A World of Vintage at the Dartford Bus Garage Open Day

London Transport ticketing paraphernalia

2014 is the Year of the Bus and this year Transport for London put on a series of events to enable Londoners to reconnect with the bus network and realise the importance that buses played in the history of the city. Why 2014? This year marks the centenary of the First World War where the London Omnibus Company B-type Battle Buses were specially fitted with protective boarding and khaki paint and used to transport troops to and from the front lines.

As part of the Year of the Bus celebrations, bus garages across the city were opened to the public and the last of these open days took place at the Arriva Bus Garage in Dartford. Being the absolute vintage bus geek that I am, you can imagine that I was very excited about this event!

RF 539 (NLE539) and RT2083 (LYF 21) at Dartford Bus Open DayRF 539 (NLE539) and RT2083 (LYF 21)

The bus in the foreground is the London Transport AEC Regent IV RF539 which went into service in 1953 and behind that is the London Transport AEC Regent III RT2083 which has been running since 1952.

Route 370 to Tilbury DocksRoute 370 to Tilbury Docks

The classic red double-decker Routemaster bus is a symbol of London transport but once you stepped outside the Greater London Council, you encountered the Green Line. That is why many of the buses in Essex, Kent and Surrey were green.

RT2083 (LYF 21) at Dartford Bus Garage Open DayRT2083 (LYF 21)

The route 370 continues to this day and now stops at Lakeside Mall. These days it is part of the Transport for London network and has a red bus.

Daimler DMS1 (EGP 1J) Daimler DMS1 (EGP 1J)

This is the Daimler DMS1 which ran from 1971. On the outside, it looks like any other double decker red bus but things change once you get inside.

Self-service turnstile London BusSelf-service turnstile on Daimler DMS1 (EGP 1J)

This was one of the first efforts to get rid of conductors on London buses and the bus was designed to be run by only a driver. The idea is that responsible, reasonable Londoners would get on the bus with the exact change and glide through the turnstile in a quick and orderly fashion. It really didn’t work out that way and the turnstiles were later replaced with the system of paying the driver.

RM 2660 (SMK660F) and RT1702 (KYY529) at the Dartford Bus Open DayRM 2660 (SMK660F) and RT1702 (KYY529)

There was a lot to see that day at the Dartford Bus Garage and loads of enthusiastic volunteers on hand to chat to us bus geeks and fans. It was a well organised, educational event too and there were lots of leaflets and brochures for children (and adults) to take home.

London transport vintage bus ticketsLondon transport vintage bus tickets

I actually got the idea that the biggest fans there were the volunteers themselves, many of whom worked for Transport for London and had offered their time at the event on their spare weekend. This was confirmed when my friend and I squealed with delight on spotting the vintage bus tickets and paraphernalia and the man behind the stand didn’t even bat an eyelid. Kindred souls.

No standing on upper deckNo standing on upper deck

London General Omnibus Company K424 (XC 8059) at Dartford Bus Garage Open DayMandy and the London General Omnibus Company K424 (XC 8059)

And last but certainly not least... This is a 1921 AEC K-Type London General Omnibus Company bus K424 and it is in superb condition. We were able to go up to the top deck of the bus which I considered to be quite a privilege because they were carefully overseeing access and making sure we didn’t jump or run and that there were no more than two people up there at a time.

Top deck of the London General Omnibus Company K424 (XC 8059) at Dartford Bus Garage Open DayTop deck of the London General Omnibus Company K424 (XC8059)

The bus was an open top bus and there would have been covers that clipped over the seats in rainy weather. I couldn’t really get my head around that – it rains all the time in London in summer so those covers would have seen constant action.

London General Omnibus Company K424 (XC8059) at Dartford Bus Garage Open DayLondon General Omnibus Company K424 (XC8059)

How beautiful is this design?

K 424 (XC 8059) at Dartford Bus Garage Open DayLondon General Omnibus Company

I took one or two photos of this beautifully preserved bus from every angle imaginable so I feel quite proud for only subjected you to my very favourites! Then again, this is my third vintage bus and car post in a year so perhaps I shouldn’t feel too good. There was Vintage and Retro at the Isle of Wight Bus Museum and Dartford’s Vintage Car and Steam Rally if you’d like to see more vintage and retro goodness.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it. My favourite posts are always the ones where we visit quirky places or see history come alive.

You may have noticed that my posts have been a little sporadic over the past few weeks and that I haven't been visiting your blogs as often. I do hope that you'll bear with me for just a couple more weeks - I'm about to write my first two exams for my ACCA qualification and let’s just agree that taking two subjects at once might have been a little ambitious. I’m flying off to South Africa in just over two weeks and definitely plan to catch up again then.

Architectural Wonders of Ephesus, Turkey

As you walk along the streets of the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey, you get a unique glimpse of the civilisations that once lived here. The site is rich in archaeological finds such as the collection of Roman milestones and the three ancient Greek columns standing side by side representing the Ionic, Corinthian and Doric orders of classical architecture.  Yet as you crest the hill and walk down towards the Celsus Library, you realise that the allure of Ephesus lies not just in the artefacts but in the largely intact archaeological wonders to be found here.

The Library of Celsus

Celsus Library

It is difficult to explain how impressive the library of Celsus is and it is not until you stand on its steps and look up that you can appreciate its scale. It was commissioned by Gaius Julius Aquila to honour his father, Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus who had been governor of Asia. Construction began in 117 CE and continued to 135 CE.

Celsus Library Ephesus


Temple of Hadrian

Pediment Temple of Hadrian

The Temple of Hadrian is largely intact and is a beautiful structure dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian who visited the site in 128 CE. It is possible to step over the porch and into the main chamber of the temple but what really caught my eye was the level of detail in the lintels and pediments.

Temple of Hadrian

Ephesus Theatre

Ephesus Theatre

Standing at the height of the Ephesus Theatre, peering down at the crowds below, I felt unable to comprehend the enormity of this structure. How did they build it without the benefit of cranes and machinery and how did they design a venue with such perfect acoustics that it is used as a concert venue almost 2,000 years later? People have flown in to Turkey from all over the world to watch artists like Elton John and Pavarotti perform here at Ephesus.  

Stands of Ephesus Theatre

The theatre was first built in the third century BCE but expanded to a capacity of 25,000 seats in Roman times.

Trajan Fountain

Trajan Fountain

It was the clean lines and geometric structure of the Trajan Fountain that appealed to me the most. Built between 102 CE and 104 CE, the temple once stood at over twelve meters high but its elegant Corinthian columns succumbed to the demands of time. The fountain was dedicated to the Emperor Trajan.

Temple of Domitian

Temple of Domitian

Before travelling to Turkey, we knew little about ancient Roman culture and propriety. On our trip, we learned about neocorates and the cults and temples dedicated to the Imperial families of Rome. Essentially, communities were granted permission to worship their conquerors and Ephesus was the first city to receive this honour when the Emperor Domitian granted it temple wardenship in around 89 CE. Very little remains of this temple which once extended for 100 metres along the terrace but the foundations show that it was a massive structure.


We visited Ephesus on a hot early summer’s day and the experience has always remained with me. It always amazes me how much we can deduce about ancient culture through archaeology and history yet how much is lost to us forever.

Have you visited any of the ancient wonders of the world? Where should I visit next?

Must See: Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Adam Sopp and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins

I've loved The Kinks for as long as I can remember, possibly all my life. They remind me of road trips with my Dad, singing along to “Sunny Afternoon” at the top of our lungs and serenading each other with “Days”. For the record, my Dad has a much better singing voice than I do but those are indeed days I’ll remember all my life.

The Kinks were there when I finished school, late nights at Bella Napoli in Johannesburg when revellers would flood the floor to dance to “Lola” and “You Really Got Me”.

I’m such a fan that when I was invited to see the new West End production of Sunny Afternoon, I said yes straight away without even checking to see if I was free that night. Nothing was going to keep me away.

Sunny Afternoon is as authentic as it gets and Ray Davies, lead singer of The Kinks, wrote the story in collaboration with playwright Joe Penhall. We learn how those first chords to “You Really Got Me” became one of the biggest chart anthems of all time and the influences behind Ray Davies' inspired lyrics. Through the music we learn how they were exploited by British music industry executives, how unions in America almost brought them down and how they made a legendary comeback in the summer of 1966.

The show is jam-packed with hits from The Kinks and features all of those mentioned so far as well as “Waterloo Sunset”, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”, “I'm Not Like Everybody Else” and many more. Sunny Afternoon is obviously a must-see for fans of The Kinks but seeing the entire audience on their feet dancing by the end of the show made me realise this is a show for everyone.

John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

John Dagleish is superb as the brooding and intense Ray Davies, lyrical genius and lead singer of the band. Dagleish managed to capture the boyish pitch of Ray's voice in his vocals and his performance was mesmerising, especially in his portrayal of Ray’s descent into depression.

George Maguire provided hilarious comic relief as Ray’s manic and irreverent younger brother Dave “The Rave” Davies. Just seventeen when “You Really Got me” was recorded, Dave went on to be voted one of Rolling Stone magazines 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time. Adam Sopp played drummer Mick Avory and Ned Derrington played the insecure bassist Pete Quaife who quite wrongly thought the band could survive without him.

I have long believed that I was born in the wrong era and have always loved 60s fashion so I especially appreciated the set design and costumes in Sunny Afternoon.  If you’re a fan of 60s music and fashion, especially of the British Invasion, then you’re going to love this show.

George Maguire, Ned Derrington, Dominic Tighe, Tam Williams and Adam Sopp in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Would I recommend Sunny Afternoon? Of course I would. It is really that good and I’d quite like to go see it again. Luckily they’ve extended bookings to May 2015 so I might just get a chance to do so. 

Sunny Afternoon
Harold Pinter Theatre,
Panton Street,
London SW1Y 4DN

Book online

I received a pair of complimentary tickets to this performance which just about made me the happiest blogger of all time. As is always the case, I promise to share sincere and honest opinions with my readers.

All photography © Kevin Cummins