East Grinstead Running Day
Sunday April 21st 2002
Prepared by Ian Smith, 4th May 2002
Part 1: RF to East GrinsteadThick mist was competing with a rising sun across Romney Marsh as I drove to meet RF679. By the time I met up with the bus the sun was winning and the mist was thinning. It was going to be a fine day. RF679 looked immaculate, if cold at 7a.m. on a Sunday morning. Colin had set her up with 494 blinds for our first duty of the day, the 10.00 494 from Oxted Station to East Grinstead. It was going to be a long garage run!
We were soon away, with the bus warming up as we headed west through rural Kent in the early morning sunshine, at a fairly steady 30mph. Near Wrotham we stopped for fuel. The garage folk remembered using the Greenline RFs. We started to think about breakfast. We trundled on, passing Sevenoaks and weaving our way along the old A25 through Brasted to Westerham. The bus-stop outside the Kings Arms Hotel was vacant, and we pulled up at the old East Surrey post.
Would the Kings Arms do breakfast? They certainly would! Their hospitality was excellent, as was the meal. The lady who attended us had been a clippie on the Greenlines and would be interested in coming to East Grinstead in the afternoon. So it was much revived in body and spirit (NOT spirits) that we emerged to resume our journey: just as RF4 pulled up behind. We exchanged greetings. They were not stopping for breakfast, so they followed us out of Westerham onto the A25 to Oxted.
The day was appreciably brighter as we motored along to Oxted, with RF4 close behind. We turned off to work our way through the town centre, and go round under the notorious railway station bridge, followed by a loop to reach the station bus-stop facing north.
The blinds were changed for the 494 run to East Grinstead, and the waiting passengers divided between RF679 and RF4.
10.30 arrived, and we left. Round the block again, then down to the main road. Old Oxted High Street was passable at this time of day, if a stiff climb. A short way on along the A25 we turned left on the road over the Greensand Ridge and down through Tandridge. It was a sunny Sunday morning in Surrey, with the appropriate road-users. With these roads relatively deserted we motored down to the low railway bridge at Crowhurst Lane End, and turned left for Lingfield.
Lingfield Station still has a turning point for buses as well as a fine station building. The two RFs turned, waited for time, and headed on for East Grinstead.
But it was after we had negotiated Baldwin's Hill that the timetable unravelled. The sunshine had brought out the Sunday motorists, and the A22 was nose-to-tail with cars heading for Eastbourne and Winny-the Pooh country. Our line of traffic had to give way at the roundabout by the railway bridge at the north end of East Grinstead, and was stuck fast. Eventually we inched our way through, and drove down to the day's bus-station in King Street. There was another jam, of buses this time. Not realising that RF679 was already due out on the next turn, we did a turn and a half round the block before finding a parking space. I left RF679 there, and went to see what had arrived so far. On the way I passed RF486, freshly arrived with a full load from Bromley North via Westerham.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.