The whistle went. I dashed up the stairs. "Its gone" declared the lady in the red hat.
The White Rose Eurostar set was still in the platform at York, but its doors were shut as it prepared to amble down to London.
Never mind. Only twenty minutes until the next one. Plus twenty-five minutes late!
It was full too, so I stood to Peterborough.
On arrival at Kings Cross I hurried off to buy a Travelcard,
then down into the Tube for the tortuous writhing across to Waterloo.
Then I was lucky. South West Trains were ignoring the times of departures,
so I hopped on a Kingston train that should have gone two minutes ago.
When the crew eventually arrived the train headed down the line.
Would I be in time?
I had been invited to attend the opening of the bus lane on Kingston Bridge. So on arrival at Kingston I headed for the river, totally failing to relate any of the scenery around me with the pictures in bus books. Ah! The bridge. Had it happened already? Probably not: traffic was still using the coned-off bus-lane in the wrong direction, and there were a few elderly gentlemen around with cameras. The westbound traffic took its proper place, and workmen began picking up cones from beside the bus lane, and uncovering the white lines. Progress. I relaxed, and started to take pictures of the passing buses.
A London United National, LS297 was one of the first, on training duties.
A red and cream Metrobus, M36, lumbered towards me too.
Oh - I must remember to wind on! Still the back view is interesting too!
After that they came thick and fast,
and with the cars flitting past too I didn't capture everything.
What's this? A Metrobus in original livery?
Ah, its one of the White Rose buses, M836, on the 461.
There were Darts too, with some of the ex- London Country SLFs operated by Tellings Golden Miller on the 465 to and from Dorking, in two-tone green and red. The London Buslines Darts on the 285, wearing their brown red and yellow, were busy on the 285 to and from Heathrow. A TGM Dart SLF (902) in blue, white and yellow came across on the truncated 726 to Bromley, and a short London United Dart (DR126) headed west on a 681 working.
There were double-deckers as well, with two generations of Alexander-bodied Volvos on the 11 and 281, as well as Metrobuses of London United and White Rose.
The workmen had reached the west end of the bridge and were removing the bus lane barriers. Where was the procession? Had I left enough film in the camera lest they went straight past? Another couple of interesting Darts: Wright bodied DWL9 wearing 216 branding bubbles - and on the 216, and Plaxton-bodied DR40 on the 481. This looked very scruffy, being halfway through preparation for a repaint by White Rose.
Ah, here they come. How did they get there? Only three frames left! Not enough time to change the film before they get here. It really is one of those days. The procession, led by the small 1923 Dennis open-topper D142, came onto the west end of the bridge, partly crossed it, then wiggled between the cones onto the bus lane. And stopped. I changed my film. I didn't realise I was standing in a cycle lane to take my pics until a cyclist swore at me. Oh well, another hazard to watch out for.
As well as D142 there was Kingston favourite TD95, wearing 215 blinds, and a Royal Blue Bristol MW. The three buses paused long enough on the crown of the bridge to allow any photos required to be taken, the bus lane was declared open, and they then set off into the Kingston shopping centre.
I followed on, meeting up with the crews there, and enjoying conversation. I was invited to join D142 for a ride back along to Hampton Court Station. I watched TD95 turn and head back to Cobham Museum, then boarded D142. The engine roared into action, and with a three point turn, hampered by more modern buses waiting on the stand, we were round, and away towards the bridge.
The bus climbed up over Kingston Bridge, and then trundled westwards along the avenue towards Hampton Court, with Metrobuses and modern Caetano bodied Darts coming past the other way. With doubledeckers in frequent use along the road we were in no danger from trees on top of the Dennis. At Hampton Court we waved to the crowds, and recrossed the river to the bus stand outside the station.
There I said goodbye and thanks to the bus crew - epecially to Graham Smith who had told me about the event in the first place, and invited me along. The Dennis rolled out into the traffic stream towards Cobham, and I headed back to Kingston.
More mundane transport was provided by DWL6 - still in Westlink turquoise stripes, which sped me back to Kingston station, whence DAF/Northern Counties DN7 (now in London United livery) took me on the length of the 65 to Putney Bridge station. A District Line train was waiting. I even caught my intended train at Cannon Street. The day was looking up.
Ian's Bus Stop