Hitchin Route Creation Day
Saturday 4th June 2016
Prepared by Ian Smith, 19th June 2016.
Part Two: East of Hitchin
383: Hitchin to Weston (RF633)
When we came back to the bus it was set up for the 383 to Weston. This route had two functions: some journeys were local to an estate just beyond the railway station: the Purwell Lane Estate; while other journeys continued out through Willian to reach remote Weston.
Once everyone had returned from the brak we set off, along to the railway station and down under the East Coast Main Line. A right turn took us off the Letchworth road (United Counties territory) towards the Purwell Lane Estate. The relevant roads off the main route were pointed out as we passed. Some had bus stops on them, so probably still get buses today (Yes, the 80, 81, 81A). We continued along Willian Road - to Willian. The Fox Inn still has an unimaginative text scrawl on its sign, in place of the splendid fox painting of yore. Willian Road gave way to Baldock Lane. We bowled along eastwards. Peter pointed out where the route once turned off, to Bray Cottages, a very narrow lane.
We reached a dual carriagway, on the southern outskirts of Letchworth. No right turn. We had to sidetrack for some way to find a roundabout, before turning south-east again. We crossed Baldock Lane again. Peter pointed out the other end of Bray Cottages Lane, now no more than a cart track. We went on to round the large roundabout across the A1(M). On the south side, once more we could not turn right onto the old Great North Road, but perforce had to follow the A505 up the hill to a roundabout, then back down again to the B197. We were not on it for long, turning left up Lannock Hill, to roll across the agricultural landscape to Weston.
There we found that we could get along the north side of the triangle, and turn towards the bus-stop. That was occupied by a large SUV, so we stopped a little beyond the stop. Then a car-driver needed us to move to get into his drive!
The blinds were wound round on RF633, to find a front blind for the other route to serve Weston: the 807 from Stevenage to Letchworth Station.
807: Weston to Letchworth Station (RF633)
We completed the turn round the tight little triangle, and headed back towards Letchworth, rejoining the Great North Road and crossing over the A1(M). Letchworth suburbia took us pleasantly into the centre of the Garden City. We turned left at Letchworth Gate, to run along to the station, where we made our turn.
There were other buses in Letchworth: Arriva the Shires (or is it now Arriva Midlands or even Arriva Southern Counties) presented Primo 2600 on the 96A. This was one of two Primos acquired for working the Luton Airport free shuttle in 2013, when the airport had its dispute with Green Line over access.
384B: Letchworth Station to Stevenage Bus Station (RF633)Peter set up RF633 as a 384B. This was another multi-part Hertfordshire route. Parent route 384 straggled across the county from Hertford, east to Ware then north to Sacombe. Diverting from the "main road" it visited Dane End, then returned by narrow lane to Whempstead, and on to Benington Green. More very narrow twisty lanes took it to Walkern, where it turned west for Stevenage. It suddenly burst out of the foliage into the concrete jungle of the New Town, then headed north up the Old Great North Road to Letchworth. The 364B was a northern segment of the route, between Stevenage and Letchworth and/or Benington Green, acting as commuter and schools service for Stevenage.
Anyway, we set off back towards Stevenage, out of Letchworth on the ame route as the 807, over the A1(M), up to the roundabout and back to the Great North Road. This time we did not make theturn for Weston, but continued down the main road to Graveley, and on into Stevenage. We started to meet other buses as we passed through the Old Town. One was Sapphire-branded 3765, a Wright Pulsar-bodied VDL SB200, previously withn Arriva North West. It was heading to Luton on the trunk route 100 - not an old LT route.
Dart Enviro300 3556 heading for Letchworth on the 55 was still in old Arriva livery. It would follow much the same route that we had just done, except for a visit to the hospital and a meander around Letchworth's estates. 3322 was an elderly Wright Renown, still earning a crust on Stevenage local routes.
We made our way south from the Old Town, perforce diverting out onto the main inner by-pass past Stevenage Railway station before turning left past the old bus garage site to reach the bus Station, where the route recreation day concluded. Will the bus station still be here next year, or will it have gone?
Many thanks to Peter Aves for the journeys on RF633.
Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six