Dorking Running Day
Sunday 1st September 2002
Prepared by Ian Smith, 24th September 2002
Part 1: Below the North Downs: 403, 410 and 439 (RF679)
RF679 was taking me to Dorking. This time we were working in from Sevenoaks, via Westerham and Redhill. I assembled some blinds for the job (and the return journeys), and early on Sunday morning met the owner and crew deep in Kent. RF679 came out of her garage, and I added the extra blinds to the front roller.
It was a beautiful morning as we headed west for Sevenoaks. Somehow the minutes slipped past,
and we encountered several sets of Sunday roadworks.
So we were running a little late by the time we reached Sevenoaks. The group of passengers waiting at the station stop must have been relieved to see us. We loaded up and Mike drove us down to Riverhead and west along the old road.
We eased a way through Brasted, and soon were climbing the hill past the green in Westerham to stop outside the Kings Arms.
The group of ladies waiting for a coach trip to the South Coast were a little startled at first,
then realised that we were not their bus!
We had no time to stop for breakfast today. We had a schedule to keep. We changed the blinds from "403 Westerham" to "410 Redhill Stn" and rolled westwards in the late summer sunshine. Oxted passed by, and we made our way along the Greensand ridge to Godstone.
There we passed a service bus - a Caetano-bodied Dart belonging to Metrobus - which followed us along towards Redhill. We were waved down by a passenger waiting for the 411, but explained to him that we were a special and his bus was coming along behind. Despite our leisurely progress in the elderly RF we left the more sprightly Dart behind as it paused to pick up passengers and exchange their fivers for local fares.
RT604 came in from Croydon with passengers, on a through 414 working, and we were joined by RF626, which was also a 439 working. We turned our blind for the 439 too, and replaced the Dunton Green garage plates with a Dorking pair. We waited until after the other two buses had gone before heading on towards Dorking.
The 439 turns off the main road after Reigate, and heads off across Reigate Heath towards Leigh. But on the way there is the bridge at Little Flanchford, which is only about 8ft 6in between parapets: a tight squeeze even for a RF. After breathing in and taking photos we continued to Leigh, with a digression off the "main" road to pass through the village.
We stopped at the delightful bus shelter for more pictures.
A little further on we joined the 439's loop route, and turned right for Brockham.
Another pause on the delightful green, but too much traffic for a pose on the narrow bridge over the River Mole. We turned left along the A25, and headed in to Dorking,
where we arrived at the Council Offices - our bus station - just in time for me to join my next bus.
RF679 was not so fortunate. No sooner had I abandoned her than the bus suffered a loss of air pressure due to a faulty unloader valve, and retired from duty for the rest of the day. On an RF no air means no brakes and no gears, so Colin and Mike had a long and tiring spell of mechanical engineering to effect a repair to get us home.
Oblivious to this, I merrily set off to check in on GS62. I found that I just had time to snap the buses on the nearest bus-park. RM 9 was there, having worked in as a 70D for London Central. RT113 looked superb, as always, and had just worked through on the 93 from Putney Bridge, recreating one of the wartime RTs' original routes. RT1790 was there too, from Memory Lane.
In the visitors' bus-park were STL2377, Q83, RF19, RMC1476 and Alder Valley 251 (Leyland National). XF3, having found a conductor for its trip to Reigate on the 414, was just leaving. I didn't have time to check out the running-bus carpark: it was time for me to go too.