GS15 on 471, Knockholt Pound

Sevenoaks Running Day

Sunday May 13th 2012

Prepared by Ian Smith, 17th May 2012.

705: Tunbridge Wells Stn to Sevenoaks: 2816

I reached Tunbridge Wells Station on time at 0915 by Southeastern train. I expected to have to dash up the hill to the War Memorial to catch RT3183 on the 705 to Sevenoaks, but when I emerged from the station I found Maidstone & District Leyland Leopard 2816 waiting at the stop. Not assuming anything, I checked that it was indeed going to Sevenoaks as shown on the front, and that I could join it. The driver expected to meet the timetabled bus there, and was running as an extra.

M&D 2816 at Tunbridge Wells Stn M&D 2816 at Tunbridge Wells Stn

But before I joined the Leopard I went to look at the Countryliner Dart SLF that was at the stop behind, on route 278. DP17, dating from November 1999, has been with Countryliner since August 2003.

DP17 on 278, Tunbridge Wells DP17 on 278, Tunbridge Wells DP17 on 278, Tunbridge Wells

There was no sign of the RT (it had gone directly to the War Memorial stop, avoiding the station), so at 0935 the blinds were altered to 705, and I boarded the Leopard. By now DP17 had departed, is place taken by DP28.

M&D 2816 at Tunbridge Wells Stn DP28 at Tunbridge Wells Stn on 278

The big coach engine rumbled into life, and with a throaty feline roar we were away, up the steep hill to the War Memorial stop, and onwards. Soon we left Royal Tunbridge Wells behind, and climbed over the hills past High Brooms, before diving down into Tonbridge. We paused at the substitute bus-stop just before Tonbridge Station (which is having a facelift), and changed the blind back from 705 to 9. We crossed the Medway under the ramparts of Tonbridge Castle, and climbed up the long High Street, scene of so many 1960s traffic jams. We forked left past the church, and passed on to Hildenborough. Then briefly we left ribbon development behind as we climbed up towards the Sevenoaks Weald. A big roundabout led us to the foot of RiverHill, and we climbed lustily up onto the hilltop.

Near Hildenborough in 2816 River Hill in 2816

Then there remained just the run-in to Sevenoaks, past Sevenoaks School and the entrance to Knole Park, then forking right to reach the bus station in the middle of town.


Sevenoaks Bus Station was busy. We had pulled in behind the only regular Sunday service, the 401 between Tonbridge and Chartwell, which was heading south with a Go-Coach Optare Solo. The Leopard was going to provide some turns on route 9 between Sevenoaks and Borough Green.

Other buses were arriving thick and fast: RF633 arrived to take up duties on the 413.

M&D 2816 at Sevenoaks for 9 RF633 at Sevenoaks for 413

More RFs had already arrived: red RF406 was set up for the 404, with Shoreham Village blinds even though we could only go as far as Twitton due to narrow roads and parked cars. RF146 had no such worries on Green Line 704 turns between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells.

RF406 at Sevenoaks for 404 RF146 at Sevenoaks for 704

Close behind RF146 was parked another London Country vehicle: Leyland National SNB340. RMC1500 (alias RMC1486) was also in London Country green and canary livery, and would share the 704 duties.

SNB340 at Sevenoaks for 431 RMC1500 at Sevenoaks for 704

RT3183 had arrived before us from Tunbridge Wells, and was already set up for operations on the 403 to Westerham.

RF600 and RT604 had both arrived on the 403, RF600 having come from Redhill, and the RT from West Croydon. Red RF429 also squeezed through the bus station.

RT3183 at Sevenoaks for 403 RF600 at Sevenoaks off 403

It was time for breakfast in the excellent bus station cafe, open on this Sunday for our (and their) benefit.

Part Two: Westerham and back

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

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six