John Bashford ... ...
I was employed by Southend Transport in 1986 solely as a coach driver for the 'X' services to & from London.
I had a strange contract of employment, which meant I was not allowed to drive town services - only X's.
At that time, the mainstay of the fleet were Duple bodied Leyland Leopards of varying ages. There were also
a few Plaxton bodied Leopards, and some dual-purpose bodied Leyland Tigers, that ST had from new when the X1
service was originally launched, when it ran between Southend and Reading.
We also had some really smart Mercedes Astromega double-deck coaches bodied by Van Hool, that were a pleasure
to drive, especially if you had spent several days driving a draughty Leyland Leopard that was definitely past
its sell-by date.
Did you manage to get any info/pictures of those awful yellow ex-Cardiff
(??) double-deckers that were used for a while on Londons, when Southend
Transport were operating the "Culture Bus" hop on and off London tour.
Perhaps those buses weren't that bad, but at around 40mph flat out, they
weren't much good on the X service!
I requested and was given a rota-line on the "All-Day" rota, which meant that I did a morning commuter run to
Hyde Park Corner, parked up for the day at a coach park just off the Old Kent Road, and then operated an evening
commuter run back to Southend. The whole of the day was spent parked up with the rest of the 35 drivers who were
also on "all-day Londons".
There was definitely a community feel about the crowd of us that did the "all-day Londons". Drivers still
talk about their days on the X's, and the time they spent parked up at Rolls Road or at the LT depot at Camberwell.
Many drivers regret the day that Arriva stopped running them, and I think it was only last Thursday that one
of the ex-X1 drivers asked me why Arriva gave up a service that had been so successful in the past.
Looking back, it was a doddle of a job - about 12 hours pay for driving one trip to London and back, with
every weekend off. A big improvement over my previous employment as a driver for a private coach operator,
who seemed to think that drivers really loved to work all day, every day, and really didn't want a life of their own!!
I'm afraid I don't have any photos of the coaches, but I do have some happy memories of when ST paid good
money for not a lot of work!!