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, 30 July 2009
When it houses buses of course and the Southern National depot and works at Yeovil was a motley collection of red brick and tin buildings and a large yard. When I came to school here in Somerset in 1966 for a year the majority of buses were the Bristol LS, and the newest bus was their sole Bristol SULA4 No.692 EDV555D. Of greater interest tucked away in a corner was a number of stored delicenced Bristol K double-deckers. However even in the Leyland National and Minibus-Nineties Southern National could produce something interesting here including this twenty-year-old old Plaxton bodied Bedford of 1974 as the operator had taken over the local Independent Darch and Wilcox from Martock trading as Comfy-Luxe and was running vehicles in the not too different old green and white colours like No.8009.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Not surprisingly like Ribble, Preston Corporation was more or less 100% Leyland fleet for many years. Also till OPO became the vogue like most Municipal's the Preston fleet was dominated by double-deckers and here it was all Leyland Titan's when this MCW bodied PD3 was delivered in 1961 as Atlanteans didn't materialise till 1975. By 1979 sadly these fine old well-maintained buses were enjoying their final days of service including No.14 on route to Farringdon Park. As well as this batch PRN 905-11, locally based Scout Motor Services had Atlantean and Leopard coaches PRN 143-150 which must have been delivered at the same time. Today it is much more easy to work out the age of vehicles but unfortunately as they no longer carry local numbers the way Preston's did with it's once familiar *CK and *RN marques and now one has no idea of where they hail from except for the region of Britain where they were first registered which is rather boring.
...but warm enough thank you very much. A seemingly quiet moment in Plymouth as the hot afternoon sun bathes a for the moment quiet Bretonside Bus Station with just one bus in view, an East-Lancs bodied Dennis Trident awaits departure time earlier this summer.
Monday, 27 July 2009
This generation of Berlin double-deckers dating from the mid-Seventies till the early Eighties were not exactly pretty but the production buses were certainly an improvement on the two prototypes 2514-2515 built in 1973. As is often the case once they became an endangered species I grew quite fond of them as they sounded rather nice reminding me of our charismatic 'whistling' MCW Metrobus.
An old RT training bus at the Amersham Garage of London Country is a welcome sight instead of the more usual Leyland NationalB Series buses also pictured here in the early Eighties. Sadly it looked as though the old AEC's working days had come to an end. The Amersham garage code was MA as Plumstead was AM and it had an all single-deck fleet of about thirty buses.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
I think this was Vila Real again right in the far South-West corner of Portugal where a dusty Spain beckoned across the Rio Guadlana a short ferry crossing away. Today a modern bridge spans the wide estuary but somehow not only does progress make the world smaller one place quickly becomes very much the same as the next and apart from livery even the bus and coaches become alike. Way back in 1984 two coaches built in their respective countries seemed world's apart with the still new Caetano bodied Scania tourist coach from Portugal looking modern and built to a demanding North European Standard whereas the 'domestic' Spanish coach probably a Pegaso with only information boards and numbered 25 in the Romero fleet looks old fashioned and to me a bit like it's come off badly in a bull fight with fallen arches and with on it's radiator a bit of metalwork reminding me of those teasing daggers thrust through a bull's neck making this poor coach look even more sad and dejected. I'm sorry about the William Shakespeare pun, maybe instead I should have said as the Spanish coach distorts my sense of reality looked like something from a Picasso painting 'of weeping women' but you might not have believed me. Either way, it's profile probably inspired by Mercedes you must agree that it was a bit of an ugly beast.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Both of these Post Buses seen at the Post Auto Bus Station in Bern were artics but whereas the PAH contractor's Volvo carries the old PTT livery which included a proper PTT (Post-Telephone-Telegraph) yellow, later buses of the reborn stand-alone Die Post/La Poste buses like Regie P27716 made-do with an inferior factory colour. Thankfully they still carried their distinguishing P-numberplate's but later that was to go too. However Postbus is still going strong and even though it has lost it's special status and monopoly in Switzerland, freedom to market itself has meant that it now runs satalites in various parts of France too using about 180 buses. Still this is nothing new as with Lichtenstein numberplate's to set them apart they had worked in that Principality too. Wouldn't it be funny if it bought out our troubled British operator National Express and yellow post buses ran through Smethwick.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Those shapely girls getting in the way again, but I also rather like the later uncompromisingly angular East Lancs bodies like this Dennis Trident in Blackpool 'Metro' green livery. Even though I went to Lancashire with some enthusiast friends in their Bedford coach for the Fleetwood Tram Sunday event last Sunday I was happier taking photographs of the ordinary buses going about their business.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
I bought a Britbus diecast model of this exact bus when I visited Fleetwood on Sunday for the historic Transport Day held there in the streets. My intention was to find one of these for a friend in pre-NBC Aldershot and District colours but now I'm not sure whether to keep it or not myself. In my opinion the rather attractive two-tone green and cream livery was rather over-rich though and not as cheerful or as easy on the eye as maybe nearby Southdown who used a similar mix of colours, and also the fleet was rather old-fashioned and conservative more like a BTC Tilling Fleet. As for the Britbus model of this Alexander bodied bus it's very nice but I have a cherished red and cream North Western Road Car version already. Sadly some bus companies we always loved but for some reason A & D was one of my least favourites, and for myself maybe it was because in my bus-mad-teens they had no Leyland's in their fleet which was in my eyes a crime. Over the years I have overcome my childhood prejudices and enjoy so much more of the glorious bus past but A & D has still to become a favourite. However that didn't stop me in the early Eighties wanting to capture images of it's former buses before they were sold off from scrap like many others in the large yard at the once Thames Valley Reading Garage in Lower Thorn Street.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
This is called Bridge Foot in Warrington where traffic from the South enters the town via a bridge across the wide River Mersey. As a girl makes her way home on a Saturday Afternoon one of the town's Network-Warrington Wright bodied VDL single-deckers waits for the lights to change as it approaches the town centre. Once the Mersey was the boundry between the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire but following the reorganisation in 1974 the very Lancashire town of Warrington became firmly in Cheshire. I do quite like Warrington but part of it is because my Grandfather who was a businessman made a lot of his money here as a maltster and from the brewing industry.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
When I used to tour Denmark in my van on holiday in the Eighties the route and straight main road northwards through the countryside from Esjberg to Skjern followed the 041 Service operated by the typically smartly turned out buses of a local Independent Strandgaard. As you can see that unlike loyal youngsters who to be cooler than their mates either drink Tuborg or Carlsberg Beer bus operators often shared their orders between Denmark's two usual new bus options, the Leyland based complete DAB or an Aabenraa bodied Volvo B10M. I don't suppose for one moment that as the two buses travelling in opposite directions met one another at Varde giving the drivers a chance to chat that they discussed the merits of the two buses but I'm pretty sure the Volvo would come out on top which is a pity as the DAB looked rather good.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Those Stagecoach stripes, you either loved them or loathed them but I suspect mostly the latter, but even though I wouldn't want it to come back time is a strange thing as having once hated it I have become quite fond. Maybe it's because it gave Stagecoach it's strong identity and it always seemed to look good on those newer Alexander bodied buses they heavily invested in and which never previously wore anything we loved to upset us. Something else in it's favour was the professional well kept appearance of it's buses as can be witnessed in this busy scene on the out-of-town former Ribble side of Preston Bus Station. Also it might have only started as sketch on the back of a fag-packet and even though the current scheme is miles better yet I still prefer it to what we have to put up with in the way of colours from Arriva and First. No the styling and application might have been lacking a bit of imagination but the choice of pure white and strong primary colours was sound and bright like a flapping Northern washing-line of sheets and football shirts on a bright breezy day.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Yes a Honda Tonka van almost totally spoilt my lovely shot but I didn't want this old Globus Gateway bus to get away as it started life as a rather glamorous MCW Demonstrator. The Metropolitan has largely been forgotten but it was the first decent attempt to market something better than the Leyland Monopoly wanted to offer at that time in the early Seventies. The Birmingham built Swedish bus certainly wooed the major operators as London and nearly all the PTE's took some, and not forgetting those forward looking Municipals like Reading, Newport and Leicester. And why not for these Anglo-Swedish buses had bags of power and floated on air, but sadly enviable sophistication was not enough and as they quickly aged they became troublesome and even more costly to run. Consequently the industry in it's quest to break away from the Government controlled Leyland then sought something rather more down to earth and old-fashioned enough to be Gardner Powered. So MCW gave them the Metrobus which might have resembled the Metropolitan but now fitted the bill. However the Metropolitan was ahead of it's time and the big low-floor double-deckers of today from Dennis and Volvo seem to just plod along like gutless dinosaurs when compared to the 1974 MCW/Scania battle-bus from Washwood Heath.
......but quite a number of us will miss their tuneful elderly MCW Metrobuses, in my mind as symbolic to Birmingham as an icon as the Routemaster is to London. However National Express Group or not, already well passed their sell by date their days these faithful stalwarts are coming to an end anyway. This bus was off it's usual beat in Walsall as it was working the rail shuttle contract from Stafford to the Weston Park Rock Festival last Summer. Personally I would be rather sad to see the end of National Express and especially as it's biggest predator is the rather grey and uninspiring First Group which in my opinion is too big and remote already. Variety is the spice of life but should First get West Midlands Buses maybe they would be forced to sell what was formerly Midland Red West to increase competition across the West Midlands and Worcestershire boders.
Monday, 13 July 2009
Swiss Post Buses never seemed to have particularly arduous lives spending a lot of their time standing around waiting for time or the next job in the sunshine or snow, but regardless of this they must have clocked up the hours like this one-million-kilometer Volvo stopped outside the local PAH Contractor's premises for a crew change on the Frick to Aarau service. Maybe I should say one of the two services as buses belonging to the Post Office itself working from a garage at both the small town of Frick and Aarau ran the other service. Yes in Switzerland bus services outside the cities tend to be very local and the crews come from the local community which must add to the friendly efficient service they enjoy. This bus carried the AG letters for the Canton of Aargau whereas in those days of course the proper 'regie' post buses could be identified by their P-suffix.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
A mishap earlier in life assured 1956 Plymouth Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland PD2/12 a long and easy life when following a de-roofing accident it was converted into an oper-topper. I don't know if Plymouth Citybus still own it but it was still being used occasionally as the spare in the late-Nineties long after most of the fleet's much newer Atlanteans had come and gone. Alongside it in the early-Eighties was another elderly half-cab survivor used as a driver training bus, another Leyland Titan PD2/12 but this time with Leylands own boywork, former No.397 of 1953.
Congestion seemed to be part of the course in Portugal when I visited in 1984 as large buses negotiated narrow and busy roads, but at least it gave opportunity to take my shots like this one of a late series Utic bodied AEC in the large RN fleet.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
The Dennis Javelin was an upmarket lightweight coach chassis pitched at Independents who had formerly been able to buy cheap and cheerful Bedford and Fords. But this vehicle could be found with some larger companies too like Brighton Corporation who had a coach operation called Lewis Coaches based on that the county town of Sussex. One of the delights of a day in London is that one sees the more unusual mixed in with the more normal red buses and no doubt I was pleased catching this Duple bodied coach slowly passing through the traffic lights of Victoria.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
.....but as you can see these three sisters in Northampton did. Not only that Northampton Transport had put a large fleet-number near the top of it's passing Leyland National where I could record it for posterity too.
I always say the only thing that is cheap in Switzerland is the chocolate but I suspect not these high-class offerings from Glatz Confiseur Beck, still maybe they will let you buy just a couple in exchange for you British-Pound. The trolleybus seen on a cold winter morning at the end of the rush-hour was from a small batch of Bern Volvo's delivered in 1985 and 62-66 were bodied by R&J.
Monday, 6 July 2009
The Lancashire Independent Jim Stones of Leigh gained something of a reputation for it's extremely well turned out fleet of single-decker when it had found a nitch operating local services in the town. But this operator had already been of note when it's bought off Leyland the only example in Britain, a small Danish built DAB demonstrator of 1981 which Leyland had hoped operators would turn to as a replacement for the recently retired Bristol LH. No doubt cost must have put them off rather than the wonderful quality of the Silkeborg product and Leyland ended up selling the cobbled together Swift instead which basically was a converted Terrier truck. Of course Dennis then came along with the Dart which with the Plaxton Pointer body became the big success story of the Nineties and guaranteed it's future. As you can see there were plenty of smiling faces amongst the people boarding A499-MHG for Landside in the rain in the old Leigh Bus Station. One wonders whether Leyland might have still been with us today had it managed to sell it's better products.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
I'm sure many of us have a lucky or favourite number, mine is 828 as it is the date of my Birthday and coincidentally the registrastion of my mother's red mini-countryman which I learnt to drive in all those years ago. So as a bus photographer I've always viewed buses carrying a 28 on them as particularly worthy of a shot, and I obviously hit the jackpot when I photographed the Somerset operator Berry's fine Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance WGN 828M at Plymouth. It was taken in the Eighties and the coach started life with the East London firm Essex County Coaches in 1974.
The last double-deckers delivered to Lisbon was a batch of forty Daimler Fleetline buses in 1967-8 which were delivered in kit form and assembled by Utic. The bodywork was built by the Lisbon operator CCFL. When compared with the traditional British half-cab bus the first generation Atlantean and Fleetline buses were a heap of trouble and I wonder if it was unreliability of these vehicles which helped change this once loyal operator's buying policy away from our British products.
The South Staffordshire and northern side of the West Midlands has in recent and not too distant times been a bit of a hot spot for endangered bus types with the fine North Birmingham fleet favouring the Atlantean, National Express's West Midland Buses retaining a large fleet of MCW Metrobuses, Warstones Green Bus the Leyland Leopard and Choice of Willenhall the Leyland National Mk1. Sadly pretty well all of this is now more or less history as even the till recently ubiquitous defiantly reliable Metrobuses are quickly running out of time. Apart from the North Birmingham fleet from not very distant Sutton Coldfield, Walsall was a pretty good place to find these now rare buses hard at work like this former London Buses Leyland National seen in the Nineties. This is quite an interesting twist really when one remembers how before Deregulation in the Eighties Birmingham especially was dominated by the blue and cream West Midlands PTA fleet excluding not just the Independents but even a lot of NBC activity.