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

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Greater Manchester Bristol VR 1416

One of the saddest things the National Bus Company did was break up the charismatic North Western Road Car Company. With 55o vehicles it operated across much of pleasant and affluent green Cheshire and also more significantly the even less remunerative wilds of the Derbyshire Peak District. So when the cream of it's empire within the new Greater Manchester SELNEC PTA area was taken over including it's base at Stockport by the centralising Authority it was no longer a viable stand-up entity. So it's services and fleet was shared between NBC's Crosville, Trent and like this entire batch of still to be delivered ECW bodied Bristol VR's to SELNEC. Bound for Stockport No.1416 was to have been North Western No. 416 the NBC bringing a new type to the fleet as the Daimler Fleetline had been favoured under former owner the BET Group. However it did bring an attractive new type to the SELNEC fleet instead and the clean bus in it's orange and white livery seemed to brighten things up as it passed through the rather depressing area of Gorton in East Manchester one horrible afternoon in the Eighties.

Hotspur 1509 in Ramsgate

When I was a youngster I remember travelling on the 104 from Birmingham through Sutton Coldfield with Johnny Bird on a BMMO S17 and changing the gears as we went along. Later after Harper brothers was taken over he moved to Cannock Garage and before he became very ill I enjoyed an excursion he helped to arrange just at the time Midland Red North had abandoned it's coaching activities at Shrewsbury due to irregularities which is why now spare local branded Hotspur Leyland Tiger 1509 was available for our long trip to Ramsgate where it was seen being guided through the wash at the East Kent 'Thanet Garage'.


A Seventies built Volvo GR 40628 of the Chur town bus service was seen hard at work in the town in 1990.

Monday 28 September 2009

West Riding: Leylands Generations Apart

At Meadowhall in Sheffield last year many years separate these two Leylands in West Riding's colours a Leyland Tiger from the early Fifties and a former Lynx demonstrator of 1985. This Wakefield operator before selling out to the BTC to become part of the NBC in the late Sixties had the distinction of being Britain's largest Independent with 438 buses (1963). Naturally these was another large one to compete in rival Lancashire as Lancashire United based at Atherton near Wigan was Number-Two with 416. Of course as the buses might suggest these were bus companies run by a committee and not your average family business. West Riding is no more as like most of our bus heritage Caldaire who owned it was swallowed up by the big bus groups, in instance Arriva which is big up here.

The Widnes Double-Decker

A couple of years ago I was celebrating Halton's last survivors from a long history of Leylands with some views that also included a pair of Lynx buses that had just made it. Even though on a previous occasion and probably about 1980 it didn't seem so long since I was photographing what were Halton the former Widnes Corporation's last double-deckers. Delivered in 1966 East-Lancs bodied Leyland PD2 No.43 hadn't lost a front ventilator following accident damage as it's was an amusing bemusing quirk of this town to specify this oddity. Maybe with the stink from the local chemical industry along the Mersey one opening window was probably considered more than enough to bear.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Border to Burnley

As well as with Touring and long distance express services former large operators like Ribble prided themselves on the network of limited-stop services that crisscrossed their empire like the threads of some invisible spiders web. Even the more image conscious of the big bus groups like Stagecoach put revenue far ahead of keeping these links with the past alive. I guess had Ribble still been with us today these once regular and often useful longer routes would have been severely cut back anyway as they date back to the good old days when people didn't have cars for what was often an annual treat to the seaside. Having said all that surprisingly there was no Ribble service from Burnley to Blackpool in the timetable so I presume visitors had to change buses at Preston. So by the Nineties maybe matters had improved as growing Independents like Border who ran this former Barton Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard milked any potential traffic with their Service X4.

Barraqueiro Volvo 143

It's too much of a coincidence I suspect that Barraqueiro Volvo No.143 should be working Route 143 and just as likely as it's destination Flamenca to be the home of Flamenco Dancing.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Hanley Bus Station Early 1980's

The sudden changes in the early Seventies with the NBC making it's mark and the PTE absorbing the local Corporations into one did not effect the Independents to the same degree and even though all those fine liveries like Standerwick, Royal Blue and the like got whitewashed over, we could still enjoy untarnished the likes of Yelloway and Premier Travel etc. Fortunately we still had the private bus operator's too like Barton and Berresford but we lost so many fine proud municipals to the PTE's. It was all so depressing I stopped taking photography between 1971 and 1979 and it was only perhaps Ray Stenning's inspirational 'National Bus Company Album' and then the need to go out there and get the last of the half-cabs, BMMO's etc that brought me back. I'm glad I did as I took so many b&w views before turning to colour for what was the colourful Indian Summer of Deregulation before even landmarks too started to disappear so quickly and for ever. Now Rotherham is no different to Stoke in bus terms. In 1979 I continued using my old Voitlander Vito2 Camera for a while but as you can see it started scratching the negatives badly and I had to get a new one. Here a former Bournemouth Atlantean of Stonier and a part of Berresford's follows a very typical NBC ECW bodied Bristol VR of PMT out of Hanley Bus Station.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

First's Barbi livery, Love it or Hate it.....

...like here in Plymouth it is the look on the streets in fashion. I must admit I don't dislike it but when we get whole cities like Sheffield that are over-run with grey looking buses it is rather depressing.

Monday 21 September 2009

Middleton's Ribble Red Setters

It has been said that engineers at Ribble were partly responsible for the concept of the BET same-at-both-ends single decker with curved screens front and rear. Ribble certainly took a huge fleet of these buses that they christened Red-Setters after a gun-dog. Numbers started at 458 in 1963 and by 1966 had reached 682, and then in 1967 came 201-220 and there were about fifty dual-purpose buses too. Even in NBC days Ribble buses were kept in fine order so it was hardly surprising that after sale many were snapped up by smaller independents. Middleton on Rugeley ran this pair and like a former Trent example No.577 was painted in the red with maroon company colours. Similar bus 557 was still very much as it had been when it left Ribble in poppy red with that single white band.

Sunday 20 September 2009

137 Years of Carris: Many Happy Returns

I have been saving this view of the yard at the back of the Carris works at Boavista by Santa Amaro for a special occasion. As it was my last day in Lisbon I had hoped to be able to go inside but as it was the weekend I was told it was not possible. The next best thing was to scale the wall to the top and at least take a few shots from there of these wonderful slowly decaying AEC's that symbolised a previous era taking us back a good few more years when Bristish buses were king's of the road in Portugal.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Last Year at Meadowhall

A year has gone by since the last bus rally at Meadowhall and that's where I'm off to today. Former local Leyland PD2 buses with Yorkshire built Roe bodies from Leeds ferry people to the Transport Museum in Sheffield. It should be a nice day and when I get home I have Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding to look forward to. As you can see it's not that terrible being British and especially on Summer weekends when it's almost as if the old buses never went away with events and rides to enjoy.

Saturday in Sheffield

I know it's a bit daft but when blogging if I can remember it I like to post my pictures at the time of the week on which they were taken whether it be during a weekday or at the weekend. This one of a Mainline Metrobus Mk2 was taken on a Saturday in the mid-Nineties which might account for all the people standing around with not a great deal to do. Bus 1937 dated from 1984 and was allocated to Olive Grove Garage whose letters are carried on the front.

Friday 18 September 2009

Carris Lisbon AEC Regal No.107

As you see I took one or two in black and white too when I went to Portugal in 1984. No.107 had been re-bodied at some time and despite it having quite a restricted carrying capacity it had been fitted with dual-entrances for fast a boarding and exit.

FBW Hess

A smart Hess bodied FBW bound for Rothenberg was seen in Luzern in the early Nineties.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Gardner powered Olympians: Still going strong.

Blackpool transport bought a number of standard NBC ECW bodied Leyland Olympian buses from Trent in the Nineties. This Summer they were still going strong despite being twenty-six-years-old and No.409 was pictured on the Sea Front at Fleetwood. Even though Blackpool also buys new buses regularly it has never thrown out sound vehicles because of their age alone and obviously the operation has a hand-on feel rather than being left to distant managers and the whims of accountants. With poor design issues when new these buses were not greatly loved but no doubt they have become more highly valued because of their comparative simplicity and not forgetting the legendary frugal and reliable Gardner engines that has also kep't the similar aged West Midlands MCW Metrobuses going.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Stop me and buy something

In the Danish town of Esjberg as you can see on this DAB Leyland they took full advantage of every space almost to sell advertising.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Midland Red's first Leopards

This Midland Red Leyland Leopard LS18 once looked extremely smart with a black top as it was one of twenty Willowbrook bodied vehicles from this 1962-3 batch of one-hundred fitted with coach seats to work the operator's long X-Services that covered much of the system. Tamworth Garage together with Coalville had several of these fast nice to drive buses for the long X99 from Birmingham to Nottingham which passed through the town. Shortly before it was withdrawn perhaps early in 1980 No.5182 was still working hard as it powered along the busy A5 Watling Street near Two Gates returning home from Birmingham on the 110.

Buses & Girls!

Well better luck next time with the young girls. But as this view of Plymouth Bretonside demonstrates many of the folks taking coach excursions and tours are elderly. Consequently drivers have to be chosen wisely and be in tune with their needs as it is not a job for those normally on service work who are always rude or and in a hurry. Skills is a well known and long established operator from Nottingham which started shortly after World War One with a bus service. Volvo coaches were favoured in the Eighties included this Van-Hool bodied B10M-61.

Monday 14 September 2009

Service 999 to Malmo

Apart from the long finger pointing north called Jutland west of it Denmark is a series of large and small islands and those few which aren't joined by bridges employ ferries. It seems even the larger crossings have all been bridged now including the important one between Knudshoved and Korsor. As well as that there is also a long bridge between Denmark and Sweden and even though I expect coaches still depart from outside the railway station in Copenhagen the journey to Malmo most be a great deal shorter bringing the two nations ever closer.

Warrington Bus Station

Friday 11 September 2009

If it says Leyland on the tin....

....it probably isn't. Well it's certainly not a proper Leyland bus more likely being based on the light truck Terrier chassis as often also happened in the UK. This student college bus was enjoying a lazy day as it was Sunday in Lisbon.

Don't look at the bus: Ipswich Falcon

East Lancashire Coachbuilders took functional ugliness to such an extreme it almost became pleasant. Secretly for once I quite admire these unusual quirky add-on designs to the more common equivalent unremarkable jelly-mould profile usually seen. No doubt Ipswich's well maintained and attractive green and cream livery did much to give these cut-and-fold bodied Dennis Falcons of about 1981 a bit more quality

Thursday 10 September 2009

A Pleasant Afternoon in Heaton Park

No day out on the buses would be complete without some artistic Jowitt style buses and girls shots as I really enjoy this kind of atmospheric photography and especially when it gives a more truthful account of something that can be very artificial like assorted buses lined up on the grass trying to bring back the past. I think it's best to see them as a kind of transport carnival or meeting point and focus for old friends and try not to be too purist which I tended to do previously.

Wash and brush-up

Sorry about the imperfections but I took this through a bus window last year on evening at Plymouth Bretonside Bus Station as a Swiss coach driver of Twerenbold prepared his smart Bova coach for the next day's adventure.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Wigan Melverley Street Garage

Buying mostly Massey and Northern Counties bodied Leyland buses Wigan used to have one of the most splendid fleets in Lancashire. Many years later in the Nineties Leyland's were still here but the Greater Manchester North Atlanteans allocated here were looking rather shabby and the once proud Corporation Melverley Garage looked decidedly unloved dirty and neglected. Indeed the whole scene is a bit depressing not helped in part by the glazed red brick of backyard out-houses giving the impression that it never stops raining. By this time GMT had been split in two ready for privatisation with First Group taking 'North' and Stagecoach 'South'. I've heard that this garage is to close shortly.

Blackburn Atlantean in Darwen

Darwen had a small fleet of red and cream buses but in the Seventies amid fears of being swallowed up into Greater Manchester PTE it decided to merge with it's much bigger neighbour Blackburn just up the road. Sadly in Lancashire of the twenty-seven Municipals to be found in the Sixties only two remain, Blackpool which merged with Lytham St. Annes and Rossendale which had been Rawtenstall before it took nearby Haslington under it's wing in the Sixties. There are another two survivor's of course, Halton (formerley Widnes) and Warrington but following boundary changes in the Seventies they are now in Cheshire.

Saturday 5 September 2009

More from Porto

A forward-control lightweight chassis I'm not sure what make of vehicle this is but it reminds me a bit of a Wadham-Stringer bodied Bedford they supplied to the British Army at about that time in the Eighties.

Liskeys Leopard at Looe

This smart Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard was seen beside the harbour at the pretty Cornish fishing village of Looe. By then in service with Liskey it had started life with Sampson of Cheshunt.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Beacon Bus in Tavistock

One of the former First Western National drivers who had moved to Devon and who was working from Tavistock told me one reason he enjoyed the job was the lovely little town and travelling through beautiful countryside. True Tavistock is on the edge of Dartmoor but as First cuts back more of it's rural network their buses will become more confined to the built-up areas as Independents take up the unprofitable tendered rural routes. Most of the Plymouth routes terminated at Tavistock but till recently the old hourly 86 Service went right on over the moor to serve Okehampton to the north. But now that very pretty section is operated by Beacon Bus who was using this new Optare bus in June, and with this another of their long routes cut the local First Bus drivers find themselves more and more confined to the usual more busy routes heading down into traffic-congested Plymouth.

Proctors: Day-Out in London

It's always nice to photograph local coaches when we see then further afaield like Proctors of Hanley then not very old Scania Van-Hool coach at Trafalgar Square in the 90's. I think they still own HIL7620 as I'm sure I saw it recently in all-white.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

What do Liverpool and Berlin have in common?

Well according to my brother they are the two cheapest cities to live in Western Europe or something like that. Once thing is certain though as in both of them with stretched budgets transport struggles to make ends meet. The traditional operator BVG in Berlin of course has a monopoly whereas with deregulation and Privatisation the elderly fleet of mostly former Liverpool Atlanteans had to see off a multitude of have a go independents. Some didn't last long but others prospered and CMT built up a large fleet of about one-hundred and mostly well presented second-hand National buses like this. Liverpool's fine Lime Street Station with it's elegant roof-line like a rainbow is still there of course but CMT who had merged with GTL gave Stagecoach a much desired foothold in this Arriva dominated city. As one might expect with Stagecoach, had this elderly bus still been in service at the time of the takeover it would have been quickly replaced. However it would not have looked out of place in Stagecoach colours as during it's rapid expansion in the Eighties and Nineties it had gobbled up United Counties including Wellingborough Garage who had ran it as No.555.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Bulach: Modern Post Buses

No doubt things have moved on since I took this view at Bulach north of Zurich in 2000. The P-Reg letters on the Post-Office owned Post Buses have gone of course but the Mercedes Citaro has come to symbolise the modern yellow fleet and no doubt others in Switzerland. On the other hand I think the ugly Neoplans are on their way out.

Today I might not be able to pick up the girls.....

But at least I have my bus pass so I can travel free which is some consolation at least. They use dedicated buses on the Stafford-Newport-Wellington-Telford 481 Service but occasionally others appear like this similar Wright bodied VDL 2636 from Wellington Garage.