Roger Wright had brought two of the Blue Triangle buses with him for the day, but was at least one conductor short. RCL2260 was going out on the 487, and I had once travelled that way on RT3148, so I was the obvious (well, available!) candidate for the conductor/navigator post.
I couldn't fulfill my first duty - to set up the right blinds - because we didn't have any. The Greenline 700 Relief blinds would have to suffice. It was time to go, so I climbed aboard with Steve Wood and off we went. I had to announce the destination to the waiting crowd at the Milton Streeet loading stop, but we took on a good load (mostly upstairs), and off we went.
We passed through Gravesend, along the buses-only High Street, and round to the station. We wiggled round onto the Overcliffe and motored westwards past Northfleet Garage. I found the platform of an RCL is not nearly as nice to ride as an RT. Perhaps its the long wheelbase, or the different suspension, or the lack of a central grab pole, but it feels much less secure somehow. Very soon we were descending the bank to Northfleet Plough. I closed the doors and went forwards to direct us round the corner towards Ebbsfleet Station, and back to the stop almost under the railway bridge.
We stopped just long enough for photos, then set off back up the bank. Near the top we passed Arriva's Scania 3250 on the remnant 480 service. We motored along to Gravesend, and round the traffic system to the Tilbury Ferry landing, where we paused again.
We continued up the hill behind RTW75, to the clocktower, where I made a mistake in assuming that Steve knew to turn right towards the station. Instead we turned left, back to the Milton Street bus park. This actually worked out well, as a number of passengers got off and others jopined for the leg to Singlewell. We set off again, back towards Parrock Street, turning left before the station onto the Wrotham road. We headed south on the A227. I closed the doors and sat behind Steve to navigate the tricky bit. I successfully spotted the acute turn left into the older housing of this part of Gravesend, and then the sharp right turn onto the Singlewell road. Now we headed uphill for more than a mile, eventually turning left alongside the A2 for a quarter-mile to the 487 terminus.
This involves a conductor reverse into a side road for a three point turn, finishing at the bus-stop on the south side of the road. This was successfully completed too.
We gathered together the scattered photographers and set off back down into Gravesend, again accurately locating the twists and turns to get back on to the road from Wrotham, and continuing down the hill into town, and round the traffic system to the clock and Milton Road. We unloaded and put the bus away. I snapped passing Southdown Guy PUF647, heading off for the 122. I was promptly asked if I would like to do the same again, only on RTW75, with Roger Wright. Conscious of certain personal needs I enquired when, and was told twenty minutes. I calculated that that gave me five minutes to get to the riverside amenities, ten minutes to use them, and five minutes back. However, the queues when I got there convinced me that I wouldn't get a hot meal in that time. But I had a scone, and left a cup of tea, and got back to the bus just on time...
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 1. Part 2. Part 4: Part 4: Travels with RTW75