RF486 at Buckhurst Hill

Loughton Classic Bus Running Day

Sunday 9th September 2007

Prepared by Ian Smith, 20th September 2007

Part One: Getting there on RF486

I reached Vauxhall Bus Station in plenty of time. I even had time for a coffee from Starbucks on the corner (the only place open in the vicinity). A small gathering of enthusiasts assembled, and bang on time RF486 appeared from the west and wound its way into the bus station. I would show you the pictures, but I had problems with my new secondhand camera which resulted in a whole film not winding on). Anyway, we did not hang around, but set off for Elephant & Castle, where we made another pick-up, then across Tower Bridge and round the oneway systems to reach Minories Bus Station at Aldgate, where we had a few minutes break.

5B: Aldgate to Barking

RF486 was dressed for the Sundays-only 5B, arriving at Minories with Aldgate on the front, and then with Barking for the journey eastwards. Stratford's Trident 17563 parked alongside between stints on the 106. Peter Osborn took these photos at the rather gloomy bus station, overshadowed by dark-walled office blocks.

RF486 on 5B at Aldgate (Peter Osborn) RF486 on 5B at Aldgate (Peter Osborn)

We set off towards the East End, through territory very unfamiliar to me, along Commercial Road to Stepney and Limehouse. I noticed when we crossed the eastern arm of the Grand Union Canal at Limehouse, and when we passed the north entrance of the Blackwall Tunnel. This brought back memories of bicycle journeys over the Woolwich Ferry and up through the Docks to Poplar, where we could peep in at rows of gleaming new Routemasters, before returning south by the footway through the Tunnel.

Somewhere in West Ham we came across RT1702 parked by the roadside. Presumably they were on the way to the event at Chingford. We stopped for pictures, before continuing along Barking Road to Barking.

RT1702 at West Ham RF486 on 5B at West Ham

291: Barking to Ilford Station

RF486 on 291 at Barking, plus 17493 RF486 on 291 at Barking

At Barking the crew indulged in a photo run-past, changing the blinds for the 291 TO Barking, then running up the road a short way before coming back towards the Barking terminus. They then disappeared briefly to turn again, returning to the stop to put up Ilford Station blinds.

RF486 on 291 at Barking RF486 on 291 at Barking

We set off again, wriggling through Barking behind an Ensignbus Metrobus (167), to reach Barking Garage. The crew asked permission to take the bus through the garage: in one door and out the other. We paused briefly at the exit for photos. Some drivers offered to swap buses.

Ensign 167 at Barking RF486 at Barking Garage RF486 at Barking Garage

We turned north, making the short journey up the erstwhile 291 route to Ilford. Peter negotiated the intricacies of Ilford's attempts to discourage motorists from coming near the town, and pulled up for a blind change to the 179.

179: Ilford to South Woodford Station

This was to be a short journey to reach the 254 route, rather than the whole hog along the live route to Chingford.

RF486 on 291 at Ilford RF486 on 179 at Ilford

Indeed, as we progressed along the short route to Gants Hill, and on to South Woodford, not a few hands went up. Each one necessitated a stop to explain what we were about. The RF still looks modern enough to be a current service bus - until you get to the steps, of course. But we were still bang on time at South Woodford Station, where the bus changed blinds again, transmogrifying into a 254.

254: South Woodford Station to Loughton Station

RF486 on 254 at South Woodford RF486 on 254 at Buckhurst Hill

From South Woodford Station we wound round to escape from the Central Line trap, and began to parallel the Central Line up the Roding Valley. Plenty of the suburban houses illustrated in Michael Baker's "London Transport in the 1930s". We turned up over the railway to visit the station at Buckhurst Hill, turning into the little square station forecourt.

Then it was back over the railway and turn left to continue our northward course, before turning left again to duck under the railway to reach Loughton Station. We had arrived, exactly on time at 1100, just over two hours from Vauxhall, (and just over three from Dorking). We all alighted, and Peter and Steve took RF486 away for a well-earned break.

RF486 on 254 at Loughton RF486 off 254 at Loughton

Part 2: Loughton

All photos by Ian Smith unless otherwise indicated. Thanks to Peter Osborn for the use of those at Aldgate. Visit the Red-rf site for more pictures (including one of me at Barking Garage!) Click on any of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: Loughton