RT1499 at Bluewater

X80 Vintage Bus Running Day

Saturday 8th December 2007

Prepared by Ian Smith, 14th December 2007

Part Three: PD3 and RLH

5280NW: Bluewater to Gravesend

I emerged from the bistro bar in Marks and Spencers into the dusk. I was just in time to see RT1499 departing on the X80 to Grays. There was a succession of other buses while I waited to see what would be heading for Gravesend. Would it be the RLH that I had passed on a roundabout earlier? Anyway, here and now I watched a modern classic - the Plaxton bodied Dart SLF, in the guise of Arriva Kent Thameside's single-door 3198 - swing round the Bluewater bus station on local route 490 to the Fleet Estate.

RT1499 at Bluewater 3198 on 490, Bluewater

Trident 17938 arrived on the 96, and Arriva Medway Town's Volvo /Alexander 6404 arrived on a 701. Then the growl of a Leyland engine was heard, and out of the darkness came a half-cab Leyland wearing livery much the same as the pre-war Leyland TDs wore in these parts: two-tone green. It was the Leeds Corporation PD3/5: 5280NW.

17938 at Bluewater 6404 on 701, Bluewater 5280NW on X80, Bluewater

I climbed aboard and we roared off into the dark, eastwards along the road to Gravesend. We passed RM45 on the way. This time in Gravesend we made the halt at the Tilbury Ferry Landing. How could I take photos of the bus in the dark in an unlit road? Car headlights from passing traffic seemed to be the answer.

5280NW at Tilbury Ferry Landing 5280NW at Tilbury Ferry Landing

I climbed back aboard, and we rolled up past the clocktower and into the town. I alighted again in the pedestrians and buses only section, and went to find a toilet, while the Leyland rumbled off into the darkness, back towards Grays.

I found what I was looking for, and returned to the bus stops to wait for the next X80. Several other buses came along while I waited. Indeed I was surprised at the frequency on some routes.. The collection included Scania 3253 on the 480. The Christmas Lights are above the street, by the way, not on the bus.

5280NW at Gravesend 5280NW leaves Gravesend 3253 at Gravesend

RLH61: Gravesend to Greenhithe

Eventually a double-decker came round the corner. It was RLH61. I flagged it down and climbed aboard, taking a seat behind the tall bonnet. We curled round to the station, where we loaded up behind MetroRider 1810 on the 455.

RLH61 at Gravesend 1810r at Gravesend Station

There wasn't anyone upstairs, so I went up to sit on the long seats tucked up into the domed ceiling. At least I could spread out a bit, to avoid "RLH neck". We passed RT4421 in Northfleet, and were soon passing Ebbsfleet and approaching Bluewater. There we met RT1499 again, and followed it up the curling ramps until it turned off for Northfleet while we continued ahead to Greenhithe. There I said goodbye and alighted to catch the London train.

Bluewater reindeer RLH61 at Greenhithe Station

Many thanks to Ensignbus for once (twice) again operating the Vintage Bus Service on the X80.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 1 Part 2 Part 3