Last crew day on the 36

This page created 7th February 2005 by Ian Smith

Part Two: 36B, Camberwell to Grove Park, and back to New Cross

Back on schedule, we departed from Camberwell Garage by the front door, and turned east for Peckham and New Cross, heading for Grove Park as a 36B. I regained my seat upstairs at the front. Plenty of buses came the other way along this major thoroughfare. They included WVL105 on the 345, passed in Peckham. Just before Queens Road Station a welcome sight was Ensignbus' RT4421, heading into town on a 36 bound for West Kilburn. The entrance to New Cross Garage was busy, with buses coming and going anmidst a sea of photographers. They had gathered here to watch the eastern terminus of the "normal" 36, with Routemasters coming in and out at frequent intervals.

WVL105 on 345, Peckham RT4421 passes Queens Rd on 36 RM436 sets off from New Cross on 36

RT1702 paused opposite New Cross Garage to take on some enthusiasts. These included one with a wheelchair. Yes!- on an RT. The chair went upstairs! I reboarded the RT, and watched RM782 pull out of the garage for Queens Park. This RM has white on black blinds, and I wondered whether the yellow had completely faded, or whether this was a set resurrected for the day.

RT1702 loads up at New Cross on 36B RM782 sets off from New Cross on 36

We set off again, following a service 136 as required by TfL. Now, beyond the reach of the everyday 36s there was only the occasional special working to watch out for - plus the regular buses on other duties, of course. These included Tridents on the 136 - today's 36 variant to Grove Park, blue Volvo Olympians on training duties (including NV128) and single-deckers (eg LDP56 on the 225). A substantial shower made photography difficult! We wended our way through New Cross Gate and New Cross, and over the hill and down into Lewisham.

17576 on 136, New Cross Trainer NV128, New Cross LDP56 on 225, Lewisham Stn

At Lewisham we caught up with silver-painted RM1650, working a 36 to Hither Green Station, then wound our way through Lewisham's bus-only chicane and headed for Catford. RM1650 caught up with us as we waited for the traffic lights, and it headed off east towards its own destination.

RM1650 on 36, Catford RM1650 on 36, Catford

We followed a the route 136 Trident along to Catford Garage, which had its usual clutch of terminating Tridents just inside the north gate. We turned up Downham Way, past the site of the old change-pit (now I'm showing my age). But there were no cars at all on Downham Way in those days. Today I was surprised to see RML2665 hurrying down the hill past Headcorn Road, splendid in its clean Stagecoach livery. It too was on a 36B special run.

Catford Garage RML2665 on 36B, Downham Way

The crew dropped me off at the old tram terminus at the top of Downham Way, so that I could watch the RT turn the corner to Grove Park Station. The traffic lights were kind to me. RT1702 was neatly stopped in just the right place, before rounding the corner and heading past the railway station to the bus station, purpose-built in 1952 for the tram-replacement buses on routes 69, 149 and 179.

RT1702 at the top of Downham Way RT1702 passes Grove Park Station

I walked along past the station. A lime-green Delta (DA3) popped round the corner from Mottingham. I crossed over to the bus station. This was quite a good train-spotting point in the 1950s, until the shops were built on a new pontoon over the tracks, spoiling the view of the WCs, Schools, and elderly but wonderful 4-4-0s on Hastings trains, and the variety of steam-hauled freights heading south from Hither Green.

Lenny Fields was playing the nostalgia game too. RT1702 was redressed in 285 Night-bus blinds, complete with offside route-board. But he wouldn't go back to New Cross wearing them! The 36B blinds were reinstated, and New Cross Gate wound up as our lunch-time destination. It was time to say farewell to the other buses in the bus-station (including First's DMS41360), and follow a Trident back to New Cross.

RT1702 wears 285 blinds DMS41360 on 273 Grove Park

Part Three: New Cross

Bus Stop Part One: Catford to Camberwell Green Part Three: New Cross