I joined RF679 and Colin Rivers at a quarter to seven on Sunday morning. Despite the early hour Colin was already at the garage, and after water and oil checks the RF started at the first pull on the hook. Colin had already set up blinds for the day. We were off to Eastbourne, for a celebration of fifty years of service of the AEC Regent Vs. The two LT vehicles present were to operate a shuttle between the centre of activities at Eastbourne Railway Station and the static bus display at Eastbourne Miniature Railway.
So once everything was ready we set off down the A28 through Tenterden (hopefully scene of another CBR event in September), and down to cross the Kent and East Sussex Railway at Rolvenden Station. We trundled along happily on a fine, quiet, summer Sunday morning. The RF behaved impeccably, the AEC engine with its rebuilt heads purring quietly below us as we crossed into East Sussex.
We by-passed Hastings, taking country back-roads by Battle and onto the coast road near Pevensey. Now it was time for a break, to refresh ourselves and fill the bus before the main labours of the day. We found a service area and pulled in for breakfast and fuel.
Then it was on into Eastbourne, tracing the route of our shuttle journeys through to Eastbourne Station, where we pulled in to the magnificent canopied rank on the south side.
The first job was to persuade the staff owners of parked cars to move right up to the end, to simplify our parking of buses out of the way.
The other buses began to arrive. Eastbourne Corporation buses would form the mainstay of the operations, quite naturally, but there would be contributions from Maidstone & District, Southdown, London Transport and East Kent. Preserved M&D Leyland Titan DH379 arrived, and parked up near RF679. AEC Regent III No.42 and AEC Regent V No.69 took up positions on the active stop in order to take out the first services of the day.
RT3148 arrived with Ron at the wheel, and I then had a busy few minutes setting up blinds for service 14. Colin had made a lazy blind for the front of the RT- well, one panel, which had to be stuck into place. Likewise the route number. Climbing into the cab (which gave me a dirty mark on my shirt, as it does to all who try it), I wrestled with the destination blind mechanism to find a blank.
Soon it was nearly time for the fun to begin. We moved the RT up to the stand ready for the 1015 departure. Eastbourne 69 was leaving on service 6 at 1014. It was a good opportunity to compare the frontal styles of three groups of AEC Regents: the Regent III, the RT, and the Regent V. (Regent IV was a one-off underfloor-engined prototype)
No.69 departed, and so did the RT, with me clinging to the platform as conductor. We pulled out from the bus station just as another AEC arrived. This was Eastbourne No11, a glorious Regal bought by Eastbourne Corporation for special duties back in 1950, at a time when London Transport was hatching the RF. No11 swept past us and turned into the station as we departed. We wended our way east through Eastbourne to reach the Miniature Railway.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: Display