I AM CHRISTOPHER LEACH THE ARTIST. I started this blog so that I can share with everyone my vast collection of transport photographs showing a personal and nostalgic view of the industry with images that span some 45 years taking in the U.K and some of Europe. I have no darkroom and so rather than being the perfectionist after tidying them up I upload the images warts and all, and even those that won't scan squarely or are scratched. In a way it adds age and character. You are all free to download these for your personal use but please remember I still own them and you are not just free to use them without prior permission for any knd of publishing. Click on images to enlarge them and if you want to see more leave your comments or visit my website for the mother-site with galleries including those Buses & Girls: PICTUREWORLD
Thursday, 30 August 2007
I like bus garages and I wanted to get some sort of view of the small PTT Regie Garage at Thierrens which like Echallens is a sub-depot of Yverdon and between them during the Nineties they operated a fleet of ten buses all the stylish Setra 214. The Renault school bus however owned by a PAH contractor was not really of that much interest. More worthy of note was how I managed to get to the two villages in the Canton of Vaud as at lunchtime during the school holidays there was no bus to take me from Thierrens to Echellans if I went to Yverdon first. As I was staying in Bern I had to take a train all the way down to Lausanne and then the narrow-gauge local train to Echellans with about an hour's wait till the bus to Thierrens arrived. From there I could go back up North to see the buses at Yverdon and then continue my train journey to Sion and Brig in the Valais before returning to Bern in the evening. Rail travel is so swift and efficient in Switzerland but one can spend half a day just making short bus journeys but one gets far more of the true flavour of the country.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
It's sad to hear that what I used to call East Lancashire Coachbuilders have called in the receivers for they were one of a number of smaller concerns who traditionally built tiny batches of vehicles or even one and would try to add many customer details. Not surprisingly like similar Massey Brothers and Northern Counties also based in Lancashire they were a favourite with the smaller Municipals and more affluent Independents who could afford new buses. Sadly not many towns have their own buses these days but East Lancs could still be found on some of our favourite private family owned concerns like Mayne of Manchester and The Delane of Bourne and like this bus one of two Dennis double-deckers supplied to Dennis in 2003 shortly before he sold out to Stagecoach-Manchester. Some say the later East Lancs products were rather ugly but I rather like oddities and no doubt some of the public thought they must have come from somewhere like Spain. Let's hope the new owner continues building buses and they don't suffer the same fate as Marshall.
Monday, 27 August 2007
The mighty Stagecoach Holdings successfully experimented with special budget fare operations firstly here in Manchester to counter University Bus who was creaming off it's cost conscious student passengers with old buses on the Didsbury Road Corridor and Stagecoach's reply the fleet of time-expired all-over blue buses called Magic Bus have become something of an institution I believe. The cheap fares Magic Bus concept was also used when Stagecoach copied the providers of cheap air flights like Easy Jet with bookings taken over the Internet when it started offering almost free travel between Manchester and London. It has certainly given National Express something to think about and not only were the old double-deckers used on the no-frills service a great success Megabus now run brand new dedicated coaches on it's various routes including three axle Volvo's and Neoplan double-deckers like this example preparing to depart from Manchester.
The entrance to Plymouth's Bretonside Bus Station is rather a mess with all those barriers and confusing signs to drive in to. Apart from some gorgeous weather the only redeeming feature seems to be the First Group's Plaxton-Bodied Dennis double-deckers painted in a special Mayflower Livery which somewhat echoes that used not so long ago by the Privatised Southern National before it was bought out by First and painted into what we call Barbi.
Sunday, 26 August 2007
In the Eighties under the arch-meddler Mrs. Thatcher, Deregulation of the buses included the Express Coach Network too and even quite small operators now had a go usually clubbing together so that they could market and work from end to end forming a stronger chain to challenge the big boys. Most quickly gave up and sadly the outcome of this free-for-all to open up the market only strengthened the already dominant position of National Express who now more or less have the long distance network of England and Wales completely to themselves. Although this operator is highly thought of and is well managed offering cheap fares it runs a very tight ship and there seems to be little extra capacity which often makes it difficult to book seats on many journeys at short notice, so basically the public has to fit in with them or use more expensive ways to travel. So the irony of Deregulation was that it might have let new players into the market but in turn the long established routes of well respected names like Grey Green, Barton, Yelloway and Premier Travel bowed out. One of the small concerns who now competed for a short time on routes to the West Country was the Deeble's Darley Ford Coaches who were able to tempt the public with this well-appointed Van-Hool Astron T818 enjoying a good send off seen in Plymouth.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Today in Stafford we enjoy a fairly predictable diet of mostly Arriva Dennis Darts of different sizes and bodywork, but it is pretty dull fare compared to the old BMMO Midland Red days or even Chaserider and the others after Deregulation. For one thing although they do occasionally appear from Cannock the double-decker is not that common these days so I was put in the unusual position of having to stand in the middle of the road wondering whether to snap first a WMPTE Alexander-Dennis coming one way or the Leyland Titan coming up behind me. In the end I photographed both as the traffic was moving slowly due to the Rock Festival at Western Park. No doubt the M6 was so jammed up because it was taking people two hours to exit the M6 at Junction 12 to get on the A5. Previously Arriva had done the Western Park contact taking many of the 80.000 revellers this time from both Stafford and Wolverhampton Station, and even though Arriva could put on a good show which included things like training-buses it was nice to see and hear double-decker activity again.
As they say time will tell and a good way to judge how good a bus might be is to see how long it remains on the streets and like the London Routemaster the WMPTE MCW Metrobuses seem to go on for ever like this 1984 example. At the end of it's production run had they realised it's success MCW might have had second thoughts on ending bus production at it's Washwood Heath Plant in Birmingham.
The News Media and the Tabloid Press love the word MISERY and there has been plenty of it this year with all the rain and flooding. But stuck in Stafford having been diverted off the M6 the driver of this smart Mercedes Touro Coach still looks both cheerful and friendly as a party return from a extended tour of. the Lake District and Burns Country over the border in lowland Scotland.
Not too distant Alton Towers Amusement Park operates regular journeys in to Stafford for it's staff employing fairly new stock. But much older is this Leyland Titan still in Kimes livery but which was once all-red L 519 with London Transport . Spattered with red clay from muddy tracks it now carries the fruit pickers who come every year from places like Poland and Estonia working on a local Strawberry Farm.
Of course most National Express Services bypass towns like Stafford but when the motorway is closed it's a different story, and it's just a pity one can't still hop on them to go all the way to Plymouth or Haverfordwest. The coach is a Volvo with Plaxton Bodywork but without seeing the legal lettering it could be owned by anyone as the service contacts are put out to tender.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Once spray-painting had became the norm the appearance of Manchester's buses took a dive for the worse as a lack of sensitive masking meant the window-gasket-rubbers and everything else of little importance including sometimes even the polished radiator grill got the full-on treatment. Had the red livery not been quite so bold and bright the buses would have looked far worse. The Corporation specified a more upright front on the MCW-Orion bodies of PD2's like 1961 bus No 3652 so they could get more seats upstairs. No not a pretty sight you will agree but I still think they are nicer than the clean modern buses today, so obviously my opinions are clouded by waves of nostalgia for that much stronger youthful enthusiasm of my spotting days.
A special place for me, as this is where I used to go to stay with my Grandparents when I was small. The red and cream Leyland and Daimlers chugging past the big Victorian House on the 80 and 88 Routes were a big influence on my lifetime's fascination for buses. Today somehow the modern business-like Alexander-Dennis double-deckers of Stagecoach with their large areas of red on what is now the 85 still thankfully look and feel rather like my Manchester buses.
Thursday, 16 August 2007
Once up on a time smart Ribble and Standerwick Coaches used to gather in the Coliseum Bus Station in Blackpool along with other local great local names like North Western and Lancashire United to yield their fleet numbers and impress their newness to young enthusiasts like myself. But the Coliseum too is now sadly a memory as is the old railway line that now serves as a temporary looking Coach Station as nobody cares much these days about pleasing budget coach passengers. Under the ownership of the NBC many of the old BET and THC bus companies kept their former titles at least but the great names of coaching quickly disappeared as with little regard for tradition and employee pride they were bundled together to form the faceless dreary whitewashed fleet of the original National holidays and National Express Coaches. A little reminder of Standerwick was the inspiration behind my taking of this line-up of coaches which still in the Eighties as before came down from Scotland and The North East and over the Pennines from Yorkshire.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Not surprisingly being a nation of clockmakers the Swiss transport system is co-ordinated to run effortlessly like clockwork. Consequently many bus departures leave at the same time as they do here at Luzern as buses jostle for position as they queue at the traffic-lights beside the station. The Volvo articulated bus belonged to the City but other small operators work for them too and also carry the smart blue and white local livery like the Mercedes based NAW with Frech Hoch bodywork of Sissach. Sadly this is one of many small bodybuilder's who have now closed their doors and it ended in 1993 having been born at the dawn of the motorbus in 1899. Today we treat the past like art and shut it away in museums seeing little value in it's merits.
Monday, 13 August 2007
This is one of those places whose name I usually can't remember, but Manningtree is rather more easy to remember as it has been in the news following the murder of a teenage girl. People seem to hate bus enthusiasts but we're not stupid we're just relics from an age when people had proper hobbies and didn't take drugs or be violent. However by the Eighties when Eastern National was part of the NBC with it's uninspiring liveries and large fleet of Nationals maybe it was time to head off down to the pub.
If you're looking for bus and coach variety in London you can't beat Victoria which can not just boast some good and interesting vantage points it is served my many bus routes and attracts coaches including of course those many National Express Services heading for the busy Victoria Coach Station. M47, one of London's first Metrobuses is about to be overtaken by a Yorkshire Traction Neoplan carrying Plaxton bodywork. YTC was notable for giving it's coaches cherished registrations but at least they tried to make the numbers match like No.95, C95 KET which became 4195 HE.
During early 1967 I managed to make several visits to Portsmouth and spotted all 195 buses including Leyland Bodoed No.75 of 1952 which in sparkling new paint tempted out my camera. The North End Garage wasn't big compared to Eastney but it was close to Southdown's garage at Hyde Park Road which was always worth a visit.
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Bus photographs don't have to be boring but it helps if when the bus is this far away one can give some extra information. After Privitisation Maidstone and District modified it's colours with more cream on new deliveries but retained the former NBC leaf-green and white colour on most of it's existing vehicles including 5035 a secondhand London Transport DMS Daimler Fleetline registered KUC 947P.
As one arrives by rail in Kublis they are greeted by the delightful traditional village Swiss Post Garage of the local Licensee PAH Hartmann with chalet style accommodation above. In the mid-Nineties Saurer buses were still in evidence including a former RH from the PTT Regie Fleet itself. Had you then alighted from your train here to catch a bus to Saint Anthonien Platz in 1965 it might well have been another proper Post Auto bonneted Saurer Glasswagon No.P23155 which was being borrowing for the season to work this service.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
This rather battered MCW Metrobus Series1 had travelled about a bit before it reached Merseybus in Liverpool, for even though it was still wearing London Transport colours it in fact started life as one of a small batch of trial buses with Tyne and Wear in Newcastle. Even though they bought a decent number of the Scania based MCW Metropolitan Double-Decker the PTA shied away from this the much more successful down to earth and thrifty Gardner-Engined model that followed it.
The bus station in front of Luzern Bahnhof is a busy transport hub and as well as the blue town buses and a few Yellow Post Buses there are also one or two other operators including the dark red and cream Rottal Auto Ag vehicles which include both Mercedes-Benz and MAN articulated buses. In this German speaking part of Switzerland were one to drink too much they could quite easily forget where they are going with so many places ending in Wil. Of course if you wanted to do a little party trick you could always learn to receipt them in order off by heart.
Monday, 6 August 2007
Saturday, 4 August 2007
An important landmark at the very heart of traditional Stevenson country was the Salt Box Cafe and upmarket transport cafe which also catered for other travellers like the thirsty trippers on this rather smart Duple Dominant bodied Leyland Leopard of Lofty's Tours from the Deeside area north of Chester. Despite Hatton now being by-passed by the A50 the Salt Box Cafe is still there for truckers who don't mind going down the old roads nearby for a decent fry-up and a mug of tea.
Sadly missed by local enthusiasts in Staffordshire are the colourful yellow and black buses belonging to Stevenson's whose fleet size mushroomed towards the end at one time numbered over 250 buses, even larger than the traditional big local operator Midland Red North. The company became synonymous with the DMSFleetline purchasing a large quantity of them from London Transport. But the fleet was always wonderfully varied and also operated a large number of Leyland Leopard buses and coaches including No.18 with a Plaxton Derwent Body that came from Summerson of West Auckland in 1977 . Undoubtedly the star of the fleet in it's final years was the former Northern General RML Routemaster RCN 699 No.28.
Friday, 3 August 2007
All-over advertisements on buses are a common sight on the Continent where enthusiasts tend to be more interested in trams, preserved buses or the history of the routes and systems. But if you had grown up in a world where production-line buses had been the norm long before the Leyland National was born maybe you wouldn't have been quite so crazy about the buses like this standard Mercedes OM 407 belonging to SWG of Giessen
Thursday, 2 August 2007
When I was a child growing up in the Fifties and Sixties as far as buses were concerned everything more or less stayed the same. But after Deregulation change was rapid and now I'm so glad that I managed to visit so many places during the Nineties with a colour film in my camera. One of these visits was to Southend one glorious Summer day where not only did the seaside town, like Bournemouth still operate a fleet of smartly turned out Daimler Fleetlines it delighted enthusiasts by doing the same for the London Routemaster. In it's latter years London Transport seemed to have a love-hate-relationship with these buses for even though the public loved them they wanted to replace them with something more modern to speed up OPO and to offer something more practical for disabled passengers. However Britain's Provincial operators knew a good bus when they saw one.
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
and Western National buses resting between duties but coaches from far and wide. In this view we can see a During the Eighties during the Summer Months by Mid-Morning as the heat of the sun started to heat up all that Fifties concrete Plymouth Bretonside Bus Station used to fill almost to it's capacity with not just Plymouth CitibusLeyland Leopard which despite being in full National Express livery had been working on a bus service. I have it marked down as a North Devon vehicle which the low fleet number 282 seems to concur.Also in this busy scene are a couple of Duple-Bodied coaches, a Ford belonging to Jones Travelways of Market Drayton in Shropshire and just arriving, much newer Laser on a Leyland Tiger chassis and the milkman.