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
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Pictured in Cheadle this October was former Ribble Leyland PD2/3 East Lancs 49 Seat 'White Lady'. In 1960 it was one of seven of this batch based at the small Manchester Garage before being sold to Premier Travel .
Not surprisingly even though they bring back fond memories some of the buses we used to love don't always quite come up to scratch by modern standards because they were perhaps so slow, noisy and cold. Still they all can still charm us on the right day and only the most churlish would also throw in the comment that they were never this well loved being so clean and smart looking in preservation. Well nobody can say that about these two vehicles from very special operators of the Manchester to Burnley X43 Service. Southdown might have been the most prized BET Operator in the genteel South but here in Lancashire Ribble was king and the two not only had rather special coach fleets they also ran full-fronted double-deckers based on the Leyland PD-Chassis. Ribble's first lowbridge White-Lady coaches were in fact the less powerful O600 PD1 and I was surprised how when carrying it's well-appointed East Lancs body it still romped up the Staffordshire Hills with little difficulty on this year's Potteries Bus Running Day. By contrast the Burnley and Pendle Wright bodied Volvo looks more like something out of BBC Television's Torchwood than a mere bus and I'm sure not even Southdown or Ribble would manage to keep these buses looking quite so immaculate.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
An interesting and busy scene looking down from the multi-storey car park that overlooks the old Shrewsbury Bus Station in Barker Street. At the end of the Eighties Midland Red North had passed to Drawline and even though National Express seemed the same, Independent and even Municipal Operators were quickly taking over these Express Services from former NBC member companies. Consequently odd looking vehicles started to appear like this Ikarus bodied Volvo being followed out of the bus station by a more typical Plaxton 3500 bodied Leyland Tiger.
One thing hadn't altered and that was the separate departure stands for the smaller operators separated from the main bus station by the historic half-timbered museum, and here as well as a Worthen's Leyland Leopard was a little Bedford so some things never seemed to change at least.
Monday, 29 October 2007
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Dating from about 1954 Kitts Green was opened to serve the rapidly expanding housing estates around Castle Bromwich. This was the newest garage of Birningham City Transport and I believe it is one of the few that is still operational today. I only visited it once but the staff were very welcoming and I tried to take some photographs inside the fairly dark building. In the Mid-Eighties the Leyland Lynx had yet to appear but the Ford Transit bread-van was in evildence. As well as No.552 local enthusiasts might be interested to know that Metrobuses 2100/486/582 and Fleetline 6596 make up the scene.
Friday, 26 October 2007
If you stand outside the railway station in the Swiss town of Biel there seem to be a lot more trolleybuses than motorbuses but a fleet total 22 isn't really a large number is it. But No.1 taken in 1993 was an FBW motorbus whilst the electic powered obus as they are called in German dates from 1989 and carried locally built R & J bodywork.
Once the operator's routes in Birmingham and the Black Country had passed to the PTE there was not so much need for Midland Red to employ double-deckers apart from at Leicester where the company shared the urban network of services with Leicester City Transport. Midland Red had standardised on rear-engined Alexander-Bodied Daimler Fleetline double-deckers but under NBC ownership even Leicester was starved of new deliveries after 1971 and there were no second-hand examples either. But maybe had it continued under the former BET ownership later Alexander/Feleetline buses might have still looked something like this later 1978 bus that came from the South Yorkshire PTE following re-privitisation.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
I haven't had many bad experiences when out taking bus pictures but this was the first time I ever had a problem in the street and this driver even stopped his coach belonging to Smiths Happiway Spencer AEC Reliance Coach to challenge me. Unfortunately he had a complex because of a hair-lip but like most drivers he shouldn't worry too much as glass reflexions and shadows make it difficult to see whose driving anyway. I think I explained this and he drove off but it just proves you can't take anything for granted.
I was lucky when I did deliveries with my van during the Eighties as I quite regularly had to go passed the large open-air bus garage at Green Lane in Liverpool. It doesn't seem that long ago but it was a time when there were still many places nobody ever minded you wandering around and I even remember during the Sixties being allowed to walk around the Edge Lane Works too collecting numbers. Easy-going or just lax nobody seemed to care too much about anything in Liverpool but Health and Safety concerns have even reached the Mersey by now I expect. As I had a darkroom at home I loved taking black and white pictures of buses in the various seasons. I have to admit to doing a bit of Spotting with my camera too and I have almost every example of certain favourite batches. At Green Lane I was particularly after the old stuff but I can never resist a good picture fortunately and here is an Alexander R-Series Metrobus bought for evaluation and a more typical Liverpool bus the Leyland Atlantean. .
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
The major groups tend to move buses around so it's much harder to get attached to them never mind have individual buses as firm favorites. In the Metropolitan areas there is a lot more incentive for these nationwide operators to allocate their newest stock here and especially so when the routes have been tendered out both on price and quality as in London. Even so some dragged their feet but The Stagecoach Group right from the very start has always effected a proper fleet renewal policy and many of these new buses like this 1995 Northern Counties bodied Volvo Olympian would probably find it's way out to to places like Exeter or Grimsby in the Provinces
I'm not saying anything nasty about this old Setra or the Alternative Community that lived in it, but for a time when the most intensively managed strip in the whole of Berlin was bulldozed in the name of freedom it reverted to a kind of war-relic or bomb-zone full of old bedsteads, wild-twisting vines, dandelions, litter and the flotsam of society. But this bus from the early-Fifties predated the Berlin Wall by about tens years and tourists must have ridden on luxurious coaches like this to view the sudden rise of this shocking Political Leviathan which in turn became the forgotten corner where another reminder of Germany's past was eventually put-out-to-grass.
Monday, 22 October 2007
Many things have changed in Berlin since I started going there regularly in the early-Eighties
but there is still a large bus park and canteen behind the Zoo Bahnhof where one can photograph the buses without pedestrians and other traffic getting in the way.
Favourite buses of mine were these high-revving audibly memorable Bussings which on acceleration
sounded rather like a rocket taking off and which were still being delivered up to 1974 before being replaced by the more familiar MAN also to be seen in this shot.. No.2412 from the
1972 delivery was bound for Britz not too far from Neukolin where the bus was bodied at the Wagon-Union
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Even though they did not have the subtle charms of the earlier Burlingham built generation true Ribble fans would not find anything wrong with the looks of these full-fronted MCW bodied Leyland PD3's like No.1789 dating from 1962 but hardly looking it's age.
Friday, 19 October 2007
At the time I used to think the NBC was terribly boring but I don't think this interesting view at the Chaserider garage at Cannock was very typical of most garages with just one Leyland National in sight. But vehicles here include a pair of ECW bodied Daimler Fleetlines ordered by Harper Brothers and two of the five Goppel bodied MAN articulated buses that started life with South Yorkshire PTE. Double-deckers were never phased out here and at Tamworth and four of these Park-Royal bodied former London Transport Daimler DMS buses came to MRN from Western National in 1983 to strengthen the fleet.
The powers that be in Blackpool want to change it's cheap and cheerful kiss-me-quick image for something equally tacky and tasteless but for the Borough something a lot more profitable and glamorous by turning itself into another gambling paradise like Dallas. I have to say that it's hard to understand why the guiding committee should have chosen Thameside or was it Salford for the New Super Casino when Blackpool was the obvious choice and Manchester has enough problems as it is. At one time they used to call Labour The-Nanny-State but they seem more like a Devil's Advocate than the Tories ever were. But like it or not Blackpool does need something dynamic to give it that big kick in the pants. Also of course once you've lost your house, savings and the kid's inheritance too you can always jump off the end of the pier It wouldn't matter much to me anyway what they did as there's very little to go there for now for so many the very traditional British bus related things that drew me there like a magnet have gone including for example the arriving AEC Reliance and Leopard coaches of Yelloway at the Coliseum Bus Station.. Wait a minute, did I read somewhere that Blackpool has old trams?
Thursday, 18 October 2007
An East Kent ECW-bodied Leyland Leopard coach leaves Ramsgate Harbour for London one gloomy Sunday Afternoon in September 1988 or 1989 bound for London Victoria.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
In Summer 1990 an interesting line up of Swiss buses await foot passengers in Chaisso who alight the train or cross over from Italy just yards away. The red town bus was a recent Swiss-Built special Mercedes marketed as a NAW but much older FBW's were still at work here too, and as well as a narrow Mercedes Post Bus marketed as a Vetter by the German Bodybuilder a fine Saurer RH could be witnessed too operating services along narrow roads up the mountainous hillsides where you would expect to find Post Buses..
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Nottingham is famed rather more for the traditional higher percentage of women to men in the City than for it's buses. But for many years with so much variety and quality, right up to the Seventies I'm sure many would vote it the most interesting place in the U.K to view buses and coaches and a Nottingham City Transport Northern-Counties bodied Atlantean acts as a reminder of those wonderful days when even the City's buses were built to their own distinctive design. As I photographed this scene with No.631 waiting to leave for Gelding quite by coincidence one of the women raised her arm echoing the Barbarella Girl.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Bemused looks from some local girls one Saturday Morning in Guildford but as well as taking them I wanted to get a bus in the picture and the historic building in the background too which was once the old Dennis Factory. I wonder whatever happened to Dennis, got swallowed up like the rest of them by Leyland I expect. Of course Alexander Dennis although not really the same company is still very much alive and is now Britain's main flag waver in the bus industry and by the time Leyland Bus had finally been absorbed by Volvo it was not much bigger than some of the smaller manufacturers it took over in the Sixties and Seventies. It's enough to make you want to emigrate.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
When we first became interested in Midland Red Buses by spotting the numbers we got a slightly bigger thrill when we saw the one's with the nice numbers and I can still remember the days when I saw them, C1 3333 at Hereford, 4444 at Sutton and later 4999 and 5000. But it's a good thing they never had a Fruit Machine in the canteen at Stafford Garage for the staff would never have won anything. With a fleet of forty-five buses which were always being swapped around you would have expected a reasonable list of the special looking numbers, but on reflection there was hardly anything at all. I remember we had C1 3337 for a short time and at the end of it's life FEDD Floater No.2345 appeared too. But the best we could do was a second-hand D5 No.3500 that was at our garage for a few years having been new to Kidderminster who also had D7 No. 4500. I'm afraid this isn't one of my very best pictures for like a lot of young teenagers I was given my very first camera for Christmas in 1963 and immediately went out and wasted some precious film. But it does confirm one thing and that was when talking about Midland Red buses one could never boast about how warm they were. Even with heaters you froze and this D5 had no heating and there is even ice on the inside glass upstairs.
Friday, 12 October 2007
It's the year 2000 and the snow is turning to cold rain, there's a traditional looking Swiss bodied Scania but not with an FBW or Saurer likely to be seen it's time to climb back aboard the warm train and head towards the equally sunny delights of Brig or Lausanne.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Even though I don't dislike the current Shearings inky-blue livery which is a lot more distinctive than the old cream colours with some lettering, I was certainly sad to see the demise of those unmistakable Wallace Arnold Volvos when the two big coaching names merged. But I had often admired the Shearings/WA Grand Tourer coaches as they trundled down the M6 going in the opposite direction at weekends for they seem to have a definite WA feel about them. Fortunately I was able to catch a photo of one of them resting at the Bristol, Gordano Services when I was heading away to Devon in August.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
As a youngster and through the Sixties I was 'bus mad' but the changes brought about by the 1968 Transport Act stopped me in my tracks for with the new regime came the death of much of the bus scene as I had known it. The new National Bus Company in particular turned the colours of old bus companies with fine traditions into a kind of unappetising dollup of school food, one version pea-green and the other looking like weak tomato soup. I also hated those grey wheels so I gave up photography for ten years, but two things restored my interest. Firstly I wanted to catch some images of the last of the half-cabs before they were gone and including in 1979 as funny as it may sound now the fast dissappearing London Routemaster!. But the other discovery was much more significant, it was a book by Ray Stenning called 'A National Bus Company Album'. Not only did the book write more about the places and the world the buses worked in it included interesting illustrations from the best bus photographers each with their own distinctive style. My favourite by far was Tom Moore but this now historically interesting shot of Midland Red National 525 heading back towards Stafford Town Centre on the Doxey Road is pure Tony Moyes. Indeed whenever I find a nice spot and wait for the bus that never seems to come I always think he would have been more organised than me. As for the view, even though the old railway bridge in the background over the main West Coast Line with it's sharp bend turning across the main gate of the Universal Grinding Wheel Company is still there, the other bridge the one I was standing on and which once with the other span formed a kind of giant roller coaster took you over the now long time closed Uttoxeter Branch Line. It too is no longer in use and stands beside a new bit of flat road like some stranded ancient monument. What's more significant even the trackside landmark, the once large Henry Venables timber yard has moved and the vast site is now an upmarket housing development big enough to get lost in but boring enough not to notice.
Monday, 8 October 2007
One of the things I most liked about Switzerland when I returned in 1989 was how little had changed since my schooldays there between 1963-65 and particularly the transport scene in Bern the Capital. Indeed loud FBW buses dating back to 1959 were still pounding along the streets and of course many of the trams and trailers were very much older. This FBW articulated bus dates from 1967 but in this view looks somewhat older. I picked my time to return to Switzerland well for not only have all the Saurer and FBW buses and trolleybuses pretty well gone everything in now in new brighter colours. Maybe the younger people like it but I'm sorry I don't think I could face Bern again now that the city trams, trolleys and motor-buses are painted a kind of harsh fluorescent red.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Black and white photography is much more suitable than colour for poor weather conditions like this, just so as long as there is enough available light. Instead of producing dreary pale images one can do something with the views to catch the mood. It really does look miserable in Newcastle on Tyne and only the sight again of old favourites including OK Travel with a Leyland Tiger that lift the spirit enough to wish we were there.
Until 1929 in the days when it operated trams Lancashire United Transport was known as South Lancashire, but with the coming of trolleybuses it acquired it's more familar name. Even though by the early Nineties LUT was long dead another quite different South Lancashire Transport had been born operating in the same LUT St Helens and Leigh areas. Like many other of the little up-starts this operator eventually fell into the hands of the big boys, in this instance North Western part of Arriva. But till then ran buses in an attractive dark blue and yellow livery like this Cummins engined Alexander bodied Leyland Tiger which was new to Timeline.
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Although this view of the bus station in Wolverhampton was taken two years ago it still illustrates the single-deckers one might see there. All these Optare Excels belonging to WMPTE are allocated here and the Arriva former Timeline garage at Shifnal. houses several of the unusual East-Lancs bodied Dennis Falcon bought in the Midland Red North (Drawline) days. One is inclined to say that buses these days look very much the same but in reality as you can see they can be very different, maybe it is those diverse liveries and type variety that is sometimes lacking.
The favourable warm mild climate enjoyed in the Swiss Canton of Ticino attracts a good number of retired people. Until the Mid-Seventies vehicles carried a larger number-plate at the front and this 1990 view of a smart Mercedes taken in Locarno would suggest free from winter salt corrosion this was a good place for buses to live out their dotage too,
Thursday, 4 October 2007
After Privatisation M & D never quite dropped the mostly Leaf green based livery it inherited from the National Bus Company and some vehicles never got a much needed face lift like No.2151 a Duple-bodied Leyland Leopard coach doing what it had been doing most days of it's life picking up commuters at London's busy Victoria.
Leigh is situated half-way between Manchester and Liverpool close to the A580 East Lancs Road and lies at the heart of what was once Lancashire United Territory. At one time before it became a part of Greater Manchester, Leigh had a small fleet of about sixty blue and cream buses which were mostly double-deck. Because of height restrictions at the Holden Road garage all these were of the lowheight or lowbridge variety like this East-Lancs bodied AEC Ronown seen at the Bus Station in it's orange and cream Greater-Manchester PTE days beside a typical attractive Northern Counties bodied Guy Arab belonging to Lancashire United.
Monday, 1 October 2007
Parts of Switzerland are still very traditional in their ways and deeply Conservative like the high undulating area in the East close to the Austrian Border. Pictured in the mountains and waiting for the low cloud to lift was a modern looking Bova Futura Coach belonging to Graf of Buchs which is a small town down in the valley on the border with Litchenstein not too far from where the shot was taken in the pretty little village of Urnasch.
In 1963 North Western took delivery of 35 thirty-six-foot-long AEC Reliances with Willowbrook bodywork and twenty of them were smart dual-purpose machines like No.933 seen at Blackpool with a Burlingham Seagull bodied Tiger Cub parked behind it at the Coliseum Bus Station. Nicknamed a 'Banana-Split' in Summer 1967 this bus had worked a Seaside-Special Express service linking South Manchester, Altrincham and Urmston, starting at Sharston..