RT3062 and RT1499 at Braintree

Blue Triangle Essex Running Day

Sunday December 10th 2006

Prepared by Ian Smith, 20th December 2006

Part One: Saunders RT3062

339: Epping Station to Harlow

Through a December dawn I trundled north-eastwards out of London up the Roding valley on the Central Line tube to Epping. I was in plenty of time for the 339 to Harlow, being at least one train ahead of the connection. In the station approach at Epping waited Arriva East Herts & Essex Optare Solo 2466, waiting to form the 201 to Ongar. Then the connecting 203 appeared, with sister bus 2467, heading for Harlow Bus Station. This pulled past the waiting 201 to the station entrance, loaded up and roared away, quickly followed by the other.

91181 at Epping Arriva EH&E 2467, 2466

Arriva EH&E 2467 at Epping Arriva EH&E 2467 at Epping

Then the 339 arrived. It was Saunders RT3062. It was a little early, so pulled up on the lay-by, for the driver to polish the windows and mirrors - low December sun can be tricky even with these precautions. It was good to see that the bus has been decorated with period adverts.

I went and joined the bus, getting a prime seat upstairs.

RT3062 at Epping RT3062 at Epping

We pulled round the turning circle. Thanks to the local taxis it took more than one swing. We turned left at the top of the approach, and passed the gaggle of photographers who were waiting another hour for the Cravens RT. We went into Epping, then headed north for Potter Street, where we turned in to central Harlow, to find the bus station.

622: Harlow to Braintree

There the blinds were reset for the 622 journey to Braintree.

RT3062 at Harlow RT3062 at Harlow

We headed back east out of Harlow, visiting Old Harlow then winding out towards Hatfield Heath, The sun climbed in the sky and the sunshine grew stronger across the flat Essex countryside as we rumbled along. Hatfield Heath looked like a good spot for some photos, with the sun on the front of the bus for the first time. The crew pulled up at the bus stop by the Village Tearoom, and most of the passengers alighted to take photos.

RT3062 at Hatfield Heath RT3062 at Hatfield Heath

We went on, along the winding road to Hatfield Broad Oak, then north to meet the old Roman Road from Bishops Stortford to Colchester. We reached it at Takeley, turned right, and motored eastwards. We met the new A120 near the Banana Factory at Easton Lodge. We didn't call, byt crossed over the dual carriagway and continued along the old road into Great Dunmow. There we met a road closure. The bus had to be turned, for us to return to a roundabout and divert right round the village on the old by-pass, to return to the Post Office in Great Dunmow from the "wrong" direction.

the road to Takeley road-up at Great Dunmow

We pulled up at the War Memorial, and the conductor went off across the road to the eastbound stop to explain to passengers there why there were no eastbound buses! He returned with some for us, and the bus was turned by the war memorial. We headed off eastwards again. We soon turned off the Roman Road again, into Little Dunmow.We continued along the lane to Felsted, where the size of the church reminds us that this bit of the country was once both prosperous and god-fearing. Opposite the pub the Boote House reminded us that George Boote built the house in 1596. Outside the pub modern Essex man blocked the bus-stop with his oversized 4x4.

RT3062 at Great Dunmow Felsted Church Boote House, Felsted

Once the road was clear we rolled on to Watch House Green, and turned sharp left there to make our way back over the dual carriageway to the old Roman Road. We headed on east to reach Braintree, where we made the mandatory circuit of the town to reach the bus station. There was RM298, waiting to set off for Harlow.

RM298 at Braintree RM298 and RT3062 at Braintree

Other buses visited the bus station too: First had a Dart SLF (42487) on the 352 to Chelmsford, and Stansted Transit had a shorter version (EU06KPA) on the Bishops Stortford run.

42487 at Braintree EU06KPA at Braintree

363: Braintree to Witham Station

I changed the blinds on the RT for the 363 journey to Witham Station. The RM departed. Our driver climbed back in. He pulled on the starter hook. Nothing. And again: nothing. Were the batteries dead? The lights worked, but the starter didn't. It looked like we would have to wait for the next one. Then one of the older ex-drivers walked round to the cab, and gave it a LOOK. It started. It must have been the starter jamming on the flywheel. Anyway, whatever it was, all was now well. We all scrambled aboard, and off we went.

RT3062 at Braintree RT3062 at Braintree

We followed various minor roads down the Brain valley to Cressing, and on to Witham, where we made some back-road connections to wriggle down through the surprisingly industrial town to reach the railway station. Our driver did NOT turn off the engine!

363: Witham Station to Easton Lodge Banana Factory

The destination blind was adjusted for our return journey, and as soon as photos were taken we were away.

We wriggled our way back out of Witham, through Silver End and along the lane to Cressing. Coming into Braintree Bus Station I had my first sighting of the newly-restored Cravens RT1499, which was heading south for Witham Station.

RT3062 at Witham Station RT1499 at Braintree RT1499 at Braintree

I lost my upstairs seat on RT3062 at Braintree, but settled onto the long offside seat for the journey west to Great Dunmow and the Banana Factory. We trundled west through Rayne, then crossed above the dual carriageway for the lanes to Felsted and Little Dunmow. I glimpsed a Routemaster coming, and snatched a photo through the offside rear window as RM85 passed.

RT1499, RT3062 at Braintree 67007 at Braintree RM85 passes

We by-passed Great Dunmow, and crossed the highway again to reach the turn for Easton Lodge Halt. We made our way down to the old station yard, where several banana-ripening sheds are located. Many photos were taken, then the bus was turned - and more taken.

RT3062 at Banana Factory RT3062 at Banana Factory

I secured the front nearside seat behind the bulkhead for the return to Braintree. It was one of the warmest (or least cold) places on the bus. As the crew said, one of the problems with the Saunders was that only one received heaters - and that wasn't this one! We called in at Great Dunmow again, and headed for Little Dunmow. Some folk alighted there to wait for the next bus west. It was RM85 again, heading for Harlow. I had a more studied passing shot this time!. We were soon running into Braintree, passing the massive White Hart Inn before making our way down to the bus station, where it was time for the crew - and me - to take a break.

RM85 heads west on 622 White Hart, Braintree

Part 2: Cravens RT1499

All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: the afternoon (RT1499)