I AM CHRISTOPHER LEACH THE ARTIST. I started this blog so that I can share with everyone my vast collection of transport photographs showing a personal and nostalgic view of the industry with images that span some 45 years taking in the U.K and some of Europe. I have no darkroom and so rather than being the perfectionist after tidying them up I upload the images warts and all, and even those that won't scan squarely or are scratched. In a way it adds age and character. You are all free to download these for your personal use but please remember I still own them and you are not just free to use them without prior permission for any knd of publishing. Click on images to enlarge them and if you want to see more leave your comments or visit my website for the mother-site with galleries including those Buses & Girls: PICTUREWORLD
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Ipswich is one of the few remaining English places that still has it's own distinctive town buses. They still run in the same colours but seen in 1982 the Leyland Atlantean wore a more up to date 'brighter' version of the original carried by the smarter /East-Lancs (Neepsend) bodied AEC Regent of 1966.
Friday, 26 January 2007
They say you are getting old when the policemen start looking younger. Another way of looking at it is when instead of being excited at the prospect of seeing lots of new buses we mourn the prospect of old friends heading for extinction. Variety is not what it was either and even Cannock is only a shadow of it's former self remembering the days when elsewhere they were fast disappearing but not only could the legendary Warstone (Green Bus) come up with some fine Leyland PD3 half-cabs it also operated a rare Massey-bodied Johannesburg Guy Arab. Less exciting but becoming quite scarce in 2006 was one of a number of MCW Metrobuses still in service with West Midlands, and it was pleasing to note that No.2765 had just returned from a repaint. I never thought I would say it but I was also pleased to see an ex London Leyland National Mark One belonging to Chase turn up as well.
Thursday, 25 January 2007
The last thing you consider when you think of Switzerland is industry but of course it does exist. Because of Basel's location on the the River Rhine and close proximity to both France and Germany it is of great importance, and the city has a very grey gritty feel when compared to Zurich which seems to sparkle in the sunshine. Although it has an extensive network of tram routes trolleybuses are confined to a couple of routes, and in 1989 the vehicles used were starting to look elderly.
Monday, 22 January 2007
I went with some friends on a week-end coach trip to Amsterdam and on the way back we stopped in Bruges (Brugge). We had about two hours there and it rained heavily for most of the two hours . The Belgian gentleman isn't being arrested for driving a Taunus the police wanted to know why he wanted to take home some of the decorative iron chain put there to look old and to stop people parking on the verge. There seemed to be more visiting coaches from the UK than local buses on the streets.
Nothing is really new when it comes to vehicle design, and recent coaches supplied by Caetano for National Express are almost embarrassingly similar to the sleek stylish Art Deco designs seen in Switzerland in the Early Fifties. No doubt Tintin and his chums seen in the illustration would still be suitably impressed by the silky smooth ride of the Twenty-First-Century Scania with it's effortless speed for motorway cruising once it leaves Nottingham East Midlands Airport.
Friday, 19 January 2007
Thursday, 18 January 2007
During the Eighties the U.K. bus industry was deregulated and the pubic sector sold off to private enterprise. With few real safeguards there is now once more a near monopoly situation with about half a dozen big groups who are quite happy to see off any tiddler who tries to step in. Nowhere is the lack of choice more apparent than in express travel. Before Thatcher 'National Express' used to happily coexist alongside a number of relatively small but well respected coach operators who had been quietly running express routes for many years. Two of the best known were Premier Travel of Cambridge and Yelloway of Rochdale. Both operators favoured the AEC Reliance but like the Yelloway coach following into Stafford they had to turn to the Leopard instead when that icon of problematic industry British Leyland ditched AEC like other once great names from it's portfolio. On a few occasions I experimented with telephoto-lenses and my shots included another Premier Travel coach this time leaving Hanley Bus Station, and it is one of the Leyland Leopards also bodied by Plaxton.
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
The recent serious accident near Reading where an Aberdeen bound National Express Neoplan Double-Decker overturned on a slip-road has once again brought to the public's attention the perils of coach travel. In fact in the U.K. these sort of fatal accidents are quite rare but double-deck coaches have had a chequered career and especially after one of the Standerwick Bristol VR coaches toppled over on to the central reservation of the M1. The giant Stagecoach of today cut it's teeth on a budget express coach from Edinburgh to London in the early Eighties and this Neoplan came to grief on the motorway near Stafford.
Monday, 15 January 2007
The cruel dictator Sadam Hussain might have been executed, but he will not be forgotten by his legions of adoring admirers. I think George Bush Junior will be getting pretty upset when he realises the extent of the despot's popularity for not only do they visit his cult centre by the bus-load they all look more like nice ordinary Swiss shoppers than blood-thirsty Bath Party thugs and infidels.
Of course I'm being ironic but when I go on holiday and travel a lot getting tired, my head starts playing games and all those foreign words and place names become surreal puns that sometimes make me laugh. This Mercedes 405GL Post Bus was photographed near Rapperswil, another name that paints pictures. Perhaps it's all that leaking Walkman music one has to listen to on trains.
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
My first camera an Ilford Sporty was not very good and as one used to pick the wrong time of year to take photos many of the images are not really worth using. However this blog scans my whole history and I want to include as much as I can. What prompted me to add this image of a Trent Leyland Leopard taken late in 1966 was a hurried visit to the city in the dark, but it was over twenty years since I last visited there for work so it is worth some kind of celebration.
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
Monday, 8 January 2007
It doesn't usually pay to re-visit the past but I'm glad I returned to my old school, Aiglon College in Switzerland twenty-three-years later at the very end of 1988 for a big reunion. I know I should be ashamed to say it but it wasn't the prospect of seeing the school or the now old greying or fat and balding school friends that excited me, it was seeing beautiful Switzerland again and of course to me at least it's fantasic buses. Our two yellow post buses at Chesieres had long gone as the bus service to Ollon five-miles below in the valley had been taken over by the local mountain rail company BVB and extended to Aigle. But BVB bought a to become long lived Saurer RH bus in 1979 which unusually had almost identical bodywork to the ones found in the still yellow post office PTT fleet just across the mountains in Sion. Just as in the old days people both from School and the village were bemused at my interest and bus photography.
Sunday, 7 January 2007
Thursday, 4 January 2007
Wednesday, 3 January 2007
When buses are parked up in Britain one is lucky to get anything more beautiful than an old rusty gasometer as backdrop but go to Pula in the former Yugoslavia and one can also capture an impressive Roman colasium. The less prosperous countries of Europe still rely on their more wealthy neihbours to provide them with secondhand buses and these would have come from Germany I expect.
Before the Ruinification of Germany Berlin in particular was a lot more prosperous with generous grants coming from Central Goverment in Bonn. This meant regular spending on the infastructure including the transport system and No. 3500 the first of a new generation of buses arrived in 1981. In total by the end of decade over 850 of these double-deckers were delivered and these were to be the last major type as their operation would be scaled down to the busy central area of Berlin and a few major trunk routes with the rest replaced by single-deckers and other forms of transport including new tram routes and trams.
Monday, 1 January 2007
Like any hobby being interested in transport can encourage you to travel which is an education in itself. For British bus fans Portugal has always been a popular destination for as well as trams traditionally there were always a lot of british buses including left-hard-drive mirror image double-deckers like this AEC Regent seen in the bright sunlight of Lisbon.
Even amongst bus enthusiasts what is interesting and what is not is a subjective thing. I'm sure it can only be an oversight but when Ian Allan published a book featuring a large selection of Independent UK Operators in 1986 not only did they omit the fascinating Berresford's Motors of Cheddleton with it's vast array of important secondhand vehicles they missed out the Potteries altogether.
Some buses are so interesting they are always worthy of a snap or two. But it's better still when not only are they local we photographed them in childhood just because they were there. Because they were so familiar to us I'm sure I'm not the only person who never made mages of old bus friends because we took them so much for granted. Although Frank Hornby's Dinky Toys made thousands of them the Duple Roadmaster body in real life was a rarity. Greatrex Tours of Stafford bought this Leyland Royal Tiger in the early-Fifties which made the Bedford OB parked alongside seem very mundane indeed.
One of my priorities for 2007 is to do more with my transport photographs so I will be regularly posting images like these two London Routemasters taken at Victoria in the early Nineties. The are still a tiny number running about on special routes but the fifty-year reign of the RM is over. One thing one can say about bus photography is that unless the vehicle is parked up against a wall or somewhere equally featureless the image should become more interesting as time passes and almost by default hobby photographers make a valuable record that in time could turn the mundane into a rare and valuable gem.