RF146 on 434, Troy Town

East Grinstead Running Day

Sunday April 17th 2011

Prepared by Ian Smith, 23rd April 2011.

410: Bromley North to Godstone: RT3228

Time was when the 410 started from North Street at Bromley North, half way along between the 94/126 passing stop and the 119/146/138 terminal stop. But now the east end of North Street is solidly blocked off by a pavement and bollards, and buses call at the lay-by outside Bromley North Station, just opposite. I was waiting there just after nine o'clock for the "feeder" service to East Grinstead. It had been billed as starting from New Cross at 0900, but just a minute or two after that someone commented that they had just seen a green double-decker to the south, at the Widmore Road junction. Moments later RT3228 duly came up Tweedy Road, and pulled round into the private bus stance in the erstwhile station goods yard. It transpired that the London Marathon had made it impossible to work via New Cross, so the feeder service was starting from here. The bus rested, out of reach, in the buses and crews only area for twenty minutes, while the crew used the facilities.

RT3228 arrives at Bromley North RT3228 at Bromley North Station

Then the immaculate GreenLine-liveried RT pulled back out to the station stop, to load up for the trip to East Grinstead. We followed the modern bus route through Bromley, threading between the shopping malls, to reach Bromley South, where we made a further pick-up. Although the bus was not wearing blinds, we were following the old 410 route to Godstone. I sat in my customary seat behind the bonnet, and remembered Green Rover days, when an RT on the 402 or an RLH on the 410 were the only ways out of Bromley, wherever you were going. Later there was a short period of RTs on the 410, followed by the Godstone RMLs. These offered less character, but a much better view for passengers!

We headed out of Bromley, up Mason's Hill and south onto Bromley Common. Suddenly, beyond the Crown, we were in countryside. Other buses passed, including an EnviroTrident of Stagecoach on an inbound 61 (19131 I think).

RT3228 at Bromley North 19131 on 61, Bromley Common

We turned right up Oakley Road towards Keston. The RT made light work of the long grind up past Keston Mark towards the Ponds. We passed a northbound Metrobus Omnidekka on the 320 - modern equivalent of the 410 Biggin Hill short-workings. This one was heading for Catford, whereto the route was extended last year, cutting the frequency on the 208s.

We passed Keston Ponds, and swooped down the S-bends past the Wilberforce Scout Camping Area. In my teens I spent many a happy Easter here. The road to Downe turned off left, and we continued up the hill to Leaves Green. There we passed the Kings Arms, on the edge of Biggin Hill Airfield, for a while during the war the terminus of the route from Bromley while the route past the end of the runways was suspended.

Metrobus Scania on 320, Keston Kings Arms, Leaves Green

We continued past the old RAF base and officer selection centre ("Getting a 410" is RAF slang for failing a course), with its guardian Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire at the gates, and passed across just below the immediate end of the runway.

We continued through bustling Biggin Hill Village, then abruptly dropped off the North Downs down the steep winding Westerham Hill. This takes as much care to descend in a bus as to climb, especially with a nasty little roundabout at the foot.

Hurricane Westerham Hill

We passed the site of the much-missed Westerham station, and climbed the narrow little road up between typical Kent vernacular arcitecture to the main street. For once we didn't stop at the Kings Arms, but headed west out of the village on the A25. We made the gradual climb to Limpsfield Common, then swooped down past Oxted, under the magnificent railway viaduct. No, we did not deviate through Old Oxted, but ground up the main road instead to the Tandridge Roundabout, then headed west along the A25 on the ridge, in the sunshine, to Godstone Green.

Into Westerham A25

409: Godstone to East Grinstead: RT3228

RT3228 at Godstone Green, 17th April 2011. RT3228 at Godstone Green, 17th April 2011.

We needed a crew change at Godstone Green, so the bus was taken right round the one-way loop to the stop by the Hare & Hounds. This gave crew and passengers alike a chance to take pictures and use the public conveniences.

RT3228 at Godstone Green, 17th April 2011. RT3228 at Godstone Green, 17th April 2011.

All back aboard (even the conductor), we headed south down the familiar 409 route to Blindley Heath, Newchapel Roundabout. Heading past Felbridge we met XF3 already heading out on a 424. We continued in along the long strip of ribbon development by the A22 into East Grinstead. The High Street by the War Memorial was given over exclusively to the buses for the day. We negotiated a way past the signs and cones, and pulled up onto the eastbound stop. Opposite us was SNB340, which had come in from Crawley on a 473, and red RF429, awaiting a journey.

SNB340 at EG. RF429 at EG.

Now it was time to see what had arrived, buy a programme and work out where to go next..

Part Two: East Grinstead

Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six