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 September 2010

The bus to Boothtown

The great thing about the British Municipal operators is they were all quite different whether it be by size, vehicle requirements or more importantly the whims of the Transport Committee and General Manager. Sadly all of this was to disappear when many in urban areas were absorbed in to PTA's as happened when Halifax became part of the West Yorkshire Passenger Executive. It's last delivery of new single-deckers before this took place were some attractive Leyland Leopards with Plaxton bodywork like 3007 UJX 917M which had been No.7 when new in 1974 just before the takeover. Boothtown it's destination became a household name in the Seventies as one of the sinister haunts of Sutcliffe the so-called Yorkshire Ripper who at night stalked and murdered prostitutes in the district.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Southdown: An old friend emerges from it's leafy green sleep

Following the break up of the National Bus Company at the end of the Eighties Southdown's return to something like it was before Nationalisation felt quite heartening. The fact that it only went so far in recreating the old magic of what was once one our favourite operator's can quickly be dismissed with sorrow for almost in the blink of an eye it was gone again. This time the apple-green and cream on Nationals like 104 would be smothered in those much derided Stagecoach stripes.

HT DAB-Leyland 1292

HT operated a small number of DAB-Leyland articulated buses or as the Danes call them the 'ledbus' on a rush-hour commuter limited-stop service to Kokkedal to the north of Copenhagen . By then two years old No.1292 which entered service in November 1980 was the first of the ten and HT already had earlier vehicles of this type dating from 1976 Nos.808-813.

Monday 27 September 2010

Show Bus 2010. And a wonderful time was had by all!

Show Bus has something of a poor reputation for weather and yesterday when it wasn't raining it was pouring down. Perhaps sponsor and model maker EFE like it that way so everyone will have to shelter in their marquee and buy models. Despite the rain people were still photographing and filming the buses. I must have got soaked to the skin as I woke up this morning with webbed feet. 1n 1965 London Transport tried a number of new bus types including AEC Merlin standee buses, Leyland Atlanteans and for the green country area eight Daimler Fleetlines with Park Royal bodywork which were set to work from East Grinstead.

Friday 24 September 2010

Mercedes-Benz: It's Classic Coaches

Rather in the same way that Plaxton in the Sixties came up with a winner in the early Sixties with it's modern looking Panorama range which despite many face lifts and name changes lived on till the Eighties, Mercedes-Benz coaches and Setra too followed the same 'if it's not broken' philosophy to it's designs. It is easier in hindsight to judge as somewhere along the line and one of these had to be the best most time enduring version. Of course livery helped and this fine 0302 in Berlin with it's natural flowing lines and 'fishy mouthed front' of Koddenberg looks very pleasing. By 1982 it was getting old too as a new version the 0303 came along in the mid-Seventies. I feel they spoilt this crisp design by squaring it up and trying to make it more eye catching with plastic and metallic trim.  Also this beauty also reminds us of those many bonneted lorries the great German made too selling all over the world.

Mercedes-Benz 0303

Coaches visit Berlin from right across Germany and beyond. When the Berlin Wall was still an attraction in 1982 a Mercedes-Benz 0303 coach of Berbig from Hamburg visits the city. With the bulky 0303 design came slabs of colour and bold graphics to disguise it's lack of elegance but maybe the tasteless Seventies was all about 'making a show'.

Monday 20 September 2010

West Midlands Fleetlines at Miller Street

On West Midlands Fleetlines it was easy to tell a similar early Park Royal body from a MCW body sideways-on by the the more rounded rear dome but it was not quite so easy directly from the front like this. A local MCW product though can be seen behind the former Midland red Alexander bodied bus 6282 of 1971 standing alongside 1965 Park Royal 3511 BON 511C. This final batch of 33 with dual-entrances nearly all paseed to the PTE having been allocated in the area.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Seffied Mainine Atlantean 1808

The less than beautiful Marshall bodied Leyland Atlantean didn't look at all bad in Sheffield Mainline livery. Here No.1808 JKW 308W hurries through the city in the mid-Nineties.

My kind of town: A Saurer DUK in Lugano

Ask the millionaires who live there and they will agree that it's very nice with it's mild climate and laid-back Italian vibe. For those others who use public transport sadly the Lugano trolleybuses have gone but the Postato Bus Station is the busiest in switzerland. Sadly it no longer plays host to Swiss vehicles like this Tuscher bodied 1971 Saurer DUK.


Surprisingly considering they are our neighbour's we don't see so many coaches from the Republic of Ireland on the British mainland so an Eirebus Van-Hool bodied Scania visiting Berlin on a Globus Gateway Holiday was worthy of a photo.

Thursday 16 September 2010

A Trent Leopard bound for Derby

Another early photo:
Trent doesn't seem to get the same attention as other former BET fleets. I rather liked them as they were always smartly turned out. However I suppose not  only didn't it catch the imagination the way of say North Western it shared it's operating area with greats like Barton. Here 1965 Plaxton Panorama bodied Leyland Leopard No.4 is bound for Derby at Manchester, Lower Moseley Street Bus Station when about a year old

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Welcome Home: Once upon a time.....

Even when I was a youngster people thought I was a bit mad liking buses, but it was an exciting world where everywhere one went the buses were not just different colours but also often very different. It has taken many years to fully appreciate the smallish BET Group fleet of Aldershot and District as it was so 'conservative' and old fashioned without an Atlantean or even a modern looking bus in sight. I remember the Dennis Lolines well as they were built locally at Guildford but also on parade here at Alton was something I had never seen before. Indeed not only was this curious Strachan bodied Dennis Falcon P5 unique to A&D most if not all eight operated from here at Alton. No. 282 POR 428 built in 1954 was similar in concept to the lightweight low capacity London Transport 'Guy Special'  GS bus where the operator needed a small 'one person operation'  bus to go down the country lanes.

Barton 1609 loads in the Nottingham evening rush-hour.

Barton of Chilwell was one of the great names in the bus world with it's fascinating mix of new, secondhand buses and a colourful individualism that typified the confident innovative Independent. In the Seventies it broke new ground when it's used the government's new bus grant to renew the whole fleet with coach bodied Leylands and Bedfords. Despite the loss of interest caused Barton remained a favourite with enthusiasts and one of the last of many Leopards delivered No.1609 VRC 609Y picks up by Nottingham Railway Station on it's way to Leicester. By this time the company had sold it's bus interests to the local Wellgate Group who ran it alongside the local former BET and NBC company Trent and both names still survive to this day.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Sittenauer: Sit an Hour?

Exeter has long been a favourite with continental tour operators and their assorted coaches in various liveries add more interest to what by today's standards is a good place to see a decent variety of smart buses. Often I don't know where they all come from but my mind cannot help playing with the strange names like on this rather fine three-axle Van Hool coach probably based on a Mercedes.

Monday 13 September 2010

Former No.69: By then a trainer for CJB

During my busy day driving  I regularly used to see this former Lytham St Annes  Massey bodied Leyland PD2A/30 trainer trundling along coming the other way on the other carriageway of the main A34 between Stoke and Stafford and luckily just once I caught it at rest near Trentham and grabbed a quick photo. Pity my spotting days were long gone as this was the only one of the trio I didn't see 68-70. I think I only visited the Lytham Corporation Garage once spotting but as was often the case failed to realise there was also a large yard behind the garage where this bus might have been waiting for me to put pen to paper.


Motorway service areas even though they all look the same are still a good place to photograph coaches as they go up and down the country. This Finglands Plaxton Paramount 3500 bodied Leyland Tiger with an impressive and quite valuable registration number 10 RU to hide it's true age was heading south to do a tour of the pretty Cotswolds with it's honey coloured stone villages. Behind it is another Plaxton bodied Coach and this older Panorama bodied AEC Reliance HVU 246N was going a similar way on Route X4 to Bournemouth. We all miss Yelloways but Fingland of Manchester still operate and is owned by another favourite East Yorkshire.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Porto Belgas Tram

280-289 were built in 1929 by Arteliers de Construction de Familleureux (belgium) and despite have a solid look were comparitively quite light. A host of advertisments adds a bit of character to these not especially beautiful tramcars.

These Tigers Nicknamed Bosnian Tanks

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Wolverhamton: Today's Lesson

One would hardly guess the age of some of these schoolgirls were it not for the uniform. The same applies to West Midlands Travel MCW Metrobus B791 AOC No.2791 seen at Wolverhampton Bus Station in the early Nineties as it was wearing it's mid-life more grey based colours before returning to blue to end it's life.

Saturday Morning in Blackburn

In Summer 1967 there was enough work to bring older members out to work like this Crossley bodied Guy Arab 111 No.123 CBV 423 bought for Blackburn's tramway replacement in 1949. It awaits it's next run to Guide via South Darwen whilst behind it is the Corporations other favoured bus the Leyland. This equally old all-Leyland PD1 No.114 BBV 909 of 1948 was bound for Shadsworth. Note on the first bus how operators used the limited to destination place to get the writing in.

Friday 10 September 2010

Der Blaufelder

At one time a distinctive Livery was a lot more important whereas today operator's either don't seem to care or just try to save money. On the other hand when youngsters go out they try to make a fashion or lifestyle statememt whereas in the Eighties clothes were something you just put on.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Greater Manchester North-Liverpool

At one time everything had it's place and would not have dreamt of seeing Manchester buses working in Liverpool and visa-verse. But such was the spirit of competition brought on by Deregulation operators were more or less forced to to branch out or fight back. Naturally usually it cost everyone concerned far more money than it made but it certainly gave us enthusiasts something to talk about. Greater Manchester buses in Liverpool originally ran from Wigan about half way between the two cities but as you can see they got their own small fleet with a local LL garage code. As you can see by the buses in the background as Northern Counties bodied Atlantean RJA 706R No.7706 heads out of the city competition in the Beatles city was rife in the Nineties.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Duple Vega Bedford

Although Burlingham with it's Seagull and Harrington were the top heavyweight coach builders of the Fifties, when it came to the lightweight market where Bedford also led the way Duple was way ahead of the others with it's eye catching Vega range. WPT 738 was seen in the line-up between the showers at Bus and Coach Wales at Merthyr Tydfil last Sunday.

Monday 6 September 2010

Hills of Tredegar

Perhaps the best known coach operator in wales was Hills of Tredegar with between fifty and sixty vehicles. As well as mostly Leyland coaches it also had a few service buses too and this early Leopard L1 dating from 1960 has been preserved. XWO 911 seen at the bus rally in Merthyr Tydfil it shows off the features that were so characteristic of these Burlingham underfloor bus and coach bodywork.

Bus Rally Blues: Bus & Coach Wales

I find Bus Rallies to be a pleasant day out going somewhere different and being with friends. As for the events they are a bit strange and rather artificial. Bus rides are certainly a plus but can be a bit boring when one has to visit a local brewery on an industrial estate as happened at Merthyr Tydfi last week-end. I could have ridden on the East lLancs bodied Leyland Leopard which once belonged to Rhymney Valley as it's 87, PWO 87Y but opted for a much more traditional half-cab bodied AEC Regent of South Wales Transport instead especially as I had travelled down on another Leopard..

Saturday 4 September 2010

Bluebird & Maynes in Manchester

The Manchester bus seem has lost much of it's interest now that Independents like Maynes have gone and on a visit today I saw no Blue Bus either. Although Mayne still operates coaches it's red and cream buses no long give the city a traditional flavour. They favoured Scania in later years whilst Blue Bus liked Dennis's like this East-Lancs bodied example W5 BLU.

Friday 3 September 2010

Ribble's old Kendal Garage

Ribble had a garage at Station Road in Kendal which also shared a small part of it's allocation of forty-eight with Garstang and Grange. Following Privatisation it passed to Stagecoach who covered it's buses in these candy-stripes. Still I am rather impressed as the company which like Ribble kept it's predominately white panelled fleet looking clean and smart. The two centre vehicles a Duple Laser bodied Tiger and the open-top ECW bodied Olympian are typical NBC stock and came from Ribble whilst the Alexander bodied Olympian and Volvo single-decker were very typical of Stagecoach at that time. When Stagecoach took over Greater Manchester South it divided it's operation so that the former Ribble operations became known as Cumberland long used by Ribble's smaller BTC neihbour to the west of the county which was also now owned by Stagecoach.

Beau Voyages

The holiday season has come to an end in the South of France. Here is a memory of hot sunny days taken in Corsica in 1988 of a coach belonging to Beau Voyages in Setra's more flamboyant days,  but it is a style I have grown to like perhaps through the torments of  nostalgia rather than taste..

Abbott's of Blackpool in Plymouth

Blackpool was such a feast of transport delights it was easy to overlook it's top coach company Abbott's who ran a smart fleet of AEC Reliances before having to to turn Leyland with first the Leopard like Duple bodied EFR 97W and then later Tigers. By the time they sold out they had turned to Volvo.

I'm a little gem!

Dodge minibus you may think so, but I'd rather photograph the attractive shoppers. The minibus boom was a bit of a low period really and if it wasn't for this type of image I might not have bothered with them at all. Dodges like unsophisticated Greater Manchester Northern Counties 1889 D889 MDB were probably the least liked of all by the driver.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Ian Allan's Staffordshire Bermuda Triangle

Living in the northern areas of Britain we long suspect that Southerners and of course those who live in London think we live in a world apart that doesn't really matter where for instance a weather forecaster might tell you exactly which street in Hounslow might experience a few drops of rain whilst omitting to tell the viewers that a hurricane is approaching the Shetland Islands. I'm exaggerating of course but when Ian Allan finally compiled a book of major British Independent Bus operators in 1986 they seemed to get everything in the London area including 'airport handling buses' yet somehow missed out all the fascinating bus operators in the Staffordshire Potteries. Poole's of Alsager Bank was just one of them but there was also Berresford plus Stonier, Proctor, and Turner all worth inclusion. Poole's favoured heavyweight Leyland Leopards for it's hilly urban services to Newcastle and Hanley and Willowbrook RBF987M is seen departing the latter