Country Bus Rallies
updated 14th July 2017

GS2 at Chapmore End, June 2011 Do you like GREEN London Transport buses?

Do you enjoy days out in the Country?

Do you remember glorious days on Green Rovers?

Answer yes to any of these and Country Bus Rallies are for you. Whether you are a bus enthusiast, a fifties fanatic, a number collector, a photographer, or someone who just likes a good day out, Country Bus Rallies are the thing for you.

They happen on about four Sundays a year, during the warmer (if not drier) months. Preserved green London Transport buses, mainly from the fifties and sixties - and their drivers and conductors - plus a few red friends, gather together for a day running services around a market town somewhere in the London Country Area, places like East Grinstead, Hertford and Sevenoaks, plus an annual Summer Holiday event in Eastbourne.

GS2 at the rural terminus at Chapmore End, in June 2011.

RF28 in Dorking, September 2009 There are proper published timetable for the days, that can be obtained in advance so that you can plan your excursions and make connections. There are enough buses for you to do this, with connecting points scattered around in towns and villages - and at pubs. We even try not to leave anyone behind at the end of the day! Sometimes events conspire to wreck the best of well-laid plans, like road closures, drivers getting lost, or even punctures. It all adds to the enjoyment if you come in the right frame of mind!

Services at the major events are provided free of charge. Possession of a programme is not required, and does not constitute a ticket or a right to ride on services. Nevertheless we do hope that you will purchase a programme!

RF28 worked Green Line route 713 between Epsom and Dorking in September 2009. Here it is at the Dorking terminus.

RMC4 on arrival at East Grinstead, April 2010
Getting there
can be done in several ways: public transport from London is one, and there are often free feeder services from various places around London. (Details in programmes or from here a few days before each event).

Feeder journeys can often be very interesting in themselves. In April 2010 RMC4 worked to East Grinstead from Bromley using route 410 to Godstone and then 409 to East Grinstead, before working on routes 409 and 708 during the day.

Next Events

Sunday 16th July: Sevenoaks Running Day

Our Sevenoaks Running Day is somewhat later this year, but that provides a summer rather than spring setting: we hope! The venue is the town bus station, which also has an excellent cafe.

Sevenoaks was on the border of the old London Transport country bus "Special Area" - a boundary which was created under the 1933 transport Act, and which was strictly adhered to with only a small specific number of exceptions - the Green Line route beyond Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells being one example. The boundary meant that to the east of Sevenoaks, all routes were run by Maidstone & District from their depot at Borough Green. We are fortunate that there are enough M&D buses still running which allow us to recreate their routes as well as London Transport's. The 106 to Fawke Common and the 68 to Plaxtol were the most rural M&D routes and we are running them again along with the former main trunk route 9 as far as Borough Green. When M&D finally abandoned the 68 & 106 in 1974 Camden Coaches provided a replacement, and the original Camden AEC reliance is once again running two Plaxtol journeys to recreate this route. We are running a few Fort Halstead "works journeys" today. These were once an important part of Dunton Green's workings, some 5 RTs and a crew RF being rostered until the late 1960s. The works journeys were steadily cut back, the last being withdrawn in 1981. The 402 and 403 were two of the country area's important routes, and one of the best aspects is having enough RTs to run an hourly through service on the 403 between Westerham and Tonbridge. Combined with the 402 there is a 30 minute headway all day between Sevenoaks and Tonbridge The rural routes 404, 413, 413A and 421 will all run again. It's just a shame we can't run RTs to Heverham - if only someone would cut the trees back ! We could also run to Shoreham Village if there weren't so many parked cars ! As we did last year, we also have a couple of guest buses which will run tours around the area.

RT3183 at Sevenoaks Bus Station on a 403 to Westerham, on the 2016 Running Day

Free Feeder Services

Please make sure that you have a backup plan: 70 year olds can be cantankerous some mornings.

Knockholt Station, route 402: 0930d, Bus Stn 0955a.

Tonbridge Stn, route 402: 1105d, Bus Stn 1132a.

Tunbridge Wells Stn, M&D: 0915d, Tonbridge Stn 0930d, Bus Stn 10.00a

Croydon (Fairfield Halls: stop KC), route 403: 0900d, Sanderstead Church 0915, Warlingham Green 0923, Chelsham 0927, Bus Stn 1012a, return 1720.

Orpington Stn, route 431: 0915, Bus Stn 0945, return 1700d.

Oxted Stn East 0940, Westerham 0948 Bus Stn 1010a, return 1720d.

Borough Green Station service 9: 0948d, Bat & Ball 1010d, Bus Stn 1015a. Return 1715d.

Borough Green Stn also 1030, arrive 1055, return 1700.

When and where?
RT2083 on 715 at Hertford, June 2011

30th April 2017: East Grinstead
3rd/4th June 2017: Hertford & Stevenage.
2nd July 2017: Eastbourne
16th July 2017: Sevenoaks.

Bromley remains popular, but gets permission from TfL later in the year (we hope).

Past Events in 2016
10th April 2016: East Grinstead.
22nd May 2016: Sevenoaks.
5th June 2016: Hertford & Stevenage.
10th December 2016: Bromley 227/94


RT2083 at Hertford Bus Station, June 2011, running short journeys on the Green Line 715.

Route Recreation Days
RF633 on 388 to Mardley Hill, June 2011 Country Bus Rallies also run single route or small area events using one or two vehicles. These are published in advance in the programme for larger events, and are notified to postal purchasers of programmes. Because of their small size they have to be booked in advance from the organisers. These are CLUB events for which a CLUB subscription is payable.

Forthcoming events:
Sat 3rd June 2017: Route 303/303A: New Barnet Stn - Hitchin - Stevenage.
Further plans are being developed, and you will get to know when they come to fruition.

RF633 in the lane to Tewin on the 388 to Mardley Hill on Saturday 4th June 2011.


Past events:
Sat 6th June 2010: Route 351.
Sat 4th June 2011: 388,303,386
Sat 2nd June 2012: 386A (RF), 333 & 390 (RW)
Sun 15th July 2012: Surrey Hills 1950s
Sun 2nd Sept. 2012: 364/A,337,360,366,304
Sun 8th June 2013: 807,383,364,386
Sun 1st Sept. 2013: 424 branches
Sat 7th June 2014: Hertford- Epping - Toothill/Coopersale: 372 and 381
Sat 6th June 2015: 350, 351, Hertford
Sat 1st August 2015: 703: Wrotham - Amersham, 398A
Sat 4th June 2016: 384, 364, 383, 801, 384B: Stevenage/Hitchin/Letchworth
Sat 3rd June 2017: 303: New Barnet Stn - Hitchin - Stevenage.

If you wish to enquire or register for any of the 2017 events please send contact details and A5 stamped address envelop to : Country Bus Rallies 19, Hampton Way East Grinstead West Sussex RH19 4SG

Please don't e-mail ian smith, as he doesn't have the lists.

GS62 and RF308 meet at Tewin on the 388, June 2007.

SO43 at Sevenoaks, May 2010
What sort of buses?
The theme for most events is London Transport 1950s and 1960s, so you can reasonably expect RTs, RFs and GSs (allowing for their aging condition and the difficulties of obtaining spares. An RLH or two have made appearances sometimes too. Most of the buses are green, but there are some red ones, a reminder that on Summer Sundays in the fifties the Country Area had to borrow heavily from the Central Area to keep up with demand. There is a growing more modern contingent too, with Routemasters, Leyland Nationals, AEC Reliances, and even more modern buses now that the disabled persons regulations have made many still-young buses redundant. As the Country Area abutted other operators there may also be some planned routes using preserved buses of Maidstone & District, Southdown, United Counties...as appropriate. Have a look at 2005's Gravesend report.

Maidstone & District Bristol SO43 operated at the Sevenoaks Running Day in May 2010.

MB90 at Chipstead, May 2010
Where can I buy a programme / timetable?
Programmes for each event can be obtained for about a month in advance of each event. They include the expected allocation/running sheet.
Send a strong A5 envelope with sufficient stamps for the return post (First Class) containing the number of programmes you require, with a cheque or postal order for 7.50 to:
Country Bus Rallies
19 Hampton Way
East Grinstead
RH19 4SG
Programmes can also be purchased on the day, but buying one in advance will help you plan your day (and is 0.50 cheaper!). Possession of a programme is not required to use the services.

Some journeys that we expect to be heavily in demand will require a free control ticket to be obtained from the control point before boarding.

MB90 pauses in Chipstead with a 454 working from Tonbridge, May 2010.

Who organises it? What should I know?
RT604 at Effingham, September 2009 RT3148 at East Grinstead, April 2010

Country Bus Rallies are a group of volunteers, who have come together to offer these events. They have a wealth of experience in bus preservation, and enjoy sharing their hobby with the public through these running days. It is NOT a business! The group has no obligation to provide the services, to operate in accordance with the published timetable, or to provide particular buses - but do try!

The buses are mostly provided by private preservationists. Some have private vehicle insurance, some are public service vehicles.
Please respect the vehicles, which are elderly and cared for in their owners' spare time. Enjoy your day, and help others to enjoy theirs.

RT604 worked on the 408 between West Croydon and Effingham or Guildford in September 2009, while RT3148 worked on the local 435 at the East Grinstead Day, April 2010.
Please note:Vehicle owners ask that people who travel on their buses refrain from eating or drinking while aboard, and please do not bring aboard framed rucksacks or non-folding pushchairs. (The food and drink tends to encourage mice in places where the buses are kept, which don't do the buses much good, the rucksacks have been found to scratch the elderly paintwork, and non-folding pushchairs cause access difficulties in the narrow gangways of these older buses.)
RT3062 on 167, Fairlop, September 2011.

What about the Central Area?

Operating in Greater London (Central Area) is more difficult. The main problem is not Transport for London, who are very co-operative with responsible groups, but the problem of finding places to stand or park buses. Bus stations are often not useable in the TfL zone as these are in intensive use seven days a week. So CBR operations in red areas usually involve small numbers of buses which operate without using a central location. For these reason the Bromley mini-Running Days have operated without a programme or published timetable, and the days at Loughton have had few buses to avoid parking problems and allow use of Loughton bus station.

RT3062 pauses at Fairlop on a 167 working to Barkingside, during the 2011 Loughton mini-event


RF429 and GS15 on 465 at Holland, September 2011.

Text and photos by Ian Smith. Click on photos for a larger picture.

Ian Smith and Ian's Bus Stop have no official connection with Country Bus Rallies, although I have enjoyed riding and recording some of the events in the last few years, and am regarded as group photographer for the events I can get to. Information is provided in good faith, but I have no responsibility for organising or providing facilities.

The reports are purely my personal record of the days, and not an official record, so the emphasis is purely mine and not that of the CBR organisers. Some aspects of the days get overlooked by me, or left until next time, so apologies to anyone who expects comprehensive coverage of all aspects!

As was common in the 1950s, red buses feature on the Country Bus Running Days. Here RF429 duplicates GS15 on a 465 journey to Staffhurst Wood, passing Holland (September 2011).

OTHER ORGANISERS also have London-orientated running days and rallies.
Please note that although many of the buses and participants in these events may be the same as on the CBR events,
Country Bus Rallies have no responsibility for any aspect of their organisation or content. Amersham & District are organising a number of events, but because when I mentioned them here people applied to us for programmes instead of to the organisers you will have to look them up for yourselves.


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