GS2 at Gravesend

Gravesend & Northfleet Running Day

Sunday October 17th 2004

Prepared by Ian Smith, 5th November 2004

Part Three: 450/451 to Betsham and Northfleet: RF406

SO43 and SO277 SC390 and SO224

Southdown RUF186 Back at Gravesend I took a more leisurely look at the Maidstone & District buses that had arrived just as I was prparing for the GS trip. Half-cab Bristol saloon SO43 was parked next to Reliance SO277, reminding me somewhat of my M&D shelf at home, where models of these two types stand next to each other. Facing them were two more Reliances, older SO224 and newer coach SC390. I determined to make sure that I rode on at least one of them during the day.

I hastened over to where a Southdown Titan was preparing for a short-working on the famous 122 route. This route used to be jointly operated by M&D and Southdown, connecting Gravesend with Brighton via Tunbridge Wells. RUF186 had indeed worked in via this long route this morning, carrying a small but hardy band of enthusiasts. Apparently it was well worth the early start! During the day it was to run short workings up to Meopham Green, before heading for Brighton again in the gloaming. The PD2 certainly looked magnificent, and justifiably had an enormous queue waiting whenever it appeared.

The visitors bus park

Now I had a few minutes spare, so I walked over to look at the visitors: buses that had come for display rather than to take part. The first that I looked at was RML2323, still in the dulled red from its long sojourn at Tottenham, with Leaside Buses from 1994, and then with Arriva London North. It had started life as a Country Area bus, spending its working life in green at Northfleet, between November 1965 and July 1979, when it was bought back by London Transport. Earlier in October this year it was bought privately by Colin Lloyd, and it will be interesting to see what happens. With any luck the 480 blinds in the boxes, and its presence here today, are indicators?

Next to it stood GS15, now maintained by the son of the much-missed Brian Speller. Nice to see it here, in good fettle.

STL2692, last survivor of the postwar Weymann-bodied STLs, was next in line. It was the first time I had actually met up with it, and it looked glorious. Thirty-six years of preservation have been good for it!

STL2692 GS15 RML2323

Next was a 1932 Leyland TD2, wearing the colours of Jersey Motor Traction. At first sight an odd choice for a Gravesend gathering, but TD2s were used here by Maidstone & District to replace trams in the early thirties. Many were taken over by London Transport in the division of Gravesend by the London Transport Act, and formed a signicant chunk of LT's TD class.

Leyland National SNB250, in Kentish Bus primrose and maroon colours, was a reminder of that period in London Country's history, while Transbus Dart 1608, displayed by Arriva, brings the area's bus history up to date.

SNB250 and 1608 JMT TD

450 to Betsham and 451 to Northfleet: RF406, with RF486

I joined RF406 for my next ride, on the 450 to Betsham. RF406 was being duplicated by RF486, which was limited to eight passengers as a private vehicle. RF406, with a good load, pulled out of the carpark and headed down a back street towards the Clock Tower. For some reason RF486 didn't follow, and disappeared. We went on a bit, and waited, then RF486 appeared along a street from our left. We went on, round past the Clocktower and the Station, there passing RF280.

RF486 in Gravesend RF280 at Gravesend Station

On our way up Perry Street we passed GS1 and BN61 on their way back from Bean. We crossed the dry valley to Southfleet Station, and this time continued straight on to Betsham. There we turned right at the pub (The Colyer Arms), and turned a little way up this road. We came back to the pub, and pulled up outside.

GS1 passes RF406 and RF486 at Betsham

We waited time at Betsham, then headed for Gravesend again. As we reached the one-way system we turned round to the left onto the Northfleet road, and trundled along to the garage. We were not allowed to alight nor join buses within the garage, so I hopped off before RF486 got there, and took pictures as the two RFs negotiated the corner into the garage and ran down the slope to turn in the yard. RF486 came back up the slope, past the long line of LT-architecture buildings, and I rejoined for the run back into Gravesend.

RF486 enters Northfleet Garage RF406 and RF486 at Northfleet Garage RF486 leaving Northfleet Garage

Part Four: RM8 to Greenhithe and back

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

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: GS2 to Hartley Court Part 4: RM8 to Greenhithe