Today was to be something different. Up until now the Country Bus Rallies team had only tackled Country Area events. Today, to celebrate fifty years since RFs began running in the Central Area, would be a very different affair. Not just the lack of GSs (even the Abbey Wood staff bus did not appear). Nor the colour of most of the participants. The big difference was that we were running where there was already a significant and busy Sunday service, from a variety of operators. It could not be as casual as the Country events, with boarding only allowed at the main timing points, and preferably only at the termini. But although different, it was still going to be fun.
There were still going to be green buses. Sidcup was a "border" town, with a limited number of green services running in from Dartford. There were GreenLine services too, including the orbital 725. What is more, Sidcup garage had an official allocation of Green RFs for a time for use on Central services, when some were transferred from the Country Area.
It was a green Country RF that I joined for the journey in from Kent to Sidcup: RF679, dressed for the 725.
On the way we collected RF429, and the two buses made their way up the A20 to Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, where we turned right into Sidcup. Immediately we began to pass service buses, with a bevy of buses at the hospital stand, followed by London Central's PVL49 on the 229 and Stagecoach's VN175 on the 160. We continued down into Sidcup, under the station bridge and right into Sidcup Station yard.
The old station yard, now a carpark, had been loaned by Connex for the day. Long and narrow, the event's insurers had insisted that the trade stalls were all placed down the far end, beyond the buses' turning point. A few of the buses had arrived. (A few more were over in the south carpark, from where Imperial were working the Rail Replacement Service between Sidcup and Lewisham, but we didn't know that then!)
Ready to go were red RF486, red RT1702, DM1052 and green RT227.
My first task of the day was to go to Chislehurst to meet the Mayor of Bromley at the Gordon Arms. DM1052 was to be my conveyance. It was almost a personal taxi, the crowds not yet having arrived. I enjoyed a ride along on the top deck. We caught up with 229 on the way through Sidcup. Passengers at bus-stops, trained to look for the route number they want, waiting probably for a 160, appeared uncertain as to what a 228 was.
DM1052 rumbled west through Sidcup, and past the busy interchange at the hospital.
Negotiating the roundabout over the A20 was straightforward,
and the big Fleetline purred along Perry Street onto Chislehurst Common.
Roadworks at the traffic-lights added another complication,
but we turned right at the War Memorial and rolled down into Chislehurst.
Having identified the correct right turn we headed for the Gordon Arms,
passing a parked 61. A final corner and we were there. Now, where was the Mayor?...
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: Chislehurst