Bromley Classic Bus Mini Running Day
Sunday 8th December 2013
Prepared on Wordpad by Ian Smith, 13th December 2013
Elevenses: TD on the 227
227: Bromley Market Place to Chislehurst (TD95)We waited at the Bromley Market Place stop. Another Scania arrived, 515, heading south for Orpington Station on the 358. That was followed by 10152, an EnviroTrident from Catford, that now operates on the 208, having replaced the elderly Tidents. Then a rather older single-decker nosed round the corner and pulled up to the stop. Not an LTL Scooter, that I can just remember on the 227, but TD95, from the London Bus Museum at Brooklands.
The small gathering of enthusiasts climbed aboard, just about completing the complement on the bus. I took the single seat behind the driver, sharing it with conductor Peter Larkham's cache of London Bus Museum leaflets. I now had a view ahead over the driver's shoulder.
We headed east. For some reason we stopped at the Town Hall stop, and I hopped off for a very quick photo.
Then we headed east towards Widmore Green, down and up again through the little dip, and on along to Bickley. We turned left down Bickley Park Road, descending steeply into the Kidbrook valley and passing under the railway at Chislehurst Station. Now after several down changes of gear we began the crawl up Summer Hill. Eventually we reached the top, passed through the site of Chislehurst Water Tower, and forked half-right to follow the main road across Chislehurst Common to the War Memorial. A Trident on the 269 passed us on the common, heading for Bromley.
We turned hard left at Chislehurst War Memorial. A 161 was just pulling on to the stance opposite. We dribbled down across the Common to Chislehurst Ponds and the High Street, where we made a stop. We did not want to arrive at the Gordon Arms stop too early. Then we went on, turning right down Albany Road to go round the block to the old 227 terminus. (Not the very old terminus, in front of the pub in Alexander Road, which is usually impassable by buses due to parked cars).
There was still time for quick photos before the next 61 arrived.
227: Chislehurst to Penge (TD95)
We set off, pausing on the edge of the Common by Chislehurst Ponds to pick up photographers. Then it was up the slight gradient to the War Memorial, where we just didn't make it before the lights changed. A tough start up the grade round the corner. We followed a Stagecoacgh Trident (17789 I think) down the hill and under the railway. Not much clearance for the double-decker under the 14ft 6in bridge. We crawled up the hill on the west side of the village, then motored along the level to Widmore Green, passing RF368 on its way to Chislehurst.
I had moved back down the bus to make way for a folded push-chair, which went onto the single seat. So there was no opportunity for further pictures for a while. We picked up a few passengers on the way into Bromley, despite the fact that this is no longer the 227 route, that role now being taken by the 269 and 162.
At Bromley there was a changeover of passengers, both at the Town Hall stop and in West Street. The latter was a surprise to me, as I hadn't realised that the north end of the High Street was blocked to northbound traffic, all westbound buses going via West Street and Tweedy Road. We snaked down Swan Hill into Shortlands, and under the 12ft 6in limit bridge, then climbed up out of the Ravensbourne valley. We swooped down towards Beckenham, and stopped to set down at Beckenham Church. Beckenham High Street was a slow crawl of traffic to the War Memorial roundabout. Then we escaped towards Clock House, pausing frequently to set down or pick up local passengers. All seemed delighted, even after the steep entrance steps to the bus. We sidled into Penge through a long traffic jam, passing the stop where I used to alight for school, and worked through to the Crooked Billet, where it was "All change please".
I went across the road to exchange greetings with Peter Aves and Alan Charman on RF429, who were having their lunch break. One of the 227 regulars, Mercedes Benz Citaro G number 23108 (TB), came up behind the TD, giving a vivid example of single-decker design progress over sixty-odd years. But people had seemed to prefer the old bus. Perhaps it was the novelty. Perhaps it was the three inch deep cushions on the bench seats. Perhaps it was the charm and wit of our conductor, Peter Larkham.
227: Penge to Bromley Market Place (TD95)The Tiger turned onto the Crooked Billet stand, to pause alongside RF429. It is amazing to think there was only three years between the delivery of these two very different buses. RF429 is not so different from the Citaro - except for the deep seat cushions and conductor, of course.
With the RF crew still on their lunch break the TD was due out first. The fans reboarded, and we set off, following Citaro 23102.
The return to Bromley was uneventful, but full of the enthusiastic response of the passengers and their recollections of travel on older buses. We passed through Beckenham, and turned up the sharp rise to Beckenham Church. Then it was on over the hump and down to Shortlands. Swan Hill was a grind, but quicker than I expected. We turned into Bromley High Street at the Swan & Mitre, and came to a halt in the Market Place. Now it was the TD crews' turn to go off duty for a meal break. RF 429 pulled up behind, heading for Chislehurst, and the TD went off to Bromley North for a break.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.