RF600, RF627, RF833, RF679

Hertford & Stevenage

Saturday 5th, Sunday 6th June 2010

Prepared by Ian Smith, 19th June 2010.

351: Buntingford, Ware and Much Hadham: RF633

The 351 was introduced when British Railways closed the Buntingford branch railway. This diverged from the Hertford line at St.Margarets, and went via Wareside and the Hadhams to Standon, West Mill and Buntingford. But the replacement bus service, for some reason, was U-shaped, making the rail connection at Ware Station in the middle of the route, which ran from Buntingford to Much Hadham. It was an express service, with a limited number of stops outside Ware. This was reflected on the fares table, which had significant gaps in the numbered fare stages.

Today Country Bus Rallies was doing a Route Recreation over the entire route, using RF633 (a Hertford bus from overhaul in March 1967 until withdrawal in August 1971). RF679 met up with RF633 at Old London Road in Hertford, and Colin and I joined the small group gathered for the trip.

RF679 at Hertford London Road, 5th June 2010 RF633 at Hertford London Road, 5th June 2010

Steve Woods rolled up in his Eastbourne Regent V No69, then rumbled off to park it before returning for the trip.

RF633 at Hertford London Road, 5th June 2010 E69 at Hertford London Road, 5th June 2010

Fairfax Road

The 351 was a Hertford Garage route, so our first port of call was the old garage site in Fairfax Road. This was new territory for me, as the running days steer clear of the constricted site, which is no longer a garage of any sort. But today the RF called in, turning down narrow Fairfax Road and turning at the T next to the old garage site. (The brick building on the right of the left hand photo below is on the old garage office site. The forecourt next door is not.)

RF633 at Fairfax Road Fairfax Road RF633 at Fairfax Road

Hertford Garage to Much Hadham

We reboarded, and set off for Much Hadham. The first call was to Ware Station, so we headed east out of Hertford passing under the Hertford viaduct (A10) and alongside the New River to Ware Crossing, where we turned left over the railway. We turned right before the river bridge, passing in front of Centrebus Solo 351 on the 383. Turning into the station we passed Golden Boy Mercedes-Benz Vario EU06JVX sitting on the stance.

Centrebus Solo 351 on 383, Ware Golden Boy EU06JVX at Ware Station

We stopped outside the station building, by the original stop. Apparently, although London Transport was providing the service at the behest of the British Railways Board, the latter made LT remove their bus-stop flag from the corner of the building. Perhaps they shoulfd have askedb before putting it up! Photos were taken, then Peter Larkham our conductor shooed us back aboard to resume our journey. Beside us an electric train continued its journey to Hertford East from the single platform.

RF633 at Ware Station Peter Larkham

We turned right again to cross the River Lee, and turned right again onto the B1004, past an original British Railways enamel sign pointing to the station. The road led us into the narrow and very green valley of the River Ash, where we were soon close to the line of the old branch from St.Margarets. We passed through Wareside and dipped to cross the river, climbed up over the old railway, and stopped next to the access to the old Widford station - at the foot of the steep bank up into Widford, and well outside the town.

RF633 at Widford Station RF633 at Widford Station

We did not stop in Widford in this direction, but continued up the valley to Much Hadham. At one point we looked left to see where the railway crossed a side-road, leaving a surviving bridge. We trundled up through the pretty village to reach the stop at the Red Lion, where the service terminated. We alighted before Peter Aves and Peter Larkham turned the bus, then took more photos once the blinds had been reset for the through trip to Buntingford.

RF633 at Much Hadham RF633 at Much Hadham

Much Hadham to Buntingford

We headed back south through Much Hadham, with its ionteresting collection of houses crowding the street. We met a modern bus heasding north on the 351: Trustybus (now Centrebus) Dart SLF No541 as we continued on to Widford.

Hadham Hadham

Hadham Trustybus Dart 541 on 351

At Widford we paused for more photos, the sun being right in this direction. Then it was off down the hill past Wareside Station, and on through Wareside, past the Chequers Inn.

RF533 at Widford Chequers Inn, Wareside

We called in at Ware Station, of course, then set off up through the town. The bustle had gone by now, as it was past shop closing time.

RF633 at Ware Ware

The A10 north to Wadesmill was closed, so we took the Stevenage road towards Tonwell, turning north-east onto the B158 to reach Wadesmill. (The road block there was very impressive). Then we had a fast run up the straight A10 to Standon, where we turned to pull up opposite the site of the old station.

After the photo-stop we continued into Puckeridge, where we carefully made the turn into the narrow High Street. We passed the White Hart at the north end of the street, where the road to Braughing Station once went, and continued up the dual carriageway A10.

RF633 at Standon Station White Hart

In Buntingford we deviated from the old bus route to visit Buntingford Station, but this seemed to be a building site. The bus was turned round and we went back to the main street. We turned onto the Cottered road and went out to turn at the roundabout at the A10 by-pass, to come back to the stop at the Greenacres terminus.

Buntingford to Hertford

RF633 at Buntingford Greenacres RF633 at Buntingford Greenacres

The journey back to Ware was quiet. It rained too, which put the damper on photography through the windscreen. We did pause at Standon Station, and perforce made the deviation at Wadesmill, but soon we were pulling in once again at Ware Station, where some folk alighted.

The 351 apparently ran "light" between Ware and Hertford Garage, so we had no Hertford Garage blind for the last leg. We had to wait for a train to depart for Hertford East, then we could pull across the level crossing and turn west for Hertford. We passed Fairfax Road, and continued into Hertford, terminating at Old London Road.

RF633 at Ware Station RF633 at Hertford

Thence I hurried across to the station to catch the train that we had seen at Ware, to head for Cambridge. It had been a good day.

Part Three: Sunday morning: Letchworth and Stevenage

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

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