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Last updated: 31 October 2019

  Archive/Photograph of the Month  

The Photo of the Month for October has been selected in honour of my last great day trip out with John Sherwin. On 12th August, we travelled up to Chelmsford in Essex, as he was ‘teaching me’ how to get through London (I’ve not been a particular fan of the tube but took the opportunity of completing this with a friend) and also we wanted to try and get former local buses in a new area. Departing from Hedge End railway station, we arrived in a rather overcast and damp Chelmsford at about 11am.

First Essex (formerly Eastern National) operate in Chelmsford and the depot holds five former local vehicles. The four former Southampton-Hamble connection Mini-Pointer Darts (fleet numbers 43845-8) are operated from the city, along with Volvo B10BLE 66179 (W379EOW), new for the A3 bus priority corridor back in 2000. Then, 66179 was one of a batch ousting Leyland Nationals and upgrading the 40 (Wecock Farm to Southsea) and 41 (Clanfield to Southsea, at that point, but this quickly became The Hard Interchange). Following the arrival of the Scania Omnicity buses that still operate in the local area in late 2004, the majority of the fleet were scattered around the country, with the majority passing to Weymouth (for route 31 to Axminster) and Taunton (for route 28 to Minehead).

As the briefest of sun popped out from behind the clouds, John and I were excited and surprised to see 66179 heading up to the bus station past the railway station. The bus wears an identical livery to that of the training fleet still based locally – indeed sisters 66164 and 66176 (W364/76EOW respectively) both operate in Hampshire, with 66181 (W381EOW) down in Weymouth. We never saw the bus again, nor one of the other training fleet, so we were very fortunate to grab a shot of the Volvo that day.

The heavens opened later than day. John and I took photos sheltering under any canopy, shelter or railway viaduct that we could find. Despite the inclement weather, we marvelled at the reflections caused by the puddles and discussed the prospect of going out locally in the pouring rain, capturing the local fleet in order to create a gallery for a forthcoming Provincial Press. We also had a scrumptious lunch in The Plough, the pub opposite Chelmsford bus station, before returning safely to London Waterloo and then Hedge End later in the day.

James May

  First Hampshire & Dorset vehicle movement and news  


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Latest arrivals at Hoeford - a batch of StreetLites from First South Yorkshire.

63370 seen leaving Fareham this morning on the lengthy 3-1-1-3 circuit of Portsmouth & Southsea.

Photo by Malcolm Audsley 19 Aug 2019


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