Chart Toppers

Sunday March 12th 2000

Prepared by Ian Smith, March 2000

RLH48 at Limpsfield Chart GS1 at Limpsfield Chart
When GS1 turned up at Chart on Sunday morning, beautiful in the late winter sunshine, heads turned and there was a murmur of appreciation and a sense of warm approval. Lots of smiles. When RLH 48 rumbled up a few minutes later, and also stopped outside the Carpenters Arms, the smiles broadened and interest grew in the gathering of walkers on the chart. It turned to incredulity when three more classic buses rolled up a few minutes later: Country RF 679 and red cousin RF 486, followed by another "Oxted Puppy-bus": GS62.
Not everyone was welcoming. One local resident was incensed at having her view obstructed for fifteen minutes. Not a bus enthusiast! But most people there were enjoying the time-warp to an earlier age.

RF679 at Limpsfield Chart GS62 at Limpsfield Chart
GS1, GS62 at Limpsfield Chart Once greetings and introductions had been made, destination blinds for the day were fitted to the two RFs, the bus-stop (yes - there is a weekday 410 journey via here) was straightened up and adorned with an LT flag for the day, and the buses prepared to set out on their morning timetables. Each had an itinerary that would take it over historic routes of the area: GS62 was going first on a 464 journey to Staffhurst Wood, while GS1 was going on a 465 journey via Crockham Hill to Westerham. The two RFs were going off to Edenbridge on a 485 mission, while the 410 was returning to the main road at Limpsfield, then rumbling along to Westerham. Each would then meet others at various places on the network, in a way not at all reminiscent of the old days!
I chose to go with John Huxford in GS1, (but unfortunately ruined the photos of the trip later in the day). The little Perkins engine purred as we set off past the Church and across Limpsfield Chart, over the border into Kent, then left at Crockham Hill for the climb back over the tree-clad greensand ridge and down into Westerham.

There I swapped onto Richard Proctor's RLH 48, which was heading for Godstone. Two ladies, out for a walk around Westerham, had accepted an invitation for a ride to Godstone and back, and were reliving old memories with a front-seat ride upstairs. I rode in the saloon, enjoying the sound of the Regent engine. The 410 route took us off the main road, down into Limpsfield Village, where heads turned and faces broke into smiles. The easy schedule enabled a long pause at the erstwhile bus-stop, and we met with GS62 heading the other way.

RLH48 at Limpsfield Village GS62 at Limpsfield Village

GS1 at Oxted Bypass

Another diversion off the main road took us through the centre of Oxted - thronged with people on this sunny morning - and under the Oxted Station railway bridge, original reason for the RLH presence on the route. GS1 came up behind as we turned off the main road yet again, to climb up through the narrow main street of Old Oxted.
RLH48, Godstone RLH48, Godstone

RLH48, Godstone At Godstone Garage we paused to pay respects to the memory of the London Country garage, now like most of them passed into oblivion. Then we went down to the town and turned on the triangle, to the stand outside the Hare and Hounds.

The return trip to Westerham was relatively uneventful. Three teenagers, having expressed delight in the bus, rode as far as the garage. We paused at Oxted Station for the RFs to pass, but eventually passed them just after the bridge.
Alan Charman, with GS62, was waiting for the connection in Westerham, and I changed buses for the ride up to The Chart.

RF679 at Oxted Railway Bridge GS62, RLH48 at Westerham

Up at The Chart the buses regathered, and parked up. Lunch at the Carpenters Arms was excellent.

inside GS62 RLH48 at The Chart

Lunch-time provided an opportunity to swap news, pictures and plans. The afternoon had been left open for suggestions, and it was presently decided to go down to Oxted Station together, and then radiate from there, regathering there before dispersing.
I joined RF679 for the trip. Colin Rivers had gone for a ride on the RLH, and it was driven by one of London & Country's drivers. He seemed to like it.

RF486 arrives back at The Chart inside RF679

GS1 at Oxted Station RF486 at Oxted Station

From Oxted Station RLH48 resumed its forays between Godstone and Westerham, and the two RFs and GS1 headed for Edenbridge. Again I travelled on RF679, back over Limpsfield Chart and through Crockham Hill, this time continuing to the attractive little Kentish town of Edenbridge. The buses turned round in an industrial estate on the edge of town. I swapped onto GS1 for the return run to Oxted Station.

RF679, RF486 at Edenbridge GS1 at Edenbridge

RF679 at Oxted Station RLH48, GS62 at Oxted Station

The purpose of the regathering at Oxted was to take publicity photos for next year's events, but the afternoon shadows beat the buses to the rendezvous. RLH48 departed for home, and the GSs and RF679 retired to a layby west of Oxted for another go at the photos. That done, the buses went their various ways. At my request Alan gave me a lift in GS62 to Hurst Green, where I said goodbye and walked up the hill onto the Chart in the evening sunshine.

GS62, Hurst Green GS62, Hurst Green

chart chart

Chart area: based on the 1966-7 London Transport Country Area map.
My thanks go to the owners and drivers:
  • GS1: John Huxford
  • GS62: Alan Charman
  • RLH48: Richard Proctor
  • RF679: Colin Rivers
  • RF486: Paul Brophy
It was a great day.

If you would like to participate in a Country Area Running Day, the next is on Sunday 16th April 2000 at East Grinstead. Lots of buses running on routes radiating from East Grinstead, including feeders from places like Reigate, Bromley, Hemel Hempstead and Victoria (and returns at the end of the day). All FREE!
Details from A.Charman, Country Bus Rallies, 19 Hampton Way, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 4SG. (please include a SAE).

All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.

Back to the Bus-stop RLH GS RF