Bromley Mini Running Day
Sunday 7th December 2014
Prepared by Ian Smith, 20th December 2013.
Part One: RT on the 94
Catford GarageI caught the 136 in front of the one I expected, from the old tram terminus at the top of Downham Way down to Catford Garage in Bellingham. The bus was Stagecoach EnviroTrident 10133. It dropped me off outside its home garage of Catford (TL). I was not the first to arrive for RT1702. One other prospective passenger was already outside the gates, carrying a 1/32 scale Routemaster kit in a bag. He told me that some of the crew had already gone inside to prepare the RT.
I kept an eye on the bus comings and goings. At this time on a Sunday morning the garage was busy, not only with its own run-out and early returns, but as a terminus for Go-Ahead's service 171. One such was WVL386, a 2011 Volvo B9TL with Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork - the stretched 10.4m version.
An interesting bus standing outside the garage between 178 turns was Optatare Temo Hybrid 25111, the first (2008) of a trial group numbering just five.
The front ends of the new batches of EnviroTridents (E40H), such as 12263, are not much different from the earlier versions. It is at the rear that the larger engine compartments that the environmentally less-unfriendly engines require become more apparent, as shown by older E40D 19843 and newer E40H 12264.
Another speciality emerged: 10136, repainted earlier in the year to celebrate 100 years of Catford Garage and named "Selkent Ambassador". It fired up, and pulled out to head for Grove Park to take up duties on the 136.
Not all of Catford's allocation are modern double-deckers. To make the point, two of its allocation of 2002/3 vintage Dart SLFs emerged for duty, 34390 for the 380, 34353 for the P4.
94: Catford Garage to Petts Wood Station (RT1702)
Then something distinctly older emerged from the garage doorway: RT1702, long-term resident at Catford Garage. It DID look good. We climbed aboard, and we set off for Grove Park. Not, alas, via Lewisham and Lee, but up the 69 (36B) route. Not that we could wear any of those blinds, as they were Rye Lane duties. so 94 to Grove Park went on the front, and off we went, past Southend Pond to Downham. We turned left at the site of the old change pit, where trams changed from conduit to overhead collection, and motored up Downham Way. Time was when there were no cars parked here, and a double line of tram tracks up the centre. I can just remember it. At Grove Park Station we turned left to reach the new bus stance, put in in 1952 when the trams were replaced by buses.
The Grove Park final destination blind was replaced by Petts Wood Station, and we were away.
We paused at Grove Park Station to pick up, then headed south into Bromley. My wife was heading into Bromley at about this time, so I phoned her and she flagged the bus down at the Southover stop, to join for the familiar run into Bromley. It has changed over the years, of course. Now, at the junction with Plaistow Lane and London Lane we gyrated round Plaistow Green, where Bromley College once stood. Then along past St.Mary's to Tweedy Road. No longer straight on down College Road to turn sharply into North Street. Instead left along Tweedy Road to Bromley North Station. No longer down East Street to the Market Square and High Street, but down Kentish Way, with a right turn past The Glades to reach the south end of the High Street.
Then it was back to something like days of yore, except for the lack of Bromley Hospital on Masons Hill, the big junction with Kentish Way, and the volume of car traffic. We headed south for Bromley Common. Just short of The Crown we met RM1397 coming the other way on the 94. We turned east for Southborough, passing the old terminus at The Crooked Billet and continuing on to reach Petts Wood Station, where we pulled in to the station short-working stop.
There was a crew break at Petts Wood, so we were there for a while. Just before we left, RT1798 arrived with the next 94.
94: Petts Wood Station to Bromley North (RT1702)RT1702 headed back to Bromley, through the rain. We met RM1397 in the centre of Bromley, as we threaded a way from the High Street to Kentish Way. We turned west along Widmore Road to reach the corner of the Market Square, and turned north into West Street, where I alighted.
I walked up East Street to Bromley North Station. RF429 came through on a 227 from and to Penge. But the RF I was waiting for was of a different colour, on a different route...
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.