Ministry of Transport, Mill Hill and Borehamwood

It’s that annual occasion that every UK Motorist dreads – the day when the car has to go for its MOT test. The idea behind the test is simple – detect faults so that they can be rectified and thus enhance road safety. What this invariably means for the motorist is an annual repair bill. My car was due in for its test on Tuesday so I booked it in with my maintenance people and dropped it off at their Mill Hill workshop. I usually drop it at the Finchley branch but I’d decided to take the day off and use the opportunity to do some transport photography around Mill Hill and Borehamwood. It proved to be a glorious autumn day and my decision was full justified.

Lets look at some shots from Borehamwood first…

Elstree & Borehamwood Station

Passengers from my train climb the footbridge steps at Elstree & Borehamwood station as a fast services passes through.


Lots of Commuters cycle to the station and leave their bikes there for the day. It looks like one of them has taken their child to work too 🙂

Metroline TE828

Borehamwood is right on the outer limit of Transport for London’s area and there are only two bus services on which the Oyster card is valid – the 292 and the 107. Here, Metroline TE828 makes its way along the High Street past one of many banners celebrating the work of Elstree Studios – in this case, Star Wars.

East of England Ambulance 611

Further proof that we are beyond the fringe of London’s urban sprawl – Here, the ambulances belong to the East of England Ambulance Service.


The nature of the bridges at Elstree & Borehamwood station makes photography of southbound trains the only realistic option. Here a service from Nottingham speeds through on route to St.Pancras. Most of the East Midlands trains services on the line are formed of these 4 / 5 car ‘Meridian’ units, often working in pairs.

Sullivan DP96

Borehamwood is very much Sullivan Buses territory. Most of their vehicles are painted in red as the company operates some Transport for London routes and regularly undertakes rail replacement services for London Underground. Here is one of their Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart’s crossing over the railway with the 306 Borehamwood to Watford service – Looking every bit like a London bus, this is not a TfL route so Oyster Card not valid.


First Capital Connect operate a fast service from Bedford to Brighton via the City of London. These services are operated by Class 377 units as shown in this photograph – This is the 10:40 service and will arrive in Brighton at 12:55.


Local stopping services on the Midland mainline are operated using Class 319 units in a variety of liveries – here is 319364 advertising Thameslink services with a green and white Southern unit behind.

Uno WS54

Uno (University Bus) operate the 615 route from Hatfield to Stanmore. Originally the service was provided using 12 metre Mercedes-Benz Citaro vehicles but now there are 4 of these brand new Wright Streetlite vehcles operating the route – presumably the passenger loading didn’t justify the larger vehicles. The ‘Pink’ branding is normally used for St. Albans local routes so presumably these vehicles can also fill in on those duties alongside Uno’s Optare Solo’s.


The Midland mainline has always carried its fair share of freight to and from London. In the past it was one of the main routes delivering coal to the capital from the east midlands coalfields. Nowadays, the most common commodity is aggregates for the construction industry. Here Class 66, 66613 of the Freightliner fleet heads north with a train of empty aggregates hoppers. The climb through Elstree and the tunnels under Scratchwood, is deceptively steep – hence the grey clag above the train. Built by EMD in London, Ontario, Canada, there are now over 400 of these loco’s working in the UK and they are also finding buyers in Europe.

And now some shots from Mill Hill…

Corbel YN54NYC

Morning in Mill Hill and a Corbel coach heads to its next duty after performing a school run. A number of London coach operators make their businesses viable by taking on schools contract work. Corbel’s Pink and Black livery is unmistakeable 😉

Arriva the Shires3706

An Arriva The Shires Wright Cadet bodied DAF on the 303 route collects passengers at Mill Hill Broadway station before setting off on its journey to Edgware. Compared with Boreham wood above, all bus services in Mill Hill are operated for TfL.

Mill Hill Broadway

Mill Hill Broadway bus station has an overall roof provided by the M1 Motorway which passes through the area on stilts alongside the pre-existing Midland mainline railway. Another example of vehicles working the 303 – This Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart is 14 years old which is ancient in London bus terms nowadays. Behind are vehicles on the 302 and 114 routes.

Mill Hill Broadway

Mill Hill Broadway is the main shopping street in the area – it is sandwiched between the railway and M1 motorway at one end and the A1 Barnet Bypass at the other.

LAS 7755

A London Ambulance Service vehicle negotiates heavy traffic on Mill Hill Circus (on the Barnet Bypass) at the eastern end of Mill Hill Broadway on an emergency call. It was a busy afternoon for the ambulance crews – 4 different vehicles on emergency runs passed through this roundabout in around 30 minutes 😦

London Sovereign DE57

Cross over the A1 and to the East you enter an area of genteel housing estates, posh schools and open fields. DE57 (an ADL Enviro 200 vehicle) of London Sovereign descends Lawrence Street towards Mill Hill Circus past St. Josephs Missionary College on the 251 route. The college is no longer a missionary school and is currently up for sale.

Three Hammers

A walk up Hammers Lane brings you to the Three Hammers pub which stands on a triangular green beside The Ridgway in Mill Hill Village. The climb is steep and the 240 bus grinds its way to the top or, in this case, tests its brakes on the way down. Metroline VPL200, a Plaxton bodied Volvo, picks up a solitary passenger in a typical suburban London bus scene.

Now wasn’t that much more pleasant than going back to work and worrying about the MOT all day? Ahh – That’s better as Nancy would say…



  1. Thoroughly enjoyable tour, and the weather is good, and did your car pass ok..? nice share as always..;)

    • Thanks Gerry – The car passed but there were some advisories for suspension bushes and a track-rod so I opted for having the work done. After all, it will only cost more if I wait until next year 😉

  2. That bike shot is an absolute stunner Martin and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour through your day. Your wonderful photos are so evocative of time and place even if I do struggle to remember the Wimbledon/Earslfield transport lines in such picturesque settings!

    • Thanks Patti – into sun with the colours naturally muted anyway, making it a contrasty B & W was a no-brainer 😉

      I feel that the routes out of London to the north travel through open countryside sooner than those to the south of the Thames, so I have the same impression as you. On the Midland mainline of my photos it’s Scratchwood, just a couple of minutes out of Mill Hill Broadway station, that seems to mark the boundary between suburban and farmland.

  3. Love your transport photography Finch!

  4. More excellent Transport photos for us to enjoy Martin. Boy those double deckers only just make it under that roof with not much room to spare. Too bad Michelle didn’t get on one of those pink & purple busses while she was there those are her 2 favourite colours.

    • Thanks Tony – one of these days someone’s going to resurface the road overnight and there’ll be a loud bang as the first bus of the day arrives 😉

      Next time Michelle comes to England I recommend a visit to St. Albans – Beautiful Abbey, Roman ruins, good market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and lots of Pink and Purple buses 🙂

      ps – sorry to hear that Dixie and Angus didn’t get along.

  5. When you take the day off . . . it’s rather a “busman’s holiday.” Isn’t it? 😉's_holiday

    Glad you enjoyed . . . loved your end quote. 😀

  6. I love the pink bus! You used your time well! Do you have to have the MOT test every year? We are required to have our cars “Smog tested” every couple of years, but not yearly. The only thing that’s monitored is emission levels that indicate whether or not the car is running efficiently. Most of the time unless a car is quite old, they pass. Sounds to me like you experience something more rigorous! But you have wonderful modes of public transportation. That’s sorely insufficient in Southern California, and with gas (petrol) prices skyrocketing…we are having a rough time of it! I always enjoy some photos from around the Finchley! Debra

    • Hi Debra – The MOT test takes place every year after the vehicle is three years old. It was originally designed to test a vehicle’s roadworthiness as there were many poorly maintained vehicles on the road and that was contributing to the number of accidents. Subesequently it has evolved to include an emissions test and a check of items such as seat belts.

      Public transport in the UK and Europe in general is good although it can be very limited once you get away from the towns and cities. Even in town some bus services don’t operate all day – the 399 between Hadley Wood and Barnet comes to mind (5 runs each way between 10:00 and 14:00). one of my elderly work colleagues lives out in Norfolk. There used to be a bus service in the villages operated using volunteer drivers from the community. It did one run a day during the week – I recall that the thursday run went to Fakenham because that is market day. It has been replaced by a Dial-a-Ride service. I’ll post a couple of images for you 🙂

      Fuel prices… Don’t mention fuel prices… If you saw how much we get fleeced for a liter of gas over here you’d weep!

      Glad you enjoyed the photos 🙂

  7. The state of Missouri requires safety & emissions testing, too… so I feel your anxiety, Martin! I also saw you mention you were having a few repairs done (I hope they won’t be too costly… hopefully just an arm rather than an arm AND a leg)!
    Beautiful photographs, too of course! Looks like brilliant way to spend the day (a great way to get your mind off those repair bills)!

    • That sounds very much like the testing system we have here Bob… It cost 2 suspension arms and a tie rod but I can notice that the steering is tighter than it had become so it was worth the cost 🙂 Thanks for the compliment Bob – I was lucky that it was a glorious autumn day 🙂

  8. A lovely post, Martin!
    You and Patti Kuche are my two favorite urban street photographers. Patti’s dramatic personae are the lively variety of New Yorkers; yours however are vehicles in action! Buses and trains with an extraordinary variety (endowed by you and your comments) — that also add up to fascinating street journalism.
    You certainly occupied your time out productively!!!!

    • Thank you Judith – I love Patti’s work 🙂 I do some people photography myself but London is a bit less amenable in that way than New York – it’s a fact of life that British People are reticent in front of the camera.

      I try to occupy my time productively 😉 Photos from Cornwall to follow now that I’m back on line…

  9. Barry Connor says:

    Loved your Millhill photos.Lived there in the 7 0s and used to get the 251 bus to work in
    Edgeware hospital.

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