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 April 2008

50 Years of Blackburn Buses

Sadly next year Blackburn Corporation Transport won't be able to paint one of it's buses in a 80 Years of the town's buses livery for it is another former Municipal that has sold out. I always think though that these specially painted buses in historic liveries add interest to a fleet and I think with the large faceless transport groups owning so much, it is even more important for them to show a more human side proving to the public that they enjoy being a part of the local community. In recent years East Lancashire Coachbuilders had rather a quirky hit and miss look to it's bus designs but when this Leyland Atlantean was bodied in 1979 they were still building traditional crisp looking designs that really looked good in these historic colours. This bus was photographed within about a year of entering service as the last town's 1960's Leyland PD2's with an even nicer style of East Lancs body like 1964 No.43 were soon to be withdrawn.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Tiefencastel: Vetter of Stuttgart

Walter Vetter of Stuttgart-Fellbach didn't start building buses till in 1980 but as you can see they have a large MercedesBenz content and seemed quite popular with Swiss Post Office (PAH) Contractors like this example seen in Tiefencastle surrounded by forested hillsides in PTT days.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Derby: The Gateway to Health

Well you can't use this gateway any more because like many other important transport landmarks it has been pulled down. Once of course the magnificent curved Art-Deco Derby Bus Bus Station saw the likes of Trent, Barton, Derby Corporation, Felix, and Blue Bus of Willington. Also of course there were regular visits from others too like Midland Red, North Western and the smart AEC Reliance coaches of Yelloways on it's joint express services to East Anglia. Barton had the same Plaxton Panorama Elite bodywork on it's many Leyland Leopards like 1419 PNN 773M but built to a much lower semi-coach specification contained more seats, 53 as opposed to 49.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Outer-Circle Run 1979

One of the best known bus routes in the UK is the marathon Birmingham 'Outer-Circle' Number 11. As a boy a friend of mine took this bus from near Selly Oak to see Aston Villa play but as he caught it going in the wrong direction it was already Half-Time or even later when he finally arrived there. As a celebration of this bit of heritage local transport groups arrange a transport rally to follow the route and in 1979 I photographed two classic buses from the early Fifties, one a celebrity through sheer numbers and a true postcard-celebrity whilst the other a Duple Roadmaster is special because of it's actual rarity compared to it's huge success as a Dinky Toy. In Birmingham RT 1658 looked a bit of place as did South Notts of Gotham Leyland Royal Tiger but it wasn't really as South Notts LOE 900 was new to Jackson of Castle Bromwich in 1951.

Green Lane: The Numbers Game

In the early Eighties a collection of withdrawn and idle former Liverpool Corporation buses could be found at the bottom of the yard of Merseyside PTE at it's Green Lane Garage. Of particular interest is the fact that two of these Mero-Cammell bodied Leyland Panthers carry FKF 946G and No.1010 seems to have gained the front panel off 1067 a few bues further down. But I don't suppose it mattered much as like FKF 889F their next destination was probably the scrapyard.

Desert Storm

Well it's not quite a British Tank charging across the desert but Leyland did build them during the war when bus production stopped. Lucky not only was I was able to visit Israel during one of it's more peaceful periods also by then getting quite elderly Leyland's still seemed to outnumber other makes except of course on prestige city and top-line work. But despite it's age and well used look this Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster was still able to turn out a good performance as it approached it's destination the Kibbutz of Neviot on the Red Sea, South of Eilat. Even though it was way back in the Early-Eighties I can still hear in my head the roar and transmission whine of TAN 89-256 creating a minor sand storm.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

ATAF Firenze: Iveco 2420

December 2004 and I was busy taking some good pictures on the first day in Florence till one outraged local citizen, a middle-aged man took exception to my hobby of photographing buses and girls, tried to make a citizens-arrest and when I refused kicked and stamped on my camera before running off.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

SMT Leyland Lion

Not quite a little gem or the rarest of rare birds, but still as the sticker on the windscreen proclaims it is something of a Diamond as not many of the Danish DAB double-deckers entered service in the U.K. Nottingham City Transport took some which had quite a distinctive look but these Alexander bodied Scottish buses like No.1979 seen in Edinburgh on a 'Diamond Express Service' could have been mistaken for something much more mundane.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Daimler CVG6: Coventry Climax & Coventry Anti-Climax

Think of Coventry and it sums up great engineering names like Coventry Climax and of course Daimler. By the Eighties the Fleetline now named the Leyland Fleetline had ceased production and even the final days of those wonderful half-cabs like this MCW bodied Daimler CVG6 No.327 of 1963 was marred by an indifferent livery imposed on it's by WM the new Master's of the former Coventry Corporation. I have to say West Midland PTA's Birmingham inspired blue and cream colours weren't the worst by a long way and even in it's way quite attractive, but as elsewhere it's cheap and cheerful image seemed to echo a new indifferent world where sadly Municipal Buses were no longer a part of civic pride but mere boring machines to take uninterested folks from A to B.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Porto: 1960's Royal Tiger Worldmaster Caetano

When I was in Porto in 1984 they had recently had a number of 1960's Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster buses rebodied by the same bodybuilder Salvador Caetano. Obviously some of them looked in reasonable condition to soldier on in their original state for a few more years.

Berolina Stadfundfarhten: Berlin a city of walls

Even before the notorious Berlin Wall came tumbling down and rebuilding on the prime building land started bemused visitors still found the city resembled something of a building site particularly in the East where restoration on the grand buildings it inherited progressed at such a very slow pace trees even grew on their rooftops. So it was a good thing that the West Berlin tourist bus firms like Berolina had big Neoplan double-deck coaches to peep over the top of those ugly concrete block walls at the city's architectural marvels. Probably the pace of work was hotting up as Belin was getting ready for celebrations of it's Charter but in the East one would never have guessed. Still to be fair it could have been Sunday but I didn't usually go over the Wall on Sunday so no this was a normal working day.

Bern Mercedes-Benz Bendi 273

For many years the city of Bern stayed faithful to FBW for it's buses but when they ceased manufacture they turned to Volvo. However a few other vehicles were tried including about three Mercedes-Benz articulated buses with Swiss bodywork. They looked a bit different from the rest of the fleet but No.273 stood out even more as it received a rather unorthodox but quite attractive version with black lining-out of the universal orange town bus colours adopted in Switzerland for a while before thankfully being dropped again.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

More from Warrington two weeks ago

Rather like when panning for gold where one might find the tiny valuable nuggets at the bottom when it comes to gems of buses they too are usually hidden away out of sight down the bottom. This is certainly the case at Warrington where they hold on to a fine relic of the Sixties, a Corporation rarity a 'Special' 1965 Leyland Titan PD2.40 with a narrow 7.ft 6.in wide East Lancashire bodywork. Now carrying both fleet-numbers 50 and 148 it was originally the first of a batch Nos.41-52. As elsewhere the Dennis Dart figures widely in this fleet and two different styles by Marshall of Cambridge can also be seen here down by the back gates of the Wilderspool Causeway Garage.

A grey day but don't put it off photographing old friends till tomorrow

How many times have you seen something you want a picture of and just kept putting it off. I've certainly done that enough times in the past and today if I want something I make an effort to get it. Take for instance this fine and now quite rare Duple Laser bodied Leyland Tiger I used to see most days on my school run, it would have been quite easy just to say that I would wait till the days got brighter in Spring. I have to go passed the school where it goes at Codsall as it's on my route and I started taking my digital camera hoping it would be there and parked in a good spot. Not many weeks after I took this view I heard that Elizabethan of Walsall had sold out to Majestic from near Featherstone, Cannock and now 'm so glad I took it as so far I haven't seen it working for it's new owner this term although thankfully I saw one of the other two Tigers that also did the same runs last Friday. The coach no longer carries it's original registration-number so I can't tell you much more.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Two Classics in Copenhagen

Two of my favourite vehicles are seen side by side in Copenhagen in 1982. Of course one is the quality solid looking and very sophisticated for it's time Volvo Amazon car and the other is the DAB-Leyland BL2d. There were 250 of these buses and along with the similar BL1d made up a modern fleet of 510 buses whose delivery commenced in 1964 to replace the much loved trams from the streets of the Danish capital. No.475 was from the final year's delivery in 1970 and this Leyland O680 powered bus was allocated to the HT Garage at Valby.

Liverpool: Village People

Like other cities and towns in Britain Liverpool saw some intense bus competition on it's streets in the 90's. As well as the large players some remained relatively unknown like this company called Village whose former Greater Manchester Leyland Titan TL11 4015 now bore a livery slightly reminiscent of that once worn by the old Lancashire United Transport of Atherton. Manchester like the West Midlands fleet whose former Daimler Fleetline can also be seen as a Merseyline Travel bus, only took small trial batches of these London inspired buses and the fifteen GMT buses delivered in 1978 and 1980 utilised the engines offered by both Gardner and Leyland itself.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Cosmos Tour Portugal 1984: Our guide Santi

I wasn't very popular with our tour guide Santi as when everyone else headed for the historic sights I headed off for the RN Bus Station. Of course when we stopped to examine some cork trees I got out too to take a photo of our Scania tour coach one of a nationwide fleet carrying the name Tourismo.

UK North: Leyland Olympian

UK North grew quite quickly having started as a cheap alternative operating on the Manchester student corridors in competition with Stagecoach. In reply the bigger operator set up it's own budget service which is how Magic Bus came into being. UK North eventually got into all sorts of trouble but it will be missed as it ran a large assortment of interesting buses like this former Riverside London Leyland bodied Olympian.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

From Gargrave to Uttoxeter

The small Independent Pennine of Gargrave had a dozen buses all of Leyland manufacture. Started in 1925 it had been a loyal customer of that concern for many years, but that was all to change when it bought a new pair of Leyland Swifts which were obviously nothing but trouble. This started a rout and as well as these two Terrier truck based vehicles just about all the trusty Leopards were quickly sold off too. They were replaced by short Leyland Nationals which like the Swift wasn't quite a pedigree Leyland bus either. The two Swifts though were quickly snapped up by Stevensons of Uttoxeter who already had some quite satisfactory examples of this not so sophisticated conversion to bus. Wadham Stringer bodied H313 WUA was quickly pressed in to service still wearing Pennine's attractive orange and grey colours which itself was inspired many years ago by the Leyland Motors football team coach. Although based just outside Pennine's services ran into Skipton which was the sole Yorkshire outpost of the vast Ribble empire, and the local Chaserider Duple bodied Leyland Leopard No.33 is passing one Saturday in Stafford was once part of that large Ribble fleet.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Bahnhofplatz Zurich

In their beautiful and immaculately kept blue white and silver livery I have a real soft spot for Zurich's older trams including this one dating from the late Sixties which I photographed in the Autumn of 1990.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Lisbon: Anyone for Entre Campos?

The orange and cream Portuguese RN buses seemed to blend into the warm colours of the sunfilled streets very well. Here in Lisbon in 1984 an angular Volvo looks as if it is doing a paper delivery round as well

The Garage Mascot: The Breakdown Bus

Like everything else in a rapidly changing world even the garage tow truck seems to be disappearing as bus companies do away with equipment and prefer to contract out their service needs. But often not only was the breakdown bus an object the mechanics could customise and call their own it could be an interesting vehicle in it's own right. This one was a real beauty and the macho looking cut-down Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster belonging to TAN could be found at Eilat on the Red Sea in Israel.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Edinburgh: Double-Deckers on Parade in Andrew Square

Edinburgh has always been a great city to see a kaleidoscope of colours and interesting buses. During that NBC poppy-red and leaf-green smokey Leyland National era much of England and Wales became rather boring whereas north of the border the Scottish Bus Group retained much of it's fascinating old variety and colourfulness. Sadly as the big bus groups tightened their grip the universal one livery corporate image took over again and this time it encompassed Scotland too with Aquamarine, Barbi and those Stagecoach Stripes. I was up there in 1997 when there was an enjoyable honeymoon period when unlike Stagecoach the First Group retained individual liveries on all but new buses whilst at the same time preserving earlier liveries albeit with a corporate makeover and logos. Unfortunately it had to end as many of the group's vehicles looked just fine like these examples SMT 915 and 923. One an Olympian carries an ECW body whilst the other bus a Metrobus has an Alexander R Series body just like the second Leyland Olympian in this view No.324 in the always smart Edinburgh City Lothian fleet.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

London Transport: Walthamstow Garage

Walthamstow Garage once housed trams and then trolleybuses before they were replaced by new Routemasters as the Electric Era vanished from the still quite empty London streets at the end of the Fifties. By the Eighties the eighty or so buses carrying the WW Walthamstow Garage Code next to their running-numbers were new Leyland Titans the last double-deck bus built specifically for London Transport. New deliveries were shared with the cheaper off-the-peg MCW Metrobus which proved to be the more popular and these rather grand Leylands were slowly phased out in mid-life whilst the Birmingham product enjoyed long busy lives in the Capital. Of course being a lot more rugged than the Provincial equivalent the Olympian, these fine even better buses complete with the accountant and engineers friend, the legendry but old-fashioned Gardner Engine were quickly snapped up like the DM Class London Daimler Fleetline's before them that suffered the same fate. Behind T293, T316 and more Titans is one of the few luckly Fleetlines that survived with LT largely as trainers.

Aeroport Geneve: Orange and Grey FBW's and Girls in Tight Ski-Pants

Geneva feels a lot more cosmopolitan than most Swiss Cities and especially the busy Airport area with it's International Exhibition Halls nearby. Winter weekends are particularly busy with Ski Flights and coaches like this French Setra ferrying holidaymakers to and from resorts like Chamonix No.95. Sadly the Ramseier and Jenzer bodied FBW articulated bus is now a memory but hopefully attractive girls will be around for a long time to come.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

This 08 Bova is pure Magiq

Whilst I was having my day out in Cheshire as part of my job on Saturday I saw this very new Bova Magiq coach belonging to the Excutive coach operator Ellisons parked outside the Warrington Rugby Union Club and it was well deserving of a photo..

Yesterday: A Reunion with Warrington

I am quite fond of Warrington as I went to school not too far away at Great Budworth. In those days in 1966 of course heading out of town on the Wilderspool Road towards Northwich would have been very fine North Western Park Royal bodied AEC Renowns as that Cheshire outpost was their principal home. Still it's good to see the town of Warrington still has it's own buses and they are still a lovely red. I imagine this one of many of these attractiveWright bodied single-deckers and must be a Dennis Dart although the wheel-trims remind me more of the Scania. It's at least ten years since I last paid a visit and buswise much has changed and this being a Saturday no double-deckers were in service although there were still plenty in the garage nearby.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Laser: Duple's cutting edge

The sleek Laser was one of Duple's best coach designs and personally I much prefer the earlier generation with the chrome slatted grill like these two examples seen at Bretonside Bus Station in Plymouth during those summers not so long ago when it heaved with visiting coaches. The Laser though didn't have a long production run only being manufactured for about three or four years, and it was this unnecessary chopping and changing that cost Duple many of it's loyal customers. So the type was never that common and I was quite lucky to see two contrasting Tigers parked together like this and especially so as the Ulsterbus example was unusual in having only single headlights altering the front profile considerably. Partridge Coaches from East Anglia were a regular sight in Plymouth.

Herlitschka: "Son stay close"

Humorously the two Setra coaches resting at a Services on the Autobahn in 1982 remind me somewhat of a mother protecting it's still vulnerable young baby elephant. I'm quite partial to Setra's because like BMW and Mercedes cars no matter their age there is always a strong family resemblance between the various generations of design. The big coach has that ultimate classic sleek look the manufacturer ultimately achieved whereas the smaller coach reflects the less rounded look that dates right back to the Seventies or maybe even the Sixties. It's a pity today in Europe too many coaches carry basically a monotonous dealer white whereas in the past part of the joys one could take from being an enthusiast was recording the various smart liveries like this one of Herlitschika. Who said opposite colours should never meet, subtly done it's very striking indeed.

Midland Red S17: Cannock Garage

On 1st January 1979 just six of the 262 BMMO S17 buses delivered between 1963-1966 were still in service with Midland Red. One of them was 5479 from the first batch saw much of it's service at Hinckley but it was seen toards the end of the year at Cannock whose spacious forecourt did and still does attract withdrawn buses. I didn't think much of the NBC Poppy Red livery but one could argue that the white band did a lot to brighten the appearance of many Midland Red buses without spoiling the old image to much.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Come in Number 33 Your time's is up!

When I visited Coimbra in 1984 some of the city's trolleybuses were looked pretty old and quaint including No.33 whose chassis and electrical equipment was probably British Made by either Guy or BUT.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Lockeys of West Auckland

F.Lockey, North Bridge Garage, St Helen's Auckland.
Interesting Independents are disappearing far too quickly for my liking. It seemed at one time not too long ago every large village seemed to have it's own small coach or even bus operator and Bishops Auckland in the County of Durham was no exception, indeed this area in the Durham Coalfield could boast a whole wealth of small private bus operators. F.Lockey was quite small with if I remember rightly only about fifteen vehicles but some of them were certainly interesting like the beautifully maintained former London Transport RTL in the background. A much newer Leyland was this Alexander bodied Atlantean that started life as LA 345 with Glasgow Corporation in 1967 who were a major buyer of the type. This photo was taken in about 1980 not too long before Lockey's sold out to it's much bigger and more famous Independent neighbour just down the road in Bishops Auckland proper called OK Motor Services.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Wigan Corporation Leyland Panthers

Wigan Corporation was one of those quite numerous 100% all Leyland fleets and not surprisingly build up a large fleet of Titan PD2 and PD3 buses but towards the end of the Sixties these gave way to the Atlantean plus two Panther Cubs and a larger batch of Panthers. These twelve more powerful Panthers were numbered between 1680-1691 and carried locally built Northern Counties dual-entrance bodywork. Nos.1682 and 1683 were being filled up together at the end of their busy day at the Melverley Garage, somewhere I never got turned away from even after the operation passed to Greater Manchester PTE in 1974