Saturday, 8 February 2014

London Travels and Potter Magic

I apologise for the lack of posts this week, and that was mainly due to the fact that I wasn't in the region! College had organised a couple of days away in the Capital to tour the BBC and then the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, Watford. I was very excited about the chance to see all the sets from the Harry Potter movies, but even moreso about the chance for a bit of London bus spotting!

Thursday started with my regular commute on Ambassador's 879 service from Ditchingham to East Norfolk Sixth Form College where I was greeted with the welcome site of their 250 FJ06BPZ; a Sunsundegui bodied Volvo in Just Go Holidays livery. On the way I was speculating with the driver which coach would take me to London as Ambassador tend to do most of the private hire work for the sixth form. My hopes and prayers were answered when we pulled up outside the building with another Sunsundegui parked outside, this time 252 FJ08FYA sporting a Grand UK Holidays livery. She is one of four in Ambassador's fleet. 
252 awaiting students outside East Norfolk Sixth Form

So I 'bagsied' the front seat and settled in for the long trip south, camera at the ready in case of any passing vehicles. Unfortunatley, the only vehicle of interest that went past happened to do so at the one time I was having a drink and so the photo I did get was blurry. It was Suffolk Norse's new Enviro400 YX63ZXJ working service 143 to Norwich, which is usually operated by one of their Marcopolo coaches. I swiftly texted Mr Joe Wilson, who founded Norwich Bus Updates on Twitter that the bus was heading his way, but he was working and was unable to pop down the bus station for a picture.

One piece of bad luck swiftly changed into a piece of good luck when the coach arrived at South Mimms services just off the A1(M). As we were pulling into the coach stop, I glimpsed a site of some red double deckers parked together in an industrial estate, and this being a college trip and me now being an adult, I was allowed to venture off to see what I could find. What I did find was a small industrial area that seemed to be dedicated to bus operators! Falcon of Enfield, Timebus Travel and Sullivan Buses were all present with a selection of coaches and buses, with a few MK1 Palatines and a row of Routemasters. 

a row of heritage Routemaster's owned by Sullivan Buses
We arrived at London a couple of hours before the start of our tour at the BBC so I walked down to a very wet and soggy Oxford Street to get a couple of shots of the buses in service. Metroline had the famous Borismasters on their route 390, with Optare Olympus' working the 7 to Russell Square whilst Tower Transit has taken over one of First's garages meaning they now operate the 25 to Ilford in the B9s. London United also operate on Oxford Street with a fleet of Scania N230UD OmniLinks on route 10 to Warren Street. 

two London United Scania's in convoy, both operating route 10 to Warren Street
At the end of the day, we had to walk from South Bank back to the hostel in Elephant & Castle via Waterloo. This was when I glanced left and happened to see the rear of one of the new BYD e-buses parked in a small depot across the street. As quick as a flash I sprinted over the road to photograph her, but as it was dark (my camera doesn't like the dark) it struggled to focus but because of what it is I am pleased with it anyhow. Go-Ahead operate two of these Chinese built electric buses on route 507 between Waterloo and Victoria and 521 between Waterloo and London Bridge.

EB2 LC63CXY charging up overnight just behind her sister EB1 LC63CYA
Yesterday saw our group visiting the Warner Bros. Studios to see the set of the popular Harry Potter films. Of course this created an opportunity for me to photograph tourist coaches along with specially wrapped B9s that operate a shuttle service to the location. Golden Tours operate one Gemini 2 and three B9 MCVs from Victoria whilst Mullany's operate two Gemini 2s from Watford Junction.

a Mullany's B9 sits behind a Golden Tours MCV outside the studios
As far as the coach park goes, not many vehicles but the star of the show was a gold liveried Neoplan Starliner from Belgian operator Leroy which dwarfed a more local Setra, J888RWC from Chenery Travel. That pretty much completes my trip, and I'll leave you with a pic of the 'Knight Bus' from the Potter films. A triple decker bus built out of three heritage Routemasters specifically built for the film. I hope you found this rather personal report interesting, it's something I haven't tried before and would love your feedback!


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