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 December 2008
I suppose buses have a working life that is very similar to that enjoyed by our domestic pets like cats and dogs. But whereas in the natural world one generation replicates the last in the bus world at least Darwin's theories on Evolution work faster and with the passing of each generation of vehicles we are left feeling nostalgic and a bit sadder as a bit of their life-blood gets drained away. Maybe it's just not that the newer bus don't seem so interesting but just as likely we feel we've lost something too of ourselves as those years went by. Maybe it was the world where we had more hair picked up girls, people didn't need to lock their doors or when the quickest way to get the mainland was by ferry. I'm not certain where this was taken in Sweden but it is to the north of Gothenberg maybe Lysekil, a place we pronounced Leezasheila. As for the delightful little ferry which the SJ bus No.0417 boards it might well have been replaced by a magnificent concrete bridge by now, but I sure hope not.
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Three coach-seated Leyland Leopards stand in the old Shrewsbury Bus station about to work some of the longer services from the town. In 1986 there were Sixteen of these coach-seated buses allocated here with various styles of bodywork including from the most numerous type, Marshall Nos 217 and 358 bound for Oswestry and Ludlow whilst an ECW example that came from National Travel (NW) 1502 ANA 91Y is going about half-way to Birmingham on what was once the much longer X96 to Northampton.
Monday, 29 December 2008
Sadly double-deckers are now very much a minority in Liverpool but once the city roared and screeched with the sounds of the Leyland Atlantean as following the demise of the half-cabs they seemed to dominate the Corporation and Ribble fleets. Once they were either dark green or dark red but with Deregulation they took on a variety of old and revived names and colour schemes including this Liverline bus that might once have been a very typical local NBC poppy-red Ribble Park Royal bodied AN68 but in fact it was new to London and Country in NBC leaf-green as AN 177.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
This is something of a sacred spot for me as when we visited London to stay here in the Sixties this is where we would stay at the Ivanhoe Hotel right opposite the British Museum. In those days for young teens like myself it was considered safe enough even as a stranger to explore London alone and it's bus garages on a Red Rover Ticket. After a long day whilst my parents put their tired feet up and took a rest before dinner I would go with my biro and notebook and stand at the end of the street wanting to spot a few more of the 8387 London Transport buses. Indeed on my first visit in 1962 over five days I saw nearly 1500 different buses of various operators here and checking it again appropriately enough the first one I copped on leaving Stafford was Standerwick No.1, a Burlingham -bodied Tiger Cub. On the corner of this Gower Street and New Oxford Street it was a good place to do it as during the Rush-Hour there was a constant stream of buses to spot on the 1,14,24,29,39,73,127,134, and 176 whilst going East was the 19 and 38. Believe it or not they were nearly all RT, RTL or RTW buses as the only Routemasters amongst them were 4XX examples from Highgate Garage on the 127, but nearby in Bloomsbury at the next main junction straying rewarded me with a few very-early RM's in the low double-digit series from Poplar Garage which were going East beyond Aldgate maybe on a variant like the 5B. However it was only a few years and everything had changed quickly reaching the point where gleaming Routemasters outnumbered the to my mind nicer more traditional LTB stock. Some of these RM's were to become favourites with enthusiasts though as Mortlake Garage kept it's Leyland engined examples that only worked two routes including the 73 in tip-top condition and one of them RM 1274 still looked smart and very much at home to me on that same short-trousered-corner in 1979.
I'm sure those who were around will remember this rusting AEC Regent that looked as though it had tried to get out of town before the scrapman got his torch to it. Parked just outside Coimbra I suspect it was one of theirs as even though I might be wrong I remember reading before I visited in 1984 that they had just two, a pair of double-deckers like this dating from the Sixties.
In Stafford if you want a decent job done of your drive you have to go to Dawkes who arrive mob-handed with a whole army of workers plus the odd roller, vibrator and several large yellow lorries with orange warning lights flashing that block most of the normally quiet street and then within a few minutes they're gone again with a good but not cheap job done. It seems you get what you pay for and on the Stafford County Council tendered bus service down the winding country lanes to Codsall I wonder whether someone else will be doing it in the New Year? Indeed after reading that A2Z might completely lose their Operator's Licence I thought I had better upload my digital images just to make sure I had already photographed them on the 880. Reading that this Walsall operator had a maintenance problems did not exactly surprise me as often the buses still in their former colours run in pairs just in case the other one didn't make it or are accompanied by a service van. D & G before them had reliability problems too and their rather tatty buses looked a far cry from the smart green and yellow of Choice who they in turn had bought-out. This service started in the Seventies with a Market Day operation by Warstone's 'Green Bus' as far as Penkridge via Wildwood connecting Acton Trussel. It would be too much to hope for that they might ever do it again and especially as now they run hardly anything bigger than minibuses. Marshall bodied SLF Dennis Dart R701 MEW started life as DMS 1 in the London Northern fleet.
Friday, 26 December 2008
East Yorkshire was and still is a big favourite with bus enthusiasts. As the NBC era finally came to a close the operator used this livery for it's coaches and the dark blue band on this ECW bodied Leyland Olympian seems to reflect the past as that and primrose were the colours used on it's service buses. No.535 was seen in Scarborough.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
SORRY BUT IT ISN'T
I'm afraid some of us never grow up and I enjoyed Christmas Morning as I had a new model bus to open, this time a beautiful dark blue and primrose East Yorkshire AEC Renown which I bought at a very fair price of £16.65 which was very good for a model one hardly ever sees being auctioned on Ebay. But my advice for potential collectors is don't as it's hard to stop. Fortunately I keep most of my purchases to quality items from my 'wish list' and try not to be tempted by the bargains. One generally has to pay over £15.00 for Britbus models but unless you want something rare from EFE or Corgi there's usually good stuff to bid for at less than Ten-Pounds. My best buy was the two-tone blue Manchester Tiger Cub Airport liveried bus which despite being Limited-Edition-Certificate No.19 was only £2.70 and that included postage.
Expensive holiday though, fortunately it only took an hour or so to see the local Post Buses in St Moritz. Normally it was winter when I came to Switzerland so I'm glad I came once in September when the Juilier Pass was open and one could take the bus on the enjoyable journey to Chur. Most of the PTT Saurer RH buses looked very much the same but a few like P34365 had a boot at the rear instead of a door and luggage compartment plus better dual-purpose seating.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
A bit of festive cheer on a grey day last Christmas as tour coaches halt at Hilton Park Services on the M6 Motorway as they return home including this 2007 Tmsa Safar belonging to Solus Coaches of Tamworth bound for an equally dismal Wrexham.
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Yes this was 23rd December 1979, I remember the day well as I went into Liverpool City Centre to drop in on a girl friend as it was Carol Ann's Birthday and believe it or not it is today too. But it wasn't a particularly good day for me though as I had been to Liverpool Docks where I reversed at a gatehouse not realising that someone had pulled-up behind me. Even though there was no visible damage the owner made quite a fuss because despite it being the 'old-style' his red Ford Escort was brand new. That was the last time anyone made an insurance claim against me fortunately, but at least I took this great atmospheric photo of one of Crosville's last remaining half-cabs 1966 FS DFG 219 heading for Prescot on the way to St.Helens. Still to be seen in the city at that time were a few of Ribble's full-fronted MCW bodied Leyland PD3's from Aintree Garage which terminated nearby on the routes towards Liverland etc.. All has changed of course which is sad because I was very close to this spot on last Saturday Evening as I was called out to do a rail-replacement bus from all stations from Crewe to Liverpool. By the time I reached Lime Street Station I only had one on board, a guy from Cuba who was playing in an ethnic band that evening. But as I stopped I was quickly accosted by railway officials who seemed somewhat put-out that I should have turned up in a single sixteen-seater LDV minibus when there were about 150 people waiting to get home. I explained we were nothing to do with the local company from that end who had promised to send four full-sized coaches to carry the strike-bound Christmas Shoppers home. So I turned around leaving just 134 disappointed souls standing in the rain.
Monday, 22 December 2008
Somehow unlike Bern the city of Zurich always seems to hold a bit of cheer whatever the weather, maybe it's the sense of space and the bright blue white and silver buses and trams. In January 1990 these Hess bodied BBC-SAAS equiped FBW trolleybuses like No.79 were still very much a part of that vibrant scene, some surviving at least another ten-years into the new Millennium. Sadly the poor light has flawed the exposure of an otherwise superb photo, but now I've scanned it you might as well enjoy it too.
Taken against the light I still managed to catch some detail as well as a feeling of the busy scene here at Victoria Coach Station one afternoon in the 80's when Leyland Leopards were very much 'the business' on National Express routes.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I love playing around with my old images that didn't turn out quite right, anyway it's certainly more satisfactory than having to throw them all away. This view was taken through the windows of my friend's office at Die Schweizerische Post, with old boggie-tram 716 halted outside in Bern's Viktoriastrasse. Sadly it was dusk and the poor lighting made the detail thin but you can certainly see how big these units were were pulling a trailer. I will still be blogging over Christmas so keep looking but I thought I would thank those of you who have left messages and enjoyed my photos of the last year for your tenacity.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Had I been a good little tourist and stayed with my tour party instead of running off every time we stopped photographing fine buses like this attractive Sixties built Salvador Caetano bodied Leyland Atlantean I could have told you all about this well known central location with it's modern architecture and large sculptures. Behind the double-decker is at that time in 1984 a recently rebodied Leyland Leopard which shares the same angular body shape as it's big sister. This interesting view in Porto, Portugal's second city was probably prompted by my wanting to get the girl sitting on the steps in too.
Two East Lancashire bodied Leyland Titan PD3 buses pass one another whilst operating a free service to a local supermarket in Rawtenstall. Of course this did not need a conductor so we have Asda to thank for extending the lives of these otherwise obsolete but still fine buses into the Eighties. 1965 bus No.37 still wore the traditional application of the maroon and cream livery whilst the other example carried a more up-to-date but less attractive version of the same colours.
I've a feeling this was taken at a delightfully untidy small boat harbour near Villa Real where our party went on a Sardine boat trip but I might be wrong. Anyway the coach in 1984 although not yet flying RN colours but carrying it's number No.9482 was bodied by Caetano and was probably a Volvo. Those fresh sardines we ate on our return were mighty delicious.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Well today you wouldn't be able to fly with Freddie Laker or even travel on one of these Greenline Berkhof Everest bodied Leyland Tigers wearing a typical Ray Stenning designed scheme for the Gatwick Airport-London Flightline service. It was numbered BTL 9 in the London Country (South West) fleet which by this time in the Nineties had been re-christened London & Country. It is seen on the corner by Victoria Coach Station, one of my favourite spots for photography in London.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Christmas hasn't really started and in the UK and we've suffered more winter weather already than most seasons in total so how much worse will it come? I ask you this as I know very little about some of those Gothenburg vehicles like articulated No.614. Hardly a beautiful bus but a brighter livery would have done a lot more to add a bit of cheer to this almost uninviting winter scene. Maybe we could take a tram-ride instead?
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Pennine of Gargrave long favoured sturdy Leylands like the Leopard for the ups and down of it's services from Skipton over the Yorkshire Dales to larger towns like Burnley and Lancaster, where headed this 1971 example with Willowbrook's version of the standard BET style body. Photographed in the Eighties fortunately this attractive operator with it's distinctive orange and black buses is still with us.
Monday, 15 December 2008
As one would expect a country that is proud of it's railways should have honoured them with some fine architecture and the small city of Luzern was no exception. Sadly the old stone railway station was destroyed by fire and replaced by a modern glassed square one with lots of basement shopping facilities but at least the imposing entrance which survived the blaze was retained as a monument. As well as it's own motor and trolleybuses Luzern also uses contractors vehicles too in it's own livery including the R & J bodied NAW in the background. Volvo buses were favoured by the undertaking like this B10M No.53 seen in the early Nineties. A lot of these LU 15000 series registrations seem to be carried by various buses.
It's 1979 in Liverpool where having absorbed the operator that separated them called Lancashire United Transport, Greater Manchester PTE now met the also large Merseyside PTE head-on. Typical of the local fleet was this Leyland Atlantean AN68 bodied in the styles of several manufactures including this late example by Metro-Cammell before it turned exclusively to bodying it's own products like the Metrobus. LUT had bought a decent sized fleet of Leyland National buses including this one which although painted in the Greater Manchester orange and cream still carried it's old LUT fleet-number later to be changed to 230.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
This Volvo bus slowly baking on the Sinai Desert sands of Neviot might be well laden but I'm afraid the palm tree growing on the roof is purely an illusion. When I took my Easter Holiday there back in the Eighties I didn't need to travel all over Israel to see these buses they just came and parked on the beach.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Traditionally Reading has always been an interesting place for buses with a town fleet that has very much a style all of it's own and a prepensity for following London fashions like the purchase of the premium Priced Leyland Titan, a modern high-specification London Bus like the Routemaster. They came with coach seating or like this normal example with bus seats, the girls too seem a mixed bunch echoing the clothing trends of the Eighties.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The Sixties was a period of experimentation and innovation in the Bus Industry. Marshall built this rather striking single-deck body called the Camair which apart from a few odd ones and a small order for Stratford Blue that in the end went to Preston it was only really supplied to the Northern General Group. Most were built on the Leyland Panther chassis and Northern 2835 was seen at one of their regular haunts Jarrow Bus Station. Sadly the formation of the National Bus Company and the implementation of the Leyland National killed off this bus that might have had a promising future.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Outwardly at least there are few signs left of where you cross over into the East from West Berlin. But of course the former East is still a different region with different bus operators etc... Here in the early Nineties a then recent MAN in the smart but sober blue and grey Havelbus colours meets a much older cream coloured example from the former West Berlin BVG fleet before trundling off back across the now invisible wall towards Teltow.
Monday, 8 December 2008
A fine former Southdown Queen Mary Class Northern Counties bodied Leyland PD3 in OK Motor Services beautiful and rather traditional red, maroon and cream livery was a fine sight and especially when they were kept nice and clean despite the miserable wet winter weather. In 1979 this 1965 bus was seen near to the home base in Bishops Auckland, County Durham.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
I guess this was taken either in or close to Santaren in Portugal in 1984 when the still much missed AEC marque was very much in abundance, as an interesting selection of them belonging to RN all with typical styles of local Utic bodywork bask in the dusty mid-day heat.
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Friday, 5 December 2008
Thick fur coats and scarfs were the order of the day when I went to Gothenberg in January. Actually by their standards with daytime temperatures just above freezing point it was quite a mild spell and agreeably very pleasant in the winter sunshine. Typical of the City Buses was this Wiima bodied Volvo No.121. A group of us came on a DFDS Winter Cruise which stopped here for a couple of days and not only did we use the boat as a hotel they kept the bar open for us so we wouldn't have to go out into the cold night or pay Swedish Drink Prices.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Two forms of road transport in Bradford City Centre, one modern and sophisticated the other an outdated flash from the past. As the bus mechanic told me when one thing packed up the whole Anglo-Swedish MCW Metropolitan Bus broke down. Pity there's no room left on the cart.
Liverpool Corporation Buses always had something of a utility feel about them and it was only when with a flash of Sixties Inspiration that they came up with not just a welcoming looking Atlantean but something of a superb design classic. Maybe Classic is too strong a word but what their modifications did for the rather plain uninspired MCW body was quite an achievement. Numbers started at L500 in 1963 and had reached L772 and beyond by 1966. Almost three-hundred similar buses were built before Alexander bodies became the norm, but whereas the squared-off Liverpool Look improved the MCW buses considerably, somehow the Liverpool peaked tops and brightwork around the skirt had the opposite effect on the already rather well proportioned round and elegant Scottish product.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Midland Red at Stafford usually had about five home-built BMMO D5's plus about two more D5B's with closed rear platform and powered-doors. Very few buses stayed at one depot all their lives and in it's fifteen year life this bus had already also seen service at Sutton Coldfield, Redditch and Oldbury. Surprisingly as in those days Stafford only had a token fleet of single-deckers one might have expected to find more new examples of the 200 D5 Family being allocated to the SD fleet of 44, but in fact there was just one D5B No.3832. This probably was because the Garage received a couple of new plus shortly afterwards some still fairly new of the similar looking but 7ft 6ins wide AEC Regent 111 AD2 buses which the more powerful D5's had replaced at garages with more demanding routes. Things worked out alright in the end as in 1953 Stafford received a large number of the first delivery of new lightweight D7 bus to modernise the stock making it about Eight AD2's and Eight D7's. It didn't affect Stafford but history repeated itself as the very nice but heavy doored D5B's had to be cascaded to the more rural fringes too because they were too slow on hilly well patronised routes particularly to the South West of Birmingham to Malvern on the 144 etc..
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Copenhagen and other urban centres in Denmark didn't seem to gravitate towards the high-capacity articulated-bus in the way they did in other parts of the Continent of Europe. When I was there in the early Eighties there were two batches of these DAB Leylands with HT mainly coming out in the rush hour to work limited stop commuter services to the north of the city. Later in 1982 another batch of ten arrived this time to work the 33H to the largely residential Amager Island just to the south and where Kastrup Airport is also situated. The batch consisted of Nos 1510-1519 which were garaged at the large garage of Artillerivej on the Island bringing the total of this type in service in the city to thirty buses.
Monday, 1 December 2008
Despite it's name Green Lane is Liverpool isn't really very green at the best of times but in this scene it looks rather clean as though covered in a clean white blanket. As you can see even though the snow ploughs and gritters might refuse to come out if the road conditions are bad buses run regardless. A Leyland National2 makes it's way passed the large bus garage as it makes slow but steady progress towards Cantril Farm, or as the locals call it Cannibal Farm.
There's pretty well nothing left to remind us of the once great Stockport based North Western Roadcar Company but at least we can see a bit of Trent Buses who inherited the Derbyshire operations way back in the early Seventies. When still quite new in the mid-Eighties a smart Optare loads on the once well known NW Route 27 to Buxton over the Peaks.
Well I've no idea where this one was going but I was called out again in a minibus to cover for one of these National Express Irizar bodied Scania coaches that broke down on the M6. Actually there was a fault with his windscreen heater and the demister and the driver refused to continue up the Motorway in the difficult freezing conditions. So I got called away from my mug of hot tea, the comfort of my armchair and Top Gear on the television to take the miserable stranded passengers on to North East Manchester. A few years ago I would never have guessed that I would be doing a bus service to bus stations and other old bus haunts from my childhood. I didn't finish till 2.am but at least I got a tip and some Polo Mints for my efforts. They were a nice bunch too.
Saturday, 29 November 2008
This was taken one morning when I had a long wait at Birmingham Airport as my Father's incoming plane was delayed by thick fog. It might have been early in 1987 but West Midland Travel fans will know as it was the time when the local blue buses were losing their PTA ownership WMPTE identity for a Privitised West Midlands Travel following it's sale to National Express. The Metrobus at the rear has recieved it's new name whilst MCW bodied Leyland Fleetline No.6904 churning out a healthy plume of grey exhaust looks a little bare and dare I say it, cold.
This little Italian based OM minibus was no celebrity you must admit. I have no idea where in Portugal it was taken but judging by the presence of other members of the not too prevalent Fiat Community it might well have been taken in the car park beside a local Dealership. Obviously it looked as though it was no longer a cherished PSV perhaps now in 1984 owned by some School, Church, Scout Troop or the like.
Friday, 28 November 2008
Grahams Coaches of Stoke on Trent operated this former Maidstone and District Leyland Panther one of sixty-five with Willowbrook bodies delivered to the company in 1965 and the main batch of fifty in 1967. It was seen at the depot in 1980
When I made this photographic trip to lausanne in september 1990 articulated-trolleybus No.802 seemed to be the only one of this once common 1960's design operating in the City. Despite being in an all-red advertising livery it still looked quite smart as it headed off to Maladiere.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
When this bus was new Warrington being North of the Mersey was in Lancashire but political reshaping of boundaries meant it moved over the river to Cheshire in the Seventies. Fortunately not only did the Borough manage to retain it's real name, to this day it still has it's fleet of dark red and white buses. As well as Fleetlines typical fleet double-deckers of the Sixties were the East-Lancs bodied Leyland PD2 including this 1964 example that went on to enjoy a prolonged life as the training bus. It is seen parked near the bus station where heads a Greater Manchester former Lancashire United, Leyland Fleetline bodied by Northern Counties followed by another East Lancs bodied Corporation Bus, an AN68 Atlantean. Even though Greater Manchester had done away with the traditional much loved LUT red livery these buses still managed to look different from the rest as the GMT orange and cream was applied differently following rather more towards LUT practice.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
One thing I liked about the so-called Tilling Companies like West Yorkshire is that they built for themselves attractive well-appointed bus stations in brick like the busy one here in Leeds, one of three in close proximity in the city. This picture was taken as the National Bus Company was being broken up and operators started to go for what they considered eye-catching schemes, or as here at West Yorkshire where they returned to their pleasantly conservative pre-NBC red and cream livery. Consequently Bristol VR No.1705 heading off to Ilkley looked rather smart in an attractive bright and proper red and cream newly liberated from that dreary poppy-red and white but albeit still looked a little strange and surreal.
Communal beach settlement of Neviot whilst German tourists as usual step in front of the shot. I'm afraid I know very little about this big yellow Volvo bus.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Berresford bought mostly second-hand buses but there was the occasion brand new coach aquired too and these included a pair of Albions added in 1969 with Duple Firefly bodywork based on a Burlingham design. Both ended up at the rear of the garage dumped alongside one another and with a former Pennine of Gargrave Leyland Leopard and Diesel Transit for company.
Traditionally one could always see Red and White buses in Hereford where they met the all-red or red and black Midland Red, the greens and creams of Yeoman's and the brown and red of Wye Valley with it's elegant half-cab coaches and Bedford OB's and small old-fashioned village-petrol-pump-style garage right behind the bus station. Red and White came in from places like Tredegar and Monmouth and even due-west marking it's boundary from that of the huge Birmingham giant with it's BMMO buses to Hay-on-Wye where they met a maroon Western Welsh Tiger Cub bound for Brecon. Even the giant 'Tiling-Green' Bristol Omnibus just about reached here too from Gloucester. In the Eighties Red and White were still coming here but instead of a sturdy pre-Nationalisation ornate double-deck Duple bodied Guy Arab or newer BTC smartly turned out FS Lowdekka one was more likely to see something more like this rather well used looking Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard on the long x49 Service to Cardiff. However certain things remained from the olden days to remind us of more interesting times and a good example was how this operator not too long ago devolved again from being a part of National Welsh prior to denationalisation still managed to retain the numbering system that went back many years, U-standing for underfloor-engined-single-decker and D for dual-purpose semi-coach. Of course Red and White became a part of the huge Stagecoach and Hereford close to the welsh border still marks it's boundary, but go east and their empire goes almost uninterrupted all the way across to the other side of Cambridge in the heart of East Anglia. Interesting, I will have to do more little features on those interesting border towns where different operator's met.