RF50: celebrating fifty years of the RF: 28th May 2001

This page created 10th June 2001 by Ian Smith: best on 800*600.

RF255 arrives at Sevenoaks Stn Sevenoaks Station at 8am on Bank Holiday Monday morning. It could have been the nineteen fifties. No traffic at all. Only the modern road-markings and the grind behind me of a Eurostar heading for France reminded me that this was May 2001. Then a small blue shape appeared at the top of Tubs Hill and purred down to the station stop. Mike Dawes had arrived in RF255, the preserved GreenLine RF in Metrobus livery. Mike welcomed me aboard. The light level on this damp morning was low enough for the interior lights - 24volt London Transport bulbs - to be on. We set off along the old A25 to Westerham, where we paused to take James aboard, then purred on through Oxted to Godstone, where we joined the M25 for the grind round to Cobham.

RF255 arrives at Sevenoaks Stn As we roared over the line of the North Downs we espied a small green shape ahead. It was GS42, off to Quainton for the day. We just caught up by the time that we had to pull off onto the slip-road for the A3, for the wiggle round to Cobham.

The gathering was being held in Mike Nash's yard: Depot 46, in Redhill Road, just a few hundred metres beyond the Bus Museum. Mike pulled in, and RF255 was sent to park next to scruffy RF10 (in the middle of an overhaul) and RF534 (likewise). We wondered if someone didn't like our colour-scheme!

Display at Depot 46

Depot46: RF113, RF...., RF508, RF271

RF429, RF406, RF444, RF271 RF508, RF255, RF489 RFs were gathering: red Central Area buses, with and without doors, in red and cream or red and white; green Country Area buses in green and cream; and GreenLine coaches, both modernised and unmodernised. There were the strange ones too: RF255 of course, in Metrobus blue and yellow; RF401 from Blue Triangle, with cream window surrounds on its red livery; towbus RF332; RF508 in Country green. There were RFs that I had seen frequently at previous events, and plenty that were new to me, some from distant parts of the country. Donald Allmey's BEA coach, MLL740, was also there.

RF366, MLL740 RF113 RF368

Mike bought programmes for the day (thanks Mike!) and we chatted to bus owners and enthusiasts until the time came for the day's services to start.

715: Cobham to Esher, Greenline RF168.

RF168, Esher RF168, interior I was invited aboard modernised Greenline RF168 for a trip along the 715 to Esher. I had forgotten how bright the modernised grey trim of the interior made them. We set off down leafy Redhill Road to the Museum stop, where we took on more passengers, then motored eastwards through Cobham, and down the old leafy main road past Claremont Gardens to Esher.

219: Esher to Cobham, Central RF486.

RF486, Esher RF486, interior At Esher we found red RF486 waiting, and there was an exchange of passengers for the return trip. The Central Area RF wended its way back as a 219, via the more populous suburban roads of Hersham and Seven Hills. I alighted at the Cobham Bus Museum in Redhill Road, and went to see what was on display.
RF517, GS1, Redhill Road RF486, Redhill Road

The Cobham Show

The shed at Cobham contained plenty of buses still in the throes of overhaul, but out in the yard was a splendid line-up of red double-deckers: RTL139, now completed with appropriate adverts; Cravens RT1499, that I hadn't seen for many years; STL2377, resplendent after overhaul, and D142. But the shock was provided by Q83, glowing in a new coat of red paint. Magnificent! As one of the RFs' progenitors it took pride of place. Green RT593 stood to the side wearing a set of white "perforations" down the front - have YOU bought the stamps?

RTL139, RT1499, STL2377 (composite picture) Q83

715 up Redhill Road: Greenline RF28.

But we were here for the RFs, so we tore ourselves away from the Museum, and went out to the dolly-stop on Redhill Road. RML3 went past the other way on a station run, and Country RF626 on a trip. Modernised GreenLine RF28 arrived to take us up Redhill Road, back to Depot 46.

RF626, Redhill Road RF28, Redhill Road RF113, RF168, RF368

237 to Chertsey; 436 back: Country RF600.

Next journey was aboard RF600 to Chertsey. A green RF on a Central route was not unusual for this part of the world, as quite a few were loaned to Kingston garage over the years. RF600 burbled out through Byfleet, squeezing through the tiny railway arch on the way, and waiting at a level crossing for a train to rattle past. At Chertsey Station the bus changed Areas, donning Country blinds to return to Cobham as a 436 via Ottershaw and Six Cross Roads. We stayed aboard right up Redhill Road to the Depot.

RF600, Chertsey RF600, Chertsey RF600, Chertsey

More at the Depot

RF401, RF167, Depot46 RF368, RF213, Depot46

We browsed around the Depot again. The sun was shining now, which improved the photography. My camera was behaving better too, making up for the out-of-focus fault earlier in the day.

RF489, RF530, RF486 RF517, Depot46

RF633 RF667, RF326

RF457, 332W RF537, RF672

Two RFWs too:

RFW14, RFW6 RFW14, RFW6 Amidst all the RFs was a sight that had not been seen for many a year: two RFWs side-by-side. RFW6 and RFW14 had both made it to this special day.

Tour to Wisley: MLL740

MLL740 MLL740 When it became apparent that the BEA, MLL740, was going out on a tour to Wisley, we rapidly joined. It was a hoot from the start, with the owner-driver hugely enjoying himself. The tour passed through Cobham - and missed the turn for Effingham. We thought the reversing manoeuvre was to visit a garage on the offside, but no. It was a three point turn. A little later the eight foot wide bus had to be reversed up the lane across a junction after we missed a turn at the Black Swan. We paused for a photographic stop, then wound our way on round to meet the A3 and visit Wisley Gardens. One passenger alighted. We missed the turn for the coach exit, and squeezed down a narrow track lined with cars. We thought all was up when we met a car parked opposite a concrete football bollard, but a solution was found: and all in the best possible humour! From Wisley it was just a short return trip to Cobham, after a most interesting excursion!


RFs were not the only buses around during the day. GS1 and GS2, the indefatigable duo, were there to help out because of a slight lack of passenger-carrying RFs. RML3 operated the fare-paying journeys to and from Weybridge Station. TD95 and RP90 showed the before and after aspects of RF history, and operated on tours via Wisley, like the BEA. GS2 and GS1 between turns RML3 takes a break at Depot 46 TD95, RP90 ready for Wisley Tours

Return Journey

By the time we returned to Cobham it was time to say goodbye, and get RF255 on the road again for the long trip home. The journey back was by the same route: M25 to Godstone, then along the A25 to Westerham, where we paused in the afternoon sunshine to drop James and take pictures. Then it was on along the road through Brasted to Riverhead, and on to Sevenoaks for a PNB. Mike dropped me off up in the town. It was time-warp time again, with a lull in traffic and the rosy evening glow combining with the old town charm, the chestnut blossom and the traditional red post-box all playing their part as the RF departed. Thanks Mike. RF255 at Westerham RF255 at Sevenoaks Station RF255 in Sevenoaks

Thanks also to all those who organised the day, and to all the preservationists, owners and drivers who took their buses to Cobham for a superb day.

RFs that I saw there:
RF10, RFW6, RFW14
RF28, RF113, RF167, RF168, RF213, RF255, RF271,
RF326, 332W, RF366, RF368, RF401, RF406, RF421, RF429, RF444, RF457, RF486, RF489, RF 508, RF517, RF530, RF534, RF537,
RF600, RF626, RF633, RF667, RF672.
MLL740 Ian's Bus Stop RF Index