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

Sunday 31 October 2010

Almost time for Switzerland

As winter the cold weather and the thought of snow approaches I think about Switzerland again as after Christmas was the time when I took a holiday there. Sion is one of my favourite places as it was one of the few places I managed to take a proper look at a decent number of PTT Regie fleet during my schooldays nearby in Vaud. In the Sixties many of the buses were FBW C40U Alpenwagens but there were older bonneted Saurer's too but these were a far cry from the sophisticated Saurer RH's to be seen in the Eighties and Nineties. P24412 and P24416 were amongst the last Saurer's built in 1985 as both Saurer and FBW sold out to Mercedes-Benz who continued the Swiss tradition with hybrids under the marque NAW from Arbon.

East Yourkshire 535

After Privitisation some former BET and BTC operators tried to use their former pre-NBC colours albeit usually in a modified way. The way East Yorkshire added it's old dark blue  to it's coach livery was both rather attractive and a pleasant tribute to it's past. ECW bodied Leyland Olympian No  535 reg. B535WAT  was pictured at Scarborough.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Soames Travel

Not only has the former Leyland empire gone including of course AEC, Guy, Daimler and Albion. But the once very common Ford and Bedford coaches associated with the Independent operator have gone too. Plaxton bodied Soames Executive NJU 382P positively gleamed in the sun when I caught this view of it in Ipswich during the Eighties.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

George Ewer's Grey Green Coaches

As they say oak trees grow from tiny acorns and when the car dealership Cowie bought out the London coach operator George Ewer it quickly found it's way into the much more challenging yet rewarding Deregulated bus market. A few years later the slightly bigger Cowie Group changed it's name to Arriva, but few would have guessed anything so unlikely as this mushrooming effect looming when I photographed examples of Grey Green's then standard choice of Leyland and Bedford chassis in about 1983. Like other important Leyland strongholds as well as the new Tiger an upmarket Royal Tiger Doyen or two was tried but without gaining any orders as like many others once content with buying the trusted Leopard the less reliable and poorly thought out Tiger was one spanner in the works too many as the sensible way to proceed was with ultra reliable Volvo. It's just such a pity coaches like Doyen A839 SYR seen at Stamford Hill Depot weren't as good as they looked whilst the also popular Duple bodied Bedford YYL 793T was also nearing the end of it's breed.

Lunch Break: Inside the tram works at Boavista

Lots of beautiful old fashioned 'hands-on' heavy engineering lies beneath these historic trams in Lisbon. I get more excited by the sounds and smells of this world but I do love it when it fires up someones imagination or brings back heroic memories of sore knuckles and sweat.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

A Daimler Fleetline in coventry

This style of East Lancs bodywork on the Daimler Fleetline appeared on buses of Warrington and Coventry but in an odd sort of unusual proportions 'East Lancs' way I found it quite attractive. CKV 2D was No.2 in the Coventry fleet but after the formation of the West Midlands PTA a local Y suffix was added so all the various fleets didn't need to be renumbered. The last letter was chosen instead of the first as three of the five towns started with W.

Monday 25 October 2010

A conductor operated Metrobus on the 73

Normally at the time when this view of MCW Metrobus M1299 was taken in the mid-Nineties the cross-London 73 Route was still operated by Routemaster buses and no doubt that is why there was a conductor on this working. The bus was now owned by Leaside who used a swan for it's motif whilst the bus B299 WUL was coincidentally bound for The Swan pub in Tottenham.

Southport Driver Training bus

A former Southport Corporation driver training bus outside the garage at Blowick. Thankfully a few former PSV's like this red and cream bus managed to escape the horrible Merseyside PTE verona-green. Southport was regarded as one of the nicest Corporation fleets in the country. Even though the red and cream buses have gone a reminder of the good old days can be seen on the street as the town still paints it's lamp posts in those colours.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Bankekinds Scania in Berlin

I admit that I don't know a great deal about Continental coachbuilders except perhaps being able to spot a nice vehicle when I see one like this Swedish Scania in Berlin.

Kinch: One bus and a lot of bags

Kinch added a lot of extra colour to the deregulation scene on the Nottingham-Loughborough-Leicester corridor with it's nicely turned out blue and yellow buses including this former London Titan CUL 176V.

Friday 22 October 2010

A Gliderways glides into Stafford

Not my best shot but when I was at Stafford Art School visiting some girls at the top floor of the now demolished Camden Place I took one or two views against the light of buses coming along the Wolverhampton Road including what to some is the 'Holy grail', a superb Gliderways! Even the name seems to sum up those Fifties Harrington bodies with that unforgettable dorsal-fine above the rear window. However the final products from Harrington of Hove near Brighton were their finest, the Cavalier and the slightly more 'racy' Grenadier as seen here on  Leyland Leopard 6911HA of 1963. Sadly they stopped building in 1966.

London: Picking up the Commuters

Deregulation of local express services into London removing the Green Line monopoly. It made the commuter pick-up points like The Embankment an interesting place to be, and buses like this smart Metrobus Lynx were well worth a photo.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Buses & Girls. Not just the photos but in song too

A published called Portico asked me if I had a suitable photo of Shrewsbury's old Barker Street Bus Station for a book they were publishing called 'The Girl and The Song' where they tell the story behind the lyrics. Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople fame wrote in a love song about a girl who he was to meet here called 'Irene Wilde'.I chose this photo of what at the time was Shrewsbury's only D9 No.5028.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

A bus in Widnes: Making something from nothing

As a young enthusiast I took lots of record shots but as time went on I looked more and more towards taking slightly more interesting views with my buses in them. Here is a perfect example of how with a little care and patience one can capture far more than just a rather mundane Halton Transport Leyland National half hidden at a bus stop. Taken against the sunlight the way the shadows fall allows the street furniture to draw the eye across to what is also happening as people approach. Widnes Corporation was traditionally a Leyland operator, but after buying some Leopards for 'opo' Leyland powered Bristol RE's took the stage. But later when they could no longer buy these not did Halton become an enthusiastic buyer of both National mark1 and the National2, it also liked the much derided Lynx. No21 ACW 21R was seen in the town in the mid-Eighties loading for Hough Green Farm, or rather I expect a housing estate built on it.

A United Olympian leaves Newcastle for Middlesborough

The last time I went to Newcastle on Tyne I gave myself exactly one hour to take some photographs. Unfortunately the weather also chose that one hour in the day to throw it down with thundery rain so my efforts were restricted to a few rushed views. However the beauty of black and white photography is one can catch the mood of the day and in it's bright red and white dual-purpose livery this ECW bodied United Leyland Olympian A233 GHN with the weak sun fighting through the clouds looked rather splendid on the still damp roads.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Leopards are becoming a rare breed

Tigers might be getting rare in the jungle but at least twenty-year old Leopards on our streets are a very much an endangered species. So it was good once more to hear the roar of one as this late example ABW 82X of Thomas Bros sometimes passes my house on school journeys. It is on loan to Roger Middleton of Rugeley who uses it as a spare.

Monday 18 October 2010

DB Autobus in Giessen

Today not only in Britain are buses all colours of the rainbow that applies to countries like Germany too. Somehow though I rather miss the boringly reliable image of the old DB with it's dull maroon painted Mercedes and Setra buses like this one seen on a rather grey day in Giessen.

Sunday 17 October 2010

All change at Wolverhampton

It just exists! Maybe it's something about being a child with little memory to fall back on that makes everything seem so static with no past and just a narrow future. But as we get older all these memories unfurl like an endless magic carpet of events. This view of Wolverhampton Bus Station was taken about fifteen years ago which for a child is more than a lifetime but to me as an adult it still seems just like yesterday. It's hardly surprising then that everything has gone even if most of the noticeable changes are quite recent. The eye catching Midland Red North East-Lancs bodied Dennis Dart L510 BNX became an Arriva liveried bus long ago and no doubt withdrawn by now whilst an immaculate Warstone's Green Bus Leyland Leopard also bodied by East-Lancs is another memory and even the last indestructible West Midland's Travel Metrobus has finally recently gone too. To cap it all the bus station is closed as well as it gets a total makeover. Arriva wont be using the new one though as even the big operator's will do anything to save costs and prefer to use local streets.

Thursday 14 October 2010

AWB Bern: Once the heart of the PTT Post Bus Empire

Opened on 3rd February 1941 the head works at AWB in Bern was busy especially in winter when seasonal drivers with no work were drafted in from their local garages to help service the fleet. At one time there were over fifty buses in here being serviced out of  a fleet of400-500, but by the Nineties despite the fleet growing well above the five-hundred mark much of the big jobs was being done by local contractors. Most of the activity was confined to keeping the local allocation of about 33 plus cars etc in good shape like this Mercedes-Benz O405G articulated bus P27709.

Stagecoach-Ribble 333

A Stagecoach-Ribble Leyland National2 leaves Bolton on it's way to Burnley. Ribble had plenty of it's own but these were joined by buses like FUH 33V from I think Taff Ely (Pontypridd) where Stagecoach made heavy inroads into the various companies with buy-outs.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Shearings: Behind the scenes

Tour operators have been refining their skills for many years and no doubt once out on the open road the driver gives his customers the personal touch. However the Shearings central coach station near Coventry is run with the high-tech efficiency of an airport, so no doubt everyone on coach No.401 should have a good trip but the only thing you can't plan for is the British weather.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

32 YKK has an uncertain future at Garston in 1982.

This style of bodywork was to be found on the early thirty-six-foot buses built to BET specification in 1962-63. Most were built by Willowbrook like former Maidstone and District 32 YKK who took two dual-purpose examples SC31-32, plus five as buses S1-5. Sadly only one of these long looking elegant beasts has survived into preservation, one of the similar 100 examples delivered to Midland Red No.5212 Reg. 5212 HA.

Monday 11 October 2010

An easy one to remember: ABC

Probably as forgettable as it's name Independents like ABC seen here in Bolton in about 1999 quickly came and went in the Nineties.The Eastern Coachworks bodied Leyland Leopard UKE 828X once belonged to East Kent.

1984: Market Day in Caldas

There were plenty of comings and goings of RN buses in the busy little town of Caldas da Rainha where they stopped at the market place. In those days the majority were AEC's with Portuguese Utic bodywork like 4523 although these were not the most attractive.

Amsterdam: NKH 4533

A rather angular Volvo bus of NKH bound for Zaandam meets a tram near the main railway station in Amsterdam.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Sunshine in Torquay

The Devon General Bristol VR's in their NBC colours were not half as nice as dark red and cream AEC Regents but we still miss them. This operator had open-top VR's but no doubt covered No.1228 LFJ 875W still provided an enjoyable ride along the Torbay coast.

Luton & District at Blackpool.

A mouthwatering collection of NBC coaches to be seen at Blackpool Coliseum Bus Station including as well as local operator Ribble, a Luton and District Tiger NNH 190Y and a Yorkshire Traction Leopard behind it.

Chase Bus Service in Walsall

It was miraculous so of course it was too good to last but in the West Midlands a number of small operators managed to keep a bit of the old bus world alive whilst the rest moved on running defunct types. Not so tiny was West Midlands with it's many Metrobuses soldiering away, Warstone's 'Green Bus' with Leyland Leopards and more,  North.Birmingham with smart Leyland Atlanteans from Plymouth and Greater Manchester and of course Chase with it's indestructible Nationals. This National Mark1 at Bradford Place in Walsall AYR 309T started life as London Transport LS 309 in 1979 and was pictured in the mid-Nineties.

Friday 8 October 2010

Manchester: First Class Travel with Fewer Stops

I don't think it caught on but Greater Manchester South Buses by this time a part of Stagecoach painted Northern Counties Olympian coach 3139 B139 WNB in blue as it's key colour to brand it for limited stop services to the south of the city including Woodhouse Park.

Thursday 7 October 2010

North Western 661 crosses the Mersey at Warrington

At Privatisation Crosville was split into two with one part still called Crosville whilst the western part became Crosville Wales. The English buses quickly adopted a rather unpleasant deep orange and dark green livery, but the orange was quickly replaced by a much more subtle cream whose effect at first glance reminded one of the old Maidstone and District.colours. By the time in the Nineties when ECW bodied Leyland Olympian A151 UDM was photographed in Warrington the English part of the old company had been split yet again with PMT buying the Chester and Wirral operations. Totally unrelated to the old North Western what was left of Crosville in Cheshire joined North Western whose name had been reused to go on Ribble's former Liverpool empire which was also owned by British Bus..

VBK bodied Volvo in Roskilde

Generally one had to get a good distance away from Copenhagen to enjoy a rich variety of Danish bus operators. But just in the HT outer zone area the famous Viking city of Roskilde offered an interesting number of liveries and operators. Like most Danish towns it had a 'Town Bus' too which wore this cream and light green livery. As well as DAB-Leyland buses there were a number of Volvo's with VBK bodywork like No.20 HB-92-707 seen outside the railway station in 1982.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Chaserider forced to buy London Fleetlines

The former Midland Red companies were starved of it's traditional ration of double-deckers in the NBC years and forced to take Leyland Nationals. So when the NBC relaxed it's grip as elsewhere London's cast off DMS Fleetlines were most welcome to plug the gap as seen here at Cannock in the mid Eighties..

Monday 4 October 2010

The London Commuter Rush-hour

To preserve the monopoly of London Transports Green Line cross-city limited-stop stage services there used to be a restriction of a about thirty-fives miles preventing rival operator's taking it's commuter traffic. With Deregulation this was more than halved to fifteen miles which was more or less the urban boundary of the M25. Consequently many old fashioned Green Line stage services were replaced by faster workings from other former NBC operator's wanting to expand plus others like Reading and Southend who sought to provide a regular service throughout the day. Better train services and the congestion have killed a lot of this off but Independent's did much better with more flexible commuter services particularly along the M40 and M4 Corridor plus down the M2 from North Kent and the highly populated Medway Towns. This Plaxton Paramount bodied Leyland Tiger B46 XKJ of Smiths of Sittingbourne could regularly been seen picking up for the homeward journey along the London Embankment in the Nineties.   

Sunday 3 October 2010

You had to go to London to see these and of course Blackpool

Blackpool is so well known for it's fleet of fabulous still operational historic trams and older buses that elsewhere had almost all gone plus an individualistic buying policy that once typified the progress Municipal fleets. Hardly surprising then that these short lived little Handybus minibuses like E570 OCW are so easily forgotten. At one time as in much of Lancashire the mighty Leyland Motors ruled here but with it's gradual demise a new favourite supplier came along in the shape of Optare. Even though it now has very little in common with the old Leyland it is one of it's few surviving children as the company was born when the former Charles Roe bodybuilding business in Leeds was privatised with the sell off of British Leyland that had swallowed up the proper Leyland. Optare quickly evolved into a manufacturer of modern but not over-sophisticated operator friendly complete buses. This seaside town has bought a number of it's single-decker ranges and especially the splendid Delta, but now probably forgotten were these eye-catching early minibuses based on a VW which even though not successful showed that minibuses need not look like bread vans. This model was quickly killed off when Optare took over the bus busness of MCW and instead put it's efforts into that manufacturer's to become very successful Metrorider which rather looked like this tiddlers bigger brother. So it was to become something of a rarity only really be found in small numbers in parts of fashionable London and of course here running alongside the trams and other gems here in Blackpool by the sea.

"What time yer goin me hearty?"

Not a very nice day for the obligatory harbour boat trip to Devonport, but there must be worse places to go on a wet day than Plymouth. Once almost a fixture Wallace Arnold is long gone but in a different guise regular caller Ellen Smith still come to Bretonside. As well as seagulls, the roar of Plymouth's native Atlanteans and Leopards from various operators, it's was this attendant's rustic West Country accent that most sums up the old days at this once very busy bus station. The chap left here grew a beard and got a job greeting the same trippers but this time luring people with his local charm on to a local money earner the boat trip down at The Hoe.

Friday 1 October 2010

Grey day in Geneva

Cities like Geneva in Switzerland have a certain reputation for their sophistication and expensive civilised lifestyle. However  despite all that cash one rarely finds any money lying in the street and on a cold grey day it feels to the stranger not much better than anywhere else. Articulated buses have operated here for many years and with it's Swiss bodywork Volvo No. 184 looked very much at home as it set off from the main station for another station, Gare Zimeysa.

Wet Day in Liverpool

As you will have guessed from my postings I'm much more interested in the buses of yesteryear than today. However some things never change like the British weather which always presents and interesting clallenge. This was probably my favoutrite of the photographs I took in Liverpool at Easter. I expect Wright bodied Y457 KNF is a VDL much loved by Arriva.

Warstone's No12 sets out from Rugeley

In it's prime much missed are the historic buses of Warstone's Green Bus Service especially the half-cab deckers including No.12 a lowbridge Massey bodied Leyland PD3 GNY432C new to Caerphilly and now preserved. On Market Days these fine buses used to appear on the Wolverhampton service from Rugeley also crossing Cannock Chase and passing through Hednesford.