Route 210: Sixty years from first RFs
Tuesday 11th September 2012
Prepared by Ian Smith, 12th September 2012.
210: Archway to Finsbury Park: RF433I stepped out from Archway Station into a world of red buses. Not RFs, unfortunately, although there was the rear of one disappearing up Highgate Hill. More immediately at hand were two of Metroline's staples: Volvo President VPL583 on the 43 to Friern Barnet, and Trident President TPL259 on the 17 to London Bridge.
Then there was Arriva's now elderly DAF DLA235 on the 41, passing another of Metroline's VPLs on the 43. Ah, a 210. But not an RF. Newer EnviroTrident TE1095 was heading for Brent Cross.
But it was not modern buses that I had come to London to see today. It was RFs, remembering sixty years to the day their entry into service on the 210 - and here came RF433, round the corner to take up duty on a run to Finsbury Park.
Several people climbed aboard, and we set off eastwards, round the big roundabout and on along St.John's Way. People boarded at every stop, and there was soon a buzz of conversation and comments: "How nice to have a conductor", "It is good that everyone on the bus is talking to each other", "Nice seats"...
At the end of St Johns Way we jinked right and left into Sunnyside Road, then right into Beaumont Rise. More passengers. Then every stop down Hornsey Rise to Hanley Road, then north-east to Crouch Hill, where we turned down Stroud Green Road towards Finsbury Park. We turned right one road earlier than the usual service buses, into Lennox Road, then turned We turned right down Clifton Terrace. We terminated at the eastbound stop in Morris Place, used when the bus station is closed. Service buses heading for the bus station squeezed past.
210: Finsbury Park to Golders Green: RF433
The bus loaded quickly and edged a way back out onto Stroud Green Road as a large EnviroTrident edged round the corner in the opposite direction. We retraced our route towards Archway, soon being full and standing.
We passed green RF600, on duty in memory of the 1969 intake of green buses into Muswell Hill for the 210 (Perhaps also a recollection that ex-Green Line 6Q6s were used immediately prior to the 1952 RF takeover).
I expected the passenger load to alter significantly when we reached Archway, but there were few movements off or on. So we climbed Highgate Hill with about 43 passengers, exchanging a few at almost every stop. Driver John Hinson was nevertheless very canny in his approach to the traffic lights at the steepest part of the hill, judging it to arrive just as they went green. Our conductor too was kept very busy.
There were no trolleybuses at the Highgate Village turning circle, just a similarly-shaped motorbus on the 271. We gradually circled round the northern edge of Hampstead Heath to Kenwood, and passed through the narrow gap at The Spaniards without problem. Other red RFs passed. A sharp right turn at Jack Straw's Castle (now a gym) took us onto N End Way, down which we rumbled to Golders Green, our terminus. All passengers had to alight for the bus to make its turn at the roundabout. While it waited time an EnviroTrident (TE1077) on Metroline's 210 to Brent Cross pulled up behind.
Golders GreenI went off to locate that which diabetic pensioners need fairly frequently, and found it in the busy Golders Green Bus Station. Various bus companies work in here. RATP (London United) had SLE34 on the 13, First Bus had VN37787 and VN37796 on the 83.
Arriva The Shires had 3708 on the 268 and First had a series of EnviroDarts (including DML44022) on the 245.
Back on the main road there was a contrast in single-decker styles: 1952 high-floor underfloor engine AEC/Metro-Cammell RF433, and 2006 low-floor rear engine VDL/Wright Cadet 3716.
A further contrast in styles and capacities was provided by double-decker TE834 on the 210, pausing behind RF433, which was about to move off after a nine minute stand. The RF turned round the roundabout, and came back through the melee at the exit from the bus station, where VNW32425 on the 238 and a massive National Express Volvo/Caetano (FJ60HXZ) both turned out of the bus station at the same time.
By now it was almost time for the next RF. I crossed the road and waited...
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.