In 1900, most buses in London were still driven by horsepower, though an alternative was being sought. Horses were expensive to feed and care for, needing attention round the clock, while they worked only a small proportion of the day. There were many experiments in steam, with batteries and petrol engines, as engineers tried to find the most economic and reliable way of replacing horses.

The first bus to have a petrol engine was run by the Motor Traction Company between Kensington and Victoria in 1899. Such short-lived experiments paved the way for the first permanent petrol buses in service, which were introduced by Thomas Tilling on the Peckham to Oxford Circus route in 1904. Within a year, despite their unreliability, it was clear that motorbuses were the future of bus transport.

The different bus companies had vehicles of different makes. Tilling's, London Motor Omnibus Company, and London General Omnibus Company (L.G.O.C) used the popular Milnes-Daimler. The L.G.O.C. also used De Dions, which were reliable.

The X-Type was the forerunner of the B-type. Sixty of these buses were built to the L.G.O.C's designs at their overhaul works in Walthamstow. The first model was completed in August 1909. Critics called it the 'Daimler-Wolsey-Straker type', since it amalgamated these types' best ideas. The Walthamstow bus works became a separate organisation, the Associated Equipment Company (A.E.C), which was the main supplier of London buses until the 1960s.

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