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
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.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Photographed in 1997 this Northern Counties Paladine bodied Dennis Dart was probably already owned by Cowie who took them over that year. Fortunately Stagecoach was still the only one of the big groups to inflict it's corporate identity on to everything that moved. My couple of days in Scotland was part of a short unplanned trip and I was glad I wasted a lot of film in Edinburgh and here in Glasgow catching the colours and buses of once well known small operators such as McGills that might have gone unrecorded.
Blackpool has always been a great places for seeing coaches and when it's warm and sunny with trams and the many other seaside attractions too it's a great day out. Parked up one Sunday probably in 1996 were two coaches that had travelled in opposite directions. A337 HNX was a Plaxton Paramount bodied Ford that started life with the West Midlands Police and had found it's way to the well know Stott of Oldham. Whilst travelling the other way as far as Stoke on Trent in North Staffordshire from Manchester was 1978 ANA 8T another Plaxton coach but this time with Supreme bodywork owned by Knotty an enthusiastic operator the AEC marque including this 6U3ZR Reliance that was new to Greater Manchester Transport who bought Nos.5-9 for their recently acquired Godfrey Abbott subsidiary. Maybe they had been ordered prior to the takeover as GMT was well wedded to the Leyland Leopard by this time.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
I'm sure my photo site fans from Portugal will forgive me when I say that I indulged myself on certain bus types like these the last twenty or so AEC Regent double-deckers still in service in the country's Capital in 1984. Also of course this is rather an interesting view with now ancient British BMC and French Renault cars plus the motorised hand-cart with a light down below for night driving: At first I thought it was something like prawns in those trays because of the colour but of course it couldn't be in that heat. Thanks Durante for telling me they were chestnuts, I haven't seen those for a while either except at Winter Fairs
Friday, 21 November 2008
I'm afraid I didn't quite hold the camera straight enough on this one which only goes to eggagerate the dramatic leaning over effect as all the Evening Rush Hour traffic races around Trafalgar Square in London including a smart Volvo Jonckheere Yorkshire Ride VIP-Executive coach.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
One of my favourite UK Municipal Operator was Southampton City Transport who unlike most of the others did not abandon the fine traditional livery of maroon and cream, or to be more precise a kind of darker cherry red that so suited it's older buses when it introduced a new brighter look when it's first Leyland Atlanteans arrived in 1969. Consequently not only did the original look of quality carried on fine buses like 1967 No.381 an East Lancs bodied AEC Regent V stay with them throughout their working lives it also meant that the later stock always looked fresh too. This shot was taken at Shirley on the outskirts and to testify that it was taken in the Seventies, just look at those flares!
For many years boggie-trams like No.417 were typical of the network in Basel. It is seen close to the Bahnhof where passing in the opposite direction a Mercedes 0405 Post Bus arrives pulling a trailer as it works that operator's single but important route out to the Airpor from the city centre.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The well know long established Birmingham operator from Handsworth had some considerable success when most other newcomers failed after express coach service market was deregulated. It concentrated on services between the Midlands and other airports using rather up-market coaches like this Bova Futura seen on what is now Terminal One Car Park at Manchester Airport where it advertised it's route Manchester-Birmingham-London-Gatwick on the sides. After Flight's Airport Links like the 777 to Stanstead were sold on to National Express they retained Flight's distinctive livery and branding for a time too but now sadly it has gone. However Flight's name still lives on as it is now part of the Hallmark group that includes a number of quality coach operators including Dunn Line whose in-house livery bears a lot of similarities to this with the main difference being that a silver-grey has replaced the attractive cream colour.
Monday, 17 November 2008
In the former East Berlin one would have expected to see a far greater variety of buses and coaches from across the Iron Curtain than there was. But with coaches at least they seemed to be mostly the same Ikarus from Hungary or Autosan models from nearby Poland. However there were strange beasts and unfamiliar number-plates like this one that behind the strange name and radiator grill blanket seemed to lurk the vague shape of an elderly Setra probably built under licence.
Of course the Independent States that once formed the old Yugoslavia are now firmly etched on our minds following the years of unrest in the Balkans. Here is an view of a smart Mercedes 0302 from Kosovo taken in Rovinj in more tranquil times when President Tito was still alive holding it all together in this beautiful but fragile country.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Partly because it owned Northern Counties the bus body-builder many of the Greater Manchester Transport buses carried NC bodies including of course most of the Atlanteans and all the Olympians. It was easy to spot the Park Royal bodied Atlanteans though as they had well-rounded front domes whereas NC bodies were more box-like. Some of my negatives turned out rather cloudy and fogged but the effect was not always too unpleasant maybe just losing some background detail. No 7822 from the long since closed Northenden Garage (NN) makes it's way along Deansgate before as it heads for Moss Side and Wythenshaw Estate to the south of the city.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
I can't quite remember where this was in Portugal but it was a busy little town to the North of Lisbon with a street market and which was served by both RN and local buses and probably the same as the destination on the bus. One of these a rather functional looking Volvo heads off for Caldas-da-Rainha if this is not where it already is.
Gillingham Street (GM) in Victoria with 64 buses was the most central of all the London Transport garages. As you can see in the early Eighties there were still plenty of Routemasters to be found and as well as having recently taken a batch of MCW Metrobuses a major feature of it's operations were the 'standee' Red Arrows of which two of the then current generation of still quite new Leyland National2's were very much in evidence.
Berresford of Cheddleton in North Staffordshire did push the boat out a bit with some adventurous and not too clever purchases like an ex-Bury Guy Wulfrunian but this solid reliable ex-Salford MCW bodied Daimler was not one of them. Most people associate this operator's buses either with either being on or just about ready for their slow demise dumped at the back of the garage in what became Britain's best known bus graveyard. This old girl obviously had a few good miles left as I caught what had been Salford No.358 fresh out of the paint shop as the driver had an oily rag to polish the chrome up on the radiator ready for a somewhat regal return journey to Leek. This view was taken in Hanley in about 1965 when this one of many similar buses delivered to Salford was fifteen-years-old.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Lothian the bus company of Edinburgh got into a political row with local Scottish residents when it ordered it's first large series of Leyland Olympians with Eastern Coach Works bodies from Lowestoft in Suffolk rather than the home grown product from W. Alexander and Son of Falkirk nearby. However before the large order was placed the undertaking took two of these buses with Alexander R-Series bodywork and if good looks alone were to be taken as the criteria I think the more elegant ECW design would have won the show of hands over this box. Still it was not too surprising for even though the city had standardised on Alexander bodied Leyland Atlanteans in the past, numerous lightweight Birmingham built MCW Orion's had graced the PD2 and MCW-Weymann of Addlestone had bodied 100 Tiger Cubs. Some time after I took this view in the Eighties these two interesting buses were whittled down to just one when this particular bus was destroyed by fire. After the ECW bodied were all delivered Lothian turned to Alexander again and future generations of these buses did arrive allbeit with a more attractive front.
Barton as an Independant was know for running a very mixed fleet but few would associate it with DAF or any other non-British manufacturer come to think of it. But towards the end in 1983-5 it bought batches of these Plaxton Paramount 3200 bodied vehicles rather than the previous choice Leylands. No doubt unlike the much loved Leopard it was obviously not so impressed with the later Tiger only taking one batch of five. The first of the 1984 DAF order No.623 is pictured halted outside the appropriately named travellers Rest on the road between Nantwich and Chester as the vehicle makes it's way to the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno on the North Wales Coast on Express Service X34 when the coach was still fairly new.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Compare these two Swiss P-Registered PTT Post Bus thoroughbreds pictured at Yverdon in December 1988 with the version of bodywork that was more usually found on the Contractor's Canton registered buses below.
In the good old days of the Swiss PTT one could tell which of the yellow Post Buses actually belonged to them as opposed to their far more numerous contractors vehicles as they carried a P-letter suffix. With the Saurer RH fleet however it was usually very easy to tell from a distance as almost all the true Post Buses carried a totally different more rounded in-house style of bodywork to this. But as you can see the smaller P-reg fleet did make things more interesting as it also took some of these fairly square looking buses too which they numbered P25647-66. Even with these twenty non-standard buses it was still quite easy to tell them apart from the Canton Registrations because unlike their contractors version where there was a black lower front panel where it says Saurer, PTT buses like P25650 seen here in the early Nineties at Chur loading for Flims had all-yellow fronts right down to the bumper. I'm sure opinions are divided on which body style was the most attractive but I'm pretty sure that the true PTT version wins hands down as it looked crisp and well designed from all angles unlike these rather more square and ungainly buses including some with very boxy rear ends: Besides even though these were still quite nice and so very Swiss the main fleet of RH's was a true classic which will be missed for years to come.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
I have to say despite the rows of horizontal scratches caused when the film all those years ago was wound through my old Voitlander Camera I still quite like this picture. Probably because it was from hand loaded bulk-film didn't help either but somehow thanks to Sods-Law the tightness attacking the emulsion as it was wound through seemed to happen the most to the best images. But as far as posterity is concerned it is not a problem as I'm sure should someone have the motivation or incentive these scratches could be removed with little trouble in Photoshop. I guess you have probably guessed already, I work on the contrast and sharpness but apart from that I choose to serve them up as they are whether they have brown spots marks or the Loch Ness Monster on them. Few look at them as it is and I suppose at least it will put off those cheapskates who try to flog other people's material on Ebay.
As for the bus it came from the one-hundred-strong Rhonnda fleet whose base was at Porth near Pontypridd in the Welsh Valleys. The bus livery was pretty much the same as it's large BET Group neighbour Western Welsh but unlike WW who ran a high percentage of lowheight double-deckers Rhonnda had few height problems on it's major routes. After the NBC was formed in 1969 these two fleets were merged along with the BTC Tilling Red & White to form National Welsh. Rhonnda's vehicle policy had been for Leyland single-decks and coaches, particularly of course the Welsh favourite the Tiger Cub, but deckers came from AEC with the Regent. But as half-cabs went out of favour Rhonnda like WW turned to Leyland's Atlantean taking attractive buses like this 1969 Northern Counties bodied bus bound for the Royal Hospital at Cadoxton.
A girlfriend used to travel all around the country with her job and as a treat she took me with her on a visit to Bitterne, Portsmouth and Worthing. Sadly by the time we reached Portsmouth it was already mid-afternoon with the winter light fading fast despite the sunshine. So I bought a roll of fast film and photographed what I could. Once confined to the Gosport and Fareham area Provincial didn't run in to Portsmouth as the city was the realm of it's Corporation Buses and of course Southdown. By the Deregulated Nineties Southdown now a part of Stagecoach was still here, but the once fine Corporation fleet had been replaced by a tranche of Harry Blundred's horrid eccentric minibus empire so it was left to People's Provincial to provide most of the proper full-sized local buses. As you can see former London Transport Leyland National Mark1 buses were popular and I have to admit they did look rather smart in the operators traditional dark green.
Monday, 10 November 2008
I was in Italy a few years ago for the Florence Biennale Art Exhibition where I was showing my work. A cloud hung over the last day at the end of the stay as this being Italy a national rail and bus strike was threatened making it difficult to catch my plane home to Stanstead. In the end all turned out well as it did not affect private operators like Bus Europe who supplied this Irizar bodied Scania on their service which competes with the railway to Pisa.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
I had so little time when I went to Dartmouth last Summer I had to catch the same bus back but I was determined to catch something even if Navy Day Celebrations (30-8-08) meant all I had time for was a quick beached Optare Solo or two from upstairs.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
Two of the once vast fleet of West Midlands PTA's Daimler Fleetlines negociate the Bull Ring Roundabout in the centre of Birmingham. 1978 built MCW bodied No.6648 was fairly typical of the later buses but 6263 was rather more interesting. This Alexander bodied example came to WM along with their services and garages in the PTA area which included Midland Red's profitable densely populated heartland called the Black Country. Once with a dual-entrance but still carrying it former number 6263 came from the final batch of 33 of these D13 Fleetlines delivered in 1970-1 and as most of them had been allocated here and to garages like Sutton Coldfield the vast majority ended up in the PTA's not unattractive dark blue and cream.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Birmingham is one city that couldn't be associated with the Leyland Atlantean as even though the Corporation tried a small batch of ten in the Sixties before placing orders for the Daimler Fleetline, and Standerwick Gay Hostesses passed through too, it was left to the sadly missed Independent North Birmingham Busways who operated about ten on routes out towards Sutton Coldfield to offer them a distinguished swan-song in their final days many years later. They snapped up well built and well maintained Northern Counties bodied examples from Greater Manchester plus other equally attractive examples with NBC-style Park Royal bodywork that started life with City of Plymouth. However these later AN68 buses of the Seventies and Early-Eighties were a far cry from the troublesome early PDR's of the Fifties and Sixties that people still moan about. Indeed many concerns that took well-tried AN68 Atlanteans preferred them to the new fangled Olympian which like the early Atlantean was also a flawed bus.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Greatrex grew up during the War and was the main Stafford coaching concern till it's demise in the Eighties when it passed to the Austin family who also ran buses and coaches from nearby at Knightley near Woodseaves. Happy Days coaches as they are better known now have their premises just a stones throw away from the site used by Greatrex before this scruffy area off Greyfriars was redeveloped as small business and retail park. Once like many others till the early Sixties the distinct light metallic-blue and maroon fleet was full of interesting gems but the lightweight era brought firstly Duple bodied Commers and then it was the same combination on Thames and Ford. By the time Ford 1114 No.153 YRE 465S had arrived the metallic finish had been replaced by a more managable light blue. With a change of ownership and fleet name to Staffordian Travel the livery was changed again to silver, gunmetal and orange but the fleet numbers remained the same. Staffordian was eventually taken over and merged with Happy Days but a few coaches still wear and white livery with Staffordian names.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Leicester City Transport took first the sophisticated Anglo-Swedish Metro-Cammell based Metro-Scania single-decker and then the double-deck Metropolitan in a big way before seeing the error of it's ways and buying sensibly and British again with the Gardner-Powered Dennis Dominator and Lancet. They may have been costly to run and not totally reliable but the way these buses effortlessly swished along on an air-suspended ride was a joy to behold.
Monday, 3 November 2008
Thirsty or not, one of the pleasures of visiting great cities is drinking whether it be enjoying a night on the town or just sitting watching the world go by. No doubt like millions of visitors before them these girls enjoy the magic of Berlin's most fashionable street. Of course double-deckers still amble along here too but for as long as I can remember the 9 Route taking them back to Tegel Airport or as it is today 109 has always been worked by single-deckers even if the extra axle is a more recent innovation.
Even though I say it myself this is not a bad photo at all considering it was taken through the window of another bus as it waited to depart for Tavistock from Plymouth Bretonside. Apart from the obvious I cannot tell you a great deal more about No.7094
Along with Southdown on the South Coast, Ribble in the North West was probably everyone's favourite large BET Company. I'm not too crazy about bus rallies as they lack an element of reality, but not only does each one produce something interesting to see, at their best we are offered a wealth of nostalgic bus rides too. One I will remember for some time was on this former Ribble East-Lancs bodied Leyland PD1 Titan 'White Lady' coach which almost effortlessly and in comfort took us out over the hills to Cheadle and back from the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton. Here we can see a profile of it's Art-Deco inspired styling whilst in the background is an example from the best know of the former Tilling Group coach operators 'Royal Blue' whose ECW bodied Bristol LS vehicles like No.2200 of 1957 ran down the A30 and other main roads between London and the West Country.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
The late-Eighties and a party of regular punters from my local Bookmakers was going to York Races for the day, and so I went along too but of course to photograph the local buses in the city and not to do anything silly like drink and lose money on the horses. However I was still able to avail myself of some corporate hospitality and enjoy the atmosphere surrounded by some interesting rides. Parked on the grass our Happy Days of Woodeaves Neoplan double-decker makes an interesting contrast with the rather less pretty Gypsy Queen, Willowbrook Spacecar bodied Bedford from the small seven vehicle fleet of G & M Cox of Langley Park in Durham. I bet they just got beer and sandwiches with not a glass of champagne or sliced cucumber in sight. Happy Days had a pair of these Auwaeter Neoplan H77D double-deck coaches delivered in 1987 159-160 with an interesting pair of Registrations 18 XWC and XWC 18 which I feel must have caused a mix-up at times.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Like many operators Lancashire United did not convert to rear-engined double-deckers straight away in the early Sixties just buying a few alongside it's tried and trusted no-nonsense Guy Arabs. The modern Daimler Fleetline buses carried similar styled Northern Counties bodywork and although they looked a bit heavy from the rear I feel this was one of the most pleasingly proportioned early designs for these buses. In 1962 and the following year LUT took six of these buses 97-102 and 137-142.