Monday, 30 June 2014


Public transport in London has come a long way since the days of the horse bus and the authorities have assigned 2014 as the Year of the Bus.

Sunday 22nd June 2014 found Regent Street in Central London closed for one of the most interesting reasons in the history of the city's public transport.

And a very good reason it was too, as around 50-odd examples of public transport were on display between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly.

Whilst one or two were assisted with their arrival and positioning in the street, the remainder made their own way and under their own steam, so to speak from just south of the River Thames. Starting in Lambeth Palace Road they made their way over Westminster Bridge through Parliament Square along Whitehall passed Traflagar Square and Piccadilly Circus and eventually to Regent Street, where they remained on display for the remainder of the day.

Buses were gathered for the start of the cavalcade in Lambeth Palace Road and were sent off in batches of 10-12 at 20-minute intervals from around 9.20am. The older buses were sent away first and this fine sight shows four examples of early motor bus operation in London. K 424 a 1921 London General Omnibus Company  K / LGOC type at the head with a covered top NS type at the rear. Both currently with the London Transport Museum.

London Central Motor Omnibus Company 14 1906 Leyland / Tilling. Preserved and now in the Mike Sutcliffe Collection. Allegedly the oldest British-built motor bus.

London General Omnibus Company B 2737 B-type from the early 1900s, a type taken on by the War Department in 1914 for the war effort. Restored by the London Transport Museum to its current splendid condition, to commemorate the centenary of the involvement of the bus role in the First World War.

Chocolate Express Omnibus Company B6 1924 Leyland / Dodson. Preserved in the Mike Sutcliffe MBE Collection.

London Passenger Transport Board STL 2377 1937 AEC Regent / LPTB. Now preserved at the London Bus Museum.

London Transport T 499 1938 AEC Regal / LPTB. Now preserved by the Ensign Bus Museum.

London Transport RT 2775 1952 AEC Regent / Park Royal. Now preserved at the London Bus Museum. Eventually 4825 versions of this type were built.

London Transport MBA 582 1969 AEC Merlin / MCW. Now preserved by the London Transport Museum.

London Transport XF 1 1965 Daimler Fleetline / Park Royal.

London Transport SM 1 1970 AEC Swift / Marshall. Now in the fleet of the London Bus Company.

London Transport RML 3 1958 Leyland / Weymann and RM 2 1957 AEC Routemaster / Park Royal. RML 3 now with the London Bus Museum, RM 2 with the London Transport Museum.

Ready for the off as Metropolitan Police officers and Transport for London officials prepare for the first group of buses to depart from Lambeth Palace Road.

The cavalcade then crossed over Westminster Bridge then through Parliament Square.

Grey Green VA 115 1988 Volvo B10M / Alexander. Now preserved by the London Transport Museum. The first non-red company back in 1988 to be awarded a central London tendered service under the contracted route system.
All the above courtesy of Mark Lyons.

Around the other side of the square and the buses approach the exit into Whitehall, where the following images were captured by Rick Godfrey.

London Transport CR 4 1935 Leyland Cub / Short. Now preserved by the Ensign Bus Museum.

London Transport DMS 1 1970 Daimler Fleetline / Park Royal. Now preserved at the London Transport Museum.

London Transport FRM 1 1966 AEC Routemaster / Park Royal. The unique front entrance version of this ubiquitous vehicle now preserved by the London Transport Museum.

London General Omnibus Company LT 1076 1931 AEC Renown  / LGOC. Now preserved at the London Transport Museum.

London General Omnibus Company NS 1995 1926 AEC NS / LGOC. Now preserved at the London Transport Museum.

London Transport RM 2 1957 AEC Routemaster / Park Royal & LTE. Now preserved at the London Transport Museum. One of the first four prototypes and the only standard length RM type originally outshopped in the green 'country area' green livery.

London General Omnibus Company S 433 1920s AEC S type

London Transport STL1470 1936 AEC Regent / Weymann. Later converted to a tree lopper and re-numbered 971J in the LT service vehicle fleet. Currently preserved by the Ensign Bus Museum.

Then approaching Regent Street through Piccadilly a plethora of preserved Guy, Leyland Titan and AEC Regent double-deckers. Image courtesy of Brian Bell.

And so eventually into Regent Street.

The following images taken up and down Regent Street courtesy of John Scragg. A further selection of John's images from the event can now be viewed on his Facebook site here

Another view of the LCMOC Leyland / Tilling

Nearside aspect of the LGOC AEC S type

London General Omnibus Company LT 165 1936 AEC Renown / LGOC. Currently with the London Transport Museum.

London Transport trolleybus 1768 1948 BUT / Metro-Cammell. Currently with the London Transport Museum.

Now a selection from Steven Hodgson, with further images available on his Facebook site that can be viewed here

British European Airways 1953 AEC Regal / Park Royal. Now preserved at the London Bus Museum. One of a fleet of 65 used to transport passengers between central London and Heathrow Airport, but operated by London Transport.

The nearside aspect of NS 1995

London General Omnibus Company S 454 1922 AEC S-type

Thomas Tilling 1922 Tilling-Stevens. Part of the late Michael Banfield collection recently auctioned.

Nearside aspect of the Leyland / Dobson from the Mike Sutcliffe MBE collection.

London Transport M1 1978 MCW Metrobus. Now with the Ensign Bus Museum, one of five original prototypes.

New technology is being experimented with all the time, and WSH 62994 now operated by Tower Transit on the central London RV1 route is hydrogen powered, hence the large tanks on the roof.

Today's modern bus represented by three of the latest buses to serve London's growing population. The New Bus for London dubbed the Borismatser or indeed the 'new' Routemaster, LT 150 in the silver livery, soon to be joined by several more.

Nearside of STL 2377. Note how the interested crowd is wide ranging in ages, not just a parade for the older generation of bus enthusiasts.

Another image to illustrate the crowds that attended the event milling round a fascinating display of buses old and new.

What looks initially like any other bus shelter in London. But look closer at it and the bus stop. Both were created out of Lego outside the Hamleys toy store. Very clever.

And finally a couple of images looking up Regent Street from the southern end bedecked with flags, with the buses surrounded and admired by visitors to Central London. Images courtesy of Mark Lyons.

The event was not just aimed at bus enthusiasts, but for the general public to come out and view a wide variety of surface transport that spanned the ages from the early 1900s to the present day. By all accounts as a PR exercise by Transport for London it appears to have been a success. A huge amount of hard work was put in by a band of individuals, to ensure the event took place.

Once more though the Focus Transport team is grateful to Brian Bell, Rick Godfrey, Steven Hodgson, Mark Lyons and John Scragg for allowing us to publish their images for others to appreciate and enjoy. Especially to those who were unable to attend this unique event.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Over the weekend of the 13-15th June the North Norfolk Railway (the 'Poppy Line'), held its annual Summer Diesel Gala with an intense set of passenger services. 
Usually trains operate every 45-minutes from 0945 to around 1700-hours dependent upon the time of year. On this occasion the Friday and Saturday trains were running approximately every 30-minutes from 0815-1700 then 45-minutes to 1930 and two later trains in each direction hourly till 2200-hours. On the Sunday trains ran similar headways but only until around 1830-hours.
Class 08, 14, 20, 31, 37 and 40s were in operation, being a mixture of the line's own engines, plus a number of visiting diesel locomotives.

Actually the weekend's events began around 1600-hours on the Thursday afternoon (12th), when a convoy of four diesels arrived via the Network Rail line up from Norwich via Wroxham, North Walsham and Cromer. In the lead on the approach to Sheringham brightly coloured Colas Rail Freight 37219 heads the convoy very slowly (5mph) towards the level crossing. 
Built at their premises in Newton-le-Willows in 1963, this English Electric type 3 apparently made its first run out in Colas colours over mainline rails on this day as it travelled over from the Met-Cammell premises at Washwood Heath.

Bringing up the rear though a Class 50 50007 (Hercules), which had actually led the convoy up as far as Cromer. However, owing to the line layout at that railway station, the convoy reversed with the Class 37 at the front on the approach to Sheringham. Privately owned the locomotive was only recently been restored in the British Rail blue livery. It made a debut at the Mid Norfolk Railway in early April.

50007 having delivered its charges to the line, was then rested at Weybourne Station for the duration and for a while was left head to head with 37219. Design aspects are shown here along with a little hint of 'steam' in the background.

One of the NNR's own Class 37s D6732 in British Rail green livery contrasts with the bright yellow and orange of the Colas 37.

A plethora of diesels meet up at Weybourne with a mixture of Classes 08, 31, 37 and 55 in evidence.

A couple of smaller diesels in attendance from the local collections. A Class 08 and Class 14 seen here at Weybourne Station.

The Class 08 provides one of the many Brake Van rides over the three days, run over a short section of line either side of Weybourne Station. These ran between the x30mins headway of trains on the line towards Sheringham. In the background can be seen some of the engine and carriage sheds. Over on the right a Class 25 number 25057 originally D5207 was due to be in service, but was replaced at the 11th hour. This was built in 1963 at the Derby Works and withdrawn from British Rail service in 1987.

From the west end of Sheringham Station and just shy of the road bridge one can look towards the signal box. Here the incoming Class 14 diesel is shown as it approaches the set of points to Platforms 1 and 2.

And from the road bridge looking east a full view of Sheringham Station with the Class 40 D306 (Atlantic Conveyor), as it awaits departure time from Platform 1. At the far end of the platforms one can just make out the level crossing that leads out onto the Network Rail lines and their own single platform station.

 Back at Weybourne Station and the Brake Van rides continue apace from Platform 2.

The driver of the Class 08 diesel  D5940 awaits passengers for the next Brake Van ride beside the canopy over Platform 2, with the sweet smell of roses on Platform 1 mingling with the fuel fumes. Another built at the Derby Works, this time in 1960.

Class 14 diesel D9531 runs beneath the road bridge just to the west of Sheringham Station. The locomotive was built at Swindon Works during 1965 and loaned from the East Lancs Railway, where is was named 'Ernest'.

And the other side of the same engine as it pulls away from Weybourne Station bound for Holt.

Visiting diesel Class 20 D8059 arrives at Platform 2 in Sheringham.

And after a run round the loop at Sheringham, the Class 20 heads off back to Weybourne and Holt passing over one of the bankings adjacent to the A149 roadway.

The North Norfolk Railway had several of their own locomotives on duty throughout the weekend. Among them Class 31 D5631 shown here as it approaches Weybourne Station from the Holt direction. The locomotive is Brush built at Loughborough in 1960 and was a regular sight on the rail network throughout East Anglia.

At the same location and from the same direction another from the NNR's own collection. This time a Class 37 English Electric number D6732 built in 1962 at Newton-le-Willows heads a line of DMUs. At one stage the locomotive was named 'Mirage'.

Atlantic Conveyor Class 40 number D306 powers over the rails between Weybourne and Sheringham on the Friday afternoon, leaning slightly as it adjusts to the camber of the line.

Two more views of Class 40 D306 passing between semaphores (above), west of Weybourne Station, and along the straight (below), east of the same station. The upper image shows a cross on one of the signals, this to show the extent to which the Class 08 diesel's Brake Van trips could run. The backdrop to the lower image is the North Norfolk coastline and the North Sea.  

A set of DMUs were also out during the Gala, but not 'in power', but hauled at times by various locomotives.This is Class 101 51192 currently on loan to the NNR.

But all too soon the event was at an end. At 1000-hours on the Monday morning after the most splendid of weekends, the time came for the early convoy of visiting diesels to make the return journey from whence they had come. The gentle thrum of the Colas 37 could be heard as it sat in Sheringham Station beside Platform 1, as it prepared to lead the convoy out of the station.

Similar Class 40 D306 coupled up and ready for the off beside the canopy and memorabilia of Platform 1.

All coupled up and ready to roll, Class 40 D306 and Class 20 D8059.

Pushing hard 50007 slowly encourages the convoy away from Platform 1 and towards the level crossing that link the NNR to the Network Rail line.

And so we bid farewell for another year's diesel event as 50007 glides sedately over the level crossing, with a large crowd bidding it and the rest of the convoy a well deserved 'bon voyage'.

The event was organised by volunteers of the Weybourne Traction Group and sponsored by Railways Illustrated Magazine


'The Titfield Moment', when quite by chance, circumstances led to a reminder of events in 1952 and 2012. This can now be viewed here