Bromley Classic Bus Running Day
Sunday 18th December 2011
Prepared by Ian Smith, 19th December 2011
Early Sunday morningIt was quiet Sunday morning Bromley suburbia: very few people about, and the sun not yet above the rooftops - but a lovely clear blue December sky. I caught a 261 to Bromley Garage. The big Metrobus Scania/East Lancs Omnidekka - 941 - rumbled into Bromley and out across Bromley Common to pause outside the garage. By now the sun was peeking over the rooftops, and lit up the scene.
I alighted, and went to check to ensure that the RF had not called in. It hadn't. Neither did I. I just peeked through the door at the assembled Sunday spares. Prominent was SuperDart 34232 resting from the 227.
A 61 headed past on its way to Chislehurst via Orpington, on the 61. 19132 is one of the newer EnviroTridents. I crossed the road to the north-bound bus-stop. An older Trident, 17421, was parked on the stop, kitted out with 61 blinds, but not currently in service. Another EnviroTrident, 19134, came along on its way from Orpington to Bromley, and briefly called at the stop.
A long Dart SLF, SPD 34225, peeked out of the garage door, then made the classic exit through the corner of the garage and roared off to take up duties on the 227.
227: Bromley Garage to Penge: RF429Then the classic shape of an RF - tall and thin but well-rounded nevertheless - became visible, coming along Bromley Road from Locks Bottom. Alan Charman, with Peter Aves as conductor, pulled up in RF429 at the stop just before the garage, and I walked along to join them.
The blinds were adjusted for the first journey to Penge, and then we set off on the garage run to Bromley. In RF days of course these were working runs, with passengers carried and fares displayed onn the fare chart. We rumbled north across Bromley Common, and down into Bromley, pausing occasionally to pick up a passenger. We cruised down Mason's Hill, and up to the Bromley South stop: more passengers. We couldn't use the whole of Bromley High Street, of course, and had to take the "new" cut between the shopping emporia to reach Kentish Way. We continued up to the traffic lights on Widmore Road, and turned left to reach the Town Hall stop beside the United Reformed Church. We paused there to wait time, which gave an opportunity for photographs. Metrobus Scania 446 pulled past towards Bromley North, to take up duty on the 119.
When it was time we rolled down to Bromley Market Square and loaded up for the run to Penge. The original plan for a run to Crystal Palace had foundered on the non-availability of the bus station at Crystal Palace for us to turn. As U-turns on the Parade are frowned upon these days, the roundabout at the top of Anerley Hill has long gone, and the one-way turning loop can take up to twenty minutes, it had been decided to make an extra short working between Bromley and Penge instead. With a decent load of passengers aboard we headed up the northern section of Bromley High Street, and turned down Swan Hill at the Swan & Mitre. We grumbled along through Shortlands, over the River Ravensbourne and under the notorious Shortlands Railway Bridge. We picked up on the west side, and climbed the hill towards Beckenham. A Stagecoach SPD came up behind, and overtook us at the stop up the hill. We followed it down towards Beckenham, forking right to reach the Church.
We played tag with the SPD along through Beckenham to the War Memorial roundabout, then on along the road to Beckenham Baths and Clock House station. We continued along under the new Tram bridge, and on into Penge, past my old alma mater (Beckenham & Penge County Grammar School for Boys). At the Crooked Billet we let the SPD continue alone up the hill to Crystal Palace, while we turned round the little island onto the bus stance.
227: Penge to Bromley Market Square: RF429
After waiting time we set off again, back along Penge High Street. This time we paused at the stop outside the erstwhile Grammar School, a stop at which I had waited frequently while full 227s sailed past, or paused to take one or two of the horde of boys waiting to board. We went on. By the time that we left Beckenham Church there were just two seats empty out of the thirty-nine aboard. Those had been filled, and there were six standing by the time we began the climb up from Shortlands up Swan Hill. But RF429 sailed up like a good'un - much better than many of the Bromley RFs of the sixties, that struggled up there with full loads.
We turned along Bromley High Street to reach the Market Square. Caters Supermarket is no more, but the eastbound stop is still in the same place. I alighted, and the RF emptied, before roaring off to turn round the Bromley North loop.
I paused to look at my outline of times. Did I have time to get to Catford Garage to catch RT1702 departing? While I was dithering a 208 and a 320 both paused at the stop and went. Both would have got me there on time. Never mind. Where would I catch it? I recrossed the road to the Bromley Market Pace stop. RF429 came back, heading for Penge again, and loaded up at the westbound stop. I walked round the corner onto the northern section of High Street, and watched it come past.
Now to locate RT1702...
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.