East Grinstead Running Day

Sunday April 23rd 2006

Prepared by Ian Smith, 2nd May 2006

Part 1: to East Grinstead (RF679)

403: Sevenoaks to Westerham

Usually I drive down into Kent to meet RF679 for the ride to East Grinstead, but this time I had come down from the north by train (actually using the old Midland main line from York to St.Pancras), but that's a different story. On the Sunday morning I caught the local train out to Sevenoaks, and walked up to the station stop in plenty of time for my rendezvous with the RF. A small band of "regulars" gradually gathered. Then RF679 appeared, unexpectedly from the Riverhead direction, with Mike Dawes at the wheel. He and Colin Rivers waved as they passed! They disappeared up into Sevenoaks, but eventually the bus came back down Tubs Hill to draw up at the station.

RF679 passes Sevenoaks Station RF679 arrives at Sevenoaks Station

This year the RF was dressed as a Chelsham-garaged 465 to Edenbridge, rather than its usual 464 to Chart. More of that later. Another change this year was the rain, which was to persist all day, most unusually. We've got wet on the way there, and on the way back, sometimes torrentially, but this persistent light rain was unusual. Still, Kent, Sussex and Surrey need it!

We loaded up and set off, down to Riverhead, then west along the A25. We soon acquired a tail of cars, and paused at the stop in Sundridge to let them past.

RF679 passes Sevenoaks Station RF679 arrives at Sevenoaks Station

Then it was on through Brasted and up into Westerham, where the bus was to lay over for half an hour while the crew had breakfast. The Kings Arms was too full to accommodate us for breakfast this year, so we repaired across the road to the Rendezvous cafe, which served up a very nice scrambled eggs on toast, and coffee.

We returned to the bus, to find that our passenger list had grown larger. RP21 had been unable to run as the Green Line 705 connector this year, so our departure from Westerham was delayed to connect with the Metrobus 246 service from Bromley.

RF679 at Westerham RF679 at Westerham

Now the penny dropped with some of our passengers. The bus was dressed for the Edenbridge service rather than Chart because it was standing in for RP21 on the 485 journey. Yes, it was 465 blinds, but there were no 485 ones on this roll! Suddenly there was the sound of another AEC engine, and RT2043 went past on its way to Godstone.

485: Westerham to Edenbridge

We sent the passengers across the road to the eastbound stop while we took RF679 out onto the Croydon road to turn at the traditional point. Then we returned to the village centre. Where were the passengers? They were not at the George and Dragon. Ah! They had gone done to the stop by Wolfe's statue on the green. We picked them up and set off.

RT2043 at Westerham RF679 turns Westerham

We dropped down to the foot of the village and turned right up the B2026. We climbed southwards up onto Hosey Common. Spring is later this year, and the Greensand Ridge woods were not their usual riot of spring green yet. Perhaps it was the flat light and drizzling rain. We crossed over Crockham Hill, and turned left for Edenbridge instead of right for Chart.

Very soon we were descending into Edenbridge, past the Hilders Lane terminus of the 434 and under the low railway bridge at Edenbridge Station. There was a bus-stop just south of the bridge, where we halted briefly.

Edenbridge Stn bridge RF679 at Edenbridge Stn.

We also paused by the end of the lane to Edenbridge Town Station, before continuing down the main street to The Star.

434: Edenbridge to East Grinstead

At the Star we paused rather longer, to change the Chelsham garage plates for East Grinstead ones, and to wind up a blind for the 434 to East Grinstead Garage. I couldn't find a rear 434 blind either, so put up a local one for the 428 - RF679's next duty.

RF679 at Edenbridge Star RF679 at Edenbridge Star.

We set off for East Grinstead, south to the turn for Marsh Green, then west through that straggling village , across the county boundary from Kent into Surrey and on to Dormansland. It all looked very different in the wet. We pulled up at the stop outside the Plough, and completed photographic stop.

RF679 at Dormansland Plough RF679 at Dormansland Plough.

Then it was off south towards East Grinstead, through Dormansland and a belt of countryside, then up a steep bank to meet another county boundary, into West Sussex. A right turn took us onto the A264 Tunbridge Wells - East Grinstead road. We motored towards the town, past the Stone Quarry Estate and the hospital, and veered left at the roundabout, up through the rock cutting towards the top of the town. I had not previously noted how much the main street is timber-built, but noticed it today as we came in towards the War Memorial, centre of today's activities at East Grinstead.

Buses flowed: RF406 pulled out ahead of us, on a 473 working, and pulled past static GS62. Maidstone & District Reliance SC390 was fully loaded for a 135 trip to Edenbridge Town via Holtye. GS34 had arrived on a 494, with RT2043 behind it on a 409 to Forest Row. I alighted from RF679 and crossed the road, just as RF366 came round the tight corner on a 473 working to Dormansland.

RF406, SC390, GS34, RT2043 at EG RF366 at EG War Memorial.

Part 2: RT2043 on the 409

All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: RT2043 on 409