I climbed aboard RT3254 and found the seat behind the bonnet vacant. I changed cameras: the small lens digital camera is not so good for on-the-move shots through a bus front window. We set off, turning right at the roundabout and heading down towards City Station. We turned right down Beaconsfield Road, and followed that down to the traffic jam at the Victoria Street lights. We turned left up over the railway, and left again into the station bus stands. We rejoined the Hatfield Road and headed east through Fleetville. After a couple of miles the road gained more of a rural feel, albeit with ribbon development behind the trees on the south side. As we approached Hatfield we met RML2330 hot-footing westwards.
We turned left at The Comet and headed up the dual carriageway above the motorway to the big roundabout, where we pulled round to take the old A1001 road north alongside the A1(M), beside the old Hatfield Airfield, home of de Havilland. Elements of 1930s architecture remain among the modern buildings.
At the next roundabout, where the Hertford road leaves eastwards, we continued north along the old Great North Road. We turned left to duck under the motorway rather than cross the River Lea to enter Welwyn Garden City, and followed the old highway northwards on the west side of its modern equivalent up to the Lemsford roundabout, where we ducked back under the motorway onto the B195, by-passing much of Welwyn Garden City to reach the town centre by a uncluttered route: just the ticket for an Express route. Chris Wills manoeuvred the bus through the town to reach the station, where we pulled up long enough for us to take photos.
Then we mounted up again and were off, retracing the Express route out of Welwyn Garden City back to Hatfield Comet, where we rounded the junction in front of the Comet pub with its model of the de Havilland DH88 Comet racer, which won the 1934 race to Australia. For those of you who find its lines strike other chords, add another wing and it is reminiscent of its contemporary Dragon Rapide airliner - or beef it up considerably and it turns into a Mosquito fighter-bomber. We turned onto Hatfield Road past the University, and headed for St.Albans.
Coming into St.Albans we met two service buses. Universitybus arose from the need to transport students and staff between the scattered local university campuses around Hertfordshire. Now branded as uno, it is a fully fledged bus company. Caetano-bodied Dart 154, with registration UO55UNO, came past on the Watford-Hatfield service 602, followed by Transbus Dart KC03PGK, taken over from Centrebus, on local service S3.
We passed by City Station and climbed Victoria Street towards the nexus of the City. Two of Sullivan Buses' Darts came down the hill: new EnviroDart OU08EHO purred down the hill towards the station on the 343 to Dunstable, followed by Caetano-bodied DN7 on the 656.
We pulled up on St.Peters Street behind T792, and there was a mad dash from the RT to try to get onto the already-full Regal. I walked along to get some photos of the beautiful machine before it left on the 355 to Harpenden via Wheathampstead.
LS444 was not quite ready. I walked down the street to look at the latest offering on the 84. Metroline's Enviro200 Dart DEL854 looked very smart, even if its exclusive use on non-TfL routes enabled it to use a scrolling digital display instead of more-visible printed blinds.
Then RML903 came bowling along the street, on a 330 from Hemel Hempstead to Welwyn Garden City.
I joined LS444, and we set off, threading our way out of St.Albans by today's 84 route, and south-east under the big railway bridge by the erstwhile London Road Station. We continued south to cross the A414 and take the old road through London Colney. We rumbled along through the village and over the River Colne, and out to the complex junction to cross the M25. The B556 took us on beside the motorway, until we ducked under it for the climb up to South Mimms. We had a short break at the bus stop after rounding the roundabout.
While we were there I remembered a comment from earlier in the day, that there are never any pictures of me. This was rectified by one of the young ladies on the bus, who took my picture.
Then we were off again, retracing our route to St.Albans, passing a Metroline Dart in London Colney on the way.
Back on St.Peters Street, T792 pulled along in front of us , and waiting opposite was BMMO S15 5056HA, waiting to take a group home to the West Midlands.
The January afternoon was fading quickly. I would only get one more round trip before home time. Ah yes, here comes Claire with RML2330 on a 330 for Welwyn Garden City...
Part Five: Remains of the Day
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Ian's Bus-stop Part One Part Two Part Three Part Five