Yes, I HAD just been to Dartford and back on a Greenline double-decker. But that had been my first trip on an RCL, and this would be my first trip on a GreenLine RT. RT3148 was a familiar vehicle, and I know the crew well: Colin Rivers driving and Peter Larkham conducting. But Greenline blinds make a difference! - and this IS the 75th Anniversary year of Greenline. O.K. I admit it, I just WANTED to go on this trip. So did quite a few others, by the loading. Peter filled the RT up to the group's limit for the bus: less than the 56 of yore, but the bus IS now elderly, and people weigh rather more nowadays than in 1949!
Incidentally, I noted that the bus wore NF garage plates in the 200+ series, typical of Greenline relief duties. We set off through Gravesend, and out onto the Overcliffe. The bus-stop at Northfleet Garage was still clogged, but Colin managed to pull in by the lay-by just beyond for a quick photo-stop.
We continued along the high road. This, from the top deck of a bus, gives spectacular views of the River Thames. It isn't exactly a pretty stretch, but it is full of interest, with Tilbury Docks, all kinds of industry, the Dartford Bridge, old chalk workings and, at present, on-going work on the Channel Tunnel Rail link, complete with German shunters. Childhood memories fill in reminiscences of rather more ships then, and rather more industrial grime. Cement works and quarries had their own railways, with little steam shunters, including an amazing 2-2-0T Aveling Barford that looked like a steam roller. Cement dust covered everything in a gritty residue that stripped the green paint off Northfleet's buses so that they always appeared a grubby greeny grey. A mix of recollections and modern observations occupied my thoughts as we hummed along towards Dartford.
All too soon we were pulling in to the bus station at Dartford.
Time was pressing on, so we reboarded, and headed back for Gravesend. We passed another of Arriva's DAF/Wright buses on the 492: 6218. Up on the hill near Northfleet Garage we noted that the low sun was throwing long shadows across the road. But careful selection of a bus-stop layby, and careful positioning of the bus between two such shadows gave us the sunny shot we wanted! As we went to reboard RT3148 the bustling shape of RF48 appeared, working a 702 to Swanscombe.
We continued to Gravesend, where we pulled up by the pier for the Tilbury Ferry: another sunny spot! The little gardens here were a favourite picnic spot for watching the ships coming up the Thames. I noted that there are still tugs stationed here. But onwards! We pulled up into the town towards the LT terminus at Gravesend Clocktower. I alighted here, and watched the bus pull away - not towards London, but round the corner to Parrock Street.
I walked up to the carpark, making use of the toilet facilities on the way. As I crossed the road RF486 came sweeping round the corner with a tour. Then resurrected RML2306 purred past, heading for the carpark.
Pondering my next move, I walked up through the carpark. This was starting to look a little bare. I looked at the M&D Reliances and the Leopard.
None of the non-London vehicles seemed ready to depart, so I went to talk to the guys in GS15.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 1 Part 4 Part 6: 725 to Swanscombe and back: GS15