Sunday, 5 August 2012

Vintage London buses in timetabled Harlow service

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Vintage London buses in timetabled Harlow service

Hooray, hurrah; finally some proper vintage news!  Just when I was beginning to worry for this poor little blog too.  Everything seems to be about the Olympics at the moment (which is no bad thing and only right).  But what a splendid news story to kickstart an otherwise quiet summer.

You may remember a couple of months ago an article about the reopening of the Epping-Ongar heritage railway following several years of restoration.  As well as using diesel and electric locomotives - and more recently steam engines too - the Epping-Ongar Railway also runs vintage shuttle buses between the current westernmost terminus of Coopersale and the original terminus of Epping, at least until new track can be laid to allow trains to continue all the way.

Now, however, as well as providing this existing service the AEC Regent R/T's used by the EOR have also started running on an exciting new route for both local residents and visitors alike.  Service 396 (the original R/T service in Harlow up until the 1960s) will run thrice-weekly between Harlow bus station and North Weald.  Not just another shuttle bus, this route is supported by Harlow District Council which means it is a bona fide service - anyone can buy a standard ticket and travel on a vintage London Transport bus!  Even better, a special all-in-one ticket is also available allowing unlimited travel on the 396 (and 339 shuttle) plus the EOR's trains (which also stop at North Weald)!  A truly integrated vintage transport system if ever there was one!

St Andrew's Church, North Weald Bassett

North Weald itself is a lovely spot, the location of North Weald Airfield (made famous during the Second World War) & Museum amongst other things where there is a huge market and car boot fair held every Saturday as well as frequent air shows and classic car & bus rallies.  I haven't been for a while but with this latest development at the EOR I may just have to see about getting over there again.  Harlow can be quite pleasant too, I'm told, although I've never been there and being a New Town it has little history to it.

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Only just this weekend I was thinking how it would be a wizard wheeze to run a vintage bus route to subsidise local services and blow me down if somebody hasn't come along and done it!  Currently the 396 Harlow-North Weald is only planned to run for one month, 'til the 1st September, on a trial basis.  Let us hope it proves such a success that Harlow Council and the EOR make a regular service out of it.  In the meantime I'm off to look at decommissioned AECs again - anyone fancy chipping in?

2 comments:

  1. Oh goodness, those buses are fabulous! They are in all the best films that take place in London. My boys would certainly love to ride on the top!

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