An April shower enlivened the morning as I started my annual pilgrimage to East Grinstead with a walk to West Croydon. A small number of folk were already sheltering in the bus shelter at stop WN when I arrived. and more steadily gathered there and in the shelter of nearby buildings. As departure hour approached I totted up, and thought it was going to be a squeeze on an RF. RF600 appeared and rolled up to the stop. It was wearing blinds for the Green Line 707 to Oxted. (Yes, more on the Green Line theme). We all managed to get on board, by virtue of it being a bus RF rather than a Green Line one, with more seats and stanchions for the few standing passengers.
Through the rain we headed south out out of Croydon to Selsdon Station, and crawled up Upper Selsdon Road to Addington Road. There was some surprise when we turned left there to join Old Farleigh Road, rather than right to Sanderstead Church. We headed into the brightening countryside to Farleigh, and on to Chelsham Garage, where we turned left onto the Limpsfield Road. The climb up the north slope of the Downs seemed interminable, as usual.
But the dive down Titsey Hill was anything but, with a good smell at the back of hot brakes by the time we reached Limpsfield at the bottom. We calmly choggled through the village to Oxted, went under the notorious station bridge and went round the block to pull up outside Oxted Station.
There was a number of people waiting to board at Oxted. They were unlucky, as we were already up to maximum capacity. If RMC4 had been scheduled to call I would have exchanged, but apparently there was no call in the timetable. So I stayed put (although I did sneak off and on again to take a photo.)
We were soon away, round the block again to leave Oxted, and out onto the main road. We did not tackle Old Oxted, but climbed tortuously but without faltering up the steep bank to the Tandridge roundabout, where we turned left. We made our way south to Tandridge, and down the long hill past St.George's and the Barley Mow. St George flags began to appear in profusion beside the road, reflecting the date. We reached the extremely low bridge under the railway at Crowhurst Lane End, passed under and turned left to run beside the railway towards Edenbridge. Soon we turned south again, through the bluebell woods, to Crowhurst and then Lingfield, where we continued along past the station before turning right up the hill to pause at Lingfield Post Office. We went on south through Felbridge, and crawled up the very steep Baldwin's Hill to join the A22 on the edge of East Grinstead. We turned into town, over the multiple railway bridges, and made our way up to reach the High Street, which was closed for the day to everything but buses.
Across the road, by the War Memorial stop, stood modernised Green Line RF168, wearing blinds and roofboards for the 716. It was actually going to operate on the circular "708" route around the area.
Red RF429 was parked by the sales stands too, with blinds for the 234A, a route on which it was to operate as one of a series of route recreations by the CBR team. (For details see their Running Day programmes). Today it was a spare bus, unless another qualified driver turned up to take it out. (These events find it harder to find enough drivers than enough buses).
Also officially spare, and supposedly off duty for a heavy maintenance and restoration cycle, was RT3148. But the SM was hors de combat, so RT3148 was here today. It wore blinds for the local East Grinstead town route, the 435, which I still have not done. I enquired when it was due out, and discovered that it would instead be deputising on the 409. I bought a programme.
Daimler Fleetline XF3 came purring through on a 424 to Copthorne, where Southdown PSV were holding a Bus Fun Day.
Up a side street RT1702 was poking its nose out onto the High Street.
RT3183 rolled up ready for a 409 to Godstone.
I walked east up the High Street. Another red RF standing there was RF395, preparing to head for Oxted on the 494. Behind it, the shapely more modern bus in green and canary yellow was not SM114 but its older cousin, MB90, ready for a turn on the 424.
Two red buses passing eastwards on the 424 caused a flurry among the photographers and enthusiasts: Leyland Olympian L2 was one of three of its type bought for the Type Evaluation trials to determine what should follow the Titans and Metrobuses in London. It has had various owners since London Buses, including Connex and Travel London. The latter surprised everyone by recertificating it in 2008 after a period as a trainer, for use on route 400 at Shepperton. It is now in preservation, but used by Griffin Bus of Longfield.
Just after it came DMS1868, a rather older Fleetline or "Londoner".
GS62 came growling along the High Street, carrying blinds for the 453, another of the impending route recreation series. Standing beside it, looking west along the High Street, I had a scene filled with Lincoln green, with RT3148 still awaiting a driver, RT3183 about to head for Godstone, RF600 still on the stop and RF315 just coming round the corner.
I hopped aboard RT3148 to watch RF315 come along the street, dressed for work on the 428. Behind it was RF486, which had worked in from Crawley on the 434.
Leyland National SNB168 came bustling through on the 409, wearing a new coat of NBC green with white window surrounds. It was followed by RF633, arriving with more drivers for the CBR buses.
More modern buses came through, working from or to Forest Row: Titan T1101 came westwards on the 424 to Copthorne, while a very smart Southend Corporation Atlantean, MRJ233W went eastwards on route 409.
I had boarded RF633 for a trip out to Dormansland on the 428..
Part Two: 428 to Dormansland and back (RF633)
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: 428 to Dormansland