RF679 at Letty Green

Knockholt Pound Running Day

Sunday July 10th 2005

Prepared by Ian Smith, 27th July 2005

Part 1: Summer Sunday 47 to Knockholt Pound

47: Catford Garage to Knockholt Pound

Nowadays red buses go to Knockholt Pound every day except Sundays, either as the R5 from Orpington or as the through 402 service from Bromley to Tonbridge. But it was not always so. The R5 used to be the Country Area service 471, operated by GS, RF, then Leyland National and Bristol LH types, and the 402 used to be a staunchly RT route (via Polhill, not Knockholt). But back in the days before everyone (it seems) owned a motorcar, London Transport operated Central Area services to various rural places on Summer Sundays. Some were obvious: Windsor, Dorking, Epping Forest, Hampton Court. But the list also included an extension of route 47 beyond Farnborough to Green Street Green, Pratts Bottom and Knockholt Pound. That was going to be recreated on this running day, with a pair of red RTs running between Bromley Garage or Bromley North Station and Knockholt Pound during the day. But the first journey would start at Catford Garage, with RT1702.

So at about 0920 I alighted from a route 136 Trident outside the garage, and joined the little band waiting outside the gate for the emergence of the red RT. Stagecoach Tridents and Darts slipped in and out of the garage gates under the watchful eye of a policeman, and the occasional London Central President on route 171 popped in and out of the yard to turn round.

Trident 17472 on 75 Dart 34235 on 181 President PVL266 on 171

RP21 roared past on the 705 from Victoria to Sevenoaks (and thence Knockholt Pound), with cheery waves from those aboard. Just on 10.00am RT1702 emerged from the garage doorway into the sunshine, and we climbed aboard.

RP21 passes TL on 705 RT1702 emerges from TL

The bus crossed the road to the southbound stop and pulled up for more photos, with the sun more kindly placed, and the bus officially "on route". Then we were away, along through the bustle of Bellingham and past Southend Ponds (alas, no paddle-boats now!). Beyond the bottom of Downham Way, where the tram change-pits used to be, we began the long climb of Bromley Hill, climbing up out of the Ravensbourne valley. Bromley's traffic suppression system inevitably pushed us off-route. No Swan and Mitre and Market Square. Instead we were routed via Bromley North Station, where we barely paused. We went on through the traffic hell, and past the backside of the Bromley Shopping emporium (Just how UNlike a "glade" can you get?), to reclaim the route on the descent of the High Street to Bromley South Station. Then up the waste-land of Masons Hill, and out along the A21, with a feeling of sanity starting to return as we left the town behind.

We passed The Crown on Bromley Common, and reached countryside (sort of). Three quarters of a mile further on we reached Bromley's bus garage, two and a half miles from the centre of Bromley and most of its routes. There, at one of the natural homes of the 47, and one of its termini, we paused to pay tribute.

RT1702 opposite TL Bromley Common Crown RT1702 outside TB

RT1702 outside TB RT1702 outside TB

Then we went on, climbing the sharp little hill up to Locks Bottom, and the next up to Fanborough. We turned off the busy A21 onto the old road through the village, and pulled up at the stop in the village, the normal terminus of the full route. Our arrival occasioned some comment amongst the population, with pleasant memories evoked of the old buses.

The Change of Horses, Farnborough RT1702 at Farnborough

Then we were off again, first 47 beyond Farnborough for many a year. Down the hill to Green Street Green, then out along the A21 to Pratts Bottom. We turned right, and began the long climb up onto the top of the North Downs. Surprisingly, the first bus we met was another red RT: RT2043 came rushing down the hill on a 47 working in to Bromley North - Bromley Market Place was its advertised destination. We continued up through the green tunnel of trees, which opened out as we came up to the village. Here the problem was to wind a way between the parked cars, up to the Pound.

RT2043 comes down from Knockholt Pound Approaching Knockholt Pound

We reached the Three Horseshoes and pulled round to terminate by the Country Bus Rallies gazebo. Here was a green bus: GS62 - we had arrived!

RT1702 at Knockholt Pound GS62 at Knockholt Pound

Part 2: Orpington and back

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

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: Part 2: Orpington and back