RF28 on 704, Bromley High Street

Sevenoaks Running Day

Sunday 15th May 2011

Prepared by Ian Smith, 25th May 2011.

Short Run, Long Run

401: Sevenoaks to Bat & Ball, and return: BUS364

BUS364 is an ex-Malta Bedford - with a Leyland engine and a massive air-horn as well as the traditional Malta bus colour scheme of yellow, red and white. When I went to look and say hello, it turned out that they were just about to go down the hill to St John's and Bat & Ball, to pick someone up. So I asked if I could go along too.

BUS364, Sevenoaks BUS364, Sevenoaks

With a blast on the air-horn we were away, round onto the High Street, and north along Dartford Road past the War Memorial and on down the long hill to St Johns. We crossed the A25 and continued along Otford Road, then turned right into the estate(Crampton's Road) to return towards Bat & Ball Station.

Inside BUS364 BUS364, Bat & Ball

We made our pick-up, and climbed back up through St Johns to Sevenoaks, back to the bus station.

704: Sevenoaks to Bromley and back: RF28.

It was in October 1951 that the first Green Line RFs appeared, going into service on the 704 between Windsor and Tunbridge Wells. RF28 was one of them, going into service at the start, on the 704 from Tunbridge Wells depot. So it was good that this year the coach should operate all the way to Bromley. It was in the next bay, loading, when I got back on the Bedford, and I nipped aboard.

We were quickly away, with an impressive load of passengers. Strangely, for all the times that I had done this journey to Bromley in the past, this was my first trip to Bromley on a Green Line 704 - always before it had been on a 402. We headed along to the War Memorial, then dived down leafy St.Botolph's Road. Driver Brian Catchpole opined that this was his his idea of Green Line territory.

RF28 loads for 704 St.Botolph's Road

We passed Sevenoaks Station and headed north to Riverhead and Dunton Green. Perforce we followed the road to the foot of Star Hill, crossing the M25, and turned right to run round the corner of the North Downs to climb the flank of the Darenth Gap - Polhill. Halfway up we were treated to the sight of SNB340 coming down the other way on the 402.

Star Hill SNB340, Polhill

We crossed the top of Polhill and began the run down the north flank of the Downs, past Badgers Mount and down the old road to Knockholt Station. Then we were back onto the A21, down into Pratts Bottom, where we started to meet London-style bus stops. There was no GS parked at Green Street Green. Brian decided to give Fanborough Village a miss on the northward run, as the timetable is very tight. So we climbed up the by-pass, oscillated through Locks Bottom and decended to Bromley Garage. We had a clear run across Bromley Common, and indeed down into Bromley. But we were still finding the old schedule hard to keep up with - too many traffic lights these days. So we climbed Kentish Way to Bromley North Station, where we continued ahead to London Road. There we turned left, past the top of Swan Hill, to stop near the site of the old Pullman Cinema, at The Greyhound, on the north end of the High Street. We thought that that was where the Green Line stop had been.

RF28 on 704, Bromley High Street RF28 on 704, Bromley High Street

Photos were taken, while the blinds were changed for the return to Sevenoaks. A Stagecoach Dart, 34346, pulled up at the stop opposite on its way to Crystal Palace on the 227.

RF28 on 704, Bromley High Street Dart 34346 on 227, Bromley High Street

We set off again, round the corner into the Market Square, past the old Caters Supermarket stop, and turned left again into West Street. College Road and Tweedy Road took us to Bromley North Station, where we picked up. Then it was onto Kentish Way, and through onto the south end of Bromley High Street, for a Bromley South Station call.

Thus far we had seen very little of Bromley's vibrant Sunday bus traffic, but at Bromley South there was a flurry of Metrobus' Dart SLFs: 283 on the 138, 265 on the 146 (I think). As we waited to get through the slow lights on Masons Hill Scania 518 pulled up alongside us on the 358 to Orpington, then used its superior power to pull away ahead of us as the lights changed.

283,265, Bromley South Scania 518 on 358, Bromley Common

Despite making stops 518 stayed ahead right along Bromley Common to Bromley Garage, where we went ahead through to Farnborough. It was right behind us in the narrow twists of Farnborough's main street, so the planned photo-stop was not possible. We continued ahead down Farnborough Hill, and rejoined the main road down to Green Street Green.

We passed through Pratts Bottom, and began the climb up towards Knockholt Station. Could we turn right onto the old road? Yes. We ground on uphill past the turn for Halstead, up to Badgers Mount, then soared over the top of Polhill and down to Dunton Green. Then it was Riverhead, Sevenoaks Station, and up St.Botolph's Road again under the chestnuts.

Farnborough Hill horse chestnuts, St.Botolphs Road

A right turn and we were along the High Street to reach the bus station, two hours after we had left it.

RF28, Sevenoaks RML2323 on 403, Sevenoaks

RML2323 was loading in the other bay for a trip to Westerham. But that would have to wait for later. Now it was time for the bus station cafe, and lunch...

Part Three: Ide Hill

Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.

Ian's Bus-stop Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5