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
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.
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'.
Monday, 28 September 2009
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.
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
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.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
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
...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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
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
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
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.
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
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.
Friday, 11 September 2009
....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.
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
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.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
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.
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
Thursday, 3 September 2009
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.
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
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
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.
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.