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
Friday, 30 November 2007
Midland Red West operated a large fleet of not very exciting Mercedes 608 minibuses on Worcester Local Services under the name Citibus but on a miserable wet day anything is welcome when it arrives. When I used to travel about more extensively in my van if there was somewhere convenient to pull up I would jump out and take individual bus pictures sometimes waiting by the bus stop not knowing what sort of bus it might be. I don't think I actually went into Worcester itself very often and this prompted me to make sure I didn't leave without a memento despite the awful weather and it is certainly an atmospheric picture of Robin Hood bodied No.1353 one of this huge batch of 105 vehicles delivered in the mid-Eighties when these minibuses were all the rage.
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
In 1996 at Stockport there were not many reminders of the once great North Western Road Car Company which had it's headquarters and largest depot in the town but at least the smart red painted Optare was heading home to Buxton where Trent still worked out of the former North Western depot. The other buses were working for the Southern Division of the Greater Manchester PTA but had yet to receive the infamous 'back of a matchbox' designed stripes of it's new owner Stagecoach of Perth
In the Seventies Wallace Arnold of Leeds adopted a much more modern livery based on light grey with brown relief but together with the orange wheels and WA logo the effect was not at all drab and most attractive. If I remember rightly they retained the traditional yellow and orange based colours for the Devon Fleet based in Torquay but somewhat surprisingly after a few years once more painted the whole fleet back in these old colours complete with the traditional roundel that had been dropped and this staid image lasting till the concern was merged recently with Shearings. In styling when the Plaxton Panorama Elite came out at the end of the Sixties it was in looks years ahead of anything else on the road. Sadly PNW 314W was one of Wallace Arnold's very last Leyland's because about one year later having placed a large order for about 25 Tigers the Leyland workforce went out on strike and this once valued friend told them what they thought about it by transferring their allegiance to Volvo of Sweden. I'm sure this decision was not taken lightly as Wallace Arnold was the sort of operator who would have always preferred to buy British and fly the flag as we were all being encouraged to do at that time.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
I don't know about you but I have always had favourite individual buses maybe they reminded me of a girlfriend, or perhaps I saw them on delivery or they simply stood out in some way. But the differences could be quite small and cosmetic like the sound or them if they were Leyland's retaining all their polished hug-caps and manufacturers badges. I photographed Warrington 41 a number of times because unlike it's East-Lancs Leyland PD2/40 sisters which received a later livery with greater areas of white this vehicle somehow still kept it's traditional Warrington red and white colours with that crisp black lining out when I was photographing it in 1980. BED 722C was special anyway as it had a tall look because Warrington ordered this batch of ten buses for delivery in 1965 with narrow 7 ft 6 in bodies.
Monday, 26 November 2007
The Seventies in theory was a great time for those bus operators who were not swallowed up by the National Bus Company or the PTE's surrounding our large cities for not only was there a British Government that wanted to modernise public transport they were willing to throw money at it via the bus grant system. The trouble was a highly individualistic and confident industry became little more than a branch of some indifferent Whitehall Department and even though there was money to buy buses they were not always the one's the operators wanted. Leicester having operated a small fleet of dual-entrance Leyland Tiger Cub and longer AEC Reliance single-deckers began to extend it's fleet with a decent number of new flat-front ECW bodied Bristol RELL's. But once British Leyland had launched it's new bus the Leyland National even operators beyond the control of the NBC were through lack of choice forced to buy it. Of course there were rebels like Geoffrey Hilditch the General Manager of Leicester who famously told Dennis to go away and built him a Daimler Fleetline with no Leyland parts. In the meantime Leicester City Council was not going to buy those horrible smokey Nationals and turned to the bodybuilder MCW who had teamed up with Scania from Sweden to build both new double and single-deck buses for the British market. Newport like Leicester took to them and for a period as these sophisticated buses were both popular with staff and the public but as time progressed it became obvious that they were expensive to run and not totally reliable.
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Making a top 100 Classic Buses Trams and Trolleybuses wouldn't be easy especially as it's a very personal thing. But looking around Europe and the rest of the world for me one would have to include Porto's impressive Caetano bodied Leyland Atlanteans built at the end of the Sixties as they had so much style. Putting that aside this is an odd photograph for the bus and the bus inspector look very British but I couldn't imagine double-deckers in Manchester or Birmingham stopping at the local Shell Garage in the middle of a service journey making the passengers on board patiently wait till it was finished.
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Duple of Hendon was best known for bodying lightweights like the little Bedford OB but when it took over Burlingham of Blackpool in 1962 whose main business had been bodying heavyweight buses and coaches particularly for the BET Group it established Duple (Northern) to continue the coach business. A few years later in 1966 one of it's two main competitors closed down too, but now Thomas Harrington had gone Duple still had a huge job on it's hands matching up to Plaxton's modern and cheerful Panorama Range. The early Duple Commanders bore a strong resemblance to the lightweight Hendon products but in 1968 Duple really pushed the boat out with the flashy and bold Commander Mark.111 body. It certainly had that head turning wow-factor but I would have liked to have heard the comments of these older Maidstone and District drivers respectfully giving it 'the-once-over' and especially so as this was also that operator's first of many foreign Leyland Leopards too after years of working on homely AEC's Reliances with tastefully restrained Harrington Coachwork. This coach having arrived at Maidstone was so new it still had the company nameplate to be engraved. Unfortunately this was to mark a period of frantic design innovation at Duple and many customers left because new designs seemed to come onto the market almost every year rendering last years styling starting to already look obsolete and old-hat. Of course Duple did produce some winners too and I miss them because they had a certain gritty character, but Plaxton on the other hand slowly let the crisp looking Panorama gently evolve, and launched in 1962 it was still being produced in the same recognizable form till about 1980 when it was replaced by the a new Paramount Range.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Lausanne opened in 1932 was Switzerland's first trolleybus system followed by Winterthur in 1938 and Zurich a year later. When I visited Winterthur in January 1990 the thirty-five strong electric fleet included ten rather stylish looking Saurer/FHS/Stromberg trolleybuses Nos.122-131 dating from 1983.
Ok Motor Services was probably the best known and most loved Independent in North East England. Photographed against the sun at the Headquarters and principal Depot at North Bondgate, Bishop Auckland in about 1980, but definately worth a photograph was EJR 791 an elderly Leyland Royal Tiger that was new to Hunter of Seaton Delaval but which had been rebodied in the mid-Sixties by Plaxton and which was quite unusual at the time. In the background is a former Burnley and Pendle East-Lancs bodied Tiger Cub of 1963.
Monday, 19 November 2007
Maidstone took two deliveries of eight Leyland Atlanteans with Massey bodywork Nos.26-42 in 1965 and 1967 to replace it's small trolleybus system operating between Barming on the Tonbridge Road on the one route which became two in the south of the town with one branch going to Loose and the other Sutton Road. The sixteen new seventy-five seat buses not only replaced twenty-four smaller trolleys, they also introduced a new light blue livery to replace the former warm ginger-brown colours which had suited Maidstone well with it breweries of brown beer and a toffee-factory, all of which created a wealth of interesting smells. Not everyone liked the Atlanteans though as they were heavy on the steering and not the most elegant products to leave the Massey Brothers works in Wigan, but they were certainly well put together and relatively free from the usual rattles. I for one mourn the passing of these traditional Municipal Operators like Maidstone for not only did the buses carry neat proper sign-written advertisements for small businesses in the Borough, even after the frequencies were reduced because of the extra seats provided, one still only had to wait three or if you were unlucky four minutes for a bus up towards Barming during normal hours. You couldn't grumble at that could you!
Saturday, 17 November 2007
I wouldn't call myself a film buff but I really enjoy movies both shot on location and in cities that interest me for not only do I look for places I know hopefully I will catch glimpses of times gone by when it comes to transport, and maybe even catch sight of an old once numerous favourite type. Clint Eastwood made literally a cliff-hanger of a film about secret agents with an interloper in the group trying to kill them one by one as they ascend the Eiger as they do. Yes more boring Hollywood stuff but the opening scenes were a bit more interesting as they were shot in lovely Zurich, but I would have thought the budget might have been stretched a fraction to get in one of Zurich's fine blue and white trams as the usual practice normally dictates. Here is the spot which I went looking for having seen it on film but the moody little narrow passage Clint came down to meet his seedy unhealthy looking contact on The Limmat Quay had vanished. Once Clint has paid him and walked off the man lights the stub of an old cigar and a few moments later gets murdered in the back with deep penetrating bone crunching Stiletto Blade. Someone must either have followed Clint down to the Limmat Quay or this Switzerland is a dangerous place even in daytime. Sadly as you can see from the photo the passage no longer reaches the main thoroughfare as a shoe shop called of all things Buffalo now barred the way. So much for the wide-open-spaces America's Finest love but if I can divert your eyes from the wonderful display in the Beate Uhuse sex shop window for a moment I would like to make another observation. I can't really understand the film-maker's fascination for shooting exciting dramas in Switzerland as in reality very little ever seems to happen here compared to say Detroit or Birmingham and even the most stupid of criminals can think of better places to rob a bank. No all I ever saw were quiet polite harmless old people when waiting to board the almost silent No.15 tram. I guess American film makers see filming in old Europe as some kind of token holiday whilst the Swiss see all this cloak and dagger stuff as being good for tourism.
I get a lot of web searches for the Birmingham firm called Gliderways and obviously many of you still remember those fine classic Leyland Coaches of this seventeen vehicle concern carrying everyone's favourite Harrington Bodywork and sometimes even complete with that period dorsal-fin which made them such a nostalgia Classic Coach . Another nice thing about them is they were based just in Staffordshire at Bearwood just outside Brum Proper and like the Midlands Electricity Board vans they carried those almost exclusive Midland Red Smethwick HA registration letters.After Harrington's closed it's Hove factory this operator turned to Plaxton who bodied this Leopard in 1966. Sadly even though it might look like a Gliderways coach this photo taken at St Georges Drive in London was actually captured one week after operations ceased in the Autumn of 1969. We should have spotted trouble looming earlier because of all things and I say it quietly, they were even buying those horrible Dinky-Toy Bedford's towards the end. At the time I was living slightly further down this road and as you can imagine being a budding artist as well as the Tate Gallery which was within easy walking distance the very close Victoria Coach Station at the bottom of the street was one of my regular haunts especially at busy week-ends.
With all due respects to John Mac-Enroe things have changed rather a lot in the last decade or so in Switzerland. Once this was the most conservative of countries with sensible old-fashioned laws and regulations about almost everything including bus-use and specification and that mentality still remains, but Switzerland itself has changed a great deal too and even the old alpine roads with those sticking out jagged rocks on one side and a sheer drop on the other with their very tight passing places and scary hairpin-bends have been replaced by wide fast highways and long straight tunnels that cut through the mountains like a knife and the only time you glimpse the romance of the old days is when the bus turns off to call in at some cluster of crumbling barns and old houses clinging to an oversized whitewashed church and of course a bus stop a Co-op Shop and a lottery ticket machine. But now you don't see many of those still charming Romansh speaking so-called villages any more and the only danger seems to be when the not too professional driver uses his mobile-phone whilst driving. But of course there has always been a more modern side to the bus services in Switzerland and I well remember the swish-looking articulated buses running in Geneva when I first visited it in 1963. Also since the bus services were Deregulated and Post Buses too lost their legal state protection and special status not only can communities look elsewhere for public transport the Post Office itself can now tender for new better business competing on busy urban routes in new areas and has even opening up new frontiers abroad as has happened in nearby France across the Jura. So we shouldn't be too surprised when on our travels we encounter double-deck coaches up in the mountains and endless beasts like this three-axle Setra S319 UL delivered in 1997 such as this one P27812 seen in 2000 at the then new garage at Delemont. Maybe I should I have looked but I expect there was a hook on the back for the trailer.
Friday, 16 November 2007
The bus scene in Denmark when I went there during the Eighties seemed to be a fairly equal split between the two dominant combinations of Aabenraa-Volvo and DAB-Leyland and examples of each could be seen here at the busy bus terminus beside the Station in Roskilde which marked the southern boundary of HT's operations. The Greater Copenhagen HT network was split into three zones and the outer one Area 3 was served largely by this type of Volvo vehicle, and later batches of this bus which it chose for it's country routes were also delivered to the central areas too.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
I like getting people in my pictures and women give them an even broader appeal. Also of course the buses themselves are not always so interesting at the time and many of my best pictures were created as these kinds of little accidents. London of course is great for photography but even in Summer one has to worry about the growing shadows from tall buildings. On this occasion despite the approaching rush-hour I managed to find plenty of sunshine to capture one of Cricklewood's (W) Metrobuses T142.
Monday, 12 November 2007
In the days before National Express started to stop much more occasionally at Stafford Station both North Western and Standerwick coaches were a familiar sight at the town's more central Pitcher Bank on their way between London and the North West in the previous long-distance network called Associated Motorways. As well there were regular services to the South West operated by the Independent Yelloways of Rochdale.
For many years despite it's decent sized allocation of approaching fifty vehicles the Midland Red garage at Nuneaton operated no double-deckers apart from one AEC 'Regent' Mk.11 AD2 till in 1960 new premises were opened in Newtown Road to replace Coton Road. As well as being larger the new garage was more suitable for double-deckers and 3117 was soon replaced by the first of a few D5Bs. Eventually the fleet of deckers reached eight buses and it included fresh blood in the shape of five new high-capacity D9's of which 5298 and 5299 dating from 1963 were the first.
Visit my Gallery of Midland Red
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Everyone made a huge fuss when the First Group started using Blue Bird School Buses in the U.K. but even though they did it first nobody seemed to notice when Staffordshire County Council introduced them some time before that to save money as some of the local coach operators were taken to court for running a cartel between themselves to maintain good rates. This R-Reg example was from the first of two batches.
Before they were withdrawn by Stagecoach a couple of years ago former Greater Manchester Northern Counties bodied Dennis Dominators could be found working on Princess Road Garage routes like Service 101 to Wythenshaw. GMT 2030 had become 15030 in the Stagecoach Manchester fleet and it was seen approaching the depot in some brilliant August sunshine..
This is the sort of winter scene we usually expect in the Swiss Alps but recent year's have been unpredictable, but as you can see from this view taken in January 1991 at Brig of Saurer RH Post Bus P24293 that abundance of golden white snow was still very much as was expected.
Friday, 9 November 2007
I like Derby it's a lively and friendly place full of students and lively bars. I was never particularly keen on the Derby City Transport colours of bottle-green and cream and even less the later incarnation of blue and grey. Maybe that blue with white would have looked better but that might have made them look more like Tony Knowles smart Municipal buses in Lancaster; not that it would really have mattered as their local routes weren't likely to overlap. But sadly even this operator has now disappeared into history drowned out by the sea of Arriva aquamarine. After buying Daimler buses for many years with the demise of the Fleetline Derby tried trial batches of Leyland Olympians and Dennis Dominators but then turned to Volvo who supplied it with buses like this Citybus albeit with not too common and to my eyes rather unattractive bodies by Marslall of Cambridge.
Double-deckers are always eye-catching especially in these days when in parts of Britain they have become increasingly uncommon. But in most of Mainland Europe they will be quite a novelty and this MAN visiting Copenhagen in 1982 offering wonderful panoramic views whilst working for Kompas of Yugoslavia must have turned a few heads.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
There seemed to be everything else in there from the locality to please the bus enthusiast whether they be the 'very welsh' Longwell Green bodies actually built across the Bristol Channel or the legendary Neath and Cardiff Brown Bombers but Cardiff's majestic trolleybuses didn't enter the busy Bus Station. However they did pass it and even came to rest sometimes across the road whilst the crews enjoyed the canteen facilities. It was still early one Summer Morning in 1969 when I took this view and despite the bright sunlight flooding across this magnificent beast, like the rest of the electric fleet it was very much the fading twilight for this East-Lancs BUT vehicle of 1955 No.280. Indeed the system had started to be cut back as early as 1962 when Route 2 was converted to motor buses and the small single-deck trolleybus fleet had gone by 1964. Next year in 1970 it was the final system to close in Wales.
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
From it's formation in 1974 HT, The Greater Copenhagen equivalent to one of our PTA's ran mostly DAB bodied Leyland-DABs or Aabenraa bodied Volvo's, but in 1979-80 it took it's first forty Scania BR 112 buses with much more upright looking DAB bodywork which were followed by another ninety-five similar buses by the end of 1984.
Monday, 5 November 2007
A jazzy unsympathetic livery did little to improve the looks of Lincoln's East-Lancs bodied Bristol VR's of which there were twenty-one in total. I always found the similar East-Lancs bodywork on the Leyland Atlantean most attractive so it must be the odd looking radiator-grill that gives this bus it's cut-and-fold cardboard model look. There were also ten of the more usual ECW bodied variety and one of these can be seen as part of this busy lunchtime street scene taken during the Eighties..
Not surprisingly few BMMO buses were sold for further bus use but strangely enough seven Midland Red D9's found themselves hard at work on the London Sightseeing Tour in the Seventies as open-toppers. Along with 4902 this bus No.4903 was the first of their type to enter service at Redditch in 1960 and was seen after it entered service with the Obsolete Fleet making it's way through Chelsea.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
In Summer 1992 two Eighties double-deckers belonging to both of Bournemouth's principal operators can be seen at The Square. The Wilts and Dorset East-Lancs bodied Leyland Olympian was new to Plymouth but came with it's two sisters having worked for Stevenson's of Spath in the meantime. Bournemouth's buses were traditionally yellow and the Alexander R-Series Volvo Citybus looked very much at home here.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
I'm pleased to see the very Lancashire town of Leigh has it's own blog and that they have also been enjoying my pictures, the same thing happened where a similar local interest blog from Lewisham in South London. I so enjoy posting images when there are people who are interested in them. I have another image of Leigh to hand showing one of Jim Stones immaculately turned out Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Darts in the sunshine of 2003 complete with the bus spotters ideal first number.
Tucked away in a snowy corner of Switzerland with the high mountains of both Austria and Italy seemingly only an avalanche away hardly surprisingly the winter ski resort of Scoul at the end of the Rhaetian Narrow-Gauge Railway enjoys some exotic bus visitors in the shape of the Austrian Railways. Very attractive this yellow and red Steryr looked too bound for Nauders up the valley and just over the Austrian Border as it waited at the local station above Scoul at Tarasp.
Friday, 2 November 2007
One of the pleasures of driving abroad is getting lost and going the wrong way down one way streets. Fortunately as these two Swiss motorcyclists from Basel discovered there is usually a policeman nearby to put you back on the straight and narrow.