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 30 June 2009

Thomas Harrington of Hove: Dorsal Fin

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose first bus memories included these amazing streamlined Harrington coach bodies with that tradmark dorsal fin. Seen at the Wedgewood Bus Rally at Barlaston earlier this year this AEC coach belonging to Lymer's of Tean was quite local.

Plymouth Citybus: Trying something blue

It would be tragic if Plymouth Citybus were to be yet another former Municipal Operator to fall into the hands of the faceless big boys not least because of it's interesting and varied fleet. Maybe even more variety is to come as two demonstrators were hard at work during June, one a brown Enviro and this bright blue Scania Omnicity.

Monday 29 June 2009

Sorry we weren't looking for that type of Pole

Actually we do have many Polish people living in Stafford now but I don't think these two tradesmen are amongst their number. The attractive Arriva bus is more interesting as this Dennis Dart is not quite what it seems either as it was one of a small batch of four Marshall bodied Dennis Darts delivered to operate the Shrewsbury Park-and-Ride in 1994. After they were replaced on the contract M802-3/5 came to Stafford but M804 MOJ which had to be rebodied following an accident returned with a later style of Marshall body and went to Burton or Swadlincote. It was about three years ago and I only saw this bus once in Stafford because shortly afterwards in a cost-cutting exercise Arriva combined the Heywoods and Colwich services with the former Stevenson's 404 Service to Uttoxeter using Stafford based Darts .

Royal Parade Plymouth

I missed the last heatwave when I went to Plymouth by a week and it should have been wet but as you can see the weather was kind and better still not too hot.

Sunday 28 June 2009

Lisbon 713

A late survivor in the Carras Lisbon fleet of AEC Regent buses was No.713 still looking quite smart in 1984.

Saturday 27 June 2009

George Ewer's Grey Green: This was my first job

Not everything I try to do works and I'm sure I could have got a better picture of this rather battered Grey Green Leyland Leopard Duple Commander bodied coach at Victoria Coach Station operating the East Anglian Express Service. I started my working life as a management trainee with this firm but I hated it and the anoraks I worked with so much I was delighted when two weeks later I got the sack for taking a Saturday off 'for the dentist' so that I could see the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park like a normal teenager. I'm even on film wearing my work suit and tie!

Friday 26 June 2009

Maidstone: Local buses for the town's people

This was the view from the window of my digs in Maidstone when I at Art college there. I don't suppose for one moment that Arriva gives the same level of service today but the two former trolleybus routes up the Tonbridge road offered a frequency of every three and every four minutes during the day plus a few more worked by older half-cab PD2 buses or even ancient Daimlers running to and from the depot having been on other routes. These unusual Massey bodied Atlanteans of which Maidstone had twenty looked a bit strange but they were certainly solid and nicely finished and the windows and doors didn't even rattle when the bus was held idling in gear. In this the County Town of Kent not everyone liked the new brighter light blue livery that replaced 'ginger' but not only was it still nicely applied with black lining the advertisements were sign-written adding that feeling of quality and civic pride. Maybe I'm alone but I loved this type of smallish municipal operator that regularly bought Massey Brothers bodies from Wigan including other county towns like Chester, Colchester and Exeter.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

A Devon General Regent

Ask most bus enthusiasts of a certain age to list their favourite bus companies and the fleet of Devon General in the South West will probably be in there somewhere. Part of this might be fuelled by nostalgia for bucket-and-spade childhood seaside holidays but it's magnificent dark red and cream fleet of mostly AEC buses would also be a huge attraction. It was not until the end of the Sixties that Exeter City Council lifted it's ban on 30ft long double-deckers operating into the city which probably explained why it continued to purchase short AEC Regents like this Willowbrook bodied example of 1965 when bigger buses were the normal within the BET empire. I'm not sure which garage No.515 was heading for but no doubt locals would at least know where Service 77 went.

3026: Tram in Cologne

I'm afraid normally trams aren't really my province but this view of 3026 with very grey looking Fifties buildings as a backdrop was taken in Summer 1982.

Monday 22 June 2009

Stafford: Turner's mean nothing here

Being the newest and best appointed single-deckers the six comfortable Gardner-Powered Leyland National2 buses delivered to PMT in 1982 were regular performers on the long trunk route from Hanley to Stafford and on occasion this included No.306 which was painted in the traditional colours of a recently absorbed Independent called Turner's whose brown buses used to reside at Brown Edge in the opposite direction far from the County Town. By this time Potteries buses were being painted in their new Privatisation red and yellow livery and were a much prettier sight than that NBC poppy-red but this attractive goodwill liveried bus was equally welcome.

The 90's London Bus: Every colour except red!

Not surprisingly with tourism in mind, as the red London double-decker is one of the capital's biggest icons Transport for London was rather concerned that with deregulation and the tendering of routes new operators were overlooking that heritage. As you can see in this view only the glimpsed Routemaster is in traditional red whilst the London and Country, Grey Green and Kentish buses wear their rather attractive new designer colours. So others had to follow the lead of operators like Stagecoach who had retained red for it's Selkent buses and maybe in hindsight it was no bad thing as the once almost universal British urban red bus is now something of a rarity, and at least in London not only do we see them in all their glory we get away from the bland ultramarine and sandstone of Arriva and the grey and Barbi pastel hues colours of First Bus which make our provincial city streets so much the same and visually uninspiring. Also for the record in this view is a Plaxton bodied Volvo coach belonging to Kentish which was previously registered H832 AHS and I expect new to Park's of Hamilton.

Saturday 20 June 2009

A Square Bus: Market Square Caldas da Rainha

I know some of you love the old RN so much you won't have a wrong word said against them. So maybe my criticism that this is perhaps about the ugliest bodywork I've seen on these buses might divert your attention away from my ignorance of the chassis. More like a shed than a bus these rather angular Caetano bodies were quite common on the Portuguese trolleybuses built at the same time in the Eighties but fortunately not so prevalent on buses.

Topless at the Barbican

Sadly Guide Friday's open-top bus services worked in partnership with Plymouth Citybus was not viable and now one can no longer enjoy these fresh-air views of the Barbican and The Hoe. As in this Nineties view for many years MCW bodied Atlanteans were the usual vehicles including No.3 a former Portsmouth bus of 1966. Before the partnership Plymouth used three similar cut down buses from it's own ranks.

Thursday 18 June 2009

London: Variety at Aldgate

Two London buses belonging to Leaside Buses and one from Stagecoach show a bit of double-decker variety at Aldgate Bus Station in the East End during the Nineties. As well as an elderly MCW Metrobus we can see an early Northern Counties bodied Volvo Olympian and just visible behind them another Olympian, but this time a Leyland carrying the most stylish looking and attractive body of the bunch an Alexander R-series.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Blue Bus of Horwich

See the name Horwich and most will think it's a misspelling of Norwich, but it is a large old industrial red-brick suburb just outside Bolton and once famed for it's large Railway Works. Today it is much better known for Blue Bus one of a number of large Independents that grew and prospered after Deregulation. As well as new single-deckers it has also bought a few new double-deckers like this East-Lancs bodied Volvo captured soon after it entered service in the mid-Nineties.

2007: Rain in Exeter

I'm afraid it wasn't that much better this year either, but on both occasions it cleared up a bit so I was lucky. As you can see there is always something to photograph including Stagecoach who use double-deckers on out of town services.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Farewell Berlin: People with places to go

Like everywhere else it would seem Berlin is not that special place it once was for me when like London characterful double-deckers reached the suburbs and those enjoyable long routes hadn't been chopped up to finish at unassuming U-Bahn Stations in the middle of nowhere. Indeed in the fascinating days before The Wall came down I used to dread that last day when I had to board the blue MAN airport bus on Service Nine back to Tegal Airport. If one scrambled aboard at The Zoo they were afforded last views of the Kurfirstendam as it plied it's way through the traffic but in reality they never really enjoyed it much as passengers were usually crammed in like sardines. Still this select group of about ten buses in that light blue livery not only were an integral part of my holiday they were real favourites as they looked so attrractive compared to the egg-custard colour of the rest of the fleet and not forgetting some of those often ghastly all-over advertisment buses.

Monday 15 June 2009

Digbeth Birmingham: Former Harper Brothers

In the Eighties Midland Red already had a large fleet of Leyland Leopards having taken it's first batch of forty-nine Duple (Northern) Commander coaches in 1965. After that the company chose the more popular Plaxton Panorama and later Panorama Elite, but the Duple Commander made a modest comeback to the fleet after Harpers of Heath Hayes who had liked that combination were taken over in 1974. The later Commanders looked a bit strange as Duple had added roof-line quarter-lights which made them look like they had been crossed with the lighter Viceroy range built at Hendon. Not the most beautiful coach ever to come out of the former Burligham factory in Blackpool the all white NBC coach livery did little to flatter it's awkward lines. Still it's styling was very much in accord with the Plastic Pig next to it at the lights which coincidentally almost carried a Midland Red bus registration as they had SHA-G's.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Lisbon: Classic Makeovers

Lisbon Ttam No.465 is older than it looks as it was one of a batch of seventy-five Nos.400-474 ordered from the St Louis Tram Company in 1899 and delivered in 1900-1901. Many had been withdrawn by 1973 but others including this example had been rebuilt with modern fronts between 1952-1963. Leaving a cloud of smoke as it goes by another rebuilt vehicle, a rebodied half-cab AEC Regal heads in the opposite direction.

Friday 12 June 2009


No I'm afraid unless they're old elegant ornate tram sheds or wonderful examples of Art Deco architecture bus garages tend to be rather ugly affairs as far as the general public are concerned. I'm sure though the TAN Garage at Eilat in Israel was one of the least photographed by tourists as it was hardly a thing of beauty. Strangely enough I never really noticed how ugly they might be as I was always more excited by what I might find inside. In this Seventies view as well as the Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster we can also see the rear half of a Scania plus from behind a rather meaty looking recovery truck.

Cheltenham & District

After the split up of NBC's Bristol Omnibus the Cheltenham & District identity was reinstated for the buses based there harking back to the old reddy-brown colours. Of course in the old days it's application was nothing like that worn on this Leyland National2 seen in the mid-Nineties.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Applegate: A peach of a coach!

A late survivor, I'm sure this immaculate AEC Reliance was a big favourite with local enthusiasts in the Gloucester area, seen the mid Eighties. This was the first version of the Plaxton Panorama Elite body introduced in 1968 and even though updates tried to make it look even more streamlined and modern to my thinking the clean lines and gentle curves matched it's already streamlined looks perfectly. The charming company name and driver in his bright pullover make me think of a more comfortable Britain before it became a Corporate-mess and plagued with over-zealous traffic planning and swamped with regulations. It's even against the law to eat an apple when you're driving now but it hasn't stopped me.

Saturday 6 June 2009

"I'm flying on an Airplane, don't know when I'll be back again."

Well it's not quite true as I'm only going away for a few days and I won't be flying anywhere as I'm only driving to Devon. Still whilst choosing something appropriate to post that song came into my head but it's a pity as I would quite like to visit Lisbon again. As you can probably guess this is the last of many bus pictures I took on my holiday in Portugal in 1984 but don't worry I'm not posting them in any particular order.

City of Oxford in Woodstock

By the early Eighties just before mini-bus-madness invaded our streets despite having a large rural area City of Oxford had very few single-deckers apart from service-coaches and indeed was fortunate enough not to be lumbered with that noisy icon of the National Bus Company the Leyland National single-decker. Instead it stuck to the dual-entrance Bristol VR and then also with ECW bodywork twenty-four very civilised Leyland Olympians like numerically the first No.201 seen to the north of the city in the pretty village of Woodstock.

Bern FBWTrolleybus No.51 heading for Wyler

One reason why I don't download so many modern buses is that it might expose my ignorance as I dont follow them like my favourites of the past. Besides I have plenty of written information about them too and incidentally just so long as you want to know everything from the German about Swiss trolleybuses in April 2001 then I'm your man. Photographed in the mid-Nineties FBW No. 51 of 1975 was one of nineteen similar buses in the fleet either bodied by Hess or Ramseier and Jenzer with SAAS equipment. Also of course there were a few very similarly bodied FBW and Volvo articulated motorbuses too. Seeing them running through the city centre of Bern was not hard but catching them in winter sunshine was more difficult with the short days and long cast shadows but the station forecourt was a perfect spot where the sunlight could make that less than perfect orange standardized Swiss urban livery of the Seventies glow a bit brighter. Indeed I'm almost tempted to say in this instance that it looked quite nice.

Friday 5 June 2009

Kensington High Street

Traffic including buses and taxis jostle for position in Kensington High Street including this MCW Metrobus on the 27 Route to Turnham green where London Transport had a garage with fifty buses including M1180 which carries the V code.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Sheffield: The Wright Stuff

When the First Group decreed that all it's fleets be painted in uniform Barbi colours some such as the tomato-soups of North Manchester and Strathclyde might even have looked a little better. But many fine and indeed exciting liveries like this adaption of the bold South Yorkshire PTE colours were lost. Seen ten years ago this low entrance Wright bodied Volvo branded easi-access looked wonderful in striking yellow black and red.

South Wales Transport

Many remember those fine Neath and Cardiff express coaches that used to ply their way between the Welsh Capital and Swansea. But sadly the Brown-Bombers as they were affectionately known were wiped out when the unsentimental National Bus Company integrated them into South Wales. Seen leaving Bridgend was this 1979 Duple Dominant bodied Leyland Leopard No.171 on the inter-city express service.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

This one's too laid-back: She's no amber-gambler

I doubt if the bold promotional advertising for a Casino would encourage the driver or pedestrians to take more risks but in the days when the BVG Berlin buses were mostly a typical German dull cream colour they certainly added a bit of variety to the scene. Some of these all-over liveries were rather ghastly but this mostly brown design was rather attractive. Many schemes covered the whole bus like this but thankfully in this instance they did not feel there was a need to replace the radiator-grill with a plain panel and especially as this was one of the in my opinion nicer earlier double-deckers of this large type which still carried the legendry German Bussing name alongside MAN who had absorbed it. In the early Eighties No.2703 was about to leave The Zoo Bahnhof for Heerstr beside the Berlin Wall but close to Spandau where the bus was garaged.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Lugano: SAURER-BERNA SH560-25

When this Saurer from Zurich moved to Lugano in the late-Nineties where it became the new No.50 there seemed little need for a repaint as the smaller Swiss operators are fairly easygoing when it comes to livery and in this instance there was even less need as their colours were already very similar.

Taw & Torridge

Many coach tours in Britain these days look for other stop-off points close to the motorway system as opposed to the Motorway Services. No doubt the more elderly customers appreciate the plants and shrubs at a garden centre and more sedate tea-room as opposed to the hustle and bustle, the lines of large noisy trucks and the ding-dong of piped music the clatter of fruit-machines and people in a hurry. Indeed at least a small coming home gift from here of a bargain plant for the kitchen windowsill will be more appreciated than a stick of rock or 'kiss-me-quick' hat. On it's return to Devon from Blackpool this Scania coach of Taw and Torridge named after local rivers leaves Gailey Services just off the M6 for the next leg of the journey back to the West Country.