Stop U at Stratford is not at the Bus Station, but out along the road towards Maryland. I walked along and found a small crowd beginning to gather to await the arrival of the RLHs. Not that an RLH was the first bus to arrive at the stop - a Stagecoach Trident (17519) heading for Chingford Mount on the 158 came along first.
But then a small green shape came bustling round the corner: it was RLH48, heading round the block onto Stratford Broadway to take up duties on the 178 to Clapton Pond. Although green, RLH 48 was loaned to Dalston garage a couple of times for use on the 178, so is no stranger to this route. It quickly loaded, absorbing most of the queue, and I exchanged greetings with the crew before they pulled away round the block.
I was waiting for the next bus, which was heading out to Maryland Station, eastern terminus of the 178. A couple of minutes later it too came round the bend from Stratford Station. This one was red. Ensignbus' RLH61, still wearing an American registration plate as well as its UK one, rolled up to the stop and took on the rest of the queue.
I went "inside", parking myself on the longitudinal offside seat, with my head jammed solidly up against the offside upper-deck passage-well. But Maryland Station was only a couiple of minutes up the road. The RLH pulled round the roundabout and pulled up outside the station. Many of those aboard piled out and took photos while the conductor changed the front blind to "Dalston Garage".
We all boarded again. I found a seat behind the bonnet, and we headed down through Stratford Broadway.
A right turn took us into the notorious Carpenters Road. This road to Hackney Wick used to pass a huge number of works and factories, requiring a large bus capacity at peak hours. But the Great Eastern mainline railway, just west of Stratford Station, goes over with only 13ft 0in plated clearance. London Transport measured it and found that they could get 13ft 4in RLHs under it. Just. With a strict speed limit under the bridge (in case someone re-tarmac-ed it, or left something lying in the roadway) they instituted the 178 route in May 1959, allocating fourteen RLHs to Dalston garage for the purpose.
Our crew crept under the bridge, then pulled up to let us off to take pictures.
While we were there RF486 came through the bridge too, on the 208A route that preceded the 178. The narrow clearance above the RF re-emphasised the tight squeeze.
A little further on up Carpenters Road we met RLH23 coming the other way, crossing the hump-backed bridge over the River Lea (or the Lee Navigation, I can't remember which). A bonus for the photographers clustering there, that both buses should arrive together.
Down near Hackney Wick Station we met Stagecoach Dart 34166 heading for Waterden Road garage after a stint on the D3.
The routes near Hackney Wick Station are complex, and the 178 and 208A went different ways, the latter passing under a 12ft bridge - too low even for an RLH. We met RF486 coming the other way, near the Victory Works, after the RF had looped via the station, and then the same RF popped out ahead of us onto Homerton High Street as the routes recombined.
The RF went up the High Street ahead of us, through typical East London urban architecture. We met another modern bus, Dart/Marshall 41270 on the 308 to Wanstead, followed closely by another RF, RF491, on the 208 to Bromley-by-Bow.
Further along we passed another Dart/Marshall of the longer variety (DML41311) on the S2 to Stratford, today's equivalent of the 178 and 208A. We were still heading towards Clapton Pond, but not for much longer. We stopped at traffic lights. RML2364 swept round the corner on a 38A, pursuing an Arriva Dart on the W15.
But on this journey we were not heading for Clapton Pond, but doing a garage run to Dalston. So we turned left. We would have headed down Mare Street, but the north end was closed. We diverted via Dalston Lane to Hackney Downs, turning left again again before heading south towards Cambridge Heath. We skirted round London Fields, passing another DML, this time on a present-day 236, and turned right towards the old site of Dalston Garage. We spotted TD95 sitting in Albion Drive. Would it still be there after we had gone round the block? Yes!
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 1 Part 3: 236 (TD95)