Sunday March 12th 2000
Prepared by Ian Smith, March 2000
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.
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.
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.
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.
Up at The Chart the buses regathered, and parked up. Lunch at the Carpenters Arms was excellent.
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.
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.
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.
Chart area: based on the 1966-7 London Transport Country Area map.My thanks go to the owners and drivers:
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!
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.