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Monday, 22 April 2013

3 Years, 300 Posts, Half a million hits!...What Else?

Monday the 15th of April 2013 myself, Jack and Rohan celebrate the third anniversary of the Circle of London Blog. In that time we have met a lot interesting people and have had the privilege of meeting many people from the industry who have helped us on this incredible journey. However it wasn't always like this...

Although the blog officially opened on April 15th 2010, the plan for the blog back then, is not what has been manifested so far...in fact it's a million miles off! I was finishing off my least year in high school when it was announced that Metroline would be gaining some Wright Gemini 2 Buses, in excitement I rushed down to Brentford Garage to obtain a picture of it. Here it is below. As a self confessed Metroline fan I decided to write up a whole article on the thing...which can be seen here


Since gaining my oyster card, I felt a new found sense of freedom and that along with a new 10 mega-pixel camera was always going to spell trouble! I felt somewhat like a freelance photographer and thought I would document any from any of my travels even if it meant taking pictures of the local supermarket...No not really, I'm not that sad!

That evidently did not go according to plan as my love for buses naturally took over although I did and rather in vain try to take pictures of trains but i didn't quite work out. So literally every other week I was at a different bus garages trying to obtain information or pictures for that matter. If my memory serves me correct, the first garage I did was London United's Park Royal Garage on the 15th of April 2010. The original post can be accessed by click here


As you can see the site has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and after the mediocre feedback from the visits, I gained inspiration to do more as I had discovered a new taste for journalism .if only I was this passionate about writing when completing my English coursework in school!

The following week I made my way down to Metroline's CELF Centre as I always heard of it but never had the chance to go, but with my ticket to the World, I most certainly was not going to miss out on this opportunity. As expected the visit provided me with some wonderful photography and I soon became a regular visitor to the Centre  so much so that the staff still know my name till this day. This of course was something that had not been documented in such a manner and this was what gave the blog its unique viewing point. By the forth time I had visited the facility, it had attracted much interest from enthusiasts and surprisingly employees of the company. Most of the CELF Centre posts can be seen here


It had finally made me feel as if my efforts were being appreciated...but of course, you cannot please everyone as I slowly started to realize. Spamming became a regular thing and it really put me off for a while as I failed to understand why people would go through the effort to do this.

Nevertheless after some tough words from a few established members of an online community I am a part of, it made me realize, quitting something because it may not be going according to plan is never an option, so I continued. After I had established the Metroline CELF Centre post series, I had a little think on what would I could use as an incentive to make people want to visit the site...Then it hit me. New Buses! People always want to see pictures of new buses prior to them entering service. So I started visiting garages when I heard a new vehicle had been delivered in order to obtain the first pictures of them. The picture below demonstrates this.


Visiting garages soon became the norm for the blog and it became known that this was the site to gain pictures of garages. I then started receiving lots of emails from far and wide curious about how I managed to get into so many garages. To be totally honest, I tried the emailing tactic once or twice and companies never seemed to get back, so I instead decided to take a more hands on approach and visit my desired garage myself and 90% of the time I was successful but I dare you try that now. Before I carry on, let me just clarify that I was in possession of  all the necessary clothing.

By the summer of 2010 I met one of my now best mates Rohan and the site had received well in excess of 50,000 hits and things were finally starting to look up for the blog, so one hot day in June I decided to take an ambitious trip to ADL's Centre in Harlow. Coincidentally this was the first time I met Jack, who I ended up becoming very good friends with and is also the other author on the blog.

As stated above, I wasn't one to really email or contact garages prior to visiting, so taking the trip up to Harlow was a very risky one and one in which I literally couldn't afford to come back without something interesting on my camera.

Arriving at Harlow Town Station I was in complete dismay as to how to navigate this weird town, which is slightly odd for a person of my geographic knowledge, I even recall being called a 'tom tom' by my aunt so this was very unpleasant especially with the sun bearing down on my back. Nevertheless about two hours after arriving at the Station I arrived at the location which is partly due to me walking the other way across town.

To my surprise my charm seemed to work and I was allowed on site to take pictures of the site on what I call is my best ever visit. The original post can be seen by clicking here. I liked the visit so much so that a week later I decided to come back with Rohan and that post can be seen by clicking here.


Towards the end of 2010 following the success of my trip to ADL's factory, I thought I'd try my luck at Volvo's factory in Enfield and without sounding very cliched it worked again. Which left me questioning when my luck would eventually run out. Our bus manufacturer visits can be seen here


2010 ended in me visiting roughly 20 garages in total and I had gained quite a rep for visiting garages... and towards the end of 2010 I released a dedicated post to some of my favourite vehicles *drumroll* the Metroline TAs. The post can be viewed here


By the start of 2011, we were nearing the 100,000 hits mark and big things were predicted for the blog, so I thought I'd mix it up a little bit by starting up the Hants & Dorset Trim section with photos supplied from my good friend Eddie, who goes by the name of EHBusman1958 on flickr. The aim of this new section was to provide pictures of the many London Buses that were undergoing refurbishment at the time. The section can be viewed here


However the garage visits were still going strong and if I remember correctly one week in January 2011, I ended up visiting Metroline's Cricklewood Garage, GAL's Camberwell Garage and Abellio's Walworth Garage.

By February 2011 there was news of some Stagecoach E400s being delivered to Plumstead Garage for the Route 53. Generally speaking I don't particularly like the E400 for my own personal reasons, however as they were the first new buses that Stagecoach had ordered post re-entering the London market, I decided to take the tedious three hour journey down south.




The post can be seen by clicking here. Interestingly I met some very nice stagecoach personnel who showed me around the new buses. Nothing special about them to be honest but it was nice of them to do so. The post can be seen here

During the summer 2011, myself and Jack met up with industry legend Ian Rivett, who is a renown photographer, I think its fair to say I tried to follow in his footsteps, I remember his old fotopic account was brimmed with pictures of new buses at depots and garages, something which I have tried to emulate on this particular site.  After having a nice chat for over an hour, myself and Jack were on our way to Stamford Brook Garage to gain the first pictures of the London United Citaros...again living up to the aim of the blog. The post can be seen here


The summer of that year remained an interesting one, with both me and Jack pairing up and delivering posts every other day. However I still wanted more...I felt that there were more features to add to the blog. Then it hit me, I wanted to make the blog interactive so that viewers on the blog can talk to one another instead of posting comments and waiting days for a reply. I started looking around on the net for interactive website features and came across a chatbox. The new chatbox was implemented into the site on in mid august and through this I met Rhys Daniel of the All Over London Bus Blog.

Throughout the rest of 2011 we still sought to gain pictures of new buses before they entered service and I was particularly happy when I gained permission from a certain Mr Jamie Vendy to host pictures of the First Centrewest Scania Omnicitys which were part of a shock order for the 207.



Towards the end of 2011, Jack started introducing some of his famous full route videos onto the blog. The videos would be time lapsed so that they could show the whole of a double deck bus route in under 10 minutes. They were indeed a hit and I enjoyed watching them myself.

Towards the end of 2012, myself and Rhys visited Abellio's Battersea Garage, but this wasn't just an ordinary garage visit. I wanted to make it somewhat different to my other garage visits. I focused on getting more paranormal shots of the garage as opposed to just gaining individual shots of each bus, in order to give viewers a better feel of what each London garage actually looks like. The new and improved garage posts featured a some bullet points at the end of the write up, singling out key facts about the garage. The original Battersea post can be seen here


However just as things were looking up, I became a victim of a horrible attack which left me house bound for weeks and I became slightly depressed because of this. It made me realize that you cannot afford to take life for granted and that you have enjoy life as much as you can because bad things can occur unexpectedly at any time.

However my two closest mates, Jack and Rohan were always there to offer support and Jack ensured that the blog would not slack because of this.

But just as one door closes temporarily, another opens indefinitely, I managed to obtain pictures of a numerous amount of Abellio and First vehicles on delivery from a very kind Gentleman who goes by Steve Buckley. So that this post does not become increasingly boring, I won't put up a  picture of the said vehicles, so if you want to see them you are just going to have to search the blog.

2012 remained quite a slow year, due to many different circumstances, however the advantages of having team mates such as Jack and Rohan is that they will always support you no matter what. Although 500,000 hits is hardly a major milestone when you look at the more established sites such as Omnibuses.co.uk, its really joyful to see your site go from an unpopular site to one of the most known among enthusiasts.

I don't think that neither of us could have predicted what has become of the site so far, however we don't think we are in any sort of place to gratify the blog and we all agree that there is a huge degree of work to be done. We sincerely thank everyone who regularly tunes into the blog and cast their feedback and other countless names who have helped us along the way. I'd just like to take time out to credit everyone who have helped us and apologies for anyone who is not featured on this very long list of people.

  • Peter Horrex
  • Graham Smith
  • Brian Kemp
  • David McKay
  • Paul Mcclurkin
  • John Delaney 
  • Eddie (EHBusman1958)
  • Ian Rivett
  • Lee Thatcher
  • Rhys Daniel
  • Steve Buckley 
  • Kieth Nason
  • Paul B
So what does 2013 have in store? Well we've started a new section based on the goings on at Wrightbus' Factory in Northern Ireland which seems to be going down a treat, this could have only been achieved due to Paul McClurking supplying his photos for us to use.



As for the rest of 2013, well I'm guessing you are just going to have to wait and see. Cheers and here's for another year!

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