Green Line memories and more

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Mark Chadwick with Southcoast Motor Services’ new to Southdown 1961 Harrington-bodied Leyland Leopard. MARK CHADWICK

Nick Larkin speaks to a long-serving coach industry figure, whose memories of the past were rekindled by a recent Industry Heritage feature

The piece in CBW1463’s Industry Heritage on the two former Green Line London Country Plaxton-bodied coaches B288 KPF and C201 PPE (fleet number STL 1, and currently carrying the registration RIL 9469) prompted former London Country South West Coaching Manager Mark Chadwick to get in touch.

Mark is celebrating 50 years in the PSV industry this year, and shared some other memories of his long career. “I think I must have been born on a bus as I’ve always loved them,” he said.
Living in Redhill, Surrey, he on one line regularly to school in Oxted on the then-AEC RLH-operated 410 service from Reigate to Bromley North Station.

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Mark joined Portsmouth Corporation Transport in 1971 as a seasonal conductor, having family in the area. “It was certainly a traditional municipal operator – buttons on uniforms had ‘Portsmouth Corporation Tramways’ on them,” he recalled.

He then joined Southdown becoming a general traffic assistant in the coaching office, coaching being very much part of his future career. Mark later went on to join National Travel South East as Private Hire Officer, before working for National Travel London, his work having included organising 80 open-top buses for Derby Day. He also drove for Southdown on a part-time basis.

Mark also worked for NBC’s London Crusader – essentially a coach brokerage operation finding work for vehicles standing around in London during the day. In 1987 he became Coaching Officer for London Country Bus (South West), then still under NBC control, and later Coaching Manager for Countryliner Coach Hire, formed after LCSW could no longer use the Green Line name.

“B288 KPF, bonnet number TPL88 was one of our vehicles at Countryliner, which I will certainly have driven as it was part of our second division fleet used on school runs etc. The TPLs were longer than TPs, hence the L. They were not so good to drive as they felt less agile than their shorter cousins,” Mark recalled. “We also had TP74 which was a lovely coach and very popular with the drivers as it was a flier!”

He added: “The other coach, STL 1, is perhaps of more interest as it was the star of the fleet at one time and appeared in films and TV whenever someone wanted a Green Line for filming purposes. It was always kept in particularly good order. At one stage in its life, it was painted in the early Countryliner livery so was one of my fleet when I was based at Guildford, but it didn’t transfer over with us when Countryliner merged with Blue Saloon Coaches at Slyfield and I lost track of it until recently when I saw that it was preserved.”

Countryliner was sold by what was then Arriva Guildford & West Surrey in 1998, taking over the bus operation of RDH, the Hickstead operations of Compass Travel and later C&S of Heathfield.
At one point it held 140 O-discs but Countryliner ceased trading in 2013. Mark still drives part-time today for Southcoast Motor Services and is a keen supporter of preservation, having many years ago been part of a consortium that bought 1956 Park Royal-bodied Southdown Guy Arab, PUF 647, from Confidence of Leicester for preservation.

He concluded: “It’s good to see some coaches being preserved. So many buses survive but coaches tend not to. I guess being an ex-Green Line gives a vehicle a slightly higher preservation profile than if it came from a small operator.”