Bromley Mini Running Day
Sunday 9th December 2018
Prepared by Ian Smith, 15th December 2018.
Part One: Bromley Garage
261: Burnt Ash Lane to Bromley Garage (10184)
Extensive road works at Grove Park Station decided me not to start on RT1702 on the 94, but to catch a 261 to Bromley Garage, Stagecoach is still using the 101** series of AD Enviro 400s on the route (along with the occasional peak-hour Trident). I watched 10141 head north, with replacement front wing panels not quite matching the rest. 10184 arrived on time, and I boarded for the ride into Bromley North, then by Kentish Way and Elmfield Road onto the High Street and down to Bromley South. The bus continued down the dip into the Ravensbourne Valley, then up Masons Hill onto Bromley Common. At Bromley Garage the bus pulled into the lay-by carefully, to operate the wheelchair ramp at the centre doorway.
Bromley GarageSeveral of the event buses were already gathered around the edge of the garage, in Quarry Road or the garage yard, so I went for a look around. What caught my eye immediately was DT29, a step-entrance Dennis Dart with Carlyle-built body. This has been preserved and restored to its original Roundabout livery, that it wore for its first year of operation in 1990-1 with Orpingon Buses. It still looks as strikingly new as it did then. Today it would operate on the 314 between Bromley South and Eltham Station.
Behing DT29 stood RF486, with RT1798 just beyond. It had begun to rain quite hard (hence the splodges on the pictures), so I did not invetigate too hard, but nipped across the road to look in at the yard, where RF406 was tucked in a corner next to indigenous EnviroTrident 19132 off the 61.
227: Bromley Garage to Crystal Palace, RF429
The rain appeared set in. I sought shelter aboard RF429, which was set up for the first journey of the day to Crystal Palace. It was standing on the north-bound alighting stop. I crossed Bromley Road and climbed aboard. A few minutes later the crew - Alan Charman driving and Peter Aves conducting - emerged from Bromley Garage and crossed over to board.
With the windows well rain-spattered I resigned myself to not much photography en route, but there was plenty of chatter and exchange of news as we went. We loaded up at the northbound stop just beyond the garage - quite a healthy crowd for this first trip - and rumbled down across Bromley Common to reach Bromley South Station, where we took on further enthusiasts. "Normal" 227s don't pick up off route (although they did in LT times), so we did not start to pick up ordinary passengers until we were at Bromley Town Hall. But there we took on a good load.
We skirted along the north side of the Market Square to reach the north end of Bromley High Street, and took on more passengers. There was comment on how comfortable the seats are! Then it was the swoosh down Swan Hill to Shortlands, and the climb up the far side, to cross over the hill into Beckenham. We made our way round past Beckenham Church, then along the twisting High Street to the War Memorial. I think it was here that we passed RF395 coming in from a start at Crystal Palace, but the rainy windows inhibited a shot.
We rolled on along the familiar road past Beckenham Baths, Clock House Station and under the Beckenham Junction - Crystal Palace line (with added Tramlink). We did not stop at the request stop opposite what used to be Beckenham & Penge County Grammar School for Boys. We continued along into Penge, still exhanging passengers, and took almost a full load up the hill to Crystal Palace.
227: Crystal Palace to Penge, RF429Passengers had to disembark at the alighting stop, then the bus passed through the bus station to turn, coming back to pick up on the west side of the Parade. We remembered how buses - RFs and RTs, then RMs, used to U-turn across the road to turn round. (The trolleybuses used to turn round the roundabout at the south end of the parade.)
As we reloaded for the return trip to Bromley one of the resident Citaros, 23102, was unloadeding at the stop opposite. We set off again for the gentle roll down the hill to Penge. As we pulled away from the stop above the Crooked Billet RF486 pulled across onto the stance ahead of us.
So I alighted at the next stop and walked back.
A new Enviro400H(MMC), Go-Ahead's EH219 rumbled past on the 176, just starting its climb. It illustrates the increasing number of hybrid buses to be found on London's routes - and also the large number of grilles to be found at the rear of these buses!
23102 came past on its 227 to Bromley - still with Crystal Palace showing at the front. It was followed by Arriva's DW264, an example of the last pre-hybrid buses, but with light-weight integral construction to help it meet emission targets.
Sharing the stand at The Crooked Billet was Stagecoach EnviroDart 36307 on the back-roads winding 354 route to Bromley North.
I boarded RF486 and greeted the crew.
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.