East Grinstead Running Day 1998
Sunday 26th April 1998Prepared by Ian Smith,
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created 7th May 1998.
PreparationsTMR took me to East Grinstead. Having spent the Saturday helping the team to prepare the four buses, I was eagerly anticipating the ride from the Group's headquarters across the Kent and Sussex borders to East Grinstead. The group did not travel in convoy. The two essential service buses, GS56 and RF255 went on ahead, while the rest of us started a reluctant RT2291 (the fuel switch had inadvertently been turned off during maintenance, leaving enough diesel in the fuel line for pre-positioning the previous evening, but not enough to start!).
GS56 and RT2291 to East GrinsteadOnce the problem was found and cured we set off. I travelled in RF13, the tail-ender, driven by Ray. Before long we began to see glimpses of the big red RT ahead of us. We caught up with it when Mike paused in Pembury to make some family arrangements for the day. I swapped onto RT2291 for the journey on through Tunbridge Wells. RF13 followed close behind until the low railway bridge in Ashhurst forced us to part company.
RT2291 perforce made a large detour on B roads to avoid the 13' 3" bridge, but nevertheless we arrived in East Grinstead in good time. RF255 and GS56 were parked conveniently for their duties, while the RT and RF13 were parked out of the way in a corner, either side of a Metrobus Dart.
Early departuresWe went to watch RF255 off on her first duty at 10.15, heading for Kingscote on the 473 Bluebell Railway connecting service, a duty that she would remain on during the day.
King Street Bus StationThen there was time to look around the other buses on the stands and in the bus park, and say hello to friends. Gill Hinson (Wealdstone & District) was just departing in red RF453 on the 494 to Oxted, and King Street was full of buses - as it would be all day.
Shortly after it was John Hinson's turn with their green RF280.
The bus park was filling up: some of the Cobham regulars were parked prominently: T504, TD95 and RT593, plus a variety of other RFs and RTs. RMs and other modern buses were mainly parked at the back.
RT 3775, tired after a long spell in service with London & Country, was still there."Service" buses worked in from all over: Greenline 708s from Hemel Hempstead and London; 409s from Croydon and 424s from Reigate (the last using XF1 and RLH48), bringing in informed enthusiasts and recreating scenes from the Country Area Heyday.
GS56 to Oxted and HollandBut soon it was time for work: Mike and Trevor set the blinds on GS56 for the 494 service to Oxted Station, and pulled her round onto the stand for the 1050 departure. We loaded another fifteen passengers at King Street, and a few more at the bus stops in the High Street and at the station (These had been fitted for the day with reproduction LT bus stops signs with appropriate route plates).
Then it was off along the back-road to Lingfield Station (complete with an unscheduled detour to serve Lingfield Park Race Course). We turned at Lingfield Station (another of the day's connection node points), where we exchanged some passengers, and continued northwards. As we went, other buses came the other way: we had already been passed by the 708 from Hemel Hempstead and RF315 on an early 494. Now we met GS62 on another 494, with bad news: Gill had suffered a puncture on an inside rear tyre at Tandridge. Colin in GS62 had taken as many passengers as possible, and would notify control in East Grinstead. Could we help? We soon pulled up opposite the stranded RF453, and took a few more passengers with us on the trip north:
At Oxted station we picked up yet more passengers for the 465 short-working up through Old Oxted and across the speed bumps to Hurst Green and the narrow turn-round loop at Holland.
Passports checked, we made our way back to Oxted station, where the blinds were reset for the 494 return journey to East Grinstead, and the last five seats filled. With a full load, the climb up out of Oxted brought a mighty roar from the little diesel!
XF1 to East GrinsteadAt Lingfield Station we met Alan Charman with XF1 on a 409 short working to East Grinstead, and I transferred to the Fleetline for the main-road ride back to East Grinstead station.
RT2043 to LingfieldThere I changed onto Roger and Dawn Stagg's RT2043, northbound on another 409 short to Lingfield Station. This was a lovely quiet ride, with not many passengers aboard the immaculate RT, and was an opportunity to chat.
RF315 to East GrinsteadBack at Lingfield I found RF315 waiting, having just turned on a 428 working towards East Grinstead. I hopped aboard, for the ride again to East Grinstead station. On the way we passed a GreenLine RF wearing 708 blinds, and T504 sporting 712 blinds, both carrying heavy loads northwards. At the station I changed again, rejoining Dawn on RT2043 for the short ride up to King Street. I wondered whether to continue to Forest Row, but lunch called and I alighted at the bus-station to find the TMR team in RT2291.
King Street Bus StationThe lunch break also gave me an opportunity to see what else was in the bus park. There were four GSs now: GS1, GS42, GS56 and GS62. RLH 48 had arrived, as had several RMs, but RTs, GSs and RFs still dominated, busily coming and going from the tight parking area to go on a duty or return for a break. RT604, in London Country livery, unexpectedly joined in the fun, helping to relieve the passenger pressures of a very busy day with some extras.
RF308 to the Stone Quarry EstateAfter lunch I went for a short 424 excursion on RF308 (another extra) up to the Stone Quarry Estate terminus, and returned on it to King Street.
RF4 to Dormansland
A few minutes later came the opportunity to ride on Peter Penfold's Private Hire RF, RF4, on a 428 service out to Dormansland (Plough Inn), another of the booked connection points.
Out there I found red RF530 waiting on the 434 connection to Edenbridge (but didn't have time for the trip, unfortunately), and RF308 on a 434 service the other way back to King Street. I climbed back aboard the latter, and enjoyed the short trip down into town. RLH 48 pulled out from the Stone Quarry Estate ahead of us, and stayed just ahead all the way down to the High Street.
RLH48 to the Stone QuarryI looked round the display area again, then enjoyed a trip up to the Stone Quarry Estate again, this time aboard the immaculate RLH. It was packed, humid and steaming upstairs, so I enjoyed my favourite downstairs seat, at the rear nearside, chatting to the conductor, who was also enjoying the marvellous day. I alighted to watch the bus turn in the T in the estate, and boarded again for the trip into town via the station.
(left)RLH 48 is signalled back by the conductor at the reversing T in Stone Quarry Estate.