RF600, RF627, RF833, RF679

Hertford & Stevenage

Saturday 5th, Sunday 6th June 2010

Prepared by Ian Smith, 22nd June 2010.

RT3254 around Stevenage

801: Stevenage Town Service: Broadwater, Shephall and Bedwell

Some people have derided the use of "Town Service" as a via-point display on some of the Stevenage New Town routes. In practice it is fairly accurate, especially on the 801, as it covers a fair proportion of the new town estates, and a normal via point display could not hope to do it justice. RT3254 waited on the central stand with 801 as route number and Stevenage Bus Stn via Broadwater as the destination blind.

RT3254 at SV for 801 RT3254 at SV for 801

I went to join the crew, and we pulled round onto the stand to start the trip. Arriva 3237 also pulled round, presumably heading for Hemel Hempstead, and we both absorbed part of the large queue.

We turned out of the bus station and headed south and east on the A602 - the main road towards Hertford - before turning off into Broadwater Crescent for the the Broadwater Estate.

3237 at SV for 301 South on A602

Progress through the estate was slow: Stevenage does not have double-deckers these days, and even the main bus routes have low overhanging trees. These we tried to avoid where possible, and brush through gently when not. We began to look out for a good place for a photo stop, and found it at The Noke.

Broadwater, The Noke RT3254 at The Noke

RT3254 at The Noke RT3254 at The Noke

Then we were back aboard, and continuing east to Oaks Cross, where we turned north. We crossed the main Hertyford road at a large roundabout, and headed up Shephall Way to the Hyde Centre, where we turned west along Hydean Way. This took us through Shephall, and down to meet Valley Way, where we turned north again. As we approached Six Hills Way we met our neighbour from the bus station, 3806, coming the other way on the 4.

Turning left on Six Hills Way took us across the open space of the valley, and then we turned right up Colestrete into Bedwell. We turned left along Bedwell Crescent, past the local centre, then turned off down Cuttys Lane. That left us firmly against the backside of the retail area, and we had to circulate south on St.George's Way to rejoin Six Hills Way for a sprint along to the roundabout south of the bus station. At the roundabout we had to give way to Wright Renown 3312, heading out westwards on route 3.

3806 on 4, Valley Way 3312 on 3

We drove into the bus station as Solo 2493 headed out on SB8. The bus station was still busy, with the central stance occupied by three of the Volvo B10BLE Renowns in interurban livery: 3307 off SB7, 3310 off the 4 and 3313 off the 101.

2493 on SB8 3307 off SB7, 3310 off 4 3313 off 101

303: Stevenage to Welwyn Church

The blinds were already reset for the 303 journey to Welwyn Church. Passengers were quickly exchanged, and I just had time for a quick picture of the rear.

RT3254 at Stevenage on 303 3410 on SB1

We headed south out of Stevenage onto the (old) London Road. We crossed the Hertford Loop railway, and were out suddenly into countryside. We ran south more or less parallel with the main line to Knebworth, where we ran into suburbia as we dipped down to the crossroads below the station. We went straight over, and conjoined routes with the 329/A briefly before climbing up onto Mardley Hill. Once over the hill we rolled down the old Great North Road towards Welwyn. We passed under the modern road to a roundabout, and climbed up over and down the hill by Church Street to Welwyn Church.

Welwyn Church Street RT3254 on 303, Welwyn Church

We did have time for a photo break at Welwyn Church - and driver-owner Chris Wills took the opportunity to have a cigarette by the War Memorial.

RT3254 at Welwyn Church on 303 RT3254 at Welwyn Church on 303

716: Welwyn Church to Hitchin

For the return journey, to Stevenage and on to Hitchin, RT3254 would be accepting its intended role as a Green Line bus, and the blinds were set up accordingly. This obviously stirred some memories amongst local residents, and some interesting conversations ensued.

RT3254 at Welwyn Church on 716 RT3254 at Welwyn Church on 716

Then we boarded again, and headed back north - up over Mardley Hill and down into Knebworth along the Great North Road, and on northwards into Stevenage. The crew were just commenting that they had been running for about three hours without seeing another LT bus when we passed a red RF, probably RF503, motoring south on the 390 to Hertford.

Another surprise came as we turned in past the site of the old Stevenage garage, just before the bus station. There was Leyland Tiger TD1, freshly repainted into Green Line livery.

RF503 on 390 TD1 at SV

We twirled through the bus station (after pausing, of course), and headed out for Hitchin. New Enviro300 Dart 3563 was coming in on a 301 to the New Lister Hospital, but did not block the view of TD1 as we passed.

RF503 on 390 TD1 at SV

We headed north up the dual carriageway past the modern Stevenage Station, then turned right to pass through the old town.

Stevenage Stn Old Stevenage

At the top end of the town we negotiated the roundabouts to call in at the New Lister Hospital, where E300 Dart 3563 caught up with us.

Then we headed west along the main road to Hitchin, finally dipping down through the cutting to pass the old Hitchin Garage to reach St.Mary's Square.

New Lister Hospital: 3563 RT3254 at Hitchin

There, to our surprise, stood RF308, which should have left for Stevenage some minutes previously. There was a quick exchange of passengers...

Part Five: Hitchin to Hertford

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

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