SV6107 climbs up to Sevenoaks War Memorial

Sevenoaks Running Day

Sunday 16th July 2017

Prepared by Ian Smith, 21st July 2017.

Part Three: Fort Halstead Works Journeys.

RF679 on 431D, Sevenoaks Fort Halstead, a Government research establishment was secret enough not to appear on Ordnance Survey maps. Neither did it appear on London Transport route maps, the nearest point shown being Polhill. Of the 431 group of routes only the 431 was shown, but there was reference in the list of routes to the 431A, 431B, 431C and 431D - the Fort Halstead works journeys between Sevenoaks, Knockholt Pound, Knockholt Station and Orpington.

Today several buses would work on the network, which in its heyday occupied five RTs and an RF carrying workers to and from the morning and afternoon shifts.

I joined Colin Rivers on RF679, which was blinded as a 413D to Fort Halstead.

413D: Sevenoaks Bus Stn - Fort Halstead via Polhill

We motored round the block to reach the stops in the bus station, loaded up, then set off, round the block again to the traffic lights, then right, along to the War Memorial. We turned down St.Botolph's Road to Sevenoaks Station. A quick pause, then we were on across the bumps to Riverhill, and on into Dunton Green. We climbed up through the village, over the erstwhile Westerham branch and past the site of the old Dunton Green Garage.

Near the top of the village we turned right - marked Otford - on the old road, then jinked left to reach the modern foot of Polhill. We climbed the hill - a green tunnel up the flanks of the North Downs where the Darenth Valley cuts through. At the top the Polhill Arms has been rebuilt as a business centre. We turned sharply left to run up towards the gate of Fort Halstead. We turned round the turning circle, and paused beside the modern works buses - a single-decker and a double-decker supplied by Go-Coach 8305, ex PVL162.

PVL162, Fort Halstead RF679 on 431C, Fort Halstead

431C: Fort Halstead - Halstead - Knockholt Station

We did not stay long. Hanging around here is inadvisable, even if the establishment has been privatised. With blinds altered to read 431A to Knockholt Station we set off, down the approach road to Otford Lane, where we turned left. The lane is narrow: just wide enough for the RF. Fortunately we met little traffic, and that at points allowing a little wriggle-room.

We reached the road-junction in Halstead, and turned right to pass the Cock and head down Station Road to meet the old main road: London Road. We turned left, and met RM1379 heading up the other way on a 402 to Sevenoaks.

Otford Lane RM1397 on 402, London Road, Knockholt

We pulled in to Knockholt Station Approach and made a conductor-controlled reverse turn out onto the road, before pulling forward to the bus stop.

RF679 on 431C, Knockholt Station RF679 on 431C, Knockholt Station

431A: Knockholt Station - Halstead - Knockholt Pound

The blinds were changed for the 431A trip to Knockholt Pound. We headed back up London Road, and turned right up Station Road to Halstead. Since Arriva stopped using double-deckers on the 402 the trees have returned, making this road no longer suitable for double-deckers: no RTs today!

We paused at the Halstead stop, quite a way past The Cock, despite the name of the bus-stop.

RF679 on 431A, Knockholt Station RF679 on 431A, Halstead

We continued on through Halstead to join the road up from Pratts Bottom, and negotiated the bottlenecks of parked cars up to the road triangle outside the Three Horseshoes, Knockholt Pound.

RF679 on 431A, Knockholt Pound

431B: Knockholt Pound - Polhill

RF679 on 431B, Knockholt Pound

XF3 on 402, Polhill The next trip was the short journey back to Halstead, then through Otford Lane to the Fort Halstead approach road. The 431B blinds were wound up, and the photographers regathered aboard, then we were off. Round the triangle and back down Main Road. We forked right into Halstead Lane, and ran along through Halstead to the crossroads in the village centre. We turned right into Otford Lane, and progressed without difficulties along to Polhill.

We did not turn up to revisit the fort, but turned out onto the main road. XF3 passed, heading north on a 402 to Green street Green. We pulled across to the disused bus-stop to change the blinds again. This was a quick stop, without photographs.

431D: Polhill - Sevenoaks Bus Station

We rolled down Polhill, turning left at the foot of Star Hill to enter Dunton Green. We rumbled down to The Duke's Head, the traditional stop opposite where Dunton Green Garage used to be.

We went on, down to Riverhead, and acroos the double junction. RF633 was coming the other way.

RF679 on 431D, Dunton Green RF633 at Riverhead

We continued past Sevenoaks Station, and up St.Botolph's Road to the War Memorial. There, for some reason, Colin went left round the triangular island, rather than right. Did one-man operated buses do this to avoid sighting problems? Anyway, we got round, and headed along the High Street, coming up behind Green Line RF271, heading into the bus station to load up for a 705 trip to Westerham.

RF271 on 705, Sevenoaks High Street RF271 at Sevenoaks Bus Stn

Part Four: M&D to Borough Green

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