Saturday 2 November 2013

Blast From ThePast- 2

Here are some more of my personal memories from my boyhood in Kent. I mentioned in my previous post that the day the bus seed was sown was when I noticed a difference in the bus. Well I thought I'd show you what I was used to.

Daimler Fleetline 6096 on my home route 20 which ran from Gillingham to maidstone via West Malling. Note the conductor at the front.
The double deckers on route 20 had to be low height to get under the railway bridge at East Malling. This is still the case at that location. It was the introduction of the newer Atlanteans that saw the route number changed to 150/152 and termination at West Malling although through journeys to Maidstone continued to operate on Sundays. We still had plenty of the old Atlanteans on the route though.

Now driver only, Atlantean 5613 approaches Chatham bus station.
No one can fail to note the extremely visible fleet numbers on the roof. A bus enthusiasts dream, but there was a reason for that. The bus station at Chatham had a camera mounted on the roof that was so powerful it could read destination blinds 5 miles away. Eventually it had to be taken down due to privacy issues, but I spent many pleasant hours when on late cover as a driver playing with that camera and could write a book on what I saw with it on Friday and Saturday nights!

I have found some more pics of those newer Atlanteans and one in particular caught my eye.

5716 in Tunbridge Wells - to my knowledge the only time one of those Atlanteans was ever based there.
That Wanderbus ticket was quite simply my life. I remember Mum taking my brother and I out for days down to Hastings and Brighton using that ticket. It cost £1 for the three of us which is apparently the equivilent to £10.25 at today's value. That ticket was valid on any bus by any operator except National Express in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. It later changed it's name to the Explorer ticket and is still available today - I bought one last year which cost me £6.30, less than an all day ticket on First or Anglian and still valid in 5 counties. It's about time the companies in East Anglia put the passenger first for once and introduced a combined ticket so those without a free pass can really enjoy unlimited bus travel. I feel really sorry for enthusiasts like Cameron and Sam who can't travel around the country like I did at their age.

It was even valid up to London and so I could travel on these as much as I wanted, although on this occasion it is on the Gillingham/Maidstone route which is now Arriva's flagship route.

5719 at Chatham Station
Here they are at Victoria Coach Station,note 5717 has the roof fleet numbers. 
Incidentally all 3 Atlanteans had higher ratio gearboxes fitted for their London route lives which meant their top speeds were admirably high. 70 was no problem for them in those days.

That's all for this look back - plenty more to come over the coming weeks and months.


  1. I love the look of the old buses :) they are huge

  2. Actually they are smaller than today's double deckers, it's just so was everything else, especially average cars. I do confess to missing them though - they all had character, something that the plastic creations of today just don't.