Then it was back to the bus, and to final checks before the day's service began. The blinds were set for the 464 to Chart (Church), and the Chelsham garage plates inserted in the holders with the running number. Ten o'clock - our booked departure time - approached, and suddenly it all started to happen. Red RT2043 suddenly came past, and RP21 sneaked round the corner from Westerham Hill to the stop on the green. The latter was our connection. We were still facing the wrong way, so Colin set off to turn the bus on the Croydon road, while I crossed over to intercept the changing passengers and reassure them that they were not being left stranded.
Colin came back to the stop with the RF, and a further group of passengers left the RP to cross the junction to board us.
We pulled down towards RP21, which had arrived from New Cross and Bromley as a Greenline 705. Paul Brophy was busy transforming it to a 485 for its onward journey to Edenbridge and East Grinstead.
Colin pulled round past the RP, gently descended the steep little hill to the Edenbridge turn-off, and turned right, to head for Hosey Common. We pulled up away from Westerham onto the long line of Greensand hills that we would follow west to Tandridge. Spring was rampant around us. You could almost hear the leaf-buds breaking as we passed. Bluebells nestled in the dappled sunlight under the fresh green undergrowth. And the RF sang as it climbed. It doesn't get much better than this!
But today we were not alone. The RP was close behind as we snaked up over Hosey Common and over Crockham Hill. Freshly repainted into NBC dual-purpose green and white livery, it looked very smart.
The RP turned left at Crockham Hill as we turned right. We pulled up the ridge, and headed west under the avenue of beech trees. Too soon it seemed we turned right by Chart Church and pulled round to the stop outside the Carpenters Arms. There we had a quick break while Colin transformed the bus into an East-Grinstead based 494 for the onward journey to Oxted.
From The Chart we continued over Limpsfield Common, then into the sudden suburbia of Oxted. "Would you like to get a picture of us going under the railway bridge?" asked Colin. "Yes please" I replied. But did Colin stop at the bus-stop immediately before the bridge? No: he stopped at the previous corner, so that I could work off my breakfast with a 100m dash to the other side of the bridge. Once there I grabbed a couple of photos without thinking too much about light conditions, so they are a bit grainy, I'm afraid. At least he waited for me to board again, round the corner, before continuing to Oxted Station (West Side).
We were just on time at Oxted Station, with no timetabled opportunity to use the toilets there. Fortunately they were not needed, so we were quickly away. We took the scenic route up through Old Oxted, wondering how it used to cope with a bus every ten minutes on average. We climbed up to the Tandridge roundabout, and headed south, down from the Greensand onto the clay soils of the Weald. At Crowhurst North we squeezed under the very low railway bridge and turned east alongside the Redhill to Tonbridge railway line. We had time for a quick photographic stop in the countryside here, before continuing through Crowhurst.
We passed the usual display of red and white flags in the Parish of St George (yesterday being St George's Day), and ran into Lingfield. We made the customary stop at the Post Office, with its old octagonal concrete bus stop post, then proceeded towards Felcourt. A brace of GSs came towards us on the 494, with GS60 leading GS1. A little further on we met red RF366, sporting a front with an enhanced air-flow feature, on the 428 to Dormansland, and then red RF406 heading for the same destination, looking quite at home in the Baldwins Hill suburbia.
We had no problems getting in to East Grinstead, and soon we were easing our way through the traffic management scheme onto the High Street. We met Daimler Fleetline XF3 at the lights. It was heading north on a 424 working. We turned left into King Street, unloaded, and headed round to find a parking space in a back street.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: East Grinstead