The station yard was quite busy. A Dart pulled away on the 162 - the modern route on the Bromley South- Beckenham section of the old 126. There were several Metrobus MAN/Enviro200s there too, on Rail Replacement duty to Herne Hill. 708 pulled away.
I walked up to the station corner to watch for RT1702 coming. I expected it to arrive along the 54 route from Catford Garage, and was thus surprised to hear the unmistakeable sounds of an RT behind me. I whirled round. RT1702 was turning the corner from Beckenham Church. The bus pulled in to the station yard and pulled up to the stop.
I climbed aboard: inside, up front, of course. I exchanged news with the Catford Garage members aboard, and settled in to enjoy the trip. As we pulled out of the station there was a good view of three Metrobus Darts (259, 351 and 325) waiting to take their turn at playing trains.
We pulled round to Beckenham Church, where there was no sign of our connection with RF486 on the 227. We went on, straight on at the lights where the 227 bears left, and through Beckenham suburbia to the Chinese Garage. I used to pass here in frosty weather on school cross-country runs in lieu of rugby or hockey. But the bus turned left up Hayes Lane, which we followed to the junction with Westmoreland Road, where we turned left for Bromley. This is where I used to board the bus after games. It sometimes used to occasion arguments with conductors, as the school bus pass was from Penge to Burnt Ash Lane, making no mention of Park Langley. Today we headed down the hill to Bromley South, current terminus of the abbreviated modern 126. As we turned the corner to climb to Bromley South Station we met DMS1868 heading for Beckenham Junction.
We climbed into Bromley High Street, picking up and setting down passengers at every stop. The pedestrian area prevented us from reaching the Market Square, and we diverted past The Glades to Kentish Way. More surprised passengers boarded at the Widmore Road stop, and again in West Street.
We headed north up College Road and into Burnt Ash Lane. All familiar territory to me. Here I used to overtake RTs on my bicycle as a reckless teenager, and discovered that RTs had flexible rear corner panels when I was first driving a motor-bike and sidecar. We continued to Grove Park. After negotiating the usual traffic chaos there we turned right down Chinbrook Road. At the top of the rise beyond the infant river we continued into Grove Park Road, towards Eltham College, a route today only taken by schools buses. (The 126 takes the old 124 routng to Mottingham). We met RT3062 heading for Beckenham Junction.
We rejoined the modern route at Mottingham, turning uop Court Road to cross the A20 and pass Mottingham Station. At Eltham we were unable to use Well Hall Bus Station. (Presumably TfL does not think much of photographers' behaviour in their bus stations), so we turned right along Eltham High Street to reach Eltham Crescent, where we pulled up at the 124 terminus.
Finding a Bromley Garage final destination on the long Catford Garage blind was not easy. Bromley Common was found near one end (probably for the 94), but Bromley Garage (for the 47 and 1) was at the other end, past some fragile sections of blind. So we set off for Bromley slightly late. We met the DMS at Grove Park, and RT3062 in the narrow cut through the Glades in Bromley. At Bromley South we continued up Masons Hill instead of turning right into Westmoreland Road, and proceeded out past The Crown across Bromley Common to Bromley Garage.
There all except the crew had to alight beforethe bus eased into the garage. The Selkent supervisor had allocated a space for the CBR buses at the front of the garage, and had personnel to supervise the photographers wanted to take pictures from the marked safe area just inside the corner door of the garage.
Two Tridents, 17345 and 17337 stood awaiting a turn on the 269. RT1702 eased in to stand while the designated crew used the garage facilities.
My plan was to take a ride on DMS1868 on its next foray, to Eltham and then Beckenham. That meant another half-hour in the cold- perhaps less if DMS1868 took less than its allotted break. I wandered across Gravel Road and looked in through the entrance of the annex. I did NOT go in. It was fairly full of buses not needed on this Sunday afternoon: Tridents 17343 and 17351 were off the 61 (supposedly a E400 route), 17283 off the 208 and 17358 and 17966 off the 269. Dart/E200 36012 was resting from the 246. There were lots more: these were just part of the front row.
Another older Trident, 17975, came along on a Bromley-bound 61. Enviro400s WERE around: 19140 pulled out of the garage on the ferry bus to Bromley North.
After yet another 61 - another Trident - DMS1868 eventually burst into life within the garage, and emerged to head for Eltham. My timing plan for the day was shot to bits. I revised it. I watched the DMS go, then headed off to warm up and find some food and a toilet.
Part Two: RFs on the 227
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part Two: RFs on the 227