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, 29 September 2007
Well it's not quite as bad as that but in the Sixties when I was in my teens Plymouth was awash with Deckers especially as the Corporation ran nothing apart from MCW-bodied Leyland Atlanteans and PD2's. Today it is quite a different story as during the school holidays one sees only their moden single-deckers. First Group still have a few including some sponsored impressive new buses on the Park-and-Ride but the other double-deckers seem to be all cast-offs from the more competitive and potentially profitable conurbations like Glasgow and Manchester. Even this Alexander-bodied Volvo Olympian is getting a bit old for the long journey to Bude, although I suspect not many passengers will travel that far. I remember one First driver quipped that Western National got all the old bangers as they could keep moving them westwards into Cornwall ready for the day when they got pushed off the cliffs at Lands End.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
In my youth we seemed to know the registration number of those manufacturer's demonstration buses off by heart and I can still remember many of them like 7000 HP, 8071 ML and 4559 VC. Even if we never got around to seeing them there were those pictures in Buses Illustrated of the latest buses looking strangely out of place in a local town carrying familiar blinds but in a different livery and their new shape looking slightly surreal. Afterwards excited enthusiasts awaited news of impending orders with baited breath or even dread. But by the time I took this view of G21 HHG in Southampton whilst it was on loan to Solent Blue this early style of Leyland Olympian was decidedly staid and rather old-hat and nobody would have taken much notice. Demerged from it's truck division Leyland Bus was now a small player and as a force in the industry was in terminal decline as not only had the builder's Eastern Coach Works premises had to be closed at Lowestoft to keep Workington going, Leyland's engine manufacture had now ceased too and these buses were fitted with Cummins engines. Solent Blue did go on to order some of these buses but fortunately not enough to seriously dent the operator's quota of old Bristol VR's.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Despite this fine Ramsier and Jenzer bodied Saurer RH looking as good as new when I photographed it in January 2000 on my last visit to Switzerland, not too long afterwards I was to read that it was to be withdrawn with some ceremony for the PAH owned Post Bus had been the very last Saurer bus in service in the whole Canton of Luzern.
In 1976 the National Bus Company started it's MAP (Market Analysis Project) survey to cut out some of the dead wood in the industry which because of the motorcar had been in decline for many years. Fortunately unlike the rather shortsighted hatchet job called the The Beeching Report on the railways at least the roads were not ripped up and lost for ever when today cheap clean light-rail might have solved many of our transport problems. MAP was something of a disaster for both the remaining conductors and bus enthusiasts as much of the interesting older stock was cleared out including those gorgeous half-cab buses. At Bideford redundant buses stood in a long line two-deep and as well as a cluster of former Cornish Busways Bristol FLF's could be seen an Atlantean which was once DH536 with Maidstone and District.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
Brighton raised a few eyebrows when it started it's driver only operation in 1968 employing it biggest buses half-cab Leyland PD3 double-deckers. But the next delivery of Leyland OPO buses were more suitable in the shape of Marshall and Stratchens bodied dual-entrance Panthers . After taking eight of these buses the Corporation returned to the double-decker and quickly built up a large fleet of Atlanteans.
Yverdon is famous for it's two electric Oerlikon Gyrobuses of the Fifties which ran on stored energy but I'm afraid this modern vehicle is not of so much interest apart from that it is a Volvo whereas TPYG had for some been buying Setras.
Friday, 21 September 2007
One of the delights of Switzerland is it's many small railway stations which seem to be at the centre of the community usually with a cafe and hotel nearby. I was going to say unspoilt but like everywhere else times change and the public expects better facilities and at Sursee they have provided a concrete canopy to protect bus passengers from the elements. One wonders how much protection it would give in a snow blizzard but at least it would be effective against the odd shower or something they seem to get a lot of in Switzerland sunshine. Many of the PTT Regie garages are well off the tourist trail and when an Englishman went to seek out the six buses at the depot in Triengen it caused quite a bit of excitement amongst the drivers and on my return the driver back to Sursee was already expecting me to be waiting at the bus stop. Being a sub-depot of Aarau it housed it housed Saurer RH's, and more interestingly the longer three-door variant, but interlopers soon started to appear like this tranferred Mercedes O405 working one of the garage's two routes to Schoftland.
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Midland Red North in the Nineties then owned by Drawline did away with local garage based liveries but vehicles still went on to carry the local identity like No.92 a Wellington based Ford Transit minibus carrying Tellus wording as it worked a Bridgnorth Town Service once the preserve of something more appetising like a BMMO S8 or S13. So at the time another boring old minibus was not of great interest but I thought not only of those old Midland Reds, but the composition and old-world charm made it just worth a picture. And now that era of our buses has become history too I'm so glad I did because a shot like this says a lot more about that pleasant day.
Monday, 17 September 2007
........The MCW Metrobus perhaps.Not only was it built in Birmingham at Washwood Heath close to Spaghetti Junction another local landmark but the Second-City's most long lived bus reminds me a lot of the Routemaster but in real terms this Brummi survivor was built at a fraction of the cost. This Mark1 example was seen dropping people off outside Saint Chads Church next to the old open-air Bull Ring Market in West Midland's PTA days. The horrible old concrete Bull Ring has gone and been replaced but Travel West Midlands as it is now know still operates many later Mark2 Metrobuses and most are now over twenty-years-old. Of course by then an RM was just about run-in, but you have to admit most of these old production-line marvels are doing pretty well now enjoying their third decade. Now the older Olympians, the Titan and the Bristol VR have all gone we have to rely on these buses for that traditional bit of British street sound, the low pitched Gardner-engine-drone.
I love taking pictures of buses and coaches with lots of people about, it makes them come to life and a lot more interesting. One of my favourite places was Victoria Coach Station with it's constant hustle and bustle. But as time went on more of it got enclosed but there was still and open section by the bottom exit which caught the afternoon sun just right. Here during the Eighties were the National Express departures for Birmingham and helping out was a Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard which formerly ran for National Travel London but was now looking very smart in the colours of Yardley and branded by them 'Executive'. Personally I was far more impressed by the black painted Leyland polished wheel-trims and all that seemed to be missing was a 'Leopard' badge.
In the good old days of my childhood a town's buses were seen to be an important utility and like everything else owned by the Council a part of it's unique identity, heritage and of great Civic-Pride. No bricked-up toilets and vandalised parks in those days.With his engineering qualifications and sometimes large budget the General Manager of a bus company was an important individual who could tailor the fleet to his exact requirements. The biggest operators like Birmingham City Transport often ordered buses in the hundreds and even though he had to order a basic design there seemed no end of possibilities towards changing the specification or showing the way ahead with modifications and extras. Of course to make their mark some managers satisfied themselves with just smaller detail changes to suit their tastes like altering the destination screen layout or graphics and livery but Birmingham, Britain's Second City, with it's fair share of slums and dirty industry ordered buses that had a half-timbered feel and looked a bit like a country cottage on wheels complete with a beautiful traditional dark and cosy interior fitting of a city that was still known as the Workshop-of-World. Indeed all that seemed missing was the upright-piano and roses around the door. Likewise in those days mechanical things were a part of a man's world and of course for little boys and buses looked all the better for it. Elegant and beautifully proportioned No.I621 a Coventry built 1947 chrome-fronted Daimler CVG6 carries an MCW body built in the city at Washwood Heath. Many years later right up to the end of the Eighties Birmingham buses in the shape of the Metrobus would still be built by MCW and powered by Gardner as in a sense everyone who had safely come through The War believed it would. Today all that is forgotten and cast aside as my memories of Yesterday has become rather unbelievable rather like the story line to some Ealing Comedy. The trouble is it all seems rather like yesterday and I half expect to still find a BMMO D9 heading for Wolverhampton and Birmingham on the 196. Now that's another local big bus company I had almost forgotten about.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Off the tourist beaten track and somewhere few of you will have heard of I expect is the interesting historic Swiss town of Solothun complete with a nice stone castle. The town might also have it's own Patron Saint called Ursus whose portrait painted by Holbein in 1522 hangs in the local art gallery, but even this Sacred Virgin was unable to stop the foreign invasion as like elsewhere in Switzerland vehicles like this Mercedes 0405GL were taking to the streets. By 1990 when this view was taken the sole remaining Swiss chassis builder NAW was Mercedes owned and building Mercedes buses to Swiss specifications, but in a small country with little to export themselves the other complete Mercedes buses like this coming from Germany must have hit the local bodybuilders like Hess and Ramsier hard.
Saturday, 15 September 2007
This Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard from the final delivery was one of many supplied to Barton between 1971 and 1982 who standardised on them alongside lighter Bedfords. But like many others of the breed after it was withdrawn it found new employment with another Independant called Norfolk Green and was seen between duties in Kings Lynn in 2002.
As at Manchester just down the road Deregulation brought intense competition on Merseyside and there was enough business for the newcomers like Liverline to build up decent sized fleets of newish buses including double-deckers. Indeed in Liverpool the new operators buses at times seemed to outnumber the former PTA operator Merseybus vehicles. By the time this photo was taken even though Liverbus retained a separate identity it had been become part of what had once been the local Ribble operation now named North Western. In the end though Merseybus joined Liverline and North Western as part of Arriva.
Friday, 14 September 2007
East Germany might have been a Police State but when taking bus photography inside East Berlin I never felt like a criminal or suffered any abuse which is more than be said for our lovely U.K. In this view of the bus terminus at S-Bahn Pankow there were plenty of large Ikarus articulated buses to be seen but as usual not a lot of people going anywhere.
Thursday, 13 September 2007
As two Ribble ECW bodied Leyland Olmypians simultaneously pull from the bus stands at Bolton Moor Lane Bus Station a couple of schoolgirls come running making this rather more interesting than the average bus picture. Whether the driver let them on to the bus to Chorley is another matter as I don't remember. But I expect so as The North was much more friendly than say The Home Counties and especially so in those more unhurried times.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
The Drawline Group had a large number of redundant former Green Line Coaches and a dire shortage of business at East Lancs Coachbuilders which it also owned so it was decided to create some new service buses for Midland Red North with attractive bodywork styled by Ray Stenning. In 1998 No.1737 an Oswestry bus was seen at Shrewsbury Garage and once bore ECW bodywork with the registration WPH 124Y.
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
In 1996 although there were some all-red Ikarus Articulated Buses as well, most of the buses which serving the areas of Prague not covered by the intensive tram network were built by Czech manufacturer Karosa. Like other members of the fleet this yellow painted prototype for a new generation of these buses carried on it's front it's garage in this instance Hostivar. I think I was told that the manufacturer was now part of Renault and this bus does have a distinct French air about it.
Monday, 10 September 2007
Arriva acquired a number of interesting vehicles from it's many acquisitions including this Plaxton Derwent bodied Leyland Tiger with a nice cherished number-plate. I believe this bus was formerly E829 AWA which came with Liverline. The new open-air Common Road Garage was too small to accommodate the whole local Stafford fleet and some country turns were entrusted to Cannock Garage including this departure on the 432 to Knightley which would have also coincidentally enjoyed Happy Days Scania buses with the same bodywork before they sold this route. Apart from some grey and white Cummins powered trainers this was the last Arriva Tiger to be seen in the area and lasted till about 2004 and what was even better it had a sweet sounding Leyland Engine making the proper sounds.
Sunday, 9 September 2007
Introduced in the Sixties the first generation of rear-engined single-deckers were problematic but with the exception of the Daimler Roadliner which quickly lost all suitors both the Leyland Panther and AEC Swift had a few loyal friends who knew how to get the best out of it. In North West England as well as Blackpool, St.Helens took a decent number with dual-entrance Marshall bodywork including No.219 of the first batch which was seen immediately after a shower parked on the cobbles outside the garage in Shaw Street when the bus was still new in 1968.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Basle is a bit of a mecca for trams and in the city centre one sees far more of them than buses. Personally I prefer the older more rounded version but I have to admit a not very old No.676 looked most impressive as it hummed past me in the Winter Sunshine early in the Nineties.
All-over advertisements on buses have been a common sight on the BVG buses in Berlin for a long time and one of the most familiar must be the one for the Cosy Wasch car-wash chain as seen on No.2891 a 1976 MAN-Bussing preparing to leave The Zoo on one of the longer routes inside the old West Berlin to Britz where there is a garage. Proper Bussings were being delivered until 1974 and one of these buses carries an all-over advert too.
Thursday, 6 September 2007
I don't go to many bus rallies but I was offered a ride to the Superbus Event held near Cambridge on Arriva's Volvo so called bus-of-the-future when it was here at Stafford. This particular gathering seems to be synonymous with terrible weather and although it was quite shower there was still plenty of warm sunny moments to photograph fine buses like this London Transport Leyland RTL bus.
In the afternoon I do a school-run in my minibus which is a fifty-mile round trip and going each way I meet this Green Bus of Great Wyrley Mercedes Minibus in the narrow country lane between Coven and Brewood.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Middleton of Rugeley bought one of the five rare short Massey-Bodied Leyland Leopards that entered service with Exeter City Transport in 1966 and painted this one bus in new green colours as Rugeley Bus Company. At the end of the Seventies Middletons built up and interesting fleet of second-hand Leyland and AEC buses and coaches.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Monday, 3 September 2007
Serious bus crashes in the U.K are infrequent but always make the news headlines so they stick in the public conscience. Unfortunately today National Express suffered it's second similar coach overturning incident when rounding a corner to rejoin the motorway the vehicle with over thirty passengers hit a curb and toppled over. But this time it was not even a double-deck Neoplan but one of the smart flagship Scania Irizars. As for my photo the coach involved would have stopped here at Birmingham Airport less than two hours earlier on it's way working the former Flightline Service, now just 777 which links the Airports of Birmingham, Luton and Stanstead. When I used the service three years ago there was no comfort stop at Newport Pagnell Services where the accident happened which was a pity as I was dying to use the loo and didn't fancy it in the bumpy rear compartment of an otherwise quite civilised Birmingham Coachways DAF. However being cynical it might have been a good thing, but as for the cause of today's accident I heard the coach driver has been arrested for drinking. You might remember but in the early days of National Express one of the former Standerwick Bristol VRL ECW coaches also was involved in a serious accident near here on the M1 when it toppled over on to the crash-barrier of the central reservation. That horrific accident alone did much to kill off double-deck coaches on National Express work and even today they are not a major contributor. As for the Neoplans of today they were taken off the road but were subsequently given a clean bill of health and that first accident last February put down once more to driver error. Of course it is still early days to point a finger and no doubt it is usually the poor old driver who gets the first salvo of accusations. No doubt we will probably have to wait five-years to hear the results of the official findings costing thousands of pounds which in the end will confirm what we learn during the next couple of days. That is how things are done in this country which is fine, the trouble is no-one ever takes any action following these mamoth reports and everyone forgets about it till it happens again.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
When I was at Aiglon College in Switzerland during the Mid-Sixties my friends and Myself were always getting in trouble including on the day when we were spotted in Montreux when we should have been going up a boring old mountain on one of our twice a term character building Expeditions. But for me at least it was worth it for in our part of Switzerland overlooking the Rhone Valley in Vaud, yellow Regie PTT Swiss Post Buses were few and far between so I was more than pleased to see these two FBW Alpenwagens which had come all the way from St.Moritz I expect working the Europabus. Unfortunately they had put the luggage trailers in the way so I could not photograph them from the front but I believe the first bus was P24058. Generally though it seemed the Saurers had a larger window in the rear door than the FBW's so this bus was quite unusual. As you can see P24087 a later bus at the end of the series had a more modern and angular body but as is nearly always the case it's impossible to improve on a true Classic.
Saturday, 1 September 2007
Leyland National Series1 production lasted about eight years, but even though it almost had as long a production run the replacement Series2 soon started to appear in much smaller numbers because impending Deregulation was hitting bus orders and instead operators were busy cutting corners by buying the much cheaper minibus. Also Leyland had a new chassis with more power to replace the Leopard called the Tiger and NBC fleets were allowed to try it. So even though most NBC Tiger orders were for coaches a few operators took buses including East Midland who quite surprisingly had nine of them bodied by Alexander with the very square looking P type body normally found on Scottish Buses. No.625 was photographed when still quite new and I always liked these buses, and yes even later too after they received those Stagecoach Stripes. As you can see I also have a young admirer in this Sheffield view taken in 1984.
Considering motorway service areas are such boring places one can still get some really good photos and I often used to stop there. This interesting view was taken at Keele Southbound in the Eighties and shows a Royal Tiger B54 coach belonging to National Travel South, one of a batch of seven in the former Timpson's of Catford fleet. As one might expect from a London operator traditionally they had been a local AEC customer till it's demise but in more recent times purchases had included Coaches, and of course manyDAF's, a large number of BovaLeylands. It looks as if the NCB lorry is waiting to get it's tyre changed