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

Monday 31 December 2012

BKT803C: New Year, cool memories like the snow

The new year is one of those times when we remember what we did so I tried to find something apt. This suitable seasonal image of  M&D Weymann bodied AEC Reliance BKT802C 2540 brings back memories as when I took it at Victoria early in 1970 I was living nearby in St Georges Drive. Also for the 1964-5 New Year I was staying with a schoolfriend in Crowborough when I got my first proper taste of M&D just a short ride away on the well known joint Southdown and Maidstone and District 119 and 122. The celebration was a posh black-tie affair at The Felbridge at Forest Row near East Grinstead so perhaps I should have searched for something from Godstone Garage

Sunday 30 December 2012

3024 pauses at the Pedestrian Lights

It doesn't seem five-minutes ago that this batch of Berlin MAN double-deckers were new but dating from the Nineties they are now just history too. 3024 was on what is probably the best known route in the city as not only is it the best for sightseeing it connects the heart of the old West Berlin to the best known landmarks in the old East Berlin.

Saturday 29 December 2012

New NAW bues at Schwarzenburg

After Christmas I used to hop on a cheap ski-flight and have a week in Switzerland trying to see as many post buses as I could. The trouble was even with a Swiss-Pass there was only so much I could see. So if I arrived in Bern early I used the opportunity to visit those places that didn't fit in as part of a day out like the somewhat isolated sleepy little town of Schwarzenburg. Despite being mountainous this was not a popular tourist area and no doubt the Swiss skiers enjoyed having the local pistes to themselves. Sadly the towns four elderly 1972-3 Saurer DUK buses had been recently been replaced by new Mercedes powered NAW Bh4 buses built at Arbon, but at least there was still a proper all-Swiss Saurer RH there making up the five. The trouble was I had two hours to wait for a train back but I'm glad I went as the PTT closed this garage a couple of years later.

Anxious Moments: No Room at the Inn

On a busy Friday as mid-day departure time approaches it looks as if all the Midland Red coaches bound for London are full, but this anxious family group might just be in luck. Of course this was not the classic era at Digbeth when the distinctive red and black BMMO CM5 and CM6 coaches proudly stood out from the rest but time is a strange thing and now we almost miss these NBC white Seventies Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopards as much: Well not quite.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

PTT AWB Bern: Ghosts of marques that once stood here

I went to school in Switzerland in the Sixties during what was for me at least was the heyday of the Swiss PTT in some ways my favourite bus company. Right next door to the school at chesieres-Villars and my classroom fuelling my interest were based two buses, an antiquated looking bonneted Saurer L4C and a much more modern and very powerful looking FBW C40U 'Haifisch'. But sadly for me there weren't really many more nearby, indeed there were just three isolated singly based smaller but similar bonneted Vallais-type Saurers also running down to the Rhone Valley below us off the mountain sides. As it was in reality a day's bike ride away, the fact that Sion with a reasonable allocation was just beyond those jagged white mountain peaks didn't make it seem much closer either. But apart from the holidays the post buses were my biggest interest at school. During boring lessons and prep I drew on the tables too and dreamt of one day finding them all but because they used mostly contractors (PAH) even searches of the map hid where the proper owned P-reg buses might run. Whenever we went on school trips by train every station we went through was observed lest it might just reveal a tantalising glimpse of something. Of course this not knowing made it more fascinating and the famous PTT was as different to a British bus company as an equally individualistic Switzerland was. Official posed photos were available but information about interesting bus stuff like the garages was not just rare I felt it was almost a state secret. Anyway when I wrote to the PTT they wrote back telling me it was confidential, but at least they sent me a big package of bus related material. When I went back in the Eighties I tried to retrace my steps, ask questions, fill in the gaps using my camera and imagination. From my photo from the Nineties as you can see by the empty tool spaces, marques like FBW had become just a memory at the once busy works at Bern where many of the properly trained driver mechanics were posted during the winter to completely service up to fifty of the 500 buses. At the time in some ways I thought I failed to find what I was looking for but looking back apart from seeing newer buses I still caught most of it including wonderful Saurers RH's and even a few classic FBW's before the PTT was split up and the once financial umbrella of the telecoms network sold off leaving the buses not just a different yellow but to a true fan never quite the same.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Bassetts gleaming in the winter sunshine

What to add on Christmas Day? Well this photo of a Bassetts of Tittensor Plaxton bodied Leyland Tiger XCS764X is a favourite of mine as not only was it one of those quick stops when I was just driving passed it also sums up how many of us like to remember coaches looking rather traditional in an attractive easy to recognise livery.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Are the Chinese taking over South Manchester?

Here is a picture from my Top Travel Transfers Airporter days of my lovely old Transit which I still miss being passed by a Stagecoach Dennis Trident. The destination must have been changing for the return journey from Chorlton-cum-Hardy but at that moment it looks as though it's another case of Britain being over-run by other ethnic groups.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Bennetts:Picking kids up after Christmas Treat

The last term week before the Xmas Holidays is a busy time for coach operators as they ferry the various school kids into Stafford from around the county for the seasonal play or pantomime. A good but tricky task successfully  photographing some older coaches in the narrow strips of sunlight between the heavy shadows. Prefer the new one or not, rather like Bere Regis the previous brown livery helped to disguise the mud on this former East Kent Leopard.

Sunday 16 December 2012

B45 NDX:Stevensons' picking up a baragain

In the Eighties a new generation of double-deckers came along to replace earlier rear-engined designs like the Atlantean. Operator's often tried small batches or even odd examples for evaluation. The Unregarded buses were often sold off much to the delight of bargain hunters like Stevensons of Uttoxeter who took this Ipswich East-Lancs bodied Olympian B45NDX arriving in Stafford.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Berrys on the Skiing Shuttle to Switzerland

Motorway service areas are not the most inspiring places for bus photography but when you drive for a living it's handy. But with the passage of time even these become more interesting if one can get people in or failing that the trucks of Yesterday. At Sandbach from Wellington in Somerset a  Berrys Plaxton bodied Volvo C308CYA was heading for a more undulating and white Switzerland on I guess a skiing holiday on a Chequer Travel Shuttle.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Porto what a wonderful place with very British looking Lancia trolleybuses, a Sixties department store sitting happily beside a Gaudiesque Art Nouveau front cinema and of course that baking heat.

Monday 10 December 2012

Rossendale Olympian in Bolton

Rossendale seems to have run more secondhand buses than new ones but amongst the exceptions was this Alexander bodied Leyland Olympian M529RHG seen in Bolton at the end of the Nineties.

Sunday 9 December 2012

The End of 6229

It was rather upsetting to see the Plaxton front of former Midland Red WHA229H in this state at far end of Martins yard at Middlewich for this Leyland Leopard had been new to Stafford in 1969 and something of a flier. At the time odd other ones from the same batch had been rebodied so I had some hope as it was only about twelve but alas I believe it was not one of the lucky ones.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Slushy Conditions on the 216

Regular trips for me were to Heathrow with Air Freight whatever the weather. Snowy winter conditions for black and white photos were always an attraction and here was one of those days when I came back with something appropriate without too much effort. I rather liked these LT Bristol LH's like BL50 OJD50R and they still looked attractive with that white relief even when dirty.

Thursday 29 November 2012

YBO 17T: Christmas is almost upon us

I'm afraid I don't get too excited about Christmas but I concede not only does it break up and add a bit of cheer to mid-winter we get to enjoy the Xmas Lights and all those gastric repeats and repeats on TV too. At times a rather Victorian Wolverhampton could do with a little cheer too but members of the fine very traditional looking Warstone's Green Bus fleet like this Tiger Cub always seemed to do the trick like this former Rhymney example YBO17T.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

English Electric Works Service

A 1962 PMT Willowbrook bodied AEC Reliance makes it's way through Stafford on an extended works service to the main English Electric works on the Lichfield Road in about 1969. In the early Sixties the company was splitting it's yearly twenty bus saloon contract equally between Leyland and AEC. When English Electric was in it's prime in the days before the advent of general car ownership in the rush-hour there was a bus almost every five-minutes on the Number 10 Hanley-Stoke-Stafford.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Blackpool Happy Days in Happier Times

Love places like Blackpool or not, it used to be a great place for enthusiasts for as well as the local buses and trams on busy weekends it was packed with people and coaches from all over the UK. Here in 1990 late afternoon means it's time to return to the coaches and the driver of Happy Days Van-Hool bodied Scania G554CRF promised not to drive off without me whilst a took a few interesting shots of the hustle and bustle.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Jeffs of Helmdon

There is never a shortage of coaches to be seen in London and this Plaxton bodied Leopard of Jeffs seen in about 1993 hadn't come too far being based in Northamptonshire. Sadly I dont know what this bus was before it gained VNP 893.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Did Deregulation get it right?

Everything Barton touched had a bright cheery personal feel about it. A bit more mix and match 'tools for jobs' than classy perhaps but it seemed to say "Hello, we are open for business." Maybe when they deregulated the buses this is what they had in mind rather than lost beached whales today like First and plodding Arriva and National Express. Of course Go-Ahead and Stagecoach have done well but can anyone truly love them except as a business? Of course Mrs. Thatcher came from Grantham, Barton country, but her family were shop keepers and look what Tesco and the free market has done to them.

BVG 5124: Marzahn catching up with the West

It's amazing to think how quickly East Berlin and it's population became to look the same as those in the West after the fall of the DDR. Even the rows of soulless flats no longer look quite so stark against streets filling up with cars. A reminder of the old days though is a former BVG Ikarus still in orange and cream passes through Marzahn on it's way to Mahlsdorf.

Monday 19 November 2012

Last stop for a Standerwick non-stopper

Some of you tend to think of buses as people and no doubt had this former National Travel coach been human it would be missing the exciting days when it sped passed these services most days in the fast-lane or even stopped here as a front line Standerwick coach in that attractive dark red and cream Ribble livery. The former Midland General Lodekka on the other hand is so boring and slow I'm sure it might be quite happy with it's lot as a Motorway staff bus here on the M6. I jest of course as todays buses are certainly not as interesting as they used to be and even down at heal these old-timers like these bring back fond memories of a more personal service, striking liveries and a proper bus network.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Once Wrexham was the heart of Crosville country and up to about 1982 one could still find it's rather fine Bristol Lodekkas gracing the busy bus station the Chester to Oswestry corridor like 1965 DFG 184 EFM 633C on the D2.

Friday 16 November 2012

A busy Friday afternoon at Heathrow as National Express passengers muster heading for the Midlands and South West. Once a regular visitor local former Alder Valley Olympian coach YPJ 501Y  is helping out too.

Monday 12 November 2012

Knotty returned AEC's to the Potteries

Knotty brought the AEC marque back to the Potteries and a good example was this former London Country Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance seen in June 1992 that was once used as a Green Line coach.

Low point for a Lowlander

I hope this was a free car park as not only was this former Alexander bodied Western Scottish Albion Lowlander turned motor-home UCS 644 using up a number of parking spaces it looked like it had been here more than two hours. Taken in the early Eighties I think it was somewhere in the Home Counties.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Paved with gold the road to Wigan Pier?

Unlike the keenly focused Stagecoach and Go-Ahead, the First Group has a reputation for resting on it's laurels, and whilst paying out big juicy dividends quietly sweeping all it's problems under the carpet. I feel with new more aware management and an unrealistic low share price now is a good time to invest in this company. However as part of it's efforts to sell off the 'dead wood' it has sold off it's Wigan buses. Analysts were alarmed as not only was it hardly a small unit it made First a good 1.5m profit last year. The response was that it was isolated from the rest of the network and had to go.....Hardly!
Wigan Corportation was one of Leyland's most loyal customers, and when taken over by Greater Manchester PTE in 1974 the tradition continued with the majority being improved AN68 Atlanteans like ANA649Y with Northern Counties bodywork built in the town.

Friday 9 November 2012

V23: About to cross London Bridge

Taken from upstairs on another bus, heading towads London Bridge on it's way to Tooting Broadway was this London General Volvo D10M, probably No, V23.

Saturday 3 November 2012

A VR in rural Lincolnshire

To the east of Lincoln is the village of Heighington where in the Eighties I took this pleasant view of Lincolnshire Bristol VR JFE539G on it's way to another village nearby called Branston.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Yelloways in Newark

Fine Georgian architecture makes a fine backdrop for this Yelloways Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance calling at Newark Bus Station in the Eighties on it's way to Clacton on Sea..

Saturday 27 October 2012

825 A Midland Red Survivor

In Midland Red North days the 825 from Stafford was extended to Tamworth where 1709 was based. Today it has reverted back to the traditional Lichfield terminus. However the once direct service is much slower than it was in BMMO days as the 62 minute journey now makes various diversions and takes a more tedious 80 minutes, one can't enjoy doing it upstairs on a D9 or the regular D10 either, more's the pity.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Yardley's: Welcome to Brum

Where else could it be, and even though the horrible Sixties Bull Ring has gone I'm glad the Rotunda has been saved as an icon of the times. Local firm Yardleys did a lot of National Express work with Leopards or Tigers like Plaxton Paramount 3500 C543KOX.

Monday 22 October 2012

Lauber bodied Saurer RH580-25 at St Moritz

By the time I took this photo in the late Nineties PTT Saurer RH's were getting thin on the ground. P25656 a less common 1982 Lauber bodied V-HU had till recently been based at Chur and now redundant no doubt was helping out elsewhere before it's withdrawal.

Saturday 20 October 2012

First Huddersfield Scania in Halifax

The First Group was rather more interesting when it retained the local liveries on it's older vehicles before the introduction of that unpleasant Barbi2 with the 'dribbled' paint look to give than the corporate feel.. Some of the earlier colour schemes were better than others and of the former WYPTE fleets the Halifax blue white and yellow seen in the background was by far the best whilst Bradford's light blue and tomato-red was horrid. This middle-aged 1989 Huddersfield Plaxton bodied Scania No.1460 G460JYG leaving Halifax was quite acceptable too and even more so for being a less common type.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Wadham Stinger Lancet in Southampton

An unusual vehicle in the then predominantly Leyland Southampton Citybus fleet was this Dennis Lancet with Wadham Stringer bodywork, one of three that Portsmouth operated. This local bodybuilder had been associated much more with military and local authority vehicles but never really made much of a mark supplying PSV's.

Monday 15 October 2012

Stafford was Deetenville

From a bus viewpoint think of Stafford and Midland Red fans usually think of the revolutionary underfloor engined D10's as they came here in a run down condition 1964. But once they were brought back up to scratch they were just as reliable as the other BMMO's including the D9 and it's a pity they never stuck with it.  In 1969 4943 was caught heading up the Newport Road bound for Highfields Estate. As I was at Wythall yesterday I had my first ride on her since the Sixties, I also went on the SON, S12, S16, S20, CM6 and a D9 so it was an enjoyable and well organised Midland Red day. Thanks to all concerned.

Saturday 13 October 2012

485CLT: Wedding Belles & RM Decibells

You don't have to be a bus fanatic it would seem to hire an old bus for your wedding especially a Routemaster. Still they could have done much worse than choose smart Stagecoach East London RMC 1485 485CLT which was usually still in service in the Nineties running passed here regularly on the 15. These buses were delivered as Green Line coaches but spent much of their lives as trainers due to their having semi-automatic gearboxes. Many looked very scruffy towards the end but thankfully Deregulation made the friendly and reliable Routemaster a useful tool once more.

Stevenson's Leopard Buses

Stevenson's like other prudent Independents was rather partial to the secondhand Leyland Leopard for bus work. Fortunately a number of smaller Municipal managers had shunned the ubiquitous National for something more down to earth otherwise good used buses like this former Rhymney Valley East Lancs bodied bus DUH78V pictured in Stafford would have been a lot more hard to come by.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

TPJ501Y: Bee Line to the Capital

This Leyland Olympian coach was operated by Alder Valley one of a number of NBC companies in the Home Counties that had them for commuter express services into London and 801 TPJ501Y dating from about 1981 is seen here negotiating the West End traffic in later years after the operations passed to Bee Line. I'm not sure if I was so keen on the Dutch inspired livery which seemed much more at home in Holland.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Liverpool: Tall buildings & tall bus.

Because of the heavy solid looking early reinforced concrete architecture from the same period of the early C20 and grid-like street patterns downtown Liverpool has a very American feel and it could be say Chicago perhaps. Hardly surprising then that people often compare the city to New York and in this Eighties view it looks as if 1139 UKA590H a rather ungainly tall looking Alexander bodied Atlantean is trying to become a skyscraper whilst the newer East Lancs bodied version has a less racy feel.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The only Midland Red Atlantean

Sadly after a series of mishaps saved former PMT Atlantean L910 never made it into preservation. This vehicle which along with L909 were new to Stafford had the distinction of being the only Atlantean to see service with Midland Red briefly in Leicester in 1979.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Cheesed-off in Chester

I have fond memories of Chester with it's very traditional chocolate coloured Corporation Guys and lined out solid Tilling Green and cream Crosville buses. So a quick call on Sunday in the mid-90's at the by them First Group owned old  Liverpool Road depot was a slightly depressing prospect but being the best of a dull lot I reluctantly took this photo for the record. Still as is always the case those long departed former PMT Mercedes minis are of more interest now in their transitional guises as the bus scene evolved..

Friday 28 September 2012

Departure time at Victoria Coach Station and a London Country SE Berkhof bodied Leyland Tiger B119 KPF heads off on it's regular Flight Line shuttle to Gatwick.

Thursday 27 September 2012

In difficult times it always provokes bad feeling when a large operator sells off good buses only to have them snapped up cheaply by the competition, and former Merseyside PTE Leyland Olympian ECW 0031 ACM705X hadn't travelled very far at all being bought by Fareway. Following it in Liverpool was another former PTE vehicle a West Midlands Park Royal bodied Daimler Fleetline whilst a Merseybus Atlantean in the attractive Deregulated maroon and cream livery seemed to be picking up a lot more passengers on it's way to New Brighton via the Mersey Tunnel.. 

Wednesday 26 September 2012

TTT173X The Plymouth Olympians

I was fortunate enough to go around the large Milehouse garage in Plymouth on a couple of occasions. As you can see my last visit witnessed a still newish Olympian. Even though Plymouth had legions of Atlanteans these three East Lancs bodied Leylands weren't popular here and were non-standard enough to warrant an early sale. After a spell with Stevenson's of Uttoxeter they moved on to Wilts & Dorset. Indeed the mini-bus era was about to start followed by the single-decker and so apart from a few second hand units for schools work the double-deck fleet gradually disappeared including the open-top fleet. Thankfully in recent times used modern double-deckers have been reintroduced on a couple of busy routes.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

An interesting bus when I photographed it at Exeter with Devon General was 995 one of a small batch of Plaxton Bustler bodied Leylands acquired with Brixham Travel. Not only was it by this time the last big bus in former mini-bus driver Harry Blundreds eccentric now almost totally minibus fleet, but after a spell at Oxford where it joined it's sisters this much travelled Tiger was bought by Midland Red North and being at Cannock Garage it became a regular visitor in Stafford. By coincidence at the time the MRN General Manager who also lived in Stafford was Tiger fan Chris Hilditch who christened them 'our battle bus' and who shortly moved here to Devon to be boss here for new owners Stagecoach where they quickly thinned out those little not too popular so-called Bread Vans. F278 HOD moved on again to P & O Lloyd in North Wales for more service.

Sunday 23 September 2012

D Coaches of Morriston

It's often a bit breezy on the East Coast but at least it wasn't raining when this Duple bodied Bedford D.Coaches of Morriston cruised along the Promenade at Scarborough. By the early 90's Bedford  and Ford PSV's were starting to become quite scarce.

Saturday 22 September 2012

BVG 3403

A grey day at Richard Wagner Platz in the 90's as MAN double-decker 3403 takes on more passengers on a Service-Extra on the longish Spandau to Zoo service. To reduce mileage routes like this have been cut out of the system when there is an alternative U-Bahn link. Very close to this spot is a very good rail model shop which is worth a visit.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Stafford the day the Vikings came!

Well peaceful Danes perhaps...Taken over twenty years ago with the added traffic and roads Stafford Market Square seemed very different. I realise the noise and fumes weren't very healthy but did people really mind the traffic or like me did they think it added a bit of life and interest. But even if you disagree the downside is that today when one walks into a town they have to negotiate a windswept featureless no-mans-land of tarmac and railings in the shape of the ring-road. Even worse this zone just beyond the centre often featured the bits that made that place special whether it be small shops, historic architecture, or just walks and wildlife habitats. Today I'm afraid towns are about cars, the spirit of a journey no longer counts, it's all about arriving in a controlled way and the spend. As for the buses, town services used to go down the main street and generations of buses like Midland Red North National 558 NOE 558R used to pick-up in the Market Square. Today of course they have to go a longer way which means a longer trek with the shopping and it slows the service down but it seems to work if one can remember where the correct bus stops are.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Britannia & Proctors of Bedale

I left it a bit late to adopt colour photography for my UK buses, but the 90's still had it's rewards as there were still some smart all-British coaches to enjoy like this smart Duple bodied Leyland Tiger USU345 of Proctor of Bedale which was parked at Blackpool alongside another smart coach a Plaxton bodied DAF belonging to Britannia of Telford.

Friday 14 September 2012

I rather liked the old rather ramshackle Coventry Pool Meadow with it's rustic looking 1920's architecture, much nicer than the modern tidy glassed CCTV controlled facility today. By 1979 Midland Red's Willowbrook bodied Leyland Leopards were becoming a blast from the past too like this tidy Nuneaton based bus 6443 CHA 443K.