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
Saturday, 31 March 2007
The former Midland Red's territory was huge and it's most southerly garage was at Banbury in Oxfordshire. Once the company had become a part of the NBC sadly it stopped buying new double-deckers and most of the big buses were either dual-purpose Leyland Leopards or as in this case Nationals like No.504.
Unlike rural Banbury which never had many double-deckers, Stafford Midland Red's most northerly garage on the other hand had little else as most of the local quet country routes were operated by Independents like Austins or fellow BET member PMT. So once the last D9's used on the last long 865 Dudley service had been withdrawn there have been only two brief re-introductions. The first was 2541 a former Trent Daimler Fleetline which came here for use as an OPO vehicle but didn't stay long firstly going off to Ludlow and then on to Hereford.
Because some really stand out I've decided to do a new series called my favourite photos and I think my mentor Tom Moore would approve of this one as he could have taken it himself. With black and white photography one can get so much more satisfaction as they can be involved in the whole creative process. Sadly as with many others proper photography it is a thing of the past as it so much easier to be digital. It seems hard to believe now but I found Birmingham and district quite boring in the early-Eighties especially as there was a lot of standardisation in the West Midlands PTE fleet. However I found the fifty Ailsa buses allocated to former Midland Red Black Country garages both interesting and pleasantly attractive.
Friday, 30 March 2007
During the Eighties when I was camping in my van before the police moved me on, in the car park next to Aalborg Bus Station I made fiends with one of the Thinggaard drivers. He took me as his guest for a ride to the small town of Thisted on his smart yellow and green Volvo B10M bodied by Aabenraa
Even if I don't want to visit a place I'm always looking for an interesting photograph and already framed by the windows of the train as one pauses at stations one can often see ready made compositions like this unusual but not displeasing view with a NAW Post Bus at Arlseheim. Few will have heard of this suburb of Basel unlike it's most famous Son, Roger Federer.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
During the Eighties BVG's main airport route the No.9 was worked by a fleet of fifteen MAN single-deckers in a special attractive blue livery but during the rush-hour ordinary Mercedes-Benz 0407 appeared too. On one occasion I asked the driver if the MAN's were better and his reply was "Too much better." Here is No.1953 one of the final batch delivered in 1984.
Tuesday, 27 March 2007
Monday, 26 March 2007
I was lucky enough to have to go to Chester a couple of times a week during the early-Eighties with plenty of free time and it was a delightful places to photograph buses, coaches and people. I think these must be American Tourists on an orange and white Trafalgar Tours holiday Volvo-Plaxton coach operated by Parks of Hamilton/
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Three smart looking double-deckers at Ulverston in about 1980. I for one thought ECW bodies with white window rubber gaskets looked a lot brighter and much better on NBC corporate red and green and was most attractive. Not that I was a big fan of the National Bus Company though after the wealth of fine liveries that it replaced but somehow certain bus companies retained a certain sparkle and individuality. Amongst the reds, whereas Potteries and East Kent started to look somewhat dowdy, Ribble and Trent always maintained a smart fleet. In the centre questionably looking more modern than the two more conservative looking ECW Bristol VR's of 1972 displaced from Carlisle Nos 2000 and 2001 was a 1967 Leyland Atlantean by Northern Counties. This batch of fifteen buses with their panoramic screens saw a lot of service up towards the The Lakes.
It looks as if someone let East Berlin to some drunken old men who never ate a good meal, cleaned out the bath or did their washing. Somehow the trees just about manage to turn green and I think paint must have been rationed, but believe it or not the outskirts with their faceless blocks of flats were even more ugly. It needed a good scrub too but the old trams were quite attractive. Of course all of this sullen drabness is gone but I quite miss it in a way especially the Reko trams built by the DDR's Reischbahnausbesserungswerk.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
Sadly three years after Derby Corporation took over Blue Bus of Willington in 1973 and it's routes between Derby and Burton on Trent one night a fire destroyed both the bus garage and all nineteen vehicles inside including the most famous Daimler Fleetline of them all, the the very first one which entered service as a works demonstrator with the registration 7000 HP. Fortunately not everything was lost and a couple of rare Daimlers deckers survived as they were at Ascot Road. But the Blue Bus look lived on for a while as it was worn at least by some Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance coaches built to 'Grant' specification. Seen crossing The Trent Bridge in Burton No.13 could even boast an attractive driver at the wheel but I think I would still have preferred one of the early Northern Counties Fleetlines as I always liked them or something older.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
In 1998 almost ten years earlier I had ridden on some Hess Bodied FBW's in Basle and on the off chance that they might still be some on Route 37 I thought I'd interrupt my quest looking for the for the Regie Post buses I hadn't seen and went hoping to get a new tape-recording of my favourite European make of bus. Nos.82-4 must have been the last one's left and had replaced those numbered in the Sixties from the previous occasion. I told the driver I wanted to tape "The bus music". He said "What music, there's no music on this bus?" So I made a bus sound, and he said it was a "din." What a philistine!
Unlike here in the U.K. where even National Trust property seems to be the property of someone else, in Switzerland the countryside seems to belong to everyone and they are free to roam. In Britain farmers even put barbed-wire across stiles and bulls in fields to deter less committed ramblers from crossing their fields. But things are getting better here too but one day maybe there will be well signposted routes for walkers, but they will have to add more time for calling in at all the pubs on route. When I visited the old PTT Regie Garage at Balstall in the Jura Region in February 1992 there ten buses allocated there and they were all Mercedes-Benz 0405's like P25264 with the exception of a solitary Setra.
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
We still get a few strange coaches that come into Stafford Town Centre and stop for a while but at one time it was quite commonplace. Some were quite interesting too like this recent Cambus Leyland Royal Tiger Doyen in the livery of NBC's National Holidays, one of two delivered in 1986 waiting for the customers to finish their lunch at the town's Flamingo Restaurant in the Co-op in 1988.
I'm proud of this one! Also in Stafford from East Anglia and an almost unbelievable sight was this Southern Corporation Massey-Bodied Leyland PD3 on hire to Chaserider for a spell of driver training. Incidentally this was not the first Southend Corporation bus that visited the town as one Sunday in 1968 I saw a fairly new East-Lancs bodied Leyland Leopard with dual-entrance bodywork on Bridge Street Car Park. Alas I did not have a camera with me that day.
Kinch of Mountsorrell won industry prizes for their coaches, so it was a surprise when with deregulation they decided to get rid of them an concentrate on bus work. It was certainly a treat to see turned out in their smart blue and yellow colours this former London Transport Leyland Titan in Nottingham. Two of the girls who had obviously had a busy afternoon shopping look like sisters to me.
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
This is where I have to go two or three times a week at least. In my youth Manchester Airport used to be known as Ringway and Birmingham Airport as Elmdon. Both have changed a great deal since then with Manchester becoming quite big and able to handle large Jumbo Jets like the Quantas example in this shot taken when there was still just one terminal. Today the airport buses are mostly Plaxton bodied Dennis's but quite newsworthy is they do have a couple of Mercedes-Benz Citaro ariculated buses too including a demonstrator on hire. When this view was taken in the Eighties Leyland National2's were busy at work on runway duties.
An Ikarus coach makes it's way along Unter Linden Strasse in the recently reunified East Berlin which was by now awash with tourists wearing bright clothing. However much of the former DDR hadn't changed much since the end of the war with many battle scarred and grimy buildings needing a bit of love and restoration..
Many thought Berlin BVG's ubiquitous army of MAN SD Series Wagon-Union bodied double-deckers were a bit boring. Coincidentally rather like the Ikarus 280 articulated single-decker to be found nearby over The Wall in East Berlin they had very attractive front ends, but that was about it.
Monday, 19 March 2007
There was a second smaller operator called South Yorks based in Pontefract but the newcomer, the huge PTA had no grounds for complaint as the Independent operator has been working between Doncaster and Leeds since 1929. However by the time this photo was taken in the mid-Nineties in Leeds the operator had become part of what is now know as Arriva but thankfully Northern Counties bodied Olympian No103 was still wearing the old colours albeit covered in grime. Bus enthusiasts aren't very popular and some bastard upstairs on the bus is giving me 'two fingers'.
I suppose bus enthusiasts tend to fall into groups and take sides depending on what they grew up with. But as with football teams they tend to take sides whether it be Scania or Volvo, or Wright or Alexander. As for me I was always a Leyland man as opposed to AEC, but the Southall manufactures always came a close second. I just liked the Leyland image with it's Zoo Family and animal badges and those big chunky wheel trims. But most of all it was the sounds particularly the exhaust roar of the Leopard or crackle of the PD Series. So it was something of an Indian Summer for me when in the Eighties Leyland once more freed from British Leyland control tried to bring back some of that old Leyland Magic. The buses and coaches looked like proper Leylands again but in truth that is as far as the magic went for they still relied on old products and new ones like the Lynx were not developed to a sufficient standard. The Tiger wasn't a bad coach, but it wasn't as reliable as the old Leopard, and more importantly it wasn't as good as a Volvo. Larger operators still bought them as they were British. I used to visit Blackpool occasionally during the Summer with the express purpose of photographing buses and girls together and smart looking coaches like this Plaxton bodies Tiger belonging to 'Coachline' part of Sheffield based SYT.
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Guide Friday started here in Stratford upon Avon offering open-top double-deck tours to the visitors and become so successful that as well as providing the same service in other tourist rich cities in Britain it expanded into Mainland Europe as well. It was quite remarkable really as all it's vehicles were second-hand time expired buses like this thirty-year-old former Bournemouth Daimler Fleetline trying to work The Stratford Tour in about 1994.
There has been a Spring Carnival in places like Basle since Medieval times but as a celebration it has grown in popularity and at the end of February it's hard to go anywhere except the top of the Eiger without the clatter of cowbells. Still I think it is fun and it was an enjoyable distraction when on holiday. It was also a good excuse to photograph another Bern FBW Articulated bus before it was withdrawn.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
Competition on London's sightseeing services is fierce and a number of operators have come and go. Fortunately one of the survivors is The Big Bus Company which has always turned out smart looking buses in this attractive brown and cream livery. A real favourite must be this Routemaster that was one of fifty delivered to Northern General in the Sixties.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
I don't think I could face going back to Bern now that the City trams and buses have been painted a pinkie scarlet colour. The military green was a bit dour but it suited the conservatism of the Swiss Capital and it's greyness in the winter. No.733 was seen near the depot one Saturday morning when I had a couple of free hours before leaving to fly home and makes a fine memento.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
These two Leyland Leopards in Plymouth during the early-Nineties show products from Britain's two principal coach bodybuilders with the National Holidays, Greenslades example carrying Plaxton and the Stanley Gath of Dewsbury being by Duple.
Monday, 12 March 2007
Midland Red famed for the way it designed and manufactured buses that were way ahead of their time had to eat humble-pie when it became part of the nationalised National Bus Company for it was allotted two batches of Plaxton bodied Ford R Series single-deckers to see off many of the S14 and S15 single-deckers of the Fifties. These 140 buses were very unsophisticated light-weight front-engined buses and were all allocated to rural garages like 6356 seen here at work in Rugby in about 1981.
Saturday, 10 March 2007
Friday, 9 March 2007
Amongst my favourite post buses of the regie PTT owned fleet were these Leyland-DAB Saurer articulated P27506-27512 buses built in 1976 with bodywork by Ramseier & Jenzer AG of Biel. By the time I returned to explore Swizerland at the start of the Nineties they were nearly all at Endingen and one knew when they had arrived at Baden as one was usually laid-over in the station yard. This was a reject photo taken against the light but it's wonderful what a little photoshop wizardry can do.
A survivor the former Chester Corporation is finally being sold off by City's politicians. The bus fleet has long been starved of proper investment and the site of the large former tram depot opposite the railway station is worth a fortune. So one wonders what the fate will be of buses like Massey bodied Guy Arab IV, No.1 which has been preserved by the company.
When I took these photos in the Eighties National Express was still very much a part of the National Bus Company and as seen here most of the coaches were either Leyland Leopards or Bristol RE's like this Swindon and District example.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
One of my favourite places for bus photography was Marlborough Street Bus Station and depot in Bristol where the light was usually good enough to photograph at either end as the buses went in or out. Also one could enjoy the audible effects of buses like this Leyland National2 which being 999 should have been red like a fire engine, but a real treat was the distinctive 'boom' of the numerous Bristol RE's allocated there too which also carried Leyland engines. It hasn't changed a great deal since the Eighties but the buses there owned by First Group certainly have
In 1983 Cumberland Motor Services painted this 1961 Bristol Lodekka FS6G learner bus into traditional company colours to celebrate an anniversary. When the company was bought by Stagecoach the vehicle was retained for special duties and it was seen in Carlisle in October 1989 still doing training duties.
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
By 1982 DAB was also bodying buses on the Volvo chassis and the state run DSB fleet took a few of these along with their usual preferred choice Aabenaa. No.958 was one of a small number of buses housed at Ringstead Station to operate the Roskilde to Slagelse 234 Route.
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
The trouble with buses and girls photography is trying to get good examples together. Had this been a colour photo there would have been added interest as the Bristol VR was in the NBC equivalent of Gloucester's one time blue livery before nationalisation, and as the company would be returned to the private sector it seemed a good idea. I like the return of history and especially blonds in mini-skirts
Monday, 5 March 2007
When Cowie's Grey Green Coaches tendered for London Transport's 24 Route from Hampstead Heath to Pimilico few would have guessed that the operator would form the nucleus of what is today called Arriva. Grey Green's buses looked smart and eye-catching so it's a pity they didn't keep the same colours, as Arriva's 'women friendly' garb reminds me of a plastic bottle of toilet cleaner which doesn't do the operator much justice. When I took this late afternoon view of No.124 almost in shadow I was pushing the boat out a bit as I wanted another record of Gillingham Street garage in the background which was about to be closed.
I must admit I don't find buses today anything to get excited about, but the way my local operator Arriva moves it's old buses adds some interest and even some variety. Today the rather insipid aquamarine sea of buses seems to be full of Dennis Darts, but some short East-Lancs bodied Volvos that started life with Grey Green in London come in from Cannock. The three local examples spent some time at Stafford first and weren't very popular with the drivers as they only had three forward gears which made them slow for country running.
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Actually it was the end of February in 1992 and the brown slopes overlooking Sion were in readiness for the first bright colours of spring flowers and even though the last true Swiss buses like this late Saurer of 1985 looked in fine fettle, five years on as regular service buses the marque would be quickly heading for extinction.
Friday, 2 March 2007
After Daimler-Benz took control of Saurer most of the orders for Swiss Post buses either went to Mercedes or as in this instance Setra. Lugano was a typical allocation as they were preferred for the holiday areas over the bus-like O405's. They were not loved by garage staff though as the electrics was a nightmare and they were also prone to serious winter corrosion especially by the front step. Being in the milder Italian Titino region south of the Alps meant the vehicles remained comparatively rust free I expect.
Thursday, 1 March 2007
The Austin Family still run Happy Days Coaches but 'Austins of Woodseaves' is now a distant memory with it's fleet of mostly Leyland second-hand buses. At one time shortly after the war the fleet boasted fifty vehicles and even in the Sixties when this view was taken there was a small Stafford garage just out of view as well as a third one at Newport. A Favourite of mine was this Willowbrook bodied Leyland Royal Tiger with a Nottingham Registration OTO 63.
Sometimes the slight blurring of the image adds something to a photograph when a vehicle is on the move and one can almost hear the hiss of the tyres on the wet road and the roar of the Atlanteans Leyland 0680 engine in this view taken in the early Nineties in Liverpool.