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, 31 January 2009
I cannot tell you very much about this rather attractive Portuguese coach seen on tourist duties in Lisbon in 1984 apart from the fact that it looked unusual, unlike of course the once very common nicely round very Fifties Mercedes 190 Taxi.
Friday, 30 January 2009
Things are much more stable now on the bus front now that consolidation in the bus industry is more or less complete. But the late Eighties and the Nineties were interesting times with all sorts of operators both big and small having a go. These two operators ended up as part of Arriva but the former Crosville Bristol VR with the broken brake-light was part of C-Line whilst the North Western Alexander bodied Atlantean is quite interesting as it formerly ran for Edinburgh's Lothian. In the background work was being carried out on Manchester's new tramway, one of the few things that has had some real merit following all this upheaval on the buses.
Well this batch of buses might have been an extremely rare sight in the more populated urban areas of Switzerland as the batch P23321-330 dating from 1991 was confined to the narrow roads of the mountains where they ran from Chur, Thusis and here at Scoul. However what made P23324 a very rare sight indeed was the fact that by Swiss standards it was filthy. The warmer weather had obviously caused a thaw making the roads very mucky with a lot of mud mixed in with melting snow but I'm sure it would stay dirty for very much longer as the PTT were most proud of their spotless yellow buses.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
The Birmingham based Independent Smiths Imperial Coaches christened this Leyland Tiger delivered in about 1982 Imperial Pullman. I guess it was pride of the fleet and it is still cherished by it's current operator also an enthusiast, Coastal Coaches of Wolverhampton who put down as the key to it's long life the superior corrosion free Jonckheere Jubilee body.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
As well as having a wealth of old buses dumped at the rear of it's Cheddleton premises there were always used new arriving entering service, some lasting several years others lasting maybe a few months. This former Bournemouth Leyland Atlantean of 1964 with a pseudo Alexander body by MCW was a familiar sight in Hanley so I imagine it was one of the lucky ones. Next to it a Plaxton Panorama coach is being prepared for service and probably a Leopard as they were popular here too.
Today of course apart from for some detail differences London buses come straight off-the-peg as supplied by the manufacturers, and naturally there are those who are old enough to miss with affection the real thing like the RT, the RF and the Routemaster. But even in those good of days of neat Post-War standardisation before they started experimenting with Provincial buses like the Atlantean, Fleetline and RC Green-Line AEC Reliance in 1965 there were a few notable exceptions. Like other operator's London Transport used single-deckers whenever possible on routes where there were low bridges to negociate but there was a need for some lowbridge double-deckers on the busier routes particularly in the green country area. For this purpose seventy-six mechanically not too dissimilar to the normal RT, AEC Regent 111 RLH Type buses with low ceilings and sunken-gangways came in 1950 and 1952 fitted with attractive Weymann lowbrige bodies. Only three garages in the Red Central Area worked them Dalston (D), Hornchurch (RD) and Harrow Weald (HD). This bus carries an HT depot plate for Highgate Garage but I don't suppose any London Transport bus inspector was lurking in Basle to take issue with the driver of this sightseeing bus when I snapped it early in 1990. I had better mention it as no doubt someone is bound to point out that this bus was painted green during it's life with LT. Annoyingly unlike this one many red open-top double-deck sightseeing buses are branded London Buses whether they are or not.
HT 1583 a five-year-old DAB bodied Scania leaves Copenhagen as it crosses over the bridge to the mainly residential Amager Island on it's way to Sundyvester. Of course on the Continent they were well used to urban cycle-routes but for English drivers it was one more thing to be wary of.
Monday, 26 January 2009
Even in semi-retirement as a trainer this Bristol FS6G still looks presentable which is no doubt mainly due to the good care it was given when it was FRD 168 with W. Alexander and Sons Fife who put it on the road in 1963. In the mid-Eighties it was still hard at work in Leeds where they were enjoying some welcome sunshine.
Saturday, 24 January 2009
One of my passions has always been getting photographs of especially smart Leyland and AEC coaches in smart liveries complete with manufacturers badges and wheel nut covers. One of the best places to see these of course was on a busy weekend at Blackpool as they arrived from all over the North. The fact that this Tatlock's Plaxton Panorama Elite hadn't come far no doubt didn't spoil the excitement of it's trippers who had picked a good day for their outing in the sea air for once.
The Swiss PTT had a small allocation at Baden which I guess were kept at the main telecommunications fleet depot in the town but there was also a small dormy shed beside the railway station that was still in use and probably dated back to earlier times when it was the bus garage. This rather unusual view is very Swiss whether it be the magnificent trains, their taste in advertising, the lack of litter or of course bright yellow post buses like resting Mercedes-Benz 0405 P25260 with the whole wooden shed to itself.
Friday, 23 January 2009
In it's final days before being bought out by Arriva who returned the buses to a kind of green, Merseybus turned the clock back to before the war and reintroduced this distinctive maroon and cream livery which looked quite good and even in the rain. Most MCW Metrobuses were bodied by MCW but a minority also carried Alexander bodywork like 0056 bound for Aigburth in the early Nineties.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Lugano is sometimes known affectionately as Little Rio as like the quite different much more exciting and far less genteel monster of a city in Brazil it is overlooked by an immense giant boulder of a mountain. I haven't been for a few years but like the lake I expect it is still there but sadly the trolleybus system is not. Probably because of it's mild climate vehicles seem to enjoy long lives down in the mild south of Switzerland below the Alps. Pictured in 1990 Hess bodied FBW No.127 was new to the tiny system at Rheintal in 1978 as it's No.6.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Deregulation in the 1980's was a big free for all and operator's not wanting to miss out quickly diverisfied not knowing which parts of the business would would reap the highest rewards. Even large mainly bus focused operator's like London Transport increased their share of tours, commuter and private hire work alongside of course the already well established Routemaster double-deck open top tour. A sign of the changing times was the delivery of this Berkhof bodied DAF coach in white which was seen approaching Victoria Gillingham Street Garage whose outdoor bus park was being used as the LT tours and charter coach station.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
During the last cold spell I had to go to Manchester Airport at short notice with some folks from Penkridge as for some reason their express coach sailed passed them without stopping. Of course normally I would come straight back but as it was wintery crisp and sunny I stopped in my waiting place and took a pleasant stroll through the park and out the other side where sometimes I've been known to snap the odd bus or two. Single-deckers work the No.11 to Altrincham like this Alexender 400 bodied M.A.N of Stagecoach Manchester.
Monday, 19 January 2009
Like many European cities commuters tend to use local buses to take them to the local station and then on to a train into the congested city centre. Copenhagen is no exception and there is a large busy bus station at Lyngby to the north which forms a local hub. From these two Danish built DAB Leyland buses we can see how the styling evolved between 1976 and 1982. HT No.760 a 1977 bus was heading for another railway station at Ballerup.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
No doubt many of you will have heard about the tragic accident when a light aircraft crashed into the electric cables of the main North West Line at Colwich killing the three occupants. I was called out to help move people from soon after it happened on Friday lunchtime till Sunday Evening when the railway line was finally cleared for service. They say every cloud has a silver lining and going home after working a long bitterly cold weekend I was relishing the prospect of some extra pay but my satisfaction was short lived as engine oil was gushing out of my diesel engine and my poor old Peugeot 2o6 ended up dead at the side of the road. It had only done 41.000 miles so it's rather a shame as now it only seems good for scrap after just nine years. Still it's given me an excuse to treat myself to that classic frog-eyed Mazda MX5 I've been pondering the last year or so. I just hope the bright red I.8i gives me same sensations of speed as does our Mercedes Sprinter with the Turbo. Whilst I was carrying odd lost souls to places like Stone and Rugeley, large coaches like this Iriszar bodied Scania of Hills Coaches from Wolverhampton was running between the main stations.
As well as of course Scotland where it was ubiquitous, the Alexander Y-Type generally couldn't be found with operators south of the River Trent with the exception of Stratford Blue that bought a Leopard. The one big exception though was Premier Travel who standardised on this type of coach for it's dual-purpose needs. As always they were mounted on the AEC Reliance chassis and one is seem at Dummer Street Bus Station in Cambridge with later Plaxton bodied examples in the backround.
Friday, 16 January 2009
Once as well as Leylands and of course AEC, British built Guy buses from Wolverhampton were also quite common in Portuguese bus fleets. When I was there in 1984 at least I found one or two still at work with the Railway like Utic bodied (CP) No.7 seen here awaiting it's next duty at the depot next to the railway station in Porto.
I remember Bridgnorth in Shropshire from Saturday Afternoon trips from my first boarding school on Wenlock Edge. In those days the Midland Red buses were all BMMO's from a number of different garages such as the nearest Wellington, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Kidderminster and Stourbridge. I think as I took this rear view of Tullus Ford Transit No.92 I was picturing a red and black S13's or a nicer older more rounded S6 or S10. Of course small buses were nothing new here as Corvedale Motors ran former London Transport (GS) Guy-Special buses in this still delightful town. Even then in the early Nineties the individual colours of local operators added some interest to the bus scene but today sadly this is just another tranche of that indifferent looking Arriva aquamarine worst luck.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Unfortunately where there is a lot of light colours and concrete to reflect it, the winter sun can be as much of a nuisance as it is a friend. Still I try my best to get some interesting pictures like these Zurich bus drivers early in 2000 taking a break at The Airport getting ready to get back in to their spotless Mercedes-Benz 0405 buses used in the suburbs
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
London Transport didn't like them but Stevenson's of Spath (Uttoxeter) certainly did and these cheap up-to-date rear-engined buses did much to help with the modernisation and more fundamentally the expansion of the fleet including the takeover of the Burton-on-Trent operation of East Staffs Borough Council. This bold 'Starskey and Hutch' application of the yellow, black and white livery gave these otherwise dull boxy buses a certain flair. This former London DM class Daimler Fleetline carried bodywork by Park Royal, moving to Staffordshire in 1979 where even though they might not have been good enough for London streets they were able to handle both the local hills and winter snow.
Monday, 12 January 2009
Remember those Stagecoach Stripes ,well they were a bit of a tease as they tried to put us off our favourites bus types. Today of course we find it harder to remember how we felt when pleasant more subtle colour schemes got over-run by Souter and his Perth based company. Some types particularly the more square Alexander bodied buses like the R-Series double-decker and the little Dash looked quite at home but it did little for traditional rounded designs like the ECW body on this Bristol VR seen in Portsmouth in the mid-Nineties.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
As a bus enthusiast it's so easy to completely overlook the mundane, and I'm no less guilty than anyone else in this respect. However maybe when using up a film I ventured to snap some of the less interesting local buses too. Thankfully in about 1969 I took this now rather interesting line-up of Greatrex Tours rather mundane older stock. One of you left a message asking if I had any former buses from H.Nicholls and Sons of Milford. Well the two buses at the far end once belonged to them, LRE 345B a Harrington Bodied Bedford SB5 bought new and another Bedford this time with a bus body by Plaxton that came from I think Trimdon Motor Services. In fact the only bus delivered new to Greatrex was the Duple bodied Commer 8425 E.
Friday, 9 January 2009
With the exception of one semi-preserved heritage bus, having not too long ago celebrated the end of it's half-cab back loaders Southampton Citybus joined the operators who jumped on the band-wagon by acquiring a fleet of ex-London Routemasters as part of their deregulation-offensive. A welcome sight and smart they looked too but I much preferred the real thing, their extremely smart dark red and cream East-Lancs bodied AEC Regents that made such a pleasing a striking contrast against the more modern Atlanteans here.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Under Bagerline ownership Worcester based Midland Red West deliveries comprised firstly the Leyland Lynx and then another common bus for the Group as a whole, the Plaxton Verde bodied Dennis Dart. Drawline on the other hand which owned Midland Red North based in Cannock preferred to shuffle it's older buses around like these Northern Counties bodied Volvo double-deckers that previously worked on London's tendered routes for London and Country based at Catford. At this time MRN was trying to emulate the traditional Midland Red image but not only did they get a too dark and dull shade of red the paint itself was of poor quality and it was in every sense a pale limitation of the still much missed real thing. However these two liveries still have more character and charm than the corporate look of First Group and Arriva, especially Midland Red West which was rather smart .
This passed for a nice day last Summer as we got more than our fair share of rain. You might think it was pure luck that these two girls were captured boarding Plymouth Citius Mercedes Citaro 91 but I thought I would wait for the right moment.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
In Stafford we don't get buses from the Arriva Garage in Burton any more as we do it which is a pity as it brought in a bit of variety including on this occasion M804 MOJ one of four Marshall bodied Dennis Darts delivered to Shrewsbury where three were painted in a special livery for the Park-and-Ride. The others came to Stafford excepting the former MRN No. 804 that found it's way to Burton-on-Trent where it was involved in an accident and received the new body seen here.
Unlike Stoniers, Byrnes of Leek was a lesser know part of the Berresford of Cheddleton and a still quite smart former Ribble Plaxton Panorama bodied Leyland Leopard was to be seen at the garage along with a former North Western AEC Reliance with Willowbrook bodywork in the background.
Monday, 5 January 2009
Sunday, 4 January 2009
A light aircraft crashed near my home at Colwich sadly killing the three occupants. But this has meant a busy weekend for me as one of my jobs is doing rail replacement work mainly sorting out the stragglers with my minibus. It hasn't been too boring as I've been able to nip home for the odd cup of tea but it's been bitterly cold hanging around stations, that dry deep penetrating cold I remember from my hours getting on and off trains in Switzerland. One place I really miss is Davos with it's crisp snow and for me often allusive Post Buses. The Garage here had a few of these quite attractive NAW BH 4-23 buses. Even though they were basically a Mercedes badged as Swiss and marked the end of true Swiss bus manufacturing they hold a certain affection with enthusiasts as they looked the part alongside the other more blatant Euro-Boxes. I managed to see all of then except one P24434 from Uznach Garage which was sold off early to a PAH in Ilianz without me knowing where it had gone.
Friday, 2 January 2009
Sometimes I think I'm the only one who was passionate about the great days of the PTT and their wonderful Swiss post buses. Considering the interest of the subject I'm surprised more of you aren't still interested in the good old days. However it's surprising how much material one acquires over the years books, fleet allocation lists, travel information and models. With that in mind I assembled my collection just to show how it accumulates over the years. The C40U FBW Alpenwagen of which we can see a rear view looking downwards was P21501 which was used on some mountain roads into Italy to make some suitability trials when they were new in 1955. Later in 1963 it was renumbered P24001, and by this time allocated to Chesieres-Villars where I was at Aiglon College and it was my interest and enjoyment of riding on this fine bus that sparked my lifelong interest in Swiss Post Buses. Fortunately as with several others this vehicle has been preserved as a 'wedding bus'.
I don't suppose Ipswich is worse than anywhere else but this scene seems to sum up Britain much of the time with it's ugly faceless concrete architecture, property always up for sale or development, traffic going nowhere and of course Rain. Still fortunately even today Ipswich still has it's smart green and cream painted buses even if most of the East Lancs bodied buses were also far from beautiful like No.106, probably it a Dennis and was seen when still fairly new in the mid-Eighties.
Thursday, 1 January 2009
When I think about Lausanne's trolleybuses belonging to TL I tend to think of this long lived batch dating from 1964 and numbered from 657-679. It might be something to do with my remembering them from my school days but these FBW's with their locally built Eggli bodywork were certainly fine looking and much admired beasts. Following down the hill was a typical later vehicle with much a more square fronted profile by Hess. 1984 No. 743 was also an FBW, but the following batch of similar looking trolleybuses were all built by NAW.
This is one of my oldest photographs taken with my Ilford Sporty Camera which I had probably just had for Christmas in 1964. I went down to stay for the New Year with a school friend who lived in Crowborough and during my stay I managed to visit Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Brighton as well. This Tonbridge 1960 Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland Atlantean No.DH 530 was one twenty-one I saw operating from T and TW, the companies largest depot with an allocation over one-hundred .
At one time not so long ago it seemed the British double-decker was doomed but thankfully their numbers are increasing again in both our large cities and towns. The large groups particularly Stagecoach tend to allocate the new ones to it's busiest areas like Manchester cascading older buses in turn to quieter places like Exeter. Here a still new 08-Series Alexander-Dennis double-decker passes Painswick Park in Wythenshaw but seems to be going in the opposite direction to the Airport. Maybe this is the reason why he doesn't want his face to be seen, a trait more usually found with the rather surly First Group crews..