The bus was there when we arrived. It was the first time that I had travelled on this RT, although I had seen it previously at St.Albans on a couple of occasions. Today it was being crewed by new owner Chris Powis and driven by Phil Willson.
We were away on time. I settled behind the bonnet and wondered how long the sunshine would last as we headed for Redhill. Travelling east along this road on a double-decker brought back memories of return journeys to Bromley on the 410 at the end of days on Green Rovers. We were soon into Redhill, where we called at the revamped bus station.
We passed under the railway bridge at Redhill Station, and ground up Redstone Hill. Once up on the sandstone ridge we romped eastwards along the A25 to Nutfield and Bletchingley. We paused at Godstone Green for a photo, and remembered Godstone Garage as we passed the housing on the old garage site. Soon we were passing the Tandridge roundabout and dropping down the Old Oxted by-pass, before turning left to Oxted. We ducked under the dug-out railway bridge of ancient notoriety, and turned right to stop at the east entrance to Oxted Station, where we had another passenger to pick up.
The climb to Limpsfield Common was a severe test for the bus, not helped by being stopped at the traffic lights. But we made it to the top, and rolled gently down the eastern slope into Kent, to reach Westerham.
In Westerham we paused for a few minutes for photos and passengers. The service bus, an Arriva Dart on the 401, set off before us, and disppeared down the hill past the statues of Wolfe and Churchill.
We followed on shortly afterwards, rolling down the hill and motoring gently eastwards along the narrow winding main road through Brasted. We paused at the stop by the White Hart, then continued, through Sundridge and Bessels Green to Riverhead.
The service bus had turned off to service Chipstead, and we were now ahead of it, so were flagged down by bemused prospective passengers, to whom Chris explained that we were NOT the expected service bus to Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. While we were paused at the Riverhead stop we were passed by MB90, which pulled up the slight hill ahead of us.
We continued along the road to Sevenoaks Station, then turned up St.Botolphs Road. As we climbed under the delightful avenue of trees RF429 came whiffling down the hill, presumably on a station shuttle service.
We turned right at the top, by the War Memorial, and negotiated the shallow-angle junction to head along into Sevenoaks. We found the unassuming entrance to the tiny bus station, and pulled up behind the Merlin.
I thanked Chris and Phil, and went to see what else was around, before my next journey. RF679 was standing round the corner. I saw Colin Rivers, and agreed to meet him again at lunch-time.
London Transport buses predominated, but there was a sprinkling of others there. Maidstone & District dual-purpose Reliance SC390 was there, as was Camden Coaches'Reliance 900SAF.
Departures began: RF633 pulled out on a 413A to Four Elms, an LT boundary service that stopped tantalisingly short of Edenbridge because of the way the 1933 Act was drawn.
Red RF489 was set up for the morning run to Orpington via Knockholt Pound and Halstead, and was a reminder that Dunton Green did have an allocation of a red RF from time to time, as well as weekend loans.
RMC1500 was waiting for its first duties, and looked really excellent in early London Country livery. Daimler Fleetline XF3 pulled away to circuit the block back to the bus station, revealing RF28, which was parked out of the way ready for a day's duties on the 704.
Also waiting for duty was RF315, and I went to make the acquaintance of new owners Norman and Dot, before joining them on the 454 run...
Part Two: 454: Chipstead and Tonbridge
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: 454: Chipstead and Tonbridge