As part of the grieving process (!), I thought I'd look back on my own adventures with Chase down the years. By my own admission, its always been bus routes that I've been interested in rather than the vehicles themselves, but I must confess to having a soft spot for the Leyland National. A ride on a Chase National was always that little bit extra special, a step back in time almost - well built, hardworking vehicles that have been looked after properly for years, buses with character. They made a great antidote to the plague of Darts and Tridents that seem to populate the area more and more. The Nationals haven't disappeared completely yet - Arriva have retained some for the changeover period - but you do wonder just how much longer they'll be a part of the local bus scene.
A few thoughts on Chase routes...
- The 326 featured during some of my early photo trips, looking around Bloxwich, New Invention and Willenhall, and taking photos at Bloxwich Park Road or outside Willenhall Police Station.
- The 362 came in very handy for trips to Brownhills, riding through Pelsall on one of the Nationals and then taking photos of Catshill Junction - it was good to be back on the route when I visited Clayhanger a couple of months ago.
- That Clayhanger outing was my last proper Chase outing, save for Saturday's farewell, and it also saw me experience the 67 with a quick ride from Walsall to Aldridge. It would have been interesting to do the full route to Brownhills.
- The 364 was another Chase favourite, going up through Beechdale, Short Heath and Poets Corner, although I never did manage to get a photo of the route at Coppice Farm.
- The 560 was the main Chase foothold in Wolverhampton, and a route where the company competed with Travel West Midlands. I would use the route if I was covering at Wednesfield Library, and would always try and get a ride on a National if I could.
Some nice memories there, but perhaps the Chase memory I'll cherish most in future is our final ride on Saturday, when we caught the 381 from Lichfield to Walsall. A rural ride through Wall, Shenstone and Stonnall, the journey had a timeless quality that just seemed to epitomise Chase in general - it was great. Put simply, a sunny Saturday afternoon on a Leyland National grunting its way through the Staffordshire countryside - a most fitting way to say goodbye...