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, 31 July 2008

Intimissimi in Florence

Going abroad on holiday all those new foreign words play games with your mind and after a few days this spelling of intimacy might not look right but it seems okay. Here is a less conventional view of the city of Firenze taken in December 2004 when I was exhibiting there in an art show. I'm not quite sure if I really like the green and orange ATAF Iveco buses but that orange was the colour all the town buses used to wear for many years in Italy so it must be progress.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Nottingham Atlantean

An unmistakable Nottingham Leyland Atlantean with it's own custom built Northern Counties bodywork climbs into the city on the wide derby Road through Lenton with two similar buses heading out of town during the Eighties. I would have been working when I took this shot but whereas it's often difficult to park legally in the City, further out one is often afforded convenient restriction-free side streets or even an hour or two's free parking and either I could walk back or just pause. Ten minutes though was usually enough for me if I wasn't somewhere a bit special, and I must have liked this spot as I took some nearby quite recently which I will also post. I've had to alter this post as a viewer pointed out that I had made some location errors, it's amazing how the memory plays tricks over time.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Thinggaard: Dan's Bus & A Bird's Eye View

The last time I was in Aalborg I camped as usual in my van as I toured as many small towns in Jutland as I could photographing those lovely DAB and Volvo Danish buses in their many bright and attractive liveries as they were a big favourite of mine in the Eighties. I was befriended by this driver called Dan who worked for Thinggaard and not only did he invite me for a meal cooked by his wife and they put me up for a night at their home where we also watched a Big Foot Movie, I was taken as his guest on Thinggaard's main bus service the quite lengthy No.70 bus journey to Thisted a small town made less accessable and unreachable by any direct route because of the huge LImfjorden Fjord which meant the bus left at 14.00 and took a whopping 140 minutes. The best run of the week though I was told was a non stop run back from Thisted at Eight-0-Clock on a Sunday Night for the back-packers which in comparison took a modest hour and a half. As his duties at the weekend at least included dropping off the newspapers and I think the odd parcel here and there, there was plenty of time to alight to take the odd photo including this common phenomenon the village cranes nest. I think like storks they must be considered lucky, anyway I think that was what I was told at the time. Like many wonderful things they seem to crop up in European Folklore unlike buses of course.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Stagecoach Stripes and First Barbi-2 too

it's surprising how over time we not only got used to those Stagecoach Stripes and indeed almost grew fond of them especially as the company always kept it's buses clean. But that admiration was not always the case for as Suter's pushy Scottish empire spread across the land like a plague it tore from our buses not just their former identities but a whole range of attractive Municipal and Company liveries including many real favourites like Southdown and Alexander Midland. Greater Manchester was lost too as the Southern and Eastern part went to Stagecoach whilst in area terms at least the far greater North and West went to the First Group. Although these former Manchester buses look the same because of their handsome Northern Counties bodywork the white bus was one of the smaller fleet of Dennis Dominators whilst the Barbi2 bus bound for Leigh was a once ubiquitous Leyland Olympian.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Alexander Dash-Stagecoach Midland Red South

As well as West Midlands Travel, Stagecoach are a familiar sight at Birmingham Airport and typical of the buses I used to see was this small Dennis Dart bound for Atherstone on the 777, not to be confused with the National Express 777 which also calls here. I like my picture choice to be appropriate and this is as I am about to go to Elmdon as it used to be called on a job, and the name of the Alexander bodywork reminds me I really must Dash!

Friday, 25 July 2008


As we are enjoying some warm weather in the UK I thought I would continue the sunny theme and post an image of a place that is far hotter despite the sea breezes that feel blisteringly hot and dusty too. I guess the locals get used to it but it couldn't be comfortable stuck behind glass surrounded by sardine-like squeezed in sweaty bodies with just a little electric fan and chain-smoking to keep the poor old driver sane and cool. Actually I never rode on any buses on this magnificent volcanic island because we had to just stay there for hours baking in the sun waiting with no facilities or shelter for a little boat to come pick us up and take us to the smaller island of Ios nearby. I think Sunmed Holidays used the laid-back couldn't care less amateurism an inefficiency of the Greek locals as a kind of perverse selling point. That's right after lunch they still enjoy a good nap after lunch. On the other hand of course maybe it was the tour company who was to blame. But when a boat did eventually come to collect us and our luggage it was a trifle small and sitting low in the water many of our party down in the bow got a good soaking as the Aegean Sea can be pretty choppy where the currents swirl around. Anyway it looks as though the Kamari Tours Mercedes O303 seen here in the mid-Eighties was fairly well appointed with an air-conditioning unit on the roof and curtains to close against the ferocity of the sun.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Leyland Atlanteans as far as the eye can see!

Taken in 1982 I had to ask to visit the yard of Plymouth City Transport at Milehouse where these impressive buses were parked in rows but I remember way back in 1967 there used to be a public right of way going right through here before the age of wanton vandalism and other crimes. Sorry I had to retrieve this one from a scrapbook, and as you can see not only do Playmates get staples through their pride and joy so do the Plymouth Brethren!

Looking for a German Classic: Maybe their Alexander Y-Type

In Britain enthusiasts will happily roll off their favourite coaches that have become classics like the Bedford OB Duple Vista, the Burlingham Seagull or the Harrington Cavalier. For us Brits though looking abroad to mainland Europe it's a bit harder to find so many vehicles that readily stick in the mind as real crackers, designs that looked good then and still do now. The Integral Setra built by Kassbohrer of Germany did not turn quite so many heads as it slowly evolved over a number of years into this beautiful sleek temptress, but as well as a lovely coach I also see it rather like an up-market equivalent of our versatile Alexander Y-Type from the Sixties as it could perform any number of functions from the humble dual-entrance service bus to luxury touring coach. The Swiss Post office's own Regie fleet employed over one-hundred of the S213 UL working as service buses in the tourist areas where their large windows and coach-like appearance made them more attractive than the usual Mercedes O405 widely found elsewhere on the system. Also a small coach-specification fleet of S215 HM coaches slowly started to arrive from 1986 onwards employed on the prestigious longer distance express services like Brig to Sas-Fee, Chur to Bellinzona and this one Lugano to St.Mortitz. Here St. Moritz based P26002 of 1987 picks up outside Lugano Station as it prepares to leave for distant home passing through a bit of Italy on the way. Like many this service passing through beautiful scenery often has to be cancelled during the winter months because of the snowy conditions.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Leeds Central Bus Station: The 41 bus to Bramley

An Eighties image with plenty of buses to be seen in the Central Bus Station of Leeds and as well as the attractive Roe bodied West Yorkshire PTE Leyland Atlantean painted buttermilk and verona green we also catch sight of three West Riding vehicles in NBC poppy red but also carrying the PTE logo on their sides. Squeezed between an ECW Bristol VR and a fairly recent Leyland Olympian is a Northern Counties bodied Daimler Fleetline a type popular with many former BET operators in the early years of the National Bus Company like this a 1972 K-Reg example. The operator of this bus West Riding of course which with at one time a fleet numbering over 450 had not been part of the major BET Group but was in fact Britain's largest Independent.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

3000: At last my chance to get that photo of this bus

It's amazing how some buses manage to elude you. No.3000 arrived in Berlin in 1995 and not only introduced the brighter new look livery still worn today that replaced the rather dreary all-cream hue this was the prototype for a new generation of dual-stairway MAN double-deckers for BVG. These high-capacity buses tended to work busy central area routes terminating at the Zoo including the busy tourist No 100 service route taking in the most famous landmarks such as the Brandenberg Gate and the Unter Den Linden. I don't think they were particularly successful and only about 86 were built and following them no new deckers were delivered for another ten years leaving much of the outer areas without them completely. For much of it's life this bus was allocated to Indra Gandhi Str Garage in what was East Berlin and by rights I should have seen it many times. It did turn up one day but with the sun being behind it I had exposure problems and had to bin the photo. But now ten years old in 2005 it had moved garages to Cicero Str in Wilmersdorf and travelling the other way I finally saw it parked up having done a short working on my brother's route the 129 at Oranian Platz or as my brother calls it Orangutan Platz. So at last I got my photo and took a ride on it too which was interesting as there were plenty of detail differences between it and the production buses. But I didn't see it again on that visit, and neither did I see it last year, and by next year when I go it may be gone as all the Berlin double-deckers are being replaced by a second batch of 200 three-axle jumbo MAN Lion double-deckers.

Monday, 21 July 2008

At it's Best: Chester City Transport

When it came to turning out stylish modern coaches Duple might not have been able to keep up with Plaxton's insurmountable lead with it's Plaxton Panorama which lived on till the end of Seventies under different guises. Indeed like all great designs they could only improve it so far before spoiling it's magic. But Duple's Dominant range which probably was the concerns best effort certainly hit the jackpot with it's service bus variant. I see this nicely proportioned bus with it's attractive front dash, large side windows and airy feel as something of a classic to match that earlier gem from the early Fifties the Saunders Roe or as it was better known Saro. Usually that earlier bus was built on a Tiger Cub chassis for the BET Group and Ribble was the best known user and maybe yes I will show one here in a few days once I scanned it. Chester City Transport had always needed a few single-deckers but by 1979 the proportion of them in this fifty vehicle fleet grew to sixteen. Apart from one remaining Tiger Cub, all were Leopards mostly with Northern Counties bodywork but the last six 75-80 TMB 875-880R were by Duple. Another interesting fact I spotted and never realised before but at this time the operator had no second-hand stock and was running a fine fleet.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Hey Wack: It's a Wacky Racer!

In Liverpool addressing someone as Wack or Wacker is regarded as a term of endearment and calling this bus a Wacky Racer is very much typical Liverpudlian humour. There were two of these ECW bodied Leyland Olympian double-deckers running through the large housing estate at Speke on the route to Widnes when I was killing time close to the Airport in 2006. I don't know if this was the Independent operator Merseypride Travel's official livery but a very similar scheme was worn by them when they were with their previous operator Yorkshire Traction who had bought them new in about 1981. For much of the 80's these Gardner engined vehicles had been the National Bus Company's standard fare and once very common but by this time they were getting quite rare so they were certainly a pleasing sight in the sunshine.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Delights of Cardiff: AEC Regent V No. 408

Cardiff in the Sixties was a pretty interesting place anyway as not only did it's importance attract any number of interesting Welsh operators including other Municipal fleets the Corporation had a wonderfully mixed fleet of buses. I imagine whereas many concerns tried to standardise on perhaps a couple of favoured manufacturers to keep the prices keen or often even just one, Cardiff must have been that little bit more cost conscious and had a policy of putting both bodywork and chassis orders out to tender. As you can see AEC got a share too supplying AEC Regent V's plus some Bridgemasters in the early Sixties. This bus carried East-Lancs bodywork and No.408 of 1963 is seen basking in the early morning sunshine. On that occasion I had hitch-hiked down to South Wales to visit a friend who was working there but I didn't know he was ill in bed in Birmingham. I found myself there at night with little money and rather than walk the streets all night someone suggested I go down to the Salvation Army Hostel. Apart from all the old gentlemen not snoring together and being out of tune it was rather like sleeping in a school dormitory again with those wooden floor-boards and coarse woven grey blankets. The only other difference was at school they didn't kick you out on to the street at 6am at the same time as the first buses started to appear but I wasn't complaining!

Porto: Not such a big Guy

When I was there in 1984 there were parts of Portugal where one seemed to see little else apart from the orange RN buses but in Porto it was different and the smaller operators that gathered beside the Station Terminus provided a wide variety of types, livery, age and condition. I don't know much about these companies but one of the most professional looking and smartest was the firm that ran this small forward control Guy, indeed the livery reminded me of some little railway company as seen in Denmark or Switzerland. Obviously from the fleet numbers of these buses one can see that it was only a small operation and as I understand it had they owned more than fifty buses they would have been absorbed into the state owned RN which was at one time the Portuguese equivalent of our British 'National Bus Company'.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

North Western: Leyland Leopard Coach 915

North Western turned away from Leyland at the end of the Fifties and didn't buy any more buses and single-deckers preferring AEC, Daimler and even Dennis. However new Leylands still played an important part in the company as the powerful Leopard became the choice for it's coach fleet. There were proper coaches too but most of these were Alexander Y-type express coaches whose fleet grew rapidly with the intake of ten per year. In 1962 though before it's introduction the following year North Western uniquely took ten with an earlier style of Alexander body already to be found on 1961 AEC's which was now stretched to accommodate the newly permitted 36ft length. I travelled on one of these in later years on service and they didn't feel all that glamorous, indeed inside No.907 was an untidy dirty looking flap hanging down across the front destination-box cover which wasn't very nice. The last two of the batch 915 and 916 came equipped with forced-ventilation which became standard on the NW Y-type. If No.907 on bus work between Macclesfield and Stockport in 1966 was anything to go by these would have been popular vehicles with the crews as these 0680 powered Leopards could certainly motor. This vehicle is pictured at Lower Moseley Street Bus Station in Manchester and also to be seen in the background is the roof of the tiny all coach Ribble garage with just a couple of pits in Great Bridgewater Street. Being coaches only the allocation was of twelve but as you can see most vehicles were parked outside like the Atlantean 'White Lady'. This view was taken in about 1970 and of course all of this including the bus station is now sadly long gone.

Montreux & Vevey: 40 years of Service

Between 1956-1958 the VMCV Montreux and Vevey trolleybus system took delivery of a fleet of these of what look to me from the wheel-hubs like Saurer trolleybuses and I remembered them well from when I was at school here in Switzerland between 1963-1965. In 1991 they had not changed at all apart from gaining the odd smile and lasted till 1995 when they were replaced by 18 Van Hool/kiepe articulated buses. I doubt very much whether the new generation will last that long.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Walter Raleigh & The Spirit of Plymouth

Here in the Eighties there is a good turnout for the Western National Bristol LH heading for HMS Raleigh on the 81 Service with rather fewer tourists taking the Plymouth open top Leyland Atlantean for a more enjoyable breezy ride to Bovisland where there are cliff-paths, a delightful small sandy beach and wonderful views of seaborne traffic entering the harbour opposite.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Northern Bus Sheffield

Few of us grumbled about the 'Stagecoach Stripes' that adorned the former NBC Leyland Leopards, Bristol VR's and RELL buses of Northern Bus, besides the colour combination was quite attractive and quirky. Indeed we rejoiced at Independent operators like this who cherished old buses in their dotage like this firm complete with it four-digit and BTC style fleet-number plates. ECW bodied Bristol RELL GEF 191N dates back to that age not so long ago before 2001 when we could usually know everything we needed to from a registration letter as in this case where EF was Hartlepool where the Corporation liked these Leyland powered buses which eventually made up more than half of the fleet.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Midland Red: The Stratford Blues

One of the saddest things about the new National Bus Company in 1969 was that it did away with all those characterful small company units that made the BET Group so interesting. It was said one reason for retaining them was that it found them useful for management training. For a short while though the Leyland Titan PD3's inherited from it's small forty-bus satellite Stratford Blue did add a bit of variety to the Midland Red fleet that had not too long ago withdrawn the last of it's 100 LD8 Leyland PD2/20's of 1952-3. However buses like the former No.6 now 2006 seen in Birmingham did not stay long as these Willowbrook double-deckers were quickly sold off to the Isle of Man. But the Titan was again to return to Midland Red when Harper Brothers of Heath Hayes sold out to the NBC.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Bus photos could be taken anywhere....

Well not this one as I do tend to try to get as much as I can in to my pictures. This now quite interesting Volvo didn't matter too much at the time, but whereas this view of old Porto taken in 1984 might look very much the same today it's the one-and-a-half-deck coach that catches the eye. Despite their not too beautiful colour-scheme I seem to have taken a few pictures of this local firm. It looks like there are remnants from the tramway creating patterns in the road too.

A long way from Bolton

This Northern Counties bodied DAF double-decker had been converted to open top for it's new role as a sightseeing bus in Florence which was a long way from North Manchester where it started life with Blue Bus of Horwich.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

A vetter Picture

At first glance this bus looks like a Mercedes but it is a Stuttgart built Vetter and they were quite common in the ranks of the Swiss PAH Post Bus contractors. For me because of the clear air and afternoon light Tarasp was the perfect spot to take photographs and with plenty of mundane activity seemed to sum up the atmosphere of busy moments at the small Swiss railway station. Swiss trains are famous for their punctuality and one can usually plan on getting almost any hour before returning but once or twice when I got here I had to rush down to Scoul on foot in the slippery winter conditions to visit the Post Bus Garage with a hard slippery slog back up the steep hillside expatiated by breathlessness caused by the high altitude here in the South East corner of Switzerland. Still if I had any sense I would have waited for a bus but with the train being late they would have already gone.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Rapidly Inflating Numbers: Mayne

This looks like a familiar scene of a Mayne bus loading up for places like Clayton and Dukinfield east of Manchester as they have been doing since since 1925 when it first ran proper buses along the Ashton New Road. However since this operator finally gave in and sold the bus side of it's coach business to Stagecoach even the one's not yet repainted have flowered huge seemingly meaningless fleet numbers. I can see old drivers reminiscing over a brew or a pint about that great old Scania bus with the number 14 that rattled like hell but simply left everything else standing. But I ask you how many will remember 15381 or was it 13851? No I don't know if this bus was a belter or not but it was certainly still wearing the right colours for a change and still looked worth a photo despite the rain.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Israel: Where did I leave my fags?

I think if this was Britain this coach driver would have been stopped for a little word by the police concerning the huge pile of luggage items piled up on his dash. Maybe times have changed in Israel too but when I was there early in the 80's during a period of relative peace folks got on with their lives without too much fuss which was quite endearing in it's own way.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Plymouth Bretonside: Playing with the light

One of the great things about black and white photography is there is a lot more scope for creativity and I always enjoyed playing with the light using it too make interesting effects. Of course this is not how we usually photograph buses pointing the camera straight into the sun but why not, it is the way we often have to look at them. You might not think so but very little is lost in this Leyland dominated scene because as well as the Western National Willowbrook Leyland Leopard heading for Exeter on the A38 there's another one of webbers at the back plus some Plymouth Atlanteans. Also in this Eighties view is a Western National Bristol VR and a Wallace Arnold Bedford VAS Plaxton. Ah, those were the days, and like some of my memories these old prints are showing signs of age.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

After the Rush Hour: Chorlton Bus Station 2006

I tried cropping this photo leaving out the back of the second bus but the composition fell apart because there seemed little point just showing half a bus and half a phone box. As it is this early evening shot of Chorlton Bus Station works well, full of flat mundane urban texture as a girl gets on a bright shiny bus perhaps going to meet her Date for a night out in Manchester. Whereas without the sunshine First Group and Arriva buses always look a bit dreary the bolder offerings from Stagecoach like this Alexander AX400 bodied Dennis seem to rekindle that fascination I had for the majesty of the City buses I held as a child. I particularly like the AX series of bodywork and these Manchester buses that ply the same roads I remember as a kid have a special magic for me because in truth my enthusiasm for buses is much more of a personal journey than a serious subject.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Choice recommend Lydney Sand and Gravel?

As well as meeting delightfully painted Warstone 'Green Bus Service' Mercedes minibuses and even on occasion an elderly Leyland Leopard each afternoon on my country school run skirting the fringes Wolverhampton I also meet the 880 Route often in the narrowest places. Before they became part of D &G this subsidised service was next worked by Choice of Willenhall who ran this newly aquired former Dukes Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart complete with local ads for a Lydney Quarry far off in the Forest of Dean. Lydney of course was once a part of the Chepstow based Red and White empire but now before receiving D & G light blue and cream this bus was seen on a former Green Bus route as this too was once a part of Warstone's extensive rural South Staffs empire.

Stratford: Switch off that Mic or watch thy tongue-The pitiful sonnet of the cursed Sierra Man

A damp day and the thoughtlessness of Sierra-Man conspires to make old Merrie England not so merry. Stratford on Avon in 1990 and even though Guide Friday seemed very partial to former Nottingham Leyland Atlanteans for it's open-top tour fleet there was plenty of other interest too like this former Bournemouth Daimler Fleetline with Weymann convertible open-top bodywork. In their former Hampshire hometown these ten buses had been named after English Counties with No.184 being Cheshire, but had they chosen No.182 instead they could have had this one Warwickshire, the Shakespeare County. However like the world famous bard who hailed from this small Midland's town so did the operations of Guide Friday and in it's own way it became just as famous as it's distinctive open-top buses trundled around the seaside towns and interesting cities of not just the the UK but far away right across the European Mainland too.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Citaro on the Zurich-Zollikon-Kusnacht : Route 912

In the centre of Zurich one doen't see much apart from the smart blue and white Cty buses, trolleys and trams, but walk a few minutes to Bellevue and you come across in almost the opposite colours the Mercedes vehicles of the Zurich-Zollikon-Kusnacht line operating Routes 912-916. On my last visit to Switzerland in 2000 Citaro buses were becoming quite common in this country like this example sitting in the February sunshine.

Portugal: Something New 1984

Still looking fairly new when I visited Portugal in 1984 were some crisp bodied Utic bodied Leylands lacking much of the usual chrome-strip we associate with Portuguese coach styling. This one was still sparkling new when seen in Lisbon working on express duties.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A little rain must fall & it's Wayning Rooney in Manchester

On a day little this a bit of brevity is not such a bad thing. The foul weather could be something to do with it being Wimbledon Tennis Ladies Final Day but so far the reality here at home is better and if I don't hurry I'm in danger of missing it. In front I think is a Northern Counties bodied Volvo but the bus coming the other way down a wet Oxford Road is a Alexander AX400 Series Dennis belonging to Finglands, once one of many Manchester Independents but now a part of the East Yorkshire group.

Manchester: All Change!

I'm sure not just for the enthusiasts but all who remember them a smart preserved bus painted in proper colours must bring a bit of cheer even on a horrible wet day. Former North Western Road Car 206, a Weymann bodied Bristol L5G of 1950 was busy taking past in the Stockport Weekend held at the Boyle Street Bus Museum a month or so ago. Manchester seems to be going through a bit of a renaissance at the moment with lots of high-rise building in particularly dilapidated areas such as here north of the city centre in the Ancotes District.

Friday, 4 July 2008

4th July: Our Man from CIA

Americans tend to stick out a bit when they are abroad but these two don't look quite like your regular a country a day tourists visiting Prague in 1996 they look on a mission.

Exeter: Coastlinx X53

In the South West of England sponsored services with buses in special liveries do much to add a bit of variety to the bus scene. Take away the blue sea element from this livery and it could at first glance almost be a reincarnation of the much lamented Devon General. Despite the smart Wright bodied Scania provided by First Hampshire and Dorset it didn't look a very nice day to be visiting the South Devon Coast last summer.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Midland Red LS18A: Nottingham Mount Street

With one-hundred examples Midland Red operated more than all the other deliveries of this type of early 36t BET style body put together. When ordered they came as a bit of a surprise as the company usually only took it's own BMMO buses built at the Carlyle Works in Edgbaston, but they were to join another 100 Leylands, double-deck PD2/20's delivered in 1952/3. At the same time 50 Alexander bodied Daimler Fleetlines were ordered for 1963 as the company stepped up vehicle replacement and hinted at the future. Originally the LS18 bodywork order was to be split 50-50 between Willowbrook and Weymann but in the end Willowbrook build 75 buses including the twenty-five LS18A dual-purpose semi-coaches for the long X-Series Limited-Stop routes like the X99 from Birmingham to Nottingham which passed through Tamworth about half way where this bus No.5181 was based. With just one exception, an extra bus, all Tamworth's LS18 Leyland Leopards were of this LS18A variant which looked exceptionally smart with their black tops.

Cardiff Bus Station: Western Welsh 614

Before the advent of the so-called BET Federation same-at-both-ends single-decker operators who bought the latest newly permitted 36th long buses in the Winter of 1962-63 had them fitted with this stretched version of the current shorter bus. I don't know whether it's just that they date from those early exciting days as a spotter and enthusiast but for me they have remained an elegant classic. They certainly looked long as can be seen from this view of Western Welsh No.614 a Willowbrook bodied Leyland Leopard departing from the busy Cardiff Bus Station for Barry, one of eighteen of these buses in the fleet. In the background is another once familiar sight down here a Neath and Cardiff express coach on their regular Cardiff-Bridgend-Port Talbot-Neath-Swansea service. Brown Bombers as they were affectionately known this was one of seven Harrington Cavaliers in this predominantly AEC Reliance based fleet.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

For July 2: For you Carris No.2

I must have really enjoyed myself in Portugal on holiday in 1984 as not only did I seem to want to photograph all those wonderful trams and AEC half-cab buses in Lisbon even the mundane and the unexpected didn't seem to escape my foraging for images in the hot dusty streets. A juicy morsel I managed to dig up was this Renault mini-bus carrying the number 2 in the large Carris fleet. In Britain we called these van based conversions bread vans but this ugly bug was more like a meat truck or prison bus.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Ribble Timesaver

Before they were broken up and sold off the various National Bus Companies at last were encouraged to forge stronger identities especially as far as more upmarket coach operations were concerned. This included their local limited stop and area express operations and Ribble created 'Timesaver' as was worn by this Duple Leyland Leopard No.1124 seen about to enter Skelthorne Street Bus Station in Liverpool. Indeed it was quite wonderful when I arrived there on my first proper bus spotting visit in 1963 as this still quite new and busy two level covered bus station with coaches above was literally just across the side road outside the the main Line Street Station. Other operators buses terminated in various streets in the city centre or at the large bus station at Pier Head which from the public point of view was miles from anywhere down by the river and just a terminus. When I photographed this bus in the mid-Eighties little did I know that after Privatisation the Ribble Merseyside operations now re-christened North Western would be within the same management as my local company Midland Red North and these by then redundant ageing coaches like 1124 would find themselves in Cannock and Stafford and even passing my house.