After a few minutes an X26 arrived - not a Metrobus OmniCity but one of the Mercedes Citaros hired from Quality Line at Epsom for service increases. 505 pulled in to the stance and switched off..
I boarded. Most folk went upstairs, but there was plenty of space near the front in the saloon. Our driver got out, so there was a cab view of the back of that Citaro! I found a seat on the nearside. After a few minutes we had a driver again, and were away, turning round the end of the dual carriageway and heading south. We ducked under the George Street crossing, then turned right down to reach South End, to head out on the Brighton Road. Omnidekka 434 came the other way on a 119 to Bromley North.
I began to realise that although I had travelled south on RT604 before, this was my first trip on the 409. Previously I had gone out on the 403 and 414. It was brought home when we turned offbefore Smitham to climb up under the railway and out along Coulsdon Road towards Caterham on the Hill. We passed The Fox and crossed the county boundary into Surrey. So as we made our way round two sides of the triangle at Caterham on the Hill there were Surrey bus stops on our side of the road, but London ones on the other, where the 466 terminates by a loop the other way round the triangle.
We turned right along the High Street to pretty tree-lined Church Road, and descended into the valley at Caterham station.
Caterham Station does not look to have changed much since the picture on the cover of Ken Blacker's "RT: Story of a London Bus". The cars and signage have changed of course, but at least there is still an RT bus!
We went on, squeezing throught the Caterham gap and down the A22 to the roundabout under the M25, and on down through Tylers Green to Godstone Garage and Godstone Green. We did a circuit of the loop at the Green to reach the Hare & Hounds. A large fair was noisily enjoying the Green. At the pub we drew up behind ex-Southdown Leyland PD3 No424, now with Stephensons of Southend.
The forward entrance layout does not offer a nice forward-facing seat with a view downstairs, so I went up, found a seat and watched RT604 depart for East Grinstead.
We followed soon after. As we turned round the green RMC1500, looking splendid in Green Line livery, came down from Godstone Garage and turned round the Green behind us. It confused me somewhat by wearing the registration that once adorned RMC1486. We headed on south. We rejoined the A22 at the roundabout south of the town, and there GreenLine RT3228 and GS15 pulled out to bracket RT604 on their way south. The convoy headed on south, to pass under the railway at Godstone Station.
At Blindley Heath we almost caught up with the two RTs. But they went straight on down the A22, while we were turning left on the 409 route via Longfield. We ambled down the B-road into the village, and there turned sharp right to head back to the A22 at Newchapel.
The main road took us on to Felbridge, where we passed a Metrobus Dart (376) which was heading for East Grinstead.
We had the inevitable queue for the roundabout at the entrance to East Grinstead, and passed a red RM that was diving down towardfs the station. Heading up London Road we followed RF486, which was arriving on a feeder service from Crawley. The turn at the top, onto the High Street, was jammed with buses. I alighted and walked up past RML2699 to see what was happening...
Part Two: East Grinstead
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: East Grinstead