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, 31 May 2007
Interesting Independent operators are still sadly disappearing and the latest one in my area is Chase Coaches of Burntwood who became notable in recent times for it's large fleet of elderly Leyland National Mark1 buses. It was one of many companies that expanded rapidly following deregulation in the Early Eighties and it's early fleet included Leyland Leopards. Then recently privatised the new management of Midland Red North seemed interested in selling off the company assets especially the best buses like this example and it's not surprising that Midland Red crews scoffed at not only having lost their prized two-pedel Mashall bodied dual-purpose Leopards to the competition they were still running on their routes complete with Midland Red blinds. Midland Red North now part of Arriva, that company has bought out Chase Coaches and is still operating a few of the acquired buses.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Berlin is not the only place in Germany where you could find double-deck service buses, in Lubeck one could find the operator LVG who used them on it's routes to heading out north of the city to the nearby coast. Not surprisingly it used former Berlin vehicles but bought some news examples of it's own too like this MAN pictured in the Eighties when it was not good weather for being beside the sea.
Sunday, 27 May 2007
Opinions of the Tiger were often quite negative when compared to the highly popular Volvo B10M coach chassis, but the rugged and reliable Leyland Leopard on the other hand had plenty of fans. This vehicle had been in manufacture since 1959 and even though British Leyland halted production of those characteristic cat badges in 1970 a few smaller operators proudly transferred them to newer machines like this Duple bodied 1980 example belonging to John Smith and Sons. A Plaxton bodied Leopard belonging to Stevenson of Spath brings up the rear but sandwiched between them is an inauspicious looking European interloper belonging to South Yorkshire of Pontefract but who would have believed that he Bova Futura would still be in production today long after the once mighty Leyland has gone.
Saturday, 26 May 2007
The only word to describe these eye-catching Wright bodied Volvo double-deckers belonging to Travel West Midlands is beautiful. However like all uncompromising angular designs one wonders how they will look when they're second-hand old buses. As the latest registration system carries no index number it's a pity operators don't carry a fleet number on the front so that we can readily identifies vehicles like this example arriving at Birmingham Airport about two years ago.
Friday, 25 May 2007
Although there were even things like modern articulated buses and trolleybuses in cities like Bern and Geneva once one ventured into the wilder cantons and mountains they quickly discovered that the traditional bonneted Swiss buses by FBW, Saurer and it's subsidiary Berna dominated the scene. However The PTT itself didn't buy any bonneted buses after 1954 concentrating mostly on right-hand-drive underfloor-engined Alpenwagens with the entrance behind the front axle. But real change started to happen in 1962 heralded by five of these much more conventional FBW front-entrance buses like this one bodied by Tuscher chosen to work the route which follows the railway along the Rhone Valley to Arbon. The conservative Swiss postal contractors however were still buying traditional bonneted buses as late as 1970. Until this time State owned Post Buses had carried silver roofs which looked most effective against the yellow black and red detail, but a more up to date but less effective cream top started to appear on these new generation buses which was a pity
Thursday, 24 May 2007
It seems Warstone's Green Bus of Great Wyrley has withdrawn the last of it's remaining Leopards as I've only recently seen their Mercedes-Benz minibuses when I venture out to do my school run in the afternoon. However before the Leopard this interesting operator as well bought a number of the lighter Tiger Cub from Lancashire Municipal operators like this example bobied by East Lancs that came from Blackburn .
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
As these are Welsh girls and should one have a moment's indiscretion and consequently get themselves arrested in Caernarvon they could always come up with the excuse that they didn't realise what they said when the girls were asked their age. However in 1998 for the more dedicated bus enthusiast there was plenty of other delights to see for even on this one route to Bangor one could find Crosville Bristol VR's, National2's Leyland Olympians and of course the Lynx like this example which had been new to Chesterfield..
When the buses get boring and these midibuses usually are it helps when there is something else in the picture. Now even this 1994 photo of a Thamesdown Transport Northern Counties bodied Renault is another fragment of history, but hopefully Fifth and Six Form schoolgirls will always be there to hang around Swindon Bus Station after meeting in town on Saturday afternnons.
I thought this style of Alexander (Belfast) bodywork usually found in the Province but also supplied to Timeline of Wigan because of it's cheapness was very attractive in a functional kind of way and indeed they were a good buy as they were very rugged. But when Midland Red North attempted to revive the former BMMO Midland Red colours painting it's buses all-over red these Leyland Tigers in particular looked so boxy and utilitarian they acquired that nickname as the Bosnian Conflict was always on the news at that time. The companies buses might have looked better had they chosen the correct shade of red as the darker hue looked very drab especially in dull weather.
Saturday, 19 May 2007
At times the bus station beside the Railway Station in Sion can be pretty empty but the busiest time is at mid-day when Post Buses gather before leaving to trundle their way along the vine festooned slopes of the Rhone Valley or to wind their way up to mountain villages above the winter snow-line.
Of course there are some buses one rarely sees on the road including this Saurer articulated bus from 1973 which had been retained as a spare to do schools services I expect. I didn't even know the twenty-year old veteran was at Sion till I saw it on the garage 'allocation board'. To see it is one thing, to be able to take a photograph is even better.The Post Garage is in the middle of a large compound used by what was the telecom arm of PTT which before privatisation subsidised the loss making buses and the bendibus was stored in one of their own vehicle sheds where a once familiar FBW lorry can also be seen.
There had been a Midland Red Garage at Evesham since 1931 and even though I visited it many times in my pre-NBC spotting days I had not been back there for some years. So when I had the opportunity to pay a quick visit last Autumn even though all that there was left to remember the old company by was a few bricks I welcomed the chance to revel in a bit of BMMO nostalgia. It was good that I did for a few weeks later I heard the garage was about to close and the final nine buses would be moved elsewhere. Already most of the building have been partitioned off and sub-let but at least the old Midland Wheel Roundel was still proudly there above the entrance just showing underneath the newer First Bus sign. It was nice to see a double-decker there too, albeit belonging to Stagecoach for Midland Red employed them on the busier trunk routes especially to Birmingham. The reason for the Stagecoach visit was a broken upstairs front window no doubt caused by tree damage. First's buses might be modern and look a lot warmer than the old red BMMO's but anyone old enough to remember will agree they look positively grey and boring in comparison.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Even though in PTT days the local allocation was fairly standardised towns like Sion could boast a fine array of different buses in Post Office Yellow. Although the PTT had some of these too, even the ubiquitous Saurer RH's carried a different style of bodywork to the State owned fleet. Also owned by local Contractors the Mercedes Benz and Setra coaches at either side illustrate the most numerous marques as outside urban areas bought off- the-peg coaches seemed to be preferred to expensive high-specification Swiss buses.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
As usual it seemed to take a lot longer in Scotland to see change and when I visited Glasgow for a photographic afternoon in 1997 the only major group vehicles in the sort of Corporate livery we have now become accustomed to was recent deliveries to Western Scottish in those notorious Stagecoach-Stripes. About to enter Buchanan Bus Station was this Alexander TE bodied Leyland Tiger carrying Network branding but which had been delivered to Central Scottish as LT 57 in 1985. Luckily the dark rain clouds didn't bring the impending rain that day.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
A busy 1990's scene with buses and tourists at Trafalgar Square in London but don't eat the hot dogs if you don't want to be ill. Of course they're not all bad but I once had a serious bout of food poisoning in my teens and there might still be a few unscrupulous unlicensed operators who sell out of date stock and who store their hot dog stands in filthy back yards where they get covered in very unhealthy pigeon droppings. To be frank, I'd rather go to a certain big American owned burger chain that might sue me if I criticise their products than do that.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Once Stoke on Trent was rich in independent bus operators but all the once familiar old names have disappeared apart from F.Proctor. Sadly like others of it's breed this Duple bodies AEC Reliance caught resting at Hilton Park Services is but another memory.
Friday, 11 May 2007
In the Seventies for some high-minded reason Switzerland decided to paint all it's town buses in this rather uninspiring brick-red orange colour with a white band which was not too unlike our awful poppy red Nation Bus Company garb.By the end of the Eighties tradition and civic pride had returned and most of the buses were to be found in either their traditional individual colours again or in a completely new livery such as at St. Gallen . However as in other towns like Baden and Olten, Lausanne decided to stick with that red instead of returning to it's former blue based colour-scheme. But as can be seen from the older trolleybus behind FBW No.717 a white top was added and the overall effect was quite attractive.
By the Early Eighties my old Voitlander camera was showing it's age and leaving scratch marks on the negatives and in this shot I didn't hold the camera straight but it still catches the hustle and bustle of people enjoying themselves during a fine Summer week-end in Blackpool. The rear-engined AEC Swift was not a big success but like St.Helens and Great Yarmouth, Blackpool seemed to take a shine to them.
When one visited special far off places little things like a downpour didn't usually put me off taking bus photographs so long as there was sufficient natural light. Standing under cover in Colchester Bus Station to keep the lense dry I somehow managed to capture a fairly reasonable view of a former Nottingham Northern Counties bodied Daimler Fleetline belonging to Norfolk's of Nayland. I have a feeling I stopped off in the town on my way to Harwich and then on to Denmark in 1979.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Situated on the border of Poland and close to the Czech Republic the quiet town of Gorlitz is a real gem with it's clean streets and high rate of rejuvenation. Even the typical East European trams look good including No.301 seen in the sunshine just a week ago.
Monday, 7 May 2007
During 1993 instead of going down the M1 I took to the old roads so that I could visit the towns on the way down to London with my camera. Apart from with my work the last time I visited Bedford I left it on one of Birch's Marshall bodied Leyland Leopards heading for kings Cross early in 1969 so things had certainly changed. But it was worth a visit for as well as a number of Routemasters United Counties was also operating this Hong Kong specification jumbo-sized three-axle Alexander bodied Leyland Olympian on route to Flitwick. With a head office Scottish registration F110 NES I wouldn't be too surprised had someone there nicknamed this striped monster Nessie.
What a beautiful smart looking old Volvo coach with white painted tyre-walls belonging to the local Copenhagen firm Edelskov and it was obviously a good age when photographed outside Tivoli Gardens in 1982 as witnessed by the traditional black number-plate which was getting quite rare by then.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Terrible isn't it whether it be Cosford Air Show or Alton Towers, what was on the coach park for me was of far more interest than the historic aircraft or thrilling rides. It was always nice to see something unusual though like one of Chesterfield's Leyland National2 buses
Sadly in recent times many of my favourite Independent Operators have disappeared including the coaching side of Bassett of Tittensor. Although most of the stock was secondhand it was always smart and well maintained. The favourite source for quality vehicles was Robinson of Great Harwood which meant a large fleet of Plaxton Bodies Bristol LH's entered the fleet like this example on service to Eccleshall at the Market Square in Stafford.
Friday, 4 May 2007
As you can see I have returned from my holiday in Berlin where I thought it might be a nice idea to take a new overhead view of Steglitz. Today as in London and other major U.K.cities there are far fewer double-deckers than there used to be and even this Mercedes Citaro single-decker is working the M48 (formerly 48) which was once exclusively a double-deck route passing through the equally busy but poorer Neukoln District.