Dorking Running Day
In 1933, the London Passenger Transport Board was formed. Part of its responsibility was the Country Bus and Coach Department, which took charge of the country area and Greenline coach operations. In the next few years, a vast network was established. Many new country bus garages built.
Until, in 1947, the whole empire of London Transport was taken into public ownership under The London Transport Executive. Through the 50s and 60s, the network changed very little. In the Greater London area and beyond, these were the buses that Bobby’s generation grew up with and they saw no reason why it should change.
Red buses in the Central Area. Green outside the central area in the ‘country’. If you lived in Surrey and the other Home Counties, you might have red and green. Routes overlapping. These were the buses we went to school on; to work; to football and so on.
In Cheam, where Bobby lived, you were in a red bus area, but green buses were on the fringe of their area and they took you to the country for leisure. Both red and green networks had Rover Tickets, giving you a whole day on each network for a few shillings.
London Country’s green buses were restricted to just a few classes back then. The ubiquitous RT double decker and the highly successful RF single decker. The latter, the standard bus for Greenline Coach routes. They were long distance coach services. Starting on the southern or northern fringe. in general going right through Central London to the other limit. A few routes east west were the exception. In true rural areas, the little GS for small country lanes was a familiar sight.
It was inevitable that the motor car would change everything. More and more cars. Less and less people needing buses. This story could go into the decline and massive changes in bus services in general, but we are stopping in their hey day of the fifties and sixties.
So here is a typical day out for Bobby and his girlfriend in 1963.
Pack the sandwiches (and Penguin biscuits!) and walk to Cheam Village to catch the 408 London Country green bus to Guildford. Chat to the conductor and buy two Green Rover Tickets for about 7 shillings each. Get off at Effingham to walk the Surrey hills all day to arrive at Abinger Hammer. There to catch the single decker London Country 425 back to Dorking and the fish and chip shop. The final journey of the day back home to Cheam was on the London Country 470 double decker that started in Dorking and headed through Cheam to Croydon and beyond.
They were halcyon days in the Surrey Hills and one of the main reasons they came to live in Dorking in 1972. The buses were a big part of the adventures. How would you rather travel? In a boring motor car, or with a panoramic view from the top deck of a London Country RT double decker?
Many of our ageing generation have never forgotten those days. Lots of the buses have been preserved and cherished. They are seen as working vehicles, not museum pieces, and there are lots of bus rallies throughout the country to show them at their best. One Society organises rallies from an Amersham base and comes to Dorking every couple of years or so.
Dorking had its bus garage and terminus for many routes including Green Lines. The garage, like so many Country area bus garages, became surplus to requirements. Few are left, mostly becoming residential housing developments.
Dorking Running Day
The whole purpose of the Dorking Running Day is to recreate the bus services in and around Dorking from the 1950s et al. The original buses run the services and the rides are free. Just buy a programme for the day. Sit back and remember when you were young. That’s not to say that younger people are not attracted. Who wouldn’t want to ride on a little GS bus to Ewhurst on a sunny afternoon in the Surrey Hills?
And so to the rides An RF around town
RF Green Line coach to Leatherhead
And finally and best of all. A GS Route 449 to Ewhurst. All around the country villages and narrow roads to Ewhurst.
More on 10 April for the big bus rally at Brooklands Museum.
Pictures from Yesteryear
London Country Bus Network
Lighting a Candle for Diddley