Sunday June 4th 2000
Prepared by Ian Smith, June 2000
TMR go to EastbourneWe had an invitation to a party. Well, actually everyone had an invitation, but only a relative few came. The occasion was Eastbourne Buses fiftieth birthday party for their AEC Regal, No 11.
TMR decided to take two Regal IVs to join the celebration,
and I was invited along to take the pictures.
I joined RF255 as it left its nest, on its first public appearance since 1998.
(I even got to wash it before we set off!). RF255 is an unmodernised GreenLine RF,
retired by London Country in 1975 and acquired for preservation by TMR in 1980.
It was repainted by Metrobus in their distinctive blue and yellow livery
for several summers' use on their Bromley - Chartwell - Penshurst - Tunbridge Wells Sunday service.
We joined forces with RF13 at the arranged rendezvous point.
RF13 is one of the early tourist coaches, built to the 1951 legal maximum length of 27ft 6in,
and with glass cant panels for sightseeing. It operated for London Transport Central Area (Private Hire)
for 12 years, being sold in October 1963 when LT gave up its private hire business.
It passed quickly to Hampsons of Oswestry, who used it on local services for longer than LT had,
finally retiring it after 17 years in 1981. TMR acquired it in 1994,
since when it has been overhauled and repainted in Hampson's colours (very similar to East Kent).
I transferred to Rf13 to keep Robin company on the next section of the journey through Sussex.
Further on we met up with RF4, again by arrangement (mobile phones have their uses).
RF4 is another of the tourist coaches, and has been restored by Peter Penfold
from near dereliction. After its career with LT it had another with Premier Coaches in Cambridge.
It then operated for Chuckie Chickens before becoming a Christmas Tree for Hampsons
(helping keep RF12 and RF13 going).
The three RFs kept loose company with each other for the rest of the journey down the A22 to Eastbourne, where we joined a lineup of other RFs and two older Regals at the Eastborne Buses garage:
Belle of the ball was Eastbourne Corporation No 11.
Built for Eastbourne in 1950, she was one of the last examples of the classic half-cab AEC single-decker buses.
No11 worked for Eastbourne until retirement in , when she was immediately bought for preservation.
When life commitments made it impossible to continue No11's preservation,
Eastbourne Buses were approached to see if they wanted her. Yes!
No11 was given an overhaul and complete restoration,
and works for Eastbourne Buses mainly as a private hire vehicle,
although service runs are not unknown!
RF421 represented the red Central Area RF of London Transport.
It entered service at Sidcup in January 1953,
and worked on several of the London single-decker routes
in its original crew-operated form.
In 1966 it was modified for one person operation,
and went to Harrow Weald (HD) to work on the 136.
It was retired from London Transport after 24 years of service,
in November 1977.
Many enthusiasts were excited by Don Allmey's preserved BEA RF, MLL740.
New in February 1953, MLL 740 was operated by London Transport on the airport services
between the London Terminals of British European Airways and Heathrow Airport,
operating in succesion from Victoria garage (GM), Shepherds Bush (S),
Hammersmith Trolleybus Depot (HB) and the Old Chiswick Tram Depot (CB).
It was withdrawn in November 1966,
when it was replaced by RMAs, but reinstated as a spare.
In this capacity it acquired the little-loved orange and white livery (its third),
and survived in service until May 1973.
It languished inside the Ciobham Bus Museum for some time,
but last year it was repainted into its original livery,
and reappeared in time for the Cobham RF Running day in October.
Also from the Cobham Museum came RF672, in the lovely Country Area Lincoln green livery with cream trim. The newest Regal at Eastbourne, it entered service in October 1953 at East Grinstead, just up the road. It served at a variety of Country Area garages around the London periphery, until retired by London Country in 1972.
Two more Central Area RFs arrived, and squeezed into the lineup:
RF319 is another RF with a long service history with LT,
starting in October 1952 at Muswell Hill, and ending at Kingston in March 1976.
It is preserved by the Classic Bus Heritage Trust, in Sussex.
RF530 started service as RF311, but was renumbered to RF530 when the Greenline RF fleet was expanded in March 1956.
It was converted for one man operation in April 1959, but then stored for a while as omo was not acceptable to the Central Area Unions.
It went back into service as a crewed bus, mainly at Kingston and Norbiton,
until 1964 when opo was finally re-introduced on Central routes.
It went to Romford (North Street) for the 250, but returned for the final days of RF operation in west London,
retiring in July 1977. It is preserved by the Shirley Transport Preservation Group.
LunchLunch-time was something else. Eastbourne Buses provided a buffet lunch - in the MOT bay! It should be added that this was almost empty of buses (just one poking in through an internal door to provide suitable scenery), and the space was set out with tables and chairs. The lunch was excellent. There were presentations by Eastbourne Transport, and all the invited guests received a bottle of Regal Ale: it must be a first! The Managing Director of Eastbourne Buses took an interest in all her guests, ably assisted by the Mayor. It was an exceleent do.
Seaside Bus-ridesSeveral of the assembled buses offered rides on a route through Eastbourne and back along the sea-front, by arrangement with Eastbourne Buses. I rode with Ray in RF13 for three trips round the circuit.
Homeward boundBut all good things come to a natural end, and presently it was time for everyone to go home. Buses refuelled where necessary, and headed off in various directions. Mike and Ray were kind enough to indulge me in a trip along the coast to Hastings, Rye and Camber, where they dropped me off, turned round the "Mystery Tour" and headed off into the sunset at the end of a superb day.
My thanks go especially to TMR for their generosity and hospitality, and to Eastbourne Buses, for their right Regal reception.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on them for larger pictures.