970s. And it does beg the question – what on earth were they thinking with wing mirrors? In what way were they better than door mirrors?

Both of these cars would just have passed South Africa House on their left (and probably a few anti-apartheid protesters who were nearly always there in the 1970s). And where it says ‘Grand Arcade’ is now a Waterstones book shop.

Finally, we have a late-model Citroën DS, which still looked modern in 1973, having been replaced by the CX three years previously, and basically being a facelift of a car launched way back in 1955 (below). Imagine standing in London today, and spotting a car launched in 2000 looking so modern? Perhaps the Audi A2? You tell us… now that’s food for thought!

Keith Adams


  1. Ah yes – 1977. I was Down Under at the time, and hitchhiked to a New Zealand country show which HM and Philip attended. Their cars passed me, without stopping to give a fellow pom a lift.

    As for the London scene, the advantage of wing mirrors is that the driver does not have to turn his/her head to look at them – they need only a brief deflection of the eyes. Having driven lorries from the 1960s onwards, with their mirrors attached to the cab doors, I am very aware of the difference in mirror positions. To that extent, wing mirrors are safer.

    The advantages of door mirrors are that they give a larger image of what is behind the driver, and they can be adjusted manually from within the vehicle. Against them is the now common problem of the driver being blinded by the reflections of very bright headlights from following vehicles.

    The shot of the Citroen at Heathrow reminds me of the photographs I took in the 1970s and 1980s of aircraft coming in to land. There was a mound close to the perimeter fence on which one could stand ‘and count the rivets’ of planes about to touch down.

    • Eric, I’m not so sure that the Citroen photo is at Heathrow. The car appears to be L/H drive, the young lady is definitely dressed in the French style and the aircraft is a Sud-Ouest S.O. 30 Bretagne. On the balance of probabilites, I’d say the photo was taken somewhere in France.

  2. Following the withdrawal of the RM in London, three RM heritage routes remained, sadly, cuts lead to the removal of the RM from those routes

  3. I was born a year too early for the Silver Jubilee, but for years after my older brother had a model silver Corgi double decker bus, probably an Leyland Atlantean.

    I think a few bus companies around the country painted at least one bus in a silver livery for the occasion.

  4. The Routemaster still looks classic and has aged well. My friends first car was a MK2 Escort Pop. The Capri MK 1 also looks good even to this day.

    As for wing mirrors, these were standard fit on most cars till the early 1970s, but much easier to adjust door mount mirrors (from the inside of the car) That goes before the advent of electric & heated folding mirrors – how technology has changed.

  5. The point of wing mirrors was to cover the usual blind spot just behind the driver’s shoulder (which was a sometimes fatal shortcoming of door-mounted mirrors in combination with drivers who refused to look over their shoulder). Then came mirrors which offered a concave surface to widen the coverage and get rid of the blind spot behind the driver’s shoulder. This meant that the side-view mirrors could go back to the doors (and be controlled from the inside by a lever or electric motor).

    • The bus behind is a DMS. The clue is in the windows on the top deck. The Metro Scania and subsequent Metro Bus, Titan and Olympians all had windows at the front and back of the sides the same width. Here the rear most side window is much shorter with a long window at the front end which means it’s a DMS. White round the upper windows on them was rare, admittedly. Also on the Metro Scania there was some fairly obvious aluminium waist trim.


      • The year before, 1976, LT brought back into service, some RT buses, a design first manufactured before WW2, the reason, the modern rear-engine LT buses were none too happy operating in the heatwave of the Summer of 1976.
        The RT was said to be more dependable than the trustworthy Routemaster, the typical RT faults narrowed to, a flat battery, a flat tyre, or needing a radiator top-up

        • LT were caught out by AEC being bought out by Leyland, & the rear engined Routemaster they wanted to buy was cancelled as Leyland had both the Atlantean & Daimler Fleetline available. LT trialled both before choosing the Fleetline as the basis of the DMS. These had a lot of gadgety equipment fitted which the mechanics at the depots didn’t like working with.

          • RT London Bus Museum bus event:, fare-free travel, route 37 Peckham to Putney route in South London ( about 90 minutes each way) 1st October 2022, service frequency is up to 4 to 5 RT buses per hour, a small number of runs extend to Hounslow

    • Yes it still looks fresh for a 24 year old design, it would be like a 1974 design still looking good in 1998!

  6. I think the wing mirror came from the fact there was no sensible place to mount a door mirror on 20’s or 30’s cars – and it just staid there for generations. The reason there was no room was because we had narrow little screen pillars not great thick things that you can hide a bus behind!
    And yes Keith, your probably right about the Audi – but that’s because any Audi is already bland beyond redemption and like Morgan (but without the history) they continue to make the same thing (slightly tweaked) year after year!

    • Given that Audi was registered by August Horch (Audi Automobilewerke GmbH Zwickau) in April 1910 and produced its first car – the Audi Type A – the same year, they do have quite significant history. August Horch had previously established Wanderer in November 1899. Audi continued as an independent company until 1928, when they were acquired by Jorgen Rasmussen, the owner of DKW. In 1932 Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer came together to form Auto Union AG Chemnitz, hence the four rings of the Audi badge. Post WWII, with both Zwickau and Chemnitz now being behind the Iron Curtain, the Russians stole the company’s equipment and assets and Audi was reformed in Ingolstadt, Bavaria in September 1949. Under both Daimler-Benz (1958/9-64) and then VW ownership and also having incorporated NSU under the Auto Union umbrella in 1969, Audi continues as part of VAG. An interesting and not insubstantial history, one might say.
      Morgan was started in 1910 by H.F.S. Morgan, although the Morgan Motor Company wasn’t founded until 1912. Its ownership has gone through some turbulent times of recent years.

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