On the buses

Routemaster 60What with preparing for the move (including assisting my new circuit to find and purchase a house for us to live in) and covering two churches for a sick colleague, blogging has had to take a back seat. There were many things I wanted to write about, but just didn’t have the time or inclination. But I’ll mention one event in July that I did enjoy, and that was a rally of old buses in Finsbury Park to mark the 60th anniversary of the iconic Routemaster bus.

There are still Routemasters running in London, though they are confined to a couple of short ‘heritage’ routes catering mainly for tourists. Outside central London you are more likely to see them running as ‘specials’ for weddings and other occasions, though during the tube strikes earlier this year there were a number of veteran buses running extra journeys during the rush hour periods.

oldbus_2641

Veteran buses on duty at Camden Road, Holloway during the tube strikes earlier this year. The bus in front is an RT in Greenline livery; the bus behind is the stretched version of the Routemaster, or RML

The impressive line up of buses at the Routemaster 60 event

The impressive line up of buses at the Routemaster 60 event

RT2177

This is not a Routemaster – me and RT2177. The 12 bus route runs past my new church on Camberwell Road.

At Routemaster 60 there were over 150 vintage buses on display, including the immaculately restored prototype Routemasters RM1, RM2 and RM3. There were other buses as well, including examples of the older RT buses that are often confused with the Routemaster. The RT, which this year celebrates its 75th year since entering service in 1939, was still running on the 65 bus route which ran past the end of our road in Kingston on Thames in the early 70s, and I have fond memories of travelling on this type of bus to school (fare 2p for a short journey, 3p for a longer journey!) In 1975 the RTs were replaced by Routemasters, which were slightly larger and more comfortable. The 65 bus ran from Ealing Argyll Road (I always wondered what this exotic place at the beginning of the route was like) to Chessington Zoo, now the Chessington World of Adventures, but then still a plain zoo. I can still recall the graffiti scratched into the paintwork of one of the RTs: ‘I am Thunderbird 2, fly me to the zoo.’ Much as I enjoy the Routemasters, it is the sight of an RT trundling along that never fails to make me smile.

Line up of buses

Another view of the line up of Routemaster buses

Having said that, I wouldn’t want to be riding one of these old buses on a regular basis. Since 2007, when I sold my last car, my primary form of transport has been buses. In that time we have seen ‘bendy buses’ come and go and most recently the NB4L (‘New Bus for London’ aka the ‘New Routemaster’ aka the ‘Boris bus’) which looks colossal next to the Routemaster and the even smaller RT. Modern buses are far more spacious and comfortable than the old types. Yes, it can take longer to get from A to B, but as far as I am concerned this isn’t wasted time – it’s time for reading, for thinking, for writing emails, and not infrequently for bumping into church members and the conversations that inevitably follow. And for just looking out of the window and watching the world (my parish!) passing by.

For more photos of the old buses than ran during the tube strike visit this Facebook album (You don’t need to be signed up to Facebook to view it). For more photos taken during Routemaster 60 visit this Facebook album.

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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