234 Routes Revisited
Sunday 17th March 2013
Prepared by Ian Smith, 18th March 2013.
The Croydon Garage Run-outMy rendezvous with RF486 was at Purley Station at 0945. By means of an unusual railway journey due to railway engineering (Grove Park to Victoria, thence to Purley via East Grinstead) I arrive early, at about 0910. I took up my stance at Purley Station's stop Q, just east of the railway bridge on Godstone Road.
After just a few minutes a red single-decker appeared: not my RF, but an EnviroDart, one of Abellio's, working the 407 towards Sutton. It paused at the stop, then whirred off. The next bus along WAS an RF. RF386 was not stopping for me though, and swept past in the grim grey light of this sad and soggy Surrey Sunday morning.
I was left pondering the "advances" in single deck bus design over sixty years. A few minutes later another EnviroDart came the other way on the 407 to Caterham, followed by DW114 on the roundabout route to West Croydon via Selsdon. Both now use 4** series route numbers but both actually have been red routes for many years.
Purley Station to South Croydon Garage: RF429My ride, in the shape of RF429, appeared at 0925, twenty minutes early. It was raining now, fine rain, almost snow. Perhaps it had been, on its way down. I gratefully climbed aboard the RF for the short trip to Purley Fountain, with its large roundabout, and then north along Brighton Road for two miles, to South Croydon Bus Garage.
We were well early at the garage, earlier than expected, and the front entrance was well clogged up with buses. Alan Charman turned the RF up Napier Road beside the garage, to see if it was any easier at the back. It wasn't. The RF was three point turned at the road junction, and we returned to Brighton Road. Alan drove north along to the Swan and Sugarloaf, and there went round the block, and headed back to the garage. All was now clear at the front. After a chat with the supervisor we were allowed in, to park beside RF368.
South Croydon is of course a busy London garage, and other buses were coming and going. Dart SLF PDL118 came in off the 312, and DW8 off the 197.
RM1397 arrived, and was poitioned in the garage doorway, facing out. RF395 arrived from the north, and was reversed in beside the RM.
RF486 arrived from the Purley direction, in heavy traffic, and pulled into the garage, to line up beside RF486 behind RF395 and the RM.
The roll-call was complete when RT3251 arrived from Croydon, pulling through the centre front doorway and turning in the garage ready to be first out. The two double deckers were to work the 234 (Wallington - Purley - Selsdon, while the RFs worked on the 234A (Hackbridge - Wallington - Purley - Old Lodge Lane) and the Sundays only 234B (South Croydon Garage - Purley - Selsdon)
There was a pause for ten minutes, while crews exchanged news and information. It was still even in the rest of the garage, where elderly DAF/Alexanders DLA222 and DLA217 flanked a line of newer DAF/Wrights.Then it was time for the run-out to begin.
First out was RT3251, heading for Wallington on the 234.
Then came doorless RF395, following the RT on the road to Wallington, but as a 234A, pulling out from the garage doors then coasting along to the Red Deer pickup stop.
Then it was the Routemaster's turn, heading for the other 234 terminus at Selsdon.
The other doorless RF, 368, was next out, heading for the Old Lodge Lane terminus of the 234A.
Finally it was time for the last pair to leave together, RF486 first on the 234B to Selsdon and RF429, with me aboard, to head for Wallington on the 234A.
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.