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
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
I used to see Frankin's Coaches when I used to have to make a call for GEC at Borehamwood just north of London where they operated a lunchtime works contract. In a smart blue livery was this AEC Swift that once ran for East Kent seen in 1982
Monday, 30 March 2009
The Northern Ireland bus bodybuilder Wright of Ballymena certainly builds some stunning looking well put together buses but I feel slightly uneasy wondering how they might appear once the get old and neglected. In my local Arriva area apart from in and around Leicester double-deckers are few and far between and new ones even more so. However with an important corridor into Birmingham, Tamworth garage has a batch of these very impressive Volvo's for it's five-buses-an-hour City Linx route. At one time batches of buses were shared out between garages but today they are usually nearly all earmarked for specific services with local authority backing. This is a good thing as operator's like Arriva are obliged to provide a proper service which includes buses right through the evening and even a reasonable service on Sundays. Without this how can people be persuaded to live without the flexibility of car travel.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Bournemouth Yellow Buses bought some Leyland Olympians with rather strange looking Marshall bodywork and which with this 'smiley face' and playground colour combination make me wonder as if like some surreal dream it had not in fact escaped from a children's merry-go-round. Of course these twenty buses were not as famous as the much more attractive and long lived Daimler Fleetlines which were far more popular than these ungainly beasts.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
In the same way as the companies that run Switzerland's mountain railways are famous some of the private bus companies with their long history are also well known. One of these is ATGH which are the initials of places it serves including Thun where this photo of an FBW C50U was taken in 1990.
Friday, 27 March 2009
Thursday, 26 March 2009
I hate to be the one to say it but Grimsby does rather live up to it's name. When I took this view in the Eighties one of the pleasant memories of the past for the elderly was about to disappear and that was the old theatre in the background called The Palace. The pub of course, formerly known as the Palace Buffet was still going strong but who knows whether it is not crumbling too in today's difficult climate for the Pub Trade today. Typical of the local Municipal fleet with about one-hundred buses was this late example Roe bodied Daimler Fleetline.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Even though Plymouth Bretonside Bus Station has rather a forbidding reputation as a hang-out for drunks and vagrants especially at night, during the day at least it is a great place for bus photography. Not only is the sun usually in the right position there are any number of places to get decent views including panorama shots like this and what's almost becoming a rarity one can snap away without the Police arriving to ask what you are doing. Stagecoach buses on former Devon General routes are something of a minority as this is very much First Group territory but as before they still depart for Torquay and Exeter like this plaxton bodied Volvo.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
I have to confess I never really disliked the MCW Orion as I grew up with this style of bodywork but I can understand why older enthusiasts hate them so much when not only were they 'cheap looking' they heralded the lightweight era of cost-cutting too which included spray painting and simplified monotonous liveries. Not that anyone could accuse Chesterfield Corporation of slumming it as they knew how to make a Leyland PD2 with a tin-front look very nice indeed. However few would say it was anywhere near as beautiful as the elegant liveried East Yorkshire Roe bodied AEC Regent with it's specially tapered roof for the Beverley Bar. These buses were seen at the Sheffield Meadowhall Gathering last summer.
Berlin is rather a grey city and not only do the eye-catching advertisments on the Kurfirstendam brighten the place up before the trees come back into leaf the bright yellow white and black painted buses do far more to liven things up than that traditional German porridge colour that might be described as Outmeal. These MAN double-deckers which arrived in the mid-Nineties were the first to wear these colours that were probably inspired by some of the Dutch fleets. However time flies by too fast as always and now these buses too are heading for the scrapyard as the whole Berlin BVG double-deck fleet has been replaced by jumbo-sized air-conditioned three-axle MAN Lion double-deckers numbering four-hundred altogether. I imagine the 9.90 DM includes the bikini-pants too but as you probably might have guessed you have to pay extra for the German Frauline.
Monday, 23 March 2009
Like many industrial towns in Lancashire Ashton-under-Lyne had it's own fleet of about seventy buses and trolleybuses. Indeed some thought it's blue and cream Roe bodied Leyland PD2's were some of the smartest buses in the Manchester area. Although not quite as beautiful the Leyland Atlanteans that followed like No.52 were still rather attractive but as you can see they looked as though they had seen better days by the time they were painted in the rather unsubtle orange and cream livery of Greater Manchester PTA. By about 1980 when this winter view was taken the Ashton garage formerly just across the road and that of S.H.M.D at Hyde had been closed and replaced by a new one covering this locality called Thameside hence the TE code on the front.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Friday, 20 March 2009
Competition on bus services seems to have died out in Manchester but in the Nineties everyone seemed to be having a go. Many of the operators ran Leyland Atlanteans like this Park Royal example built for the NBC and Southdown It was operating for a subsidiary of the reformed North Western called Bee-Line which already had plenty of examples of it's own from the days before it was devolved from Ribble.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Both East and West Berlin next door had a greyness about them that reminded me of the unhealthy days in Britain before smokeless fuels, and one can actually see the soot filled atmosphere like a rain in this scene, one in which those Trabants belching out their two-stroke fumes did not help. Now of course the air seems cleaner but there are still just as much in the way of car fumes as the former East Berlin has joined the high-octane traffic-jam culture of The West. I quite miss East Berlin as it was as it was so different to the West which still bore scars from The War whereas in the East with it's pinched economy and eerie feel one was made to feel it never quite ended and they had entered a different world and time.
Select any area of the UK and one can come up with a leading Independent from the past. Of course the choice can be highly subjective but mention the area of Durham to the south of Newcastle upon Tyne and many will think of the large fine kept interesting fleet belonging to OK. As usual with the Independent sector there was a rich variety of secondhand stock yet the operator was a able to hold it's head up high by putting new double-deckers on the road too. Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlanteans were the normal choice but the Consett based concern also tried a Dennis Dominator in 1979 which looked different with it's upright radiator grill.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Even though we had some pleasant sunshine as well as all that cold last winter the only DAF's out in Stafford were not the yellow variety Wordsworth was so excited about but these Wright bodied buses that work the Rural-Line that was created making a frequent through connection to Telford whereas in the past it was not possible as Happy Days (formerly G.H. Austin) operated across the Shropshire border into Newport, something that had been wished for even in the bygone days of Midland Red. The dedicated buses have recently had a repaint which has oblitered all the areas of black relief on the fronts making them look rather less distinctive. This particular batch of buses have not had a 100% history of reliability and rumour has it that before too long they might be moved elsewhere in the Arriva empire. As you see BU03-HRE carries a reminder of the past as RE, RF, BF and E by itself were Staffordshire numberplates.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
In Switzerland during the Eighties it seemed hard to get away from these rather reliable Mercedes-Benz 0405, still it was nice to see them in all the Swiss local authority colours and this example in Biel looked rather smart. No doubt most of these buses will have gone now and been replaced by even greater numbers of the Citaro.
Monday, 16 March 2009
There must have been getting towards eighty to one-hundred of these attractive single-deck bodies built by Saro and Ribble took the largest quantity with forty delivered in 1953-4. Nearly all were delivered to BET Companies on the light Leyland Tiger Cub Chassis and buses went to other northern operators within the BET Group such at Northern General, Yorkshire Traction, East Midland and Trent too. This one of the former Ribble buses No.412 looked rather out of place a decade or so after it's sisters had been withdrawn and scrapped as it mingled with leaf green painted National B-Series buses of Crosville in Bangor. Still it should have felt at home as the former Saunders Roe factory where it was built was just over the Menai Straights on the Island of Anglesea. Having survived into the Eighties it is a shame this bus with local connections wasn't preserved too as it seems only one example, another bus from this Ribble batch has been saved as a representation of this popular type.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Saturday, 14 March 2009
I might have shown this one before, but this bus from Berlin's last delievery of these Mercedes OM 407 buses delivered in 1984 seemed to have had a nasty bump or I am tempted to wonder whether it might because of it's age been used for some crash tests. Still I don't suppose it would have remained on the road much longer anyway when this view was taken at the large garage in the former East of the city about ten years ago.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
On this auspicious day, Friday Thirteenth I look through my files looking for bus mishaps and breakdowns. Today I've found you quite an interesting view of a failed Bova belonging to National London and based not too far away at the old Timpson's coach depot in Catford. The location is the large Maidstone and District garage at Gillingham. Of interest though is the breakdown vehicle for as spotters of London Transport will no doubt recall in the back of their Ian Allan ABC British Bus Fleets were pages of these service vehicle, most were rather mundane like this Ford D-Series but others in green livery for all manner of duties including gully emptying were far more historic and lurked in sheds and Underground Railway Depots. Indeed trying to spot these too was one of the reasons cited for trying to sneak around bus garages as some of them ventured out hardly more than the bevy of tantalising dusty withdrawn RT's or RTL's stored down at the back which if we didn't get them on that occasion they would be gone altogether soon.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Once the open-top double-decker was very much a feature of the seaside holiday where a few lucky old stalwarts with their roofs missing slowly trundled along the promenade during the short Summer Season and then were tucked away out of the wet and cold in the corner of the garage perhaps covered in dust sheets. But by the mid-Nineties in many of our inland towns and cities with a historical interest they seemed to mushroom in various liveries as entrepreneurs tried to muscle in on the tourist cash. Some of these open-toppers were even brand new but as at the seaside most were otherwise time-expired buses. Former United Counties No.811 of 1974 had travelled far from home having forsaken it's roof and green livery and the humdrum towns of Biggleswade and Kettering which had been it's home for the Viking settlement of York further north.
Unlike the wonderfully colourful Barton whose magnificent curved-screened lowbridge AEC Regent is seen passing, Derby Corporation's olive green and cream buses were about as conservative as you could get. Amongst this group of early Post-War Brush bodied vehicles hiding behind the tulips though is a rather fine Foden PVD6 0f 1951.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
I'm sorry I haven't posted anything from Israel for a while so here is a rather utilitarian looking Leyland Royal Tiger bus working in the dust and the heat of the large inland desert town of Beersheva which might be notable for it's University but I can tell you with more certainly that it had a good sized bus station too. In the early Eighties when this view was taken the sprawling First Group empire of buses and trains was still just a twinkle in some corporate accountant's eye but I'm sure this bus is wearing the budget First Group colours Barbi Bargain luxury Travel. Okay this bus looked old and might even have dated back to the late-Fifties but there were still plenty of old Leylands not much newer than this running about in the less depressing TAN red and cream they pinched from Prague Trams or Halton (LOL).
Monday, 9 March 2009
Former Maidstone Corporation buses seemed to get scattered far and wide during the Eighties and not only did a number of it's Massey bodied Leyland Atlanteans enter service with Stevenson's of Spath bringing them into Stafford on the Uttoxeter route from time to time, equally unusual buses for a Municipal Operator had been these sixty-one seater Wadham Stringer Vanguard bodied Bedford YMT buses, a more basic lightweight type normally associated with our armed-forces. However despite their rather functional appearance they were not unattractive and I was glad I photographed a couple of them during their short stay with Happy Days of Woodseaves at the end of the Eighties.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
In the early Eighties a bit like with Doctor Beeching and the railways the National Bus Company undertook a nationwide survey of it's network. Of course the effects of the Market Analysis Project (MAP) did not necessitate the pulling up of the roads as well but it did rid a lot of fleets of all their slightly older more interesting buses. Alder Valley was a good example as the former typical BTC Bristol/ECW operator Thames Valley merged with it's more charismatic former BET Group neighbour Aldershot and District. But after MAP there were no AEC Reliance buses or the locally Guildford built Dennis Loline left. Instead it was just the poppy-red Bristol VR, white Leopard Coaches and of course the ubiquitous National. The collection area for unwanted stock was the large yard beside Lower Thorne Street Garage with Bristol RE's very much in evidence.
Saturday, 7 March 2009
I'm not quite sure if I loved or loathed this rather odd grey, light blue, red and white livery carried by the former West Yorkshire Keighley Depot buses, my opinion being swayed very much in it's favour as this operator was part of the celebrated Blazefield group of companies, the enthusiast's favourite. It certainly looked good on this still smart Leeds built Roe bodied bus that had returned home having been new to London and Country in leaf-green as LR64 before it's break-up after which it became part of the London Country North East fleet.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
One cold crisp winter lunchtime my camera caught this all-white NBC Black & White Motorways Leyland Leopard in the livery of National Holidays heading out of Warrington bound for Liverpool whilst working for National Express. In the background is an East-Lancs bodied Leyland Olympian coach of the Borough Council reminding us that in the early Eighties even bus orientated Municipals and PTA's were trying to diversify into coach work before the emphasis of the whole industry seemed to settle on the potentially far bigger cake that was competitive stage service work in urban areas like this.
It's hard to think this photo taken in Marburg of a Setra S215HD coach visiting from Hamburg with my friend Marion coming up behind was taken in the early Eighties. As elsewhere coach design reached a kind of peak before we started getting the humpback racing greyhound look and some might not like brightwork but to me it looks like a bit of welcoming icing on the cake just finishing it off nicely. Who wants political correctness in design on the streets anyway when buses should entice us still like children!
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Like a good number of municipal operators in the Sixties, Halton or as it was known then Widnes became a 100% Leyland fleet. In the Seventies the Bristol RE joined the fleet but when British Leyland took them off the market Halton was lured back to Leyland with the National. However they took a good number of these and the later National2 too, and then not only became one of the fans for the Lynx they took the last examples built including this K-Reg bus seen in Liverpool. When the last of these were withdrawn a couple of years ago as elsewhere for the first time in many many years there were no buses carrying the Leyland name in the fleet which for many of us growing up all those years ago in the Fifties and Sixties might have seemed impossible to contemplate.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
I bought some Staropramen Czech Lager today so feeling a bit nostalgic for certain things in the old Eastern Block I thought I would wash it down with an IKarus 280 in the Prague suburbs looking somewhat more interesting than the blocks of Communist concrete housing. No 4502 carries the name of it's home Garage, Repy on the front and these buses were quite a nice ride as they sounded a bit like a cross between a Bedford OB and Volvo B10M perhaps. Also in this view of course are Skoda cars, a classic Prague red and cream tram and some interesting trucks.
Monday, 2 March 2009
Sometimes in Summer not only can we take photographs right into the evening if we avoid getting caught in the long shadows we can take some pleasing soft mellow images like this golden view of Blackburn Bus Station. I know that might sound a contradiction of terms but if one likes Leylands this was a pretty good place to hear those sounds too. No Ribble buses here but there were two Atlanteans from Blackburn itself and Hyndburn (Accrington) down the road, plus of course the best sounding Leyland of them all, the Leopard coach. This example working for Powercraft's on route to Guide Bridge obvious previously ran for Rennie of Dumfermaline as it was still wearing their maroon and cream colours.