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A reliable motorbus that could cope with London's traffic conditions did not exist in 1900. Horses still worked better than any of the early motor vehicles. Buses with petrol engines, paraffin-fired steam power and even hybrid petrol-electrics all appeared on the streets, but most of them did not last long.
The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC), still the main bus operator, merged in 1907 with two rival companies that were developing new motorbus designs. Frank Searle, the LGOC's Chief Engineer, came up with a winner in 1910 by incorporating all the best features from the various experimental types in service. This was the famous B-type bus.
The B-type was the bus equivalent of Henry Ford's Model T automobile. It was a simple, reliable design suitable for mass production. Chassis and engine units were assembled at a works in Walthamstow which became known as AEC, the Associated Equipment Company. The 34-seat wooden bodies were fitted at the LGOC's Islington coachworks, hand-built in the same way as horse buses. In just over 18 months, the LGOC was able to replace its entire fleet with motors.