RF146 on 434, Troy Town

East Grinstead Running Day

Sunday April 17th 2011

Prepared by Ian Smith, 27th April 2011.

87: East Grinstead to Forest Row: SC390

I climbed aboard Maidstone & District Reliance SC390, and found a seat immediately behind the driver (Brian Catchpole). While the bus loaded I looked to see where the original coach front had been removed (in M&D days) for the conversion to a bus, with folding door, destination blinds and flat front. But it had retained coach livery - and coach seating, with antimacassars- luxury indeed!

When we set off we did not turn right, down the hill towards the station, but climbed up half-left into Judge's Terrace, and then down through the town by West Street and West Hill, to meet Turners Hill Road. We turned off onto Vowels Lane, and wound round the blind bends under the railway viaduct to reach Kingscote Station. But today we did not turn in. No passengers wished to alight, so we did not even stop at the entrance, but ventured into new territory south-westwards up Vowels Lane.

SC390, East Grinstead. Vowels Lane.

The dual purpose vehicle purred through the greening countryside. The hedgerows were alive with spring flowers. Fortunately traffic was light on the narrow lane. We turned left onto one of the Selsfield Roads, and headed for West Hoathly and Sharpthorne. It was all very rural and forested. Houses, except in the villages, tended to be large and set back from the road. In the villages it was Weald vernacular. We made a photo-stop in Sharpthorne.

Selsfield Road. SC390, Sharpthorne.

We went on. More green scenery. We headed east along Plaw Hatch Lane, along the ridge with the Weir Wood valley and reservoir away down on the left. We crossed over Hindleap Lane and followed Priory Road gently downhill into Forest Row. There we crossed over the busy A22 and made our way down to the old Station Yard.

SC390, Sharpthorne. SC390, Forest Row Station.

Forest Row Station Yard

The old station yard was busy, with a number of buses on lay-over between turns on the 409, 424 and 87. There were also some classic cars, and a large number of people. The cafe was doing a roaring trade. I went to look at the buses. Lined up when I arrived were Southdown Queen Mary PD3 No424 on the 409, Daimler Fleetline DMS1868 on the 424, RF315 on the 87 and RT604 on the 424. The PD3 - now with Stephensons - also had "LS4" on the front, a reminder of similar LS1-3 bought by London Country in 1975 for use on the 409.

Southdown 424, Forest Row Station. DMS1868, Forest Row Station. RF315, RT604, Forest Row Station.

I walked down the line for a closer look at RT604, which looks remarkably good for a near-63 year-old. Parked next to the hedge was a little Standard open-top car, MFF923.

RT604, Forest Row Station. MFF923, Forest Row Station.

SC390 came into the yard and parked in the line next to the RT,

It was followed in by Metrobus 395. This Leyland Olympian was Metrobus' first double-decker bought new in 1985, and was low-height to allow passage under a bridge in Croydon. It remained something of a company favourite and has been taken into preservation by Steve Wallis of Sothdown PSV. I has been treated to a coat of light blue and mustard since retirement in dark blue and yellow. I went to enquire when it was going out, then went to buy some lunch in the cafe.

395, Forest Row Station. 395, Forest Row Station.

Unfortunately 395 departed while I was eating. Never mind, there woukld be another opportunity. I emerged to see the arrival on the 424 of Titan T1101, this one, unlike T1063, with non-opening front windows.

T1101, Forest Row Station. T1101, Forest Row Station.

RML2323 came in with a 409, followed closely by GS2 on the 87.

RML2323, Forest Row Station. GS2, Forest Row Station.

Next came another newcomer (to me): ex Metrobus 109, the last AEC built, with Duple Dominant bus body. The Reliance, which started with Tillingbourne before going to Metrobus, Sussex Bus and then Guildford & West Surrey, isnow nicely preserved, and restored to Metrobus livery.

109, Forest Row Station. 109, Forest Row Station.

DMS1868 was shaping up to depart on a 424 to East Grinstead and Copthorne...

Part Five: Variety on the 424

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

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