GS1 at Bircherley Green

Hertford & Stevenage Running Day

Sunday June 2nd 2002

Prepared by Ian Smith, 17th June 2002

Part 1: The day before: Swanley to Hertford

The rendezvous was appropriate: Swanley garage. I arrived early on a gorgeous Saturday lunch-time, with a sandwich and a drink bought from a snack-bar in Swanley, and settled to watch the buses. Regular passers-by were the Dart SLFs on the 233, Swanley - Eltham, operated by Metrobus. But the Green Traveller also swept past, Arriva Kent Thameside's special livery Optare MetroRider, on the G2 to West Kingsdown.

Metrobus Dart SLF 389 on 233, Swanley AKT MetroRider 801 on G2, Swanley Garage

A much more unusual visitor was a brand-new Volvo B6BLE with East Lancs Spryte bodywork, VS522, belonging to Metropolitan Omnibus and based at Harlesden. It came up the road from the Chatham direction, turned round and came back to stop on the narrow garage forecourt. After picking up a fitter it zoomed off to the east again. Much more at-home was one of Southland's own Darts, that came in off a duty on the Sevenoaks 404.

Metropolitan Omnibus Volvo/Spryte VS522 at Swanley Garage Southlands Dart 608 arrives at Swanley Garage

Then up the road came the familiar sight of RF679, with Mike Dawes at the wheel. To my surprise it was followed by GS2, the red GS in Southern Motorways livery with Peter Aves in control. They pulled into the garage, and with permission turned in the yard behind. It must be a while since Swanley Garage saw either a GS or an RF, let alone both together!

RF679 at Swanley Garage GS2 at Swanley Garage

I went with RF679 for the long haul north, under the Thames at Dartford and then up the M25 and M11 to Harlow. GS2 tagged along faithfully behind. On the outskirts of Harlow we passed a modern equivalent of the GS, a Marshall Minibus operated by the Buzz Co-operative.

GS2 on the M11 slip-road, Harlow Marshall Minibus 103 at Harlow

We stopped briefly and I switched onto GS2. We stopped again near St Margaret's to top up the fuel on the two buses, then motored on across to Hertford. There we checked in at our overnight bus-garage, then went in to Hertford to visit the bus-station.

RF679 heads for Hertford GS2 at a fuelling station, Harlow

The bus-station at Bircherley Green wasn't finished. It had been closed for refurbishment of the platforms (to provide level but lumpy access between the concourse and the minute stop-platforms.) We had been told that it would be finished in time. It wasn't. Some areas still had holes awaiting still-to-be-cut flags, and there was copious fencing. But there was enough to work with, if we used stops on the far side of the area. Interested in our arrival with the buses were the crews of local operator London Transit, who had a pair of ex-London United Darts (DR107 and DR111) there for the 384.

We did what we could, then retired to our hotel. Later, during a walk round the town, we saw the Saturday evening vehicle on the local 395, Mercedes Midibus 2374 of Arriva The Shires. But it was time for dinner and an evening of pleasant company before the exertions of Sunday.

London Transit Darts DR111 and DR107 at Hertford Bus Stn. Arriva The Shires' Mercedes 2374 on the 395, Hertford.

Part 2: Before Breakfast at Hertford

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

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Back to Ian's Bus-stop