RT1499 in St.Albans

St Albans Running Days

Saturday & Sunday January 13th-14th 2007

Prepared by Ian Smith, 23rd January 2007.

Saturday morning

I thought I would be a bit more relaxed about St.Albans this year. I travelled south on the Friday, a really fast smooth journey on an ancient GNER High Speed Train that had travelled about nine million miles but was still capable of 125mph and an early arrival. On Saturday morning I was at East Croydon at a nice gentle time in the morning, to catch the 0940 Thameslink train to St.Albans. Perhaps inevitably at a weekend it was only four cars. Equally inevitably, it could have used at least eight. Sardines would have felt at home as far as London Bridge. After that conditions eased, and the uncomfortable 3+2 seating kept me awake as we roared out to St.Albans.

I emerged from City Station onto the bus stance. Centrebus Dart SLF 582 was sitting at a stand on the S7 to Tyttenhanger. Even on a dreitch morning it looked smart and welcoming in its Sovereign-style blue and cream.

319453 at St Albans City. Centrebus MPD582 at St Albans Stn.

Another Dart SLF arrived, this time with Wright Crusader bodywork and pink/mauve livery for Universitybus. It was heading for Borehamwood on the 655. Pink/mauve sounds awful but actually suits the buses very well. The two Darts departed.

One of Arriva's Wright Renowns pulled in on the 301 to Stevenage. It was wearing the interurban mid-blue livery with dark blue skirt and cream horn, that was still rare this time last year. What a shame that Arriva's livery consultants never warned them how badly blue shows the dirt! Hmmm. I must be tired this morning. Either that or I am turning into a grumpy old man.

uno664 on 655, St.Albans Stn. AT3302 on 301, St.Albans Stn.

But now came a sight to cheer me up. Cravens-bodied RT1499 was on the City-Station loop service to cater for visitors to the Model Railway Exhibition.

RT1499, St.Albans Stn. RT1499, St.Albans Stn.

I greeted Eddie Knorn, who was driving, then climbed on and settled into an inside seat. The bell dinged and we were away, heading anticlockwise round the loop route, up into the city. Most of the passengers had gone upstairs, so I had time to look at the slightly off-familiar interior of the Cravens' saloon.

All too soon we were up on St Peter's Street. There were a few minutes before the next trip round the loop, so I alighted to see what St Peter's Street had to offer by way of bus entertainment.

Inside RT1499. RT1499, St.Peters Street.

It was busy. All day St Peter's Street would be full of busy buses, weaving their way past the market stalls, impeded by the numerous 4x4s that felt the need to come along the street. I wondered whether it this full of buses in LT days. Another of the Wright Renowns paused, 3306 on its way to Hemel Hempstead. Also ex-Sovereign, but now with Centrebus, was Plaxton-bodied Dart 572, bright in a yellow based overall advert for Papa John's Pizza. The bus was not visiting them all, despite the "points" mentioned along the cant-rail, but was on local route S2.

3066, St.Peters Street. 572, St.Peters Street.

Sister Dart 568 was also advertising the same company, but with a more sober advert on the standard Sovereign-style livery, while the bus was serving local route S5.

Since last year St.Albans has lost its remaining double-decker route - the 84 to New Barnet Station. Now it too is single-decker, Metroline having cascaded onto the route single doorway Darts from the Thorpe's operations. DLF107 turned round the roundabout in St.Peter's Street to reach the terminal stop.

568, St.Peters Street. DLF107, St.Peters Street.

Ex-Sovereign Mercedes Beaver 451 was loading up for the short arm of the 304 to Colney Heath. Behind the RT had pulled up the Leyland National operating the Abbey Station service, SNB449.

451, St.Peters Street. SNB449, St.Peters Street.

But I was away on the RT again, heading west along St.Peter's Street to the permanent traffic jam for the traffic lights. But presently we rounded the corner and rolled down the long hill towards the station. A quick flip up over the railway bridge, and two left turns took us onto the stance at the station once again. An appreciative crowd of passengers swarmed onto the bus. We set off again, still anticlockwise round the loop. Heading up into the city we found ourselves on the end of a long tail of slow-moving or stationary traffic. This gave me the opportunity to alight at a safe point and take pictures as the bus proceeded up the hill.

RT1499 loads at the station. RT1499 crawls up the hill.

RT1499 crawls up the hill. RT1499 crawls up the hill.

By the time we reached St Peter's Street it had taken so long that we were due off again, and we rattled on round the loop to the Station again. But this time we left the station onto the clockwise loop, up over the bridge and climbing directly up to the town. This too was traffic-packed, what with the queue for the multi-storey carpark and the traffic lights as well. Once again I got off and walked for a bit, rejoining the bus for the traverse of St.Peter's Street. There I alighted, thinking that Eddie intended to turn round the roundabout.

RT1499 climbs to the city. RT1499 climbs to the city. RT1499, St.Peters Street.

But Eddie had other ideas, and disappeared towards St.Albans Garage. Never mind, here was one of the new Mercedes Citaros on the 724: 3906 was heading west for Heathrow. Behind it was one of Universitybus' Dart/Pointers on the Borehamwood service.

3906 in St Peters Street on 724. 11* on 655 in St Peters Street.

I set off towards the old bus garage. Metroline Dart DLF106 pulled past me and turned round the roundabout. I negotiated all the barriers erected near the roundabout to make pedestrians walk much further, and headed north towards the site of the old garage. Another of the ex-Sovereign Beavers, 458, came down past St Peter's Church on a 304.

DLF106 in St Peters Street on 84. 458 passes St.Peters.

I walked on towards the garage. I knew that Eddie still had another rounder to do before lunch, so he would not stand at the garage for long. I was right. He was heading my way. Fortunately the traffic was exceptionally kind, and I could cross the road and join the bus without problem.

RT1499 comes from SA. RT1499 comes from SA.

We paused in St.Peters Street, then followed DLF106 down the hill towards the station. The Dart turned off right before we got there, but we made he station stop and completed the anticlockwise loop back up to the town. This time there was no traffic at all! It was lunch-time, for the bus crew as well as me, and we repaired across the road to find some sustenance.

Part Two: Saturday afternoon

Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: Saturday afternoon