Elephant & Castle
Route 53 commenced operating on 22 October 1952 between Plumstead Common and Camden Town as a replacement for route 53A. In April 1958, the Sunday service was extended from Plumstead Common to Erith. This was withdrawn in May 1963. In 1967 AEC Routemasters replaced the AEC Regent III RTs that had operated the route since it commenced.
In 1995, 52 new Volvo Olympian double-deckers were bought for the route. Route 185 parallels part of route 53; following the collapse of London Easylink in August 2002, it was left with a limited service provided by a number of operators, and extra journeys on route 53 were operated between Westminster and New Cross Gate to relieve overcrowding.
The service is the only Transport for London contracted route to serve the section of the A2 road through Blackheath Hill. In April 2003 subsidence in a chalk mine beneath the road led to the road being closed and the route being diverted via Lewisham.
In November 2008, a bus travelling on the route was involved in a collision with a car in Woolwich. There were no serious injuries. Passengers stated that the bus driver had braked sharply to avoid a more serious collision, and he was praised by a spokesman for bus operator Selkent. In 2015, the route was curtailed to Lambeth North Underground station and only completes the journey to Whitehall at night.
Route 53 operates via these primary locations:
- Plumstead station
- Plumstead Common
- Woolwich Arsenal station
- Blackheath Royal Standard
- Deptford Bridge station
- Deptford Broadway
- New Cross station
- New Cross Gate station
- Old Kent Road
- Bricklayers Arms
- Elephant & Castle station
- Lambeth North station
- Warren, Kenneth (1986). The Motorbus in Central London. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing. pp. 52–53. ISBN 0 7110 1568 6.
- Millar, Alan (September 1995). "Seeing red". Buses Focus. Ian Allan Publishing: 61.
- Aldridge, John (December 2002). "Guess who's on the 185 now?". Buses. Ian Allan Publishing (573): 15.
- Aldridge, John (July 2002). "53 falls foul of Blackheath's big hole". Buses Magazine. Ian Allan Publishing (568): 15.
- Bus and car crash in Hillreach, Woolwich (From News Shopper)
- "53 bus route to be cut short for 'foreseeable future' says Boris". London SE1. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Gould, Kate (12 June 2015). "Petition after claims that journey is being cut by stealth". South London Press. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
- Bus tender results Route 53/N53 Transport for London 22 September 2015
- Tender News Bus Talk (Go-Ahead London) issue 37 December 2015 page 11
- Bus Service Changes 12 April to 30 June 2019 Transport for London 7 June 2019
- Route 53 Map Transport for London
- Media related to London Buses route 53 at Wikimedia Commons