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British Industrial History

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London Passenger Transport Board

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The London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB), commonly known as London Transport, was the organisation responsible for transport in London, United Kingdom and its environs from 1933-1948.

The statutory body was set up by the London Passenger Transport Act 1933 of 13 April 1933. The original hybrid bill had been introduced by Herbert Morrison, who had been Transport Minister in the then Labour Government until 1931. As a hybrid bill it had been possible to allow the legislation to roll over into the new Parliament, under the incoming National Government. Although heavily populated by Conservatives, the new government decided to continue with the Bill with no serious changes, despite its extensive transfer of private undertakings into the public sector.

1933 On 1 July, the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) came into being, covering the "London Passenger Transport Area".

The LPTB was also empowered to enter into co-ordination agreements with the main line companies concerning their London area suburban services.

In all, some 92 transport and ancillary undertakings, with a total capital of approximately £120 million, came under the authority of the LPTB. From the date of transfer, central buses, trolleybuses, underground trains and trams were all painted in what had been the "Underground" and "London General" red; country service buses and coaches, in green. All coaches became "Green Line". Already in use on most of the tube system, the "UNDERGROUND" branding was to be extended to all lines and stations. The name was said to have been coined by Albert Henry Stanley, Baron Ashfield in 1908 when he was General Manager of the Underground Group.

The LPTB embarked on a massive capital investment programme that not only extended services, but also reconstructed many existing assets. This mostly came under the umbrella of the 1935 - 1940 "New Works Programme". It involved extensions to the Central, Bakerloo, Northern & Metropolitan lines, the provision of new trains and maintenance depots, the extensive rebuilding of many central area stations (such as Aldgate East) as well as the replacement of much of the Board's tramways by what was to become one of the world's largest trolleybus systems. It was also during this period, that two icons of London Transport were first seen - 1938 tube stock trains and the RT-type bus. Although curtailed and delayed by the outbreak of World War Two, the programme delivered much of the present Underground system.

The board also continued to develop the highest traditions of corporate identity, design and commercial advertising that had been put in place by the Underground Group. This included stations designed by Charles Holden, bus garages by architects such as Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, as well as more humble structures such as bus stops and shelters. The posters and advertising issued by the board were often of exemplary quality and are much sought after, even to this day.

1948 The board was subsumed into the British Transport Commission and replaced by the London Transport Executive under the Transport Act 1947. It was effectively nationalised, but with considerable autonomy as befitted such a unique undertaking.

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