Vintage buses come to Charlton for Plumstead garage open day

The RT buses ran for 40 years from 1939 (Photo: Pete Edgler via Creative Commons)

Two vintage London Transport buses will run on route 53 through Charlton on Saturday as part of celebrations to mark Plumstead bus garage’s 40th anniversary.

An open day is being held at the garage from 11am to 4pm, and to mark the day two buses that used to run on the 53 will run from Elephant & Castle to Plumstead, passing through Charlton at just after 10am.

The first bus will be an AEC Regent – the predecessor of the more famous Routemaster, and the type used in the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday. This particular bus, the RT4779, last saw service in 1978, after which it was left to rot in a farmer’s field before being set on fire for the 2002 film Heart of Me. Enthusiasts restored the bus to its former glory and it will be seen plying its old route in Saturday.

Not Peckham (photo: Aubrey via Creative Commons)

Alongside it will be MD60 – not as iconic, but a bus which saw service on the 53 in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is only one of two surviving roadworthy Scania Metropolitans and has also been restored by an enthusiast.

The buses will depart Elephant & Castle at 9.30am, reach Blackheath Royal Standard at 10.01am and Charlton Park at 10.06am, although these times may slip somewhat. Later in the day, the RT will run a return trip on the 122 to Crystal Palace, leaving Plumstead at 4.10pm.

The open day will include old buses and other memorabilia, and will raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Tickets will be available on the day for £5 (£2.50 for children) and there will also be a shuttle bus linking the garage with Woolwich Arsenal station.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.


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Help us keep saved Angerstein Wharf crossing safe, Network Rail asks neighbours

Angerstein crossing
Gates have since been installed at the Angerstein crossing

Network Rail bosses have asked neighbours and passers-by to watch out for misuse and vandalism at the Angerstein Wharf railway crossing, which has been saved from closure this week.

The track company had threatened to close the historic footpath across the single-track freight branch line, which links streets around Fairthorn Road and Gurdon Road to Westcombe Park station, but reversed the decision on Wednesday after a campaign by local residents.

Safety issues were cited as the reason for closing the crossing, but Network Rail said that an independent review by its head of passenger safety, Allan Spence, found that safety measures in place were sufficient to make the Angerstein path an exception to its normal rules on crossings.

Network Rail now plans to straighten out rights-of-way issues at the crossing

Network Rail now plans to upgrade the footsteps to the crossing, installing a new surface on the crossing itself, and is considering installing CCTV to watch the area.

“I am counting on cooperation of people who use the crossing and would be grateful for misuse and vandalism – anything that takes place that is unsafe – is challenged and reported,” Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, told a Zoom call for neighbours of the crossing on Wednesday evening.

The crossing would remain open so long as there were no incidents which called its safety into question, Taylor said.

Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd, who also attended the meeting, backed Taylor’s call for help. “An interface between people in the railway isn’t what we would do today,” he said. “We don’t want to be here again should we find out that the crossing as been abused and it’s up for closure once again.”

Questions of rights of way around the land also needed to be sorted out with landowners and Greenwich Council, Taylor added.

The crossing was originally built for farm workers in the 1850s when the privately-built Angerstein Wharf line was built to link the new North Kent line to the Thames. It has grown in importance in recent years with the building of new housing on the former Thorn Lighting site off Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road, with 675 people recorded as using the crossing each day.

The meeting was told that rerouting the footpath under the railway line would cost £3 million, although these costs were challenged. Lloyd suggested that funding from developers could be used to help pay for any path under the line.


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Network Rail scraps plans to close Angerstein Wharf foot crossing

Angerstein crossing family
The crossing has been a local landmark since the 1850s

Charlton Champion exclusive: Plans to close Angerstein Wharf foot crossing have been cancelled by Network Rail, people who live close to the branch line will be told at a meeting this evening.

The historic crossing over a single-track freight line, one of the last of its kind left in London, connects residents in and near Fairthorn Road, Charlton, with Farmdale Road in east Greenwich and a footbridge over the A102 to Westcombe Park station.

Network Rail had initially planned to close the crossing in 2019 as part of a resignalling programme. But it faced a wave of opposition from local residents and Matt Pennycook, the local MP, and the track company backed away and announced a review of the proposal.

About 675 people use the crossing each day, and they would have been expected to reroute via Woolwich Road had the crossing been closed.

When the proposal was revived in May, Network Rail claimed that the crossing was the most dangerous in its Kent region. However, The Charlton Champion revealed two months later that this claim was false – and there were actually 33 other crossings that were more dangerous.

Network Rail amended its claim to state that the crossing was the most dangerous in south-east London – however, there are no other crossings like it in south-east London.

News that the closure has been cancelled emerged in an email from Matt Pennycook to those involved in the campaign to save the crossing.

“It would appear that, as a result of the collective pressure we exerted, an independent review was commissioned by Network Rail which concluded that there are sufficient grounds in this case to disapply the national algorithm that the organisation uses to determine safety risk at individual crossings,” Pennycook said.

“As such, Network Rail are content to treat Angerstein as an exception to their general policy vis-à-vis such crossing closures.”

The crossing, originally built for farm workers in the 1850s, has grown in importance in recent years with the development of new housing on the old Thorn Lighting site between Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road. The newer Bowen Drive development off Victoria Way, which welcomed its first residents last year, offers a direct link to Gurdon Road and the crossing.

Network Rail has been contacted for comment. It is due to hold a meeting with neighbours this evening to discuss the findings of its review.


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We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. And we’ll do the others better than anyone else. We can’t do it without your help.
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