London Buses route 5 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Romford and Canning Town, it is operated by Blue Triangle.


Route 5 commenced operation on 11 November 1959 in stage 4 of London Transport's "buses for trolleybuses" conversion scheme. It was a direct replacement for trolleybus routes 567 and 665 and ran between Bloomsbury (Red Lion Square) and Barking Garage via Clerkenwell, Aldgate and Canning Town. There was also a supplementary Monday to Friday route 5A between Clerkenwell Green and West India Dock. London's Docks were still in use at this time, making routes along the Commercial Road very busy. The combined allocation of buses to the 5 and 5A on Mondays to Fridays was 36 buses.

This was the ninth incarnation of the route number 5 as a motorbus route in London. It was, along with Routes 5A, 48 and 238, also the first trolleybus replacement route, on which brand new production Routemasters were used.

The 1960s was a very turbulent period for London buses, and by 1966 the 5 group of routes had grown to encompass routes 5, 5A, 5B and 5C. Serving an area from Bloomsbury in the west, West India Dock, Canning Town to Becontree Heath in the east. In 1968 in connection with the opening of the Victoria Line, a large scale re-organisation of London's buses was implemented, the first stage of which occurred on 7 September 1968. The 5A, 5B and 5C all disappeared at this time, leaving only route 5 surviving, although severely reduced, now only running between Bloomsbury and East Ham. On 17 April 1971, the 5 was converted to one person operation. This event foreshadowed a decade of decline for the route, which at its nadir only needed 14 vehicles to cover the much shortened route.

1981 saw a beginning of the revival of the 5. On 31 January 1981, It was extended to Waterloo in replacement for the 55. From 25 April of the same year, it was converted back to Routemaster crew operation, as well as being extended eastwards again to Becontree Heath, replacing this section of route 23 which was cut back to East Ham. Routemaster operation only lasted for four years, and in 1985 one person operated vehicles were back on the 5.

From 1989, the retreat away from the western end of the route began. As a partial replacement, a Red Arrow route 505 was introduced.

However, as from 21 April 1990, the section west of Canning Town was later deemed redundant, except on Sunday mornings when it continued to run as far as Old Street in order to serve the famous Shoreditch Market. A partial replacement for the link to the north of the city was maintained by new Docklands route D3 (East Ham - Old Street), but only on Mondays to Saturdays except evenings. The Sunday 5 extension no longer exists now, and the D3 runs between Crossharbour and London Chest Hospital.

On 1 May 1999, the route was converted to low floor operation using Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents.

On 25 March 2006, the route was extended from Becontree Heath to Romford Market via withdrawn Route 87. Romford (NS) allocation introduced at the same time.

On 18 July 2009, the Romford (NS) allocation was transferred to Barking (BK) garage.

On 3 March 2012, the West Ham (WH) allocation was transferred back to Bow (BW) garage and the Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents were replaced by Alexander Dennis Enviro 400Hs.

On 26 August 2017, the route passed to Blue Triangle operating from their River Road (RR) garage using existing Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B9TLs and brand new Enviro 400 MMC bodied Alexander Dennis E40Hs. The route was rerouted in Romford via Queens Hospital instead of direct via South Street.

Current Route

Route 5 operates via these primary locations:

  • Romford St Edward's Way
  • Romford Station
  • Queen's Hospital
  • Becontree Heath
  • Barking Station
  • East Ham
  • Plaistow
  • Canning Town Bus Station

Previous route 5s in London

The route number 5 had been used eight times prior to its current use.

  • In 1906 - 1908 for a Hampstead Heath to Victoria route.
  • In 1909 for a Hampstead Heath to Camberwell Green route.
  • In 1910 - 1914 for a Wimbledon*, Putney* to Stroud Green route. * Termini varied.
  • In 1914 - 1915 for a Camden Town to Putney route.
  • In 1915 - 1917 for a Wimbledon Common to Hackney Wick route.
  • In 1919 for a Clapham Junction to South Hackney route.
  • In 1921 - 1942 for a Raynes Park*, Mitcham*, Clapham Common* to Forest Gate*, Wanstead* route. * Termini varied.
  • In 1953 - 1954 for a Shepherds Bush to Ladbroke Grove route.

There were also in London:

  • Between 1913 - 1938 a Hampstead Heath to Moorgate Tram route 5.
  • During the General Strike in May 1926. A circular Route 5 operated West Hendon - St John's Wood - Victoria - Kilburn - West Hendon.
  • Between 1934 - 1936 a Crystal Palace to Anerley Tram route 5.
  • Between 1946 - 1952 a Downham to Victoria Embankment Night Tram route 5.
  • Between 1932 - 1935 a Malden to Teddington Trolleybus route 5.

Of note, is the fact that in the period 1934/5, there were four Route 5's operating at the same time in London, albeit by different modes of transport.


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