RT1700 at Otford Pond

Swanley & Sidcup Running Day

Sunday 8th July 2007

Prepared by Ian Smith, 17th July 2007.

Crystal Palace to Swanley (RF486)

227: Crystal Palace to Chislehurst

It was years since I had last been to Crystal Palace. The radio mast, that dominated the syline from my teenage bedroom window in Bromley, was still there. So too were the buses. But they no longer did U-turns in the road from the terminal stops along the Parade. Now they have a proper bus station, with traffic lights controlling their moves across the traffic. No trolleybuses at the roundabout at the top of Anerley Hill, either

But there were still buses to be seen, and I had a half-hour to wait before RF486 was due. From the lighting point, where I got off a Wrightbus Cadet on the 410 from East Croydon, I walked along to the 227 stop.

A standard Dart/Plaxton from Arriva (PDL132) trundled along on the 450 to Lower Sydenham. An Alexander-bodied Dart of Selkent (34321) passed on the 202 to Blackheath. Who remembers the DALs on this route?

PDL132 on 450, Crystal Palace. 34321 on 202, Crystal Palace.

The 227 still runs from Crystal Palace, but nowadays only as far as Bromley North, double-decker 269 having taken over the route eastwards. It is still a very busy route, and uses the longer, 11.3m dual-doorway Darts. 34232 came along to show what I mean. They seat 38 (or 35 now), compared with the RF's 41 in a 9.0m length.

34232 on 227, Crystal Palace. 34232 on 227, Crystal Palace.

Speaking of RFs, that must be RF486 coming along now. The red RF pulled up at the alighting point, to keep from confusing ordinary passengers, who often think that the RF is just another standard single-decker - until they meet the steps, that is.

RF486 on 227, Crystal Palace. RF486 on 227, Crystal Palace. RF486 on 227, Crystal Palace.

After photographs we joined the bus. At the north end of the Parade we turned down Crystal Palace Hill towards Penge. We rumbled past the old Penge terminus, where two out of three of the buses turned in LT days and pulled up at the stop at the site of the old Beckenham & Penge County Grammar School for boys, at my request. I spent many hours waiting at this stop for 227s in the early sixties.

We rolled onwards, passing under the Beckenham Junction to Crystal Palace branch railway (where 4-SUBs were once the staple fare) Now it shares the bridge with trams from Croydon. We passed over the Hayes branch at Clock House station, and passed Beckenham Baths to reach the War Memorial roundabout. We went along Beckenham High Street and turned up the hill to reach Beckenham Church, where we paused for more photos.

RF486 on 227, Penge. RF486 on 227, Beckenham Church.

Loading up again, we headed for Shortlands, climbing over the ridge and swooping down to pass under the 13ft 0in railway bridge and over the River Ravensbourne. We passed through Shortlands - which looks much the same as it did fifty years ago - and climbed Swan Hill. We ground up round the twists and turns to the top, and turned right along the top of Bromley High Street to reach the Market Square stop. No Caters Supermarket now, but two banks have moved to occupy the prime spot.

RF486 on 227, Bromley Market. RF486 on 227, Bromley Market.

We headed east along Tweedy Road, out of Bromley and into Bickley, where we dived down the hill to Chislehurst Station and crawled up the other side to where the Water Tower once blocked the road. Not a trace there now, of course. We went on across Chislehurst Common to the War Memorial, and turned left tpwards Chislehurst village. It was a surprising distance through the village before we turned hard right into the terminal loop. We turned right again to pull up across the road from the Gordon Arms.

Now the bus received its transfer from Bromley garage to Sidcup, by dint of changing the shed plates, and the blinds were wound on for the 228 set.

RF486 on 227, Chislehurst. RF486 on 228, Chislehurst.

228: Chislehurst to Sidcup Station

A brand new Enviro400, Selkent's 19152, rolled up behind on a terminating 61 from Bromley via Orpington.

19152 on 61, Chislehurst. 19152 on 61, Chislehurst. reflection.

We set off again, out onto Chislehurst Common, where we squeezed past a road-making machine. We continued to the War Memorial, where Selkent Tident 17344 crossed our bows heading for Bromley on the 269. We turned left, and headed down Perry Street to the big roundabout over the A20, and on past the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and into Sidcup. We crossed over the High Street and headed for the Station. A Titan going towards Swanley caught me on the hop. We turned right before the station, and made our way round to the Sidcup Station bus stand. Someone went through the station to see whether anyone was on the east side.

Then we made our way round to the old Country Area stand in Alma Street.

17344 on 269, Chislehurst W.M. RF486 on 228, Sidcup Station.

241: Sidcup Station to Swanley Garage

We were joined on the Alma Street stand by RF383, the Bromley Garage bus, which has been round in the station east side. Some folk took the opportunity to swap buses, to ride on a less-familiar bus. Blinds for the 241 were put up on RF486. As Sidcup Garage is not there any more we were running on to Swanley Garage to turn!

RF486, Sidcup (Alma Street). RF383, Sidcup (Alma Street).

We set off on the 241, with RF383 following. We climbed up to Sidcup High Street, where we turned left along the old A20 towards Swanley. We rolled down through Sidcup, meeting BL49 toiling up towards Eltham on the 21A.

We dropped down to the site of Sidcup Garage, and rolled on, out into the country. A succession of red buses passed us heading for Sidcup or Eltham: T1102 on a 21 to Eltham was followed by RF429 on a 241 to Sidcup.

BL49 on 21A, Sidcup T1102 on 21. RF429 on 241.

RT1798 was the next, roaring past on a 21, closely followed by RT1702 on a 21A. Strangely, the next bus was also in the RT17** series: RT1700 stood outside Swanley Garage, loading for the 401, while modernised RFs 28 and 48 were getting ready outside the garage for their turns.

RT1798 on 21 RT1702 on 21A. RT1700 on 401.

Time for a snap decision: RT1700 was there and just about to go. I went...

Part Two: Otford and back

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

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: Otford & Back