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
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Exactly eight years ago when I was last in Switzerland Saurer and FBW buses were getting hard to find and I thought I would not find any more FBW post buses still in service. But late one afternoon I was on my way to Triengen when parked alongside my connecting Regie Mercedes O405 at Schoftland was this fine old Hess bodied FBW EU3A dating from 1975 and by then having travelled over 1.5 Million Kilometers was enjoying it's well earned semi-retirement as the reserve bus with PAH Robert Bach of Walde and I think the friendly driver was probably not far away from it either. So I immeadiately changed my schedule and jumped on board for an hour-long-ride through traditional Swiss villages and over rolling green hills leading to even more quaint traditional villages full of chalet-style farms and barns. Of course as always in Switzerland I had a tape-recorder with me and as the bus was empty on it's return journey I was able to take away more than just a couple of photos. It was even better than I had thought too as even though I had recordings of the aggresive growl made by the C50U mountain buses, this more urban bus was not so familiar and made a much more pedestrian transmission whine covering the usual throbbing sounds, and although a smaller bus the noises reminded me a lot of the Bern FBW rush-hour duty artics that I was also going to record again on this holiday before it was too late. So it was a special day and look even though it was starting to go dark I still managed to get my perfect Post Bus Picture.
Even though I used to stay in Bern as well as Zurich when I took my regular winter holiday at about this time at the end of Febuary I did not always get much chance to photograph the compact Medievil Swiss capital's buses. Usually I was in too much of a rush straight after breakfast as I hurried away to catch my first train of the day heading for distant Cantons seeking out yellow buses and then when I got back feeling tired out it was already too dark. Another problem with Bern in winter is that like so many of our cities and towns much of the streets beneath the buildings are often deep in shade. But when one did find a sunlit spot with the sun behind the camera those dull military green buses could look very smart and quite imposing and this batch of Ramesier & Jenzer bodied Volvos like No.186 bound for Blinzern dating from the end of the Eighties were strong favourites of mine.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
The bus operator called Drawline who bought out former NBC companies like London and Country, and the Merseyside wing of Ribble (North Western) also owned East Lancashire Coachbuilders of Blackburn. So not surprisingly many new buses carried this bodywork especially double-deckers, but a number of redundant mid-life local express coaches from the London area were rebodied as buses thus making good economic sense and at the same time keeping the still struggling workers in the Lancashire factory busy too. These buses were delivered to Midland Red North and most of them saw service in Stafford at some time or other and No.1719 was seen in the town shortly after re-entering service in 1989 and looking almost surreal like something washed in a magic washing powder when compared to the predictable dowdy poppy-red Leyland Nationals that went before.
In each of our major cities it seemed Deregulation spawned at least one memorable Independent operator whose interesting fleet and strong presence will not be forgotten by the enthusiasts. Sheffied had it's fair share of new arrivals but top of the pile must be the wonderful Northern Bus who somehow managed to make everything look good in it's bold, and forgive me with what I might christen a midnight-blue, creamy-yellow and red livery. Bristol ECW buses that could almost have come from Western National carried that operators sort of traditional pressed metal fleet numbers plates like this one 2205 which suggested a member of a very large fleet indeed. But even though Northern Bus was not tiny it's fleet that might have contained betwen 50-100 buses hardly merited such huge digits. Yes it had interesting vehicles too as these rebodied former ECW Green Line Leyland Tiger Coaches were mostly to be found with Midland Red North but somehow this example from the same batch escaped to South Yorkshire and looked quite different to it's sister that were also fitted with new East-Lancs bodies and mostly operating in Stafford.
On the western edge of Copenhagen is the large urban village of Valby and here in 1982 one could find these somewhat strange dark liveried buses working the local bus services. However as one studies these two Volvo buses they can compare the very different rival products of Aabenraa and VBK.
Monday, 25 February 2008
By 1986 many of the restrictions imposed on it's fleets by the National Bus Company had been relaxed as the organisation focused much more on making them attractive for Privitsation, or as with this former BET Company Re-Privitisation. So instead of it's more usual diet of ECW bodied Leyland Olympians the Barnsley based Yorkshire Traction was able to take delivery of sixteen MCW Metrobuses instead. I believe they were built to a reduced height and yes No.716 battling on it's way out of Leeds in the traffic when still quite new does look more squat and less lofty than normal. I haven't bothered too much with my favourite photographs tag as I've been posting a lot of colour but generally it's these more atmospheric monochrome shots that catch the magic of what bus photography is about. For me it's about the excitement of the evening rush-hour with it's noise, movement, people and traffic.
Sunday, 24 February 2008
......You must be kidding.
When I went on my Cosmos Coach Sightseeing Tour of Portugal in 1986 Santi our tour guide didn't like having me in the group for every time we stopped instead of following the rest of the obedient group I would head off in the oppoisite direction in search of those much more interesting buses. So I didn't know where I was half of the time and now have to do a little research to guess some of these more out of the way locations, but you have to admit I took a lot of worthwhile pictures and no doubt the dusty old ruins and monuments are still there today for the tourists to gawp at but those lovely old buses are not. Of course there were historic places where we stopped and where there were no buses and then I had to submit my brain to some culture but with it's busy road out of the town Alcobaca and it's Monestry was not one of them. This was RN territory and still wearing the blue colours of it's previous owner was this AEC Reliance. I thought these export models were all Regals but no I was wrong, they are the Reliance. I can't tell you the number of this one but the number plate contains C- 2-4-, maybe C- 24 41. Of course being both educated and a working artist I am no philistine but I don't feel the need to have to go inside and see everything, being there is enough to capture the magic of the past.
With a backdrop of threatening skies I caught these orange Greater Manchester Transport buses resting over the weekend at the former Bury Cororation depot on the Rochale Road in about 1980. As well as three 'Manchester' Standards with Northern Counties bodywork, in this case Daimler Fleetlines, there was also another older one of 1965 the former No.133 which came with the Bury fleet, and also bodied by East Lancs was a Leyland Titan trainer bus probably formerly Ramsbottom U.D.C. No.5 TTD 879D of 1966.
Saturday, 23 February 2008
I have to say Schwarzenburg, a small town and local ski-resort wasn't the most exciting place to have to spend two hours in the cold waiting for the train back to Bern that Saturday Afternoon almost exactly fifteen years ago on 27th Febuary 1993. Indeed it didn't take many minutes either to see the four PTT Swiss post buses based here. As well as this 1981 Hess bodied Saurer RH, until 1989-90 there had also been three Saurer DUK's here too, Nos P24605/11/19 dating from 1970-1. But they were replaced by brand new Mercedes based NAW BH4-23 buses with consecative numbers including this one the first P24430 . Later in the decade the local Regie fleet was transferred to a local Post Bus contractor (PAH) so I'm glad I didn't miss this one unlike Sierre, Fluelen and the other small garages that went over the years. Of much greater interest though was on the journey back great views of a huge scrapyard in a quarry containing a good number of old buses spoiling my sleep that night!
Friday, 22 February 2008
Under it's innovative or some might even say eccentric General Manager Edgley Cox, the rather bright and shocking almost electric-blue painted buses and trolleybuses of Walsall Corporation were a fantastic mix of the old, the new, and the secondhand. Added to this there were in-house rebuilds and the expertimentation of strange concepts like a record breaking jumbo-sized Fleetline whilst just a few years earlier the Corporation had ditched the front-entrance concept altogether and ordered these extra short 26ft long Daimlers with the entrance behind the driver and no front overhang to speak of looking a bit like today's Optare Vario or those futuristic ugly round-fronted-snake-bus- trains they are operating in York which remind me of something from the adventures of Dan Dare. Most Swiss fleets seemed rather conservative in comparison and the larger concerns seemed to standardise on well-tried Swiss products but Lausanne seemed to have everything. Here are two good examples as not only did the concern prefer trailors they also ran oddities like a few impressive imported German bendibuses from MAN, and at the other end of the age scale in December 1988 was No.630 one of the oldest members of the fleet, an ancient looking trolleybus that might even have started life with somewhere like Zurich as TL was not adverse to buying secondhand either.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
It is some years now since Barrow lost it's smart dark blue and cream Corporation Buses in favour of those Stagecoach stripes. Like most Municipal fleets single-deckers used to play only a small part in this double-decker based fleet. In 1965 there were only nine a situation that had reversed itself by 1985 when fewer passengers and almost universal one-person-operation had almost driven those bigger buses to extinction. Like many Corporations in North West Britain Barrow had traditionally been a Leyland fleet and although there were still ten Leopards like this Neepsend bodied example of 1969 and plenty of locally built Nationals, single and double-deck Daimler Fleetlines and single-deck Dennis Dominators had holed that dominance in this former stronghold. When I took this photo in about 1980 amongst the fifty buses there were still members from a batch of ten front-entrance Massey Bodied Leyland PD2's from 1961 in service, and that and the impressive crane in the shipyard in my opinion makes this slightly rough photograph still well worth posting.
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Like everywhere it seems, somehow the older buses seemed to have a lot more character than the newer designs and this seemed to apply more to Sweden than other countries I visited. Even the modern vehicles in Gothenburg in 1986 like this SJ state-owned semi-luxury Volvo looked more like a giant snow cat than a bus, yet I have to conceed that it did look different to the norm which of course in these days of 'euro-boxes' is a big plus. I expect the rugged look is to be expected in a vast country where difficult weather conditions is normal..
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Here in the snow parked at the rear of the Post Auto Garage in St.Moritz in the early Nineties were five buses and no less than four of them were rarities in the main Swiss PTT Regie fleet. Nearest the camera was P24338 a short Setra 211 HM one of a pair allocated here whilst the third was at Sion. Partially hidden behind one of the operator's one-hundred-plus Setra 215 UL's were three very interesting buses being part of a batch of five FBW U-EU3A's P24800-4 that spent their entire working lives here, delivered in 1975-6. There was a final larger batch of FBW's delivered in 1977-8 but those arrived fitted with underpowered Mercedes engines, so as Saint Moritz was one of the traditional homes of the so-called shark's mouth Haifisch fronted Alpenwagens during my Swiss Schooldays in the Sixties maybe Switzerland's premier ski resort was a good home for these the last proper FBW powered buses.
Monday, 18 February 2008
Although the large quality Independent coach operators like their Company counterparts tended to shun lightweight models prefering the more durable quality marques like AEC, Leyland and Volvo there was still often a place for a few of those less sophisticated lightweight Bedfords or Fords for the easier jobs. Probably these were leased for a couple of years and returned which mean't that the fleet age profile could always remain low and at the same time saving on financial outlay. Typical work for these coaches was local day trips, schools and the occasional foray on to the Motorway at weekends. Not far from the Leeds headquaters on the outskirts of Bradford was Ford LUA 266V in the severe winter of 1981-2.
Sunday, 17 February 2008
I'm not where I want to be and this old bus is going nowhere either.
Being interested in transport one can waste a lot of time on hoilday trying to find certain unlikely locations and especially so when annoyingly language problems steer you right off track. In Lisbon crossing high above on the spectacular Tagus Bridge it was not difficult to notice the collection of gently rotting faded mostly green AEC buses awaiting their final fate at the rear of of Carris Works at Santo Amaro. So the next day with map in hand I pointed where I wanted to go but instead of arriving down by the estuary I ended up at what I believe to be called Rodoviaria the main RN terminus for it's long distance services. Indeed I had put my finger on the right place on the map saying "I want to go here?" but unfortunately directly above it was an arrow to the Tagus Bridge and the words 'THE ALGARVE'. I mean how stupid can people be, after all how many tourists actually want go to the The Algarve to enjoy the sun when normal people like myself getting hot and bothered in the process prefer to seek out those wonderful old AEC's hidden away behind the grim industrial buildings. No doubt this old 'canteen-bus' must mean something to many of you, but for myself I can't tell you much about it apart from it being orange and probably dating from the early-Sixties. I did eventually get there the next day, but sadly it was Saturday and I couldn't go inside the works. However I didn't go away empty-handed as I was able to take a few worthwhile photos of the old buses over the wall at the back.
I was sad to see on the Omnibuses Blog that the Thamesdown fleet of Swindon has finally said goodbye to the last of it's Daimler Fleetlines. An typical example photographed in 1981 was No.156 one of ten with Metro-Cammell bodywork delivered in 1974.
In 1990 the Swiss town of Thun (STI) still had a few Saurer buses but despite the presence of similar named water-fowl these were not the once common under-floor engined DUK built between 1962-1973. Because of their more recent age and rear mounted engines these are much more like the PTT's greatly lamented RH type buses built between 1978-85. Apart from my interest in Post Buses I'm not so hot on other Swiss buses but these might have been of the type SH.
Saturday, 16 February 2008
With Privitisation as well as trying to expand and forge new territories PMT made the most of it's spare work's capicity and engineering skills already deployed bodying those so-called Transit type bread van mini-buses and moved into bigger things like Mercedes midis. But it's most interesting project was to build very presentable but rather homemade looking bodywork on a batch of about eight Leyland Swifts for it's own fleet. One of them 314, probably in 1989 was seen working a town service in Stone which is five miles north of Stafford.
Friday, 15 February 2008
Riding on the back of a Leyland Atlantean mean't something quite different to the naughty scallywags of Porto and if they lived to tell the tale I'm sure they were sadly missed. But as you can see from this photo there was not much to hold on to. This operator started buying these buses in 1962 with bodywork by Martins and Caetano and these ten were followed in 1963-4 by another 30 by Dalfa. But of course it is the 1966 batch of more angular Caetano examples that most people remember.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
They might get in the way of your bus, but had it not been for these two young lovers adding a bit of colour to this Stafford scene I might not have photographed Reg Bassett's rather mudane and unexciting Mercedes minibus covering for the more usual former W Robinson & Son Leyland Leopard on the very roundabout country route it worked under tender for the County Council over what was once at least a couple of PMT single-deck OPO routes, before the local seven bus garage closed with MAP, the National Bus Companies Doctor Beeching inspired cuts. This semi-circular lifeline headed slightly NE to Hopton then on to Stone in the North eventually finding itself in Eccleshall seven miles to the west of Stafford.
The small town of San Antonio might be just a stones throw away from Vila Real and Portugal across the estuary of the Rio Gaudiana River but it felt like somewhere from another time and different continent. The comparitively neat nearby Algarve resorts with their tidy seafronts and flowerbeds seemed rather British like Worthing or Torquay compared with this sleepy dusty place that looked like it had once been the set of some Spaghetti Western. As part of the EU Spain has changed a great deal since this view was taken in 1984 and I expect the whole area is now covered in concrete and tall apartments to house a new affluent generation moving out from Ayamonte. No doubt first impressions are misleading as on this day I just sailed in for an hour to photograph some different looking buses and of course those dark Spanish girls who look like something out of a Picasso or Dali Painting, but in a way of course I hope this sleepy place is still very much the way it was.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Not looking too bad in NBC poppy-red and by this time a training vehicle, TU3 was formerly No.1399 in the Ribble fleet. It stands outside Aintree Garage next door to Littlewoods Pools and directly opposite Aintree Racecourse across the dual-carriageway. It was one of three Ribble garages in the Liverpool area and held ninety of the 200-plus allocated by the company to the city. During the Sixties most of these buses were full-fronted Leyland PD3's or PD2's like this plain MCW bodied example. Aintree differed from the other two sheds though as forty of it's fleet were coaches and there were a couple of Royal Tiger single-deckers too and also the only Atlanteans, two of them used on the long route to Preston. Anyway that was the local fleet in August 1963, a year or so before I tried to walk around this garage notebook in hand spotting numbers. Amazingly it was the only one in the whole city where I was turned away as even they would let you just wander around the Corporation's Edge Lane Works. Not that it mattered much as the gaffer's office was in the middle and by the time I had reached it I had recorded just about everything in there including two rows of Harrington Cavalier Leyland Leopard coaches parked up for the winter. To be honest I'm not sure when I took this but 1980 sounds about right and as you can see if you look through the frosted glass windows behind that single-deckers had properly arrived mainly in the form of the Bristol RE. With this posting I have decided to add a new tag for special and service vehicles.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
I have to confess I don't hate the First Group's Barbie Livery when it's clean and properly maintained, but a lot of my enthusiasm stems from the fact that at last the company saw sense and did away with that dreadful dreary Ugly Sister Barbie Two. I read the article posted recently on the interesting and informative website of Plymouth Transit congratulating First on the great improvement in the state of it's buses in the city. I have to say I agree as they looked smart at least in the sunshine when I went there last summer, and another nice touch was how a broad band of blue has been positioned beneath the upper deck windows on double-deckers, something that was abandoned by many operators in the early Sixties when lazy spray painting led to economies in detail and finish. The older buses of Liverpool and Salford and of course the Bristol Lodekka never looked quite right again when that tradition was binned along with the paint brush. Another good thing about the First double-deckers at Plymouth from the enthusiasts point of view at least is that many of them are old friends who have gathered there from all parts of the country like old Hippies travelling to the West Country for a Grateful Dead Concert. But I jest too much for as Kenny Everet would have said on his radio show sounding like a blast from the past those Leyland Olympians big Gardner Engines might be heavy metal but they sound rather more mellow and evocative like say The Family or flute playing Jethro Tull.
I hear the weather is good in Plymouth, why not visit plymothiantransit
Monday, 11 February 2008
This the second Reading Transport view quickly following on from the first has been prompted by a 'Comments Column' request. I try my best for you but I'm sorry some things I can't supply like Southampton's Seddons. But this lovely shot of the Corporation's Mill Lane Garage in Reading taken in 1994 is enough to inspire even the most disinterested of passers-by to take a peep inside. But why bother when parked outside looking suprisingly smart in the Reading Livery that unlike many colours of today at least included an area of chocolate brown harking back to the good old days of trolleybuses and AEC's were a couple of smart ECW bodied Bristol VR's. Sadly the once numerous municipals had been gradually dying out since my spotting days so it's was nice to see this important Berkshire town get a good slice of the disbanded Alder Valley when it took over the former Thames Valley Newbury operations.
Parts of Portugal inland away from the Atlantic Coast are very arid and dusty like the small town of Mertola high up above the Rio Gaudina River, and there didn't seem to be a lot to see there except of course some old dusty RN buses. Most of the buses in Portugal looked quite attractive or at least interesting but this truck-based Volvo seen in 1984 was a notable ugly exception.
Sunday, 10 February 2008
I think it was Richard who left me a message on my guestbook requesting pictures of more Lancashire Independent Coaches visiting Blackpool and especially views taken at the old Coleseum Bus Station. I only spotted your note yesterday but in the meantime I'm sure you don't dislike those people from across the Pennines enough to scorn one of their best known private operators, a survivor at least when I took this Nineties photo of the days when the Doncaster area of South Yourkshire was awash with them. As a bus enthusiast my favourite make has always been Leyland as I love those 0.680 engine sounds, the manufacturer's badges and even the glint of polished Leyland wheel-trims. A trip to Blackpool was an opportunity to record all these things and amazingly despite having been through the mill when it's good name became synonymous with the British-Leyland regime, although it could no longer produce world beating buses it's old once familar world famous image was rekindled ready for the Final Ball followed by a pronounced loss of face once it lost the engineering back up of Leyland Trucks whose plant had supplied the engines. One of Leyland's later products was it's replacement for the legendry Leopard the Tiger, and like it's predecesor usually seen with Plaxton on Duple Coachwork, but a few were bodied by Van Hool too, especially those that went to Shearings alonside it's similar looking Volvos. Leon's of Fillongley's No.127 GDZ 885 could have quite easily have once have been one of those but it wasn't as it started life just outside London with Travellers of Hounslow as B327 AHM.
In 1985 not only were all it's buses double-deckers all but five of them in the smart Southampton City Transport fleet were Leyland Atlanteans, but by the end of the Decade not only had it renamed itself to Citybus the fleet contained some single-deck variety in the shape of new Leyland Lynx buses together with some second-hand Leyland Nationals. But maybe the most interesting of these single-deckers was this unusual Dennis Lancet with Wadham Stringer bodywork that had not travelled very far starting life as part of a batch of three at Portsmouth just along the coast. I don't know whether Southampton took all three or just this, numerically the last one ex-No.97.
Saturday, 9 February 2008
It might be only Febuary but there is a definate feeling of Spring in the air here in the England as the warm South Westerlies blow warm air tempting out bemused daffodils that by now should know better, ready for some good sharp frosts. So with retrospective Valentines in mind that still spring to mind I thought I would upset the purists amongst you by bringing to my city street a few more of my girls to add a bit of colour to those drab bus scenes. On my trip to Portugal in 1984 out of the blue diesel rush-hour haze I came face to face with a real beauty, a busty student Porto Girl. I don't know who was the most surprised but she didn't look quite so gorgeous a few moments later being not too happy when I took my photo. Actually at the time I was busy getting a couple of pictures of Porto's 45 1967 Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster buses, some of which had recently recieved the crisp styling afforded by their new second Salvador Caetano body. Thougtfully the bodybuilder had included from the old buses the now much sought after cat-badges taken from off the old scrapped bodywork. In fact I only took my shot a few seconds earlier but it created a totally different effect, and I got my bus too No.456. There were still some of this batch running about too that hadn't been so lucky and I photographed these as well.
Guys there are now many of you, and you get all this for free so how about a few more interesting comments please or even questions and requests? I will try to answer them
Friday, 8 February 2008
Although one sees few other operators other than the City's TL and no post buses either in Lausanne itself this rather contrasty charasmatic Swiss city on Lake Geneva has a distinct cosmoplitian french feel that includes sometimes it's buses, it's architecture and of course it's delightful girls. On a cold winter's day in the early-Nineties two Van-Hool midibuses pass one another as smart lady in a cinemon coloured overcoat waits to cross the road. The police had stopped to check the papers of a couple of vagrant hippy types crossing the bridge, and so even Lausanne isn't quite that laid-back, but it's one of the places I would choose to live.
Thursday, 7 February 2008
Many Municipal operators surrounding Britain's major cities were lost when they became integrated into the Area PTE's but in 1970 two more sold out to the NBC, Exeter to Western National's smaller Devon General unit and Luton to United Counties. Luton ran seventy-five buses from a modern garage in Park Street and it's double-deckers were all of the unpopular lowbridge or later lowheight variety. Most were Leylands but there were eight Dennis Lolines too and sixteen Albion Lowlanders like attractive 1962 East-Lancs bodied No.174. Actually outside Scotland these buses were marketed as Leyland's but in this shot one can still see there was an Albion Badge at the top of the radiator grill to show it's true Scottish pedigree. Sadly some of my photographic prints have yellowed with age like this print of 1968 but I'm sure many will still want to see some fine old buses of Yesterday.
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
The double-deck counterpart to the Leyland National called the Titan was not a huge success due to production delays and it's cost which was a shame really as it was a lovely sturdy bus. Although some of the PTE's like Manchester and West Midlands took trial batches it was only London who took it seriously enough to build up a large fleet ordering 1130 examples. However there was one Muncipal further up the Thames which always bought something different to the others and that was Reading which like London Transport took a number along with the MCW Metrobus which proved much more popular with the Area PTE's. Two initial T-Reg buses were followed by this batch of ten Y's Nos.70-79. Also in this view doing a Saturday Afternoon Promanade various local girls give us an impromptu display of Ninties Fashion.
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Monday, 4 February 2008
The First Group who bought out the West Yorkshire PTE as happened elsewhere in the Ninties suffered a lot of competition from smaller operators who undercut fares to win traffic. To counter the competition without losing face large operators set up low cost budget operations like Quickstep in Leeds. Just like the smaller operators busy eating away at their potential profits the large Yourkshire operator favoured buses like redundant Leyland National Mark1 buses such as this example which started life with another PTE on Merseyside. One of the most interesting aspects of the take-over-culture surrounding the aquisitive nature of Deregulation was the movement of buses between units and one needed to be something of an anorak to know what came from where and how. Thankfully by this time I was not particularly interested in numbers game and was able to just love em and leave em.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
Part of the romance of Switzerland's Alpine Post Bus Network has always been that whatever the weather without qualms they make their way up those often perilous mountain roads and back. On certain long routes there was an added almost heroic element as even in Summer it was quite a treck from the likes of St.Moritz to Lugano. When the weather permits that goes just once a day in each direction but a much busier route makes it's way down the high mountains from where they start near Chur where the main-line rail network ends and a narrow-gauge train or yellow Post Bus bus takes us even further over the top to Bellinzona in Ticino where not only can one once more find proper trains there is a more balmy Southern European Climate. By the Ninties all that schoolboy romance had gone as more comfortable but mundane Post Autos no longer had to negociate the often rock-strewn narrow winding mountain roads as all the driver had to do was switch his headlights on as they sped right through them in tunnels on a modern super highway. However there were still little subtle reminders of the good old days when there was less hurry and proper Post Buses owned these roads like the legendry bonneted Saurers and equally Swiss FBW Heifisch Alpenwagens of my schooldays. Yes even the much bigger modern vehicles break off their effortless progress turning off the main highway to visit small communities that on the surface at least have hardly changed in Generations. I made this journey south a number of times on the PTT's front-line coaches of the time the Setra Kassbohrer S215 HM like Chur's P26004 and as we paused for a break half-way at the top of the world in San Bermadino surrounded by dazzling white snow blue skies and sunshine many of the passengers staggered off just wanting to fill their lungs with poisonous cigarette smoke. And some people think I'm crazy liking my buses.
I remember this Saturday long ago because I didn't pick the best day to go hitch-hiking with my notebook and camera and ended up in all places at Aldershot. It was wet snow falling too as well as rain so as well as feeling cold it's didn't take long to get horribly wet and sniffling. On my way back to Maidstone where I was at Art College I got stranded on the old A25 near Reigate or Redhill at dusk and by the time another car picked me up I was really shivering and feeling low. Volvo had recently phased out it's classic Amazon with the more square shape and this was the first time I had ridden in one. As one would expect the heaters in Swedish cars were a lot more effective than ours and before too long I felt the life seep back into my body, and it was a good job too as the poor guys who picked me up were almost passing out with the heat but I'm glad they turned the heat off before they had to strip. down to their underpants. No apart from my spotting it wasn't a good day and I didn't take any reasonable photographs either except this one which is not just a real cracker showing one of Aldershot and District's attractive early East-Lancs bodied Dennis Loline Mark1 buses as it catches perfectly how utterly miserable that sorry day was.