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
Monday, 31 December 2007
It's a pity so many of us Brits choose to go abroad for our holidays when our very own Seaside Resorts can offer so much to the visitor including if the weather is kind enjoyable open-top bus rides. One of my favourite of these is Scarborough which has a very interesting Sea-Front that seems to be on constant attack from tempestuous seas.When I took a day trip to the Yorkshire Resort on a calmer day in June 1990 for me the undisputed star on this service had to be Appleby's smart former Southdown Queen Many Leyland PD3 BUF 425C, a bus which enjoyed a busy semi-retirement in the Nineties because it later moved down to balmy Torquay where it performed various duties in Wallace Arnold's yellow colours.
Alongside the Scanias and earlier generations of Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmasters to be found at the TAN Depot at Eilat in 1984 was this elderly American 'International' bus which had been used taking parties on tours out into the Desert. I was followed around by the 'Garage Help' who seemed to find a way to get in every picture.
Sunday, 30 December 2007
Not only were Southport Corportation buses turned out in an extremely smart red and cream livery they made even that hated Metro-Cammell 'Orion' range of bodywork look stunning. Also one knew exactly which Lancashire town they were in too as the lamp posts were decked in the same splendid colours. But I expect it was not only bus enthusiasts who bemoaned the passing of this rather upmarket retirement town and genteel holiday resort into the enlarged Merseyside Authority in 1974. Indeed it must have been something of a shock for the local people, the effect I imagine being rather like seeing true blue Worthing being absorbed into Brixton and other poor South London Boroughs. As you might have gleaned Southport is a bit special for me as my grandparents had a big house there in Lulworth Road. But as far as bus operations were concerned there seemed little operational sense amalgamating the small 55 bus system with the giant Liverpool and close-to Wirral because unlike St.Helens which passed over at the same time and was much closer, the buses in Southport never saw much from Liverpool apart from buses of now NBC owned Ribble whose vast territory provided a cosy semi-rural buffer-zone. However absorbing the all-Leyland fleet which had recently recieved new Atlanteans with very Liverpool style Alexander bodywork and at the time of the take-over a delivery of Leyland Nationals there would not be a problem as there were already plenty of similar buses in the fleet. Even Southport's twenty-two Panthers would feel at home as Liverpool had contributed 110 MCW bodied examples of this rear-engined beast, albeit with far less attractive bodywork by the same manufacturer of this bus. Of interest might be the fact that from this working view of former No.70 of 1968 we can clearly see there is a definitely bowing of the window-line either side of the central-doors with the rear section tilting slightly backwards. Whether this was part of the design or worrying signs of structural weakness I'm not too sure, but it is no secret that this generation of 36ft rear-engined single-deckers from Leyland, AEC, and Daimler all suffered from flexing caused by mounting the heavy power-unit on it's side right at the back which also affected their reliability and ride.
Saturday, 29 December 2007
Until I stumbled on it again I had totally forgotten about once seeing this fabulous double-deck sightseeing coach in Lisbon. Also if I were the sort of person to make New-Year-Resolutions I might have decided to post more items in my so far neglected 'Rare Birds' blog category as I do have quite a lot of unusual stuff waiting patiently in my archive. Some rare buses are the stuff of legend like the FRM or the Midland Red D10's, but this gem is pure childhood fantasy as I'm sure I'm not the only schoolboy enthusiast who was weened on those eclectic books by Paul Hamlyn which amazed us with seemingly everything from tilting Routemasters on the Chiswick Skid-Pan to oxen dragging buses up the sides of Volcano's. They would have simply loved this one but all I really know is it is a Volvo with Portuguese Coachwork dating from about the end of the Sixties, also I'm sticking my neck out here but I've a feeling I read somewhere Cityrama ran it on the Paris Sightseeing Tour.
Outside the more profitable urban conurbations it seems the availability of good bus services depends largely on Quality Partnerships between the major operators and the local authority, the latter promising to improve facilities like bus stops, put in bus lanes or even help to pay for the new buses. Starved on new double-deckers for many years this means of funding brought a small fleet of brand new Alexander-Dennis Enviro buses to the streets of Plymouth when the City Council entered a partnership with the First Group to provide smart new vehicles for it's two new Park and Ride routes.
Friday, 28 December 2007
When I was a boy we used to go regularly to Manchester for the day, and as my father was a creature of habit we would arrive at the car park close to Lower Moseley Street Bus Station at about Ten-Fifteen in the morning just in good time to catch all the long distance and express departures. The long X97 Newcastle-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool service often brought in a new Northern General vehicle like the dual-purpose Marshall bodied Leyland Leopard, but looking really brand new was this Alexander bodied Daimler Fleetline numbered 251 in the North Western Road Car fleet boarding for Stockport and Heyfield. Like some flashback to the pre-Nationalisation days of the Railway NWRC buses used to refer to Lower Moseley Street on their service blinds as 'LMS'.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Interlaken is of great interest to the rail enthusiast as a number of different coloured narrow-gauge companies terminate here along with the only State Railway SBB/CFF narrow line over the Brunig Pass to Luzern. For myself though Interlaken had special status as it was one of the places where The Post Office itself had a bus garage. In 1964 the allocation here was No's P24131-2, a couple of recent Saurer Alpenwagens. But as elsewhere in Switzerland like for instance those garages in Zernez and Sierre smaller operations were transfered over to local PAH Contractors wherever possible. Working the two Post Bus routes from Interlaken West Station were two Ramseier and Jenzer bodied Contractors Post Buses, a Mercedes bases NAW and a fine Saurer RH.
For many years most of the buses in Israel were built by Leyland at it's factory there, but when the dynasty ended as you might expect Swedish buses from Volvo and Scania were chosen in preference to the mighty Mercedes and other German Manufacturers. Considering this photograph was taken from an open bus window it is not at all bad.
The first Daimler Fleetlines to be exported were forty of these buses for Lisbon in 1967-68. The chassis were exported in kit form and assembled by UTIC and the rugged looking bodywork was built in the workshops of CCFL.
Monday, 24 December 2007
Modern trams and the lit up Christmas Trees seem to have the street largely to themselves on New Years Day 1989 in Geneva for in Swizerland one can enjoy transport 365 days a year on the rail network and main bus routes.
BVG the Berlin company took a fleet of 98 new MAN double-deckers in 1995-6 and one of these No.3042 was borrowed by Copenhagen in 1998, and even though a German order never followed Arriva eventually bought some big three-axle East-Lancs bodied Dennis buses for service the the Denmark capital. Sadly these have recently been sold to Ensign and returned to Britain, and for some years it looked as though the double-deck bus in Berlin too was slowly heading for extinction. Fortunately as in London it has been decided to continue buying them for busy key routes and a whole new generation are appearing in service across the city. One can tell No.3049 of the Nineties delivery was photographed some time ago as looking a bit like a radiator-grill the Brandenberg Gate Logo is carried on the front of Berlin Buses today. In my opinion this spoils the look and the clean lines of the buses somewhat.
In a way it's a bit sad that Digbeth is going to be rebuilt as a new Coach Station for there are no former Midland Red garages still in use in the area taken over by the West Midlands PTA, but at least it will stand on the same site. The 'National Express' brand is about all that is left from the NBC era of the Seventies but the faster 'Rapide' named coaches are now just a memory too. Here looking a bit upmarket for these duties was a Northen General Leyland Royal Tiger Doyan coach which bore the Registration A722 ANL when new.
Both Massey Brothers and Northern Counties bodies were built in Wigan and consequently in all fairness the Corporation used to buy batches from both suppliers and of course for many years the buses were all Leyland. Pictured loading for the well known destination of Abbey Lakes like other half cab buses in the Greater Manchester fleet this still smart looking 1962 vehicle was nearing the end of it's days at the beginning of the Eighties.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
A Short Winter Break Holiday found me in Gothenberg on a DFDS Mini Cruise and travelling on BNP 11W a Caetano bodied Volvo B10 belonging to Leons of Stafford. Our courier took great delight in telling us that another party on this Shamrock and Rambler Plaxton Paramount bodied Leyland Tiger in National Holidays livery were less fortunate than ourselves as the heating was not working on their coach.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Not so many years ago Rugeley Bus Station used to be a hive of activity but not any more now there is just Arriva. In the good old days one of the smartest buses at the Midland Red North Chaserider Depot at Stafford was No.467 a Plaxton Supreme Bodied Leyland Leopard which received a smart claret and white livery. It is seen on the Stafford-Lichfield-Tamworth X25 Service in the Eighties with a couple of Cannock buses in the background including 2543 an ex-Trent Daimler Fleetline. Also in evidence are two of Stevenson's many former London DMS Fleetlines
Friday, 21 December 2007
Bern relied on the Zurich manufacturer FBW for both it's trolleybuses and motorbuses and when they were no longer available in the early-Eighties a few odd vehicles by other manufacturers were taken into the fleet for evaluation. As well as a small batch of Mercedes articulated buses that were always out in use there were a couple of normal length rigid buses too both always painted in that uninspiring almost uniform 'orange' that otherwise had almost disappeared Although I never saw the Mercedes out on the road a Vovo B10M looking slightly different to the Bern Standard did appear in service once and I managed to snap it. This company prototype led to the purchase of two batches of these nice buses plus some artics also from Volvo and one of the former can also be seen outside the Bahnhof looking very much smarter in the more usual Military Green and Cream which was reintroduced after a Nationwide scheme to paint all urban buses orange was discarded.
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Well Jennycliff magnificently overlooking Plymouth Harbour from across the bay is not quite Paradise but almost. But whose complaining most cross town bus services in our cities go from one grey housing estate to another or to maybe one of those misnamed Industrial Parks or almost as bad some nondescript shopping centre. At Plymouth on the other hand not only is their stunning countryside on every doorstep it is almost wild. Many people knock the First Group's Barbi livery because it is rather dull, but whether this is a quality or weakness I'm not too certain but one doesn't seem to notice it after a while. It certainly fit's in well with the soft stone and green colours of the South West looking very much at home, but it should look okay here for it is not so different from that employed by Western National following Deregulation, one of the important Founding Father's of Badgerline who eventually evolved into First when it joined up with Grampian. Not surprisingly as this is First Group's least profitable operating area there are no shortage of second-hand buses being cascaded down from the North like this Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart with it's Yorkshire Registration S337 TJX making me think of the old Halifax numbers.
For me bus photography is not just for sunny days I like all weather if I can take good pictures, and as far atmosphere is concerned there's nothing better than monochrome for the grainy qualities of bad weather. Typical of the Ribble buses to be seen in Blackburn during the NBC Eighties were Leyland Nationals of course but this was also a good place to find the low height ECW Bristol VR's.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Some people hate all advertising on the sides of buses but it doesn't bother me, besides often it adds a bit of colour plus extra added interest that can sometimes even help us to historically date our pictures down to a few weeks. With it's undulating landscape ample sunshine and closeness to the sea itself much of Plymouth is certainly far more beautiful and welcoming than most British Cities. However illustrating it's virtues in slabs on the side of a new bus like this does nothing to promote the attractiveness of looking at or viewing from the new Dennis 'Enviro' single-deckers that entered service this year with Citybus. Did I read that Alexander Dennis now builds the double-deck bodies at Falkirk and the single-deckers at Scarborough, if so might I suggest this one has a Plaxton body?
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
In 1965 an Atlantean looking very much like a Sheffield Corporation bus wearing both that city's latest style of Park Royal bodywork with it's angular raked-front and cream livery entered service as a Leyland Demonstrator. I remember seeing it at work in Brighton during the Christmas Holidays of 1966-7. I don't know how much of this was pure coincidence but it was later bought by the tiny concern of J.Wood who employed a similar cream and black livery which was quite rare anyway. Also Wood was based not too far from Sheffield either at Mirfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire and this once well known bus was seen in Wakefield Bus Station at the end of the Seventies.
Monday, 17 December 2007
In February 1998 I had to get as far back as I could to squeeze the front of this interesting bus into my camera picture lense as this neat looking new arrival coming to join the local Post Bus fleet at Bern looked rather out of place alongside the more usual large Mercedes O405 buses. Dating from 1990 this Renault Ponticelli/Gruau MG36 bus had just been acquired from (or most likely with) one of the Post Office Contractors (PAH) and would shortly surrender it's Bern Cantonal Registration for a Post Office Mark carrying P22021.
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Although not the favourite buses of my youth, sparkling in the warm Summer sunshine of 1967 and looking spotless and pristine in a new coat of paint it was obviously enough to make me raise my camera to take a photo of this a Bristol powered Crosville Lodekka FLF of 1962 at the operator's large vehicle Queens Ferry Garage just outside Birkenhead. Here there was an allocation of 93 with only Wrexham boasting 128 and the smaller Liverpool with 105 both topping the 100 mark and being bigger.(Allocations from Ian Allan 1965)
Since the 1980's as in Britain much has changed in the bus scene of Denmark and of course not only does one no longer see Danish DAB built Leyland Buses on the streets and out in the coutryside many of the bigger operators themselves have dissapeared into larger groups, some with English sounding names like Arriva. But I guess many small operators still remain and I wonder if Birkenrod Bus still operate in the North Copenhagen suburbs on the 328 route to Horseholm and Kokkedal Station. I would like to think so.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
At one time few proud Municipal or larger operators apart from more down to earth Independents indulged in second-hand purchases, but following Deregulation money was very tight and it was a constant fight for survival as your biggest enemy might be your previously friendly big neighbour or some cheeky have-a-go newcomer with some old Leyland Nationals trying to smoke everyone out as they hoped to sell out and thus make a few bucks. But hardly anyone would have realised that this Eastbourne Borough Transport East-Lancs bodied Dennis Dominator had come all the way from Dundee having been new to Tayside Regional Transport as not only had they bought nine similar buses the same bodywork appeared on EBC's main fleet of Atlanteans. At Dundee it had been one of six similar buses but obviously that operator didn't think much of them compared to it's many Volvo Ailsa double-deckers and in truth apart from Leicester and the South Yorkshire PTA few did.
Friday, 14 December 2007
Towns like Northampton seem rather characterless now they've lost their distinctive buses and especially beautiful machines like this traditional timber framed Roe bodied Daimler CVG6. This bus No.267 was rather special as it was the very last vehicle of this type built for a British Operator and when it was delivered in 1968 it brought the fleet of these fine machines in the all-Daimler Northampton fleet of eight-eight up to sixty-eight buses.
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Martigny is situated in the most appropriately named Swiss Canton of Valais where the steep mountainsides towering above the Rhone Valley literally overshadow this small town where a sharp bend in the course of the fast flowing river marks which peaks are in nearby Italy or France. Although of course it has a railway station it is not a busy bus terminus but in 1989 I saw this old dusty looking Mercedes O305 with the nice Registration No.VS 1111.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Maidstone and District had a high concentration of services in the Medway Towns and there was also a garage further up the Thames Estuary at Gravesend not far from where London Transport marked the boundary of it's Country Area with a garage at Northfleet with an allocation in 1974 of 41. The M&D allocation was a bit smaller and I would guess holding about thirty vehicles in 1967 when I visited it. Typically there were plenty of AEC Reliance OPO buses and coaches but some Leyland Atlanteans too like DH 606 from the final batch of 1962.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
How times change for it doesn't seem that many years ago since Exeter and the Torbay area of the much loved former Devon General was plagued by hundreds of Harry Blundred's Ford Transits and Mercedes 608's. Today now the South Western outpost of the huge Stagecoach Empire where there is a bus for every job what a wonderful sight to see so many double-deckers again, and even like this former 'Stagecoach Fife' Alexander R-Series Leyland Olympian affording enjoyable upstairs rides right out into the countryside as in this instance eastwards to Tiverton. Behind it is a Northern Counties bodied Volvo Citibus one of a batch of these buses purchased when Southdown was privatised dating from 1988 and still going strong nineteen years later.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
The nice thing about publishing on a blog is that nobody minds if the images are less than perfect because it is the degree of interest that is important. So here is this thin and scratched stained old photo that I have brought to life with Adobe of one of the 22 Guy Arab 111 5LW single-deckers with unusual centre entrance bodywork delivered to Darlington in 1952-3. Even more remarkable was that they were still busy working during the day in 1970 when in much of the country this sort of half-cab single-decker was fading into memory..
Sunday, 2 December 2007
With all these Leyland Leopards with Willowbrook and Duple Dominant Coachwork gathered around the entrance of Victoria Coach Station during the busy Afternoon Peak Period in the mid-Eighties one might surmise that new products from Plaxton were in the minority but it was Willowbrook the Loughborough bodybuilder who was feeling the pinch. When the new National Bus Company swallowed them up it told the former BET Group members that now they had to buy whenever possible it's new state-or-the-art bus the Leyland National. So like Marshall of Cambridge whom had also enjoyed a healthy order book building so called same-at-both-ends single-deckers life suddenly became hard. Even the market from the Independent Sector dried up for dual-purpose vehicles with bus-shells because they found they could with a government grant purchase attractive proper coach based vehicles from Duple and Plaxton provided they spent most of their time being used as buses. Willowbrook turned more towards bodying double-deckers including a large order for Baghdad. Sadly after some promising orders for the NBC it's most promising venture the slightly futuristic Spacecar never came to anything and so a healthy order book afterwards for a new less radical design called the 003 should have got the company back on it's feet. But not only were there problems fulfilling this crucial order, vehicles were not delivered on time and there were serious issues with the build-quality. No doubt even though Willowbrook must have heaved a huge sigh of relief by this time the situation had become critical as I expect the work famine had resulted in most of the previously loyal skilled craftsmen finding work elsewhere. Most if not all of these 003 bodies were built on the Leyland Leopard chassis by this time the NBC standard for coachwork like this example belonging to Hastings and District.
One day during the Eighties when I was busy waiting for Eastern Counties buses to come into view especially the endangered Lodekka FLF's along came this rare Willowbrook Expressway bodied AEC Reliance belonging to Cullings, one of four similar coaches delivered in 1973-4.
I'm so glad I returned to Switzerland for the New Year of 1988-89 as surprisingly not too much had changed there bus-wise since the mid-Sixties and everywhere there were nice reminders as in Geneva. I remember these Saurer buses with their unique flat looking frontal design from when I first entered the country in 1963 and in those days they looked very modern and Continental espercially as there was an articulated version as well. No doubt Geneva took this design for some years and I expect the early examples I had seen thirty-four-years previously had long departed. They certainly made a sharp contrast to the PTT owned R&J bodied Saurer L4 Post Bus P23061 (P2113) that took us up the mountainside to Chesieres. Normally on charters for our school we had the much more modern and coach-like FBW Haifisch P24001 which was kept for us and as a service spare, but this was a nice introduction to this beautiful alpine country for it was a warm September evening and we slowly weaved our way upwards into the thin-air with the canvas roof rolled back like the Pioneers.
Saturday, 1 December 2007
The various London Sightseeing Tours operations have seen a good variety of vehicles over the years and as well as there being many normally retired types like Metrobuses and Fleetlines being offered a lifeline one could also see some surprising vehicles like FRM 1 the rear-engined Routemaster, BMMO D9's and massive three-axle former National Express MCW Metroliner coaches. However if one didn't know already this re-registered old Leyland working in the Nineties was a bit of an enigma. But experienced older enthusiasts might just be able to make out some the remaining Park Royal features from this former Barrow Corporation Leyland PD2 of 1958 which had been retained as a trainer . London Sightseeing Tours might have been friendly but I have to say they were not very kind to this bus, but the way I see it is that at least another fine old Leyland half-cab was saved for a few more years from the breakers torch.