RT3254 at Watton

Hertford, Stevenage & Harlow Running Day

Sunday 10th June 2007

Prepared by Ian Smith, 18th June 2007.

Saturday: RF627 to Hertford

Once again Ken Eveleigh had invited me to join him aboard RF627 for his lengthy trip from the West Midlands to Hertford. I should have stayed overnight at Ken's, but a hundred miles south, passing Sheffield on the M18, on Friday afternoon I realised that I had leftall my medication at home. Back up the M1, A1, A19 and a night at home. So it was 0610 when I left home on Saturday morning for the 180 mile drive. But traffic was light, and even with a stop on the way I reached Ken's at 0920.

Ken did his pre-flight checks, then carefully reversed the RF out of its purpose-built shed.

RF627 at home. RF627 at home.

We were away by about 11am. The A45 took us past Daventry to meet Watling Street (the A5), and soon we were hustling south on the old Roman Road. The RF, fresh from an engine rebuild, was running very sweetly. We skirted Milton Keynes, then rejoined the Roman Road for the run south to Dunstable. It was only there that we started seeing buses. First up was one of several two-year-old Scania/Wright Solars, Arriva The Shire's 3603.

Watling Street. Arriva 3603, Dunstable.

A familiar shape coming the other way looked like an ex-London Olympian, and so it proved. L67 has since worked in the Isle of Man, but who operates it now I do not know. L67 in Dunstable. Arriva 3619, Dunstable.

We turned left for Luton. We met Volvo/ Wright Renown 3264 heading for Leighton Buzzard on route 31. A little further on we met Centrebus' sole Northern-Counties bodied Dart (189) heading for Hemel Hempstead.

3264 in Dunstable. Centrebus Dart 189, Luton.

Another 31 came along, bound for Dunstable, serviced by massive-looking East Lancs bodied Scania 3167.

We skirted round the north side of Luton onto the Hitchin road and bowled eastwards along the dual carriageway. Much faster than the 364 route! We headed towards Hitchin Station, then turned back to reach St.Mary's Square, where we paused briefly.

3167 in Luton. RF627 at Hitchin.

The St.Mary's Square stops are still busy. Arriva's Volvo / Alexander 3458, looking a bit tired, was taking time off from its branded local services for a dash to Luton on the 100. Centrebus Mercedes/Beaver 451 was still sporting smart Sovereign-style livery, and still operates the 304 from St.Albans.

3458 in Hitchin. 451 at Hitchin.

303 to Stevenage

Ken and I set off again, passing the tiny ex-LT garage and climbing up out of the town to the southern roundabout. We turned left for Stevenage and scurried down the main road for a long mile, then turned off on the old road into Little Wymondley. We continued on, under the East Coast Main Line and round a massive roundabout under the A1. We threaded a way into Stevenage, and found ourselves in the Old Town.

Arriva The Shires' Volvo / Wright Crusader 3249 passed by on a SB8 service to Symonds Green: no brilliant special livery these days, just Arriva standard. That was followed by Dart SLF 3491 on the 55 to Letchworth.

3249 in Stevenage. 3491 in Stevenage.

Centrebus has been re-equipping with Optare Solos, and one of its March arrivals, 393, came north through the Old Town on the 30 to Hitchin via Letchworth.

Now we had to turn right and skirt past the railway station and bus station to the south end of town. There we met another new acquisition by Centrebus, DAF/ Plaxton Centro 605, coming in on the 178.

Centrebus 393 in Stevenage. Centrebus 605 in Stevenage.

390 to Hertford

Now we tried to follow as much as we could of the old 390 route to Hertford. We turned down onto tthe Knebworth Road, but before that climbed over the railway we veered left into the Broadwater Estate. a mile in we were faced with a narrow leafy lane labelled for buses only. We turned aside, up into the estate, then right along the speed-humped road to meet the main road. Eventually we escaped onto it, and rumbled south through Bragbury End and on beside the Hertford Loop Railway to Watton. We turned at the roundabout onto the old road into the village, and pulled up ay The Bull for a picture.

Going on, we turned out of the village at the south end, back onto the main road, and headed south through Stapleford, under the railway, on through Waterford and down to pass under the railway again at Hertford North Station. We wriggled through Hertford.

RF627 at Watton. Hertford.

393 to Hertford Heath

We had plenty of time before our rendezvous, so we continued from Hertford up the London Road along the 393 route that Ken would be operating on the morrow. We turned off the modern main road onto the old road at the roundabout and climbed up to the village on the hill. We stopped outside the pub to look at the turning instructions. We should have turned left before the pub and gone clockwise round a triangle. Instead we did it anti-clockwise, turning into Church Road and then Vicarage Road to return to the main road. We rumbled back into Hertford to meet the other buses. We found RF679, RF633 and RT3148, which had just arrived.

RF679, RF633, Hertford. RF627, RT3148, Hertford.

We did various jobs on the buses, including taping up and fitting the blinds for their Sunday duties. Then we looked for a bus to take us into Hertford to find our hotel.. and Steven Woods arrived with his Eastbourne RegentV to take us into Hertford Bus Station.

Eastbourne 69, Hertford. Eastbourne 69, Hertford.

Part Two: 390 to Stevenage

Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: Sunday morning: RT on the 390