Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Service Provided by a Scouse Partnership (1)

Scouse is a type of lamb or beef stew. The word comes from lobscouse, a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout northern Europe, which became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.

The Oxford Companion to Food says that lobscouse "almost certainly has its origins in the Baltic ports, especially those of Germany". Similar dishes are traditional in countries around the North Sea, such as Norway (lapskaus), Sweden (lapskojs), Denmark (skipperlabskovs), and northern Germany (Labskaus).

Unhelpfully, the equally Oxford English Dictionary avers that the origins of the word are "obscure". Either way "scouse" has become a non PC word for a Liverpudlian and remains entirely acceptable as a word for the City's scrummy stoo!

When Liverpool hit the Covid headlines a few days ago with additional restrictions etc. etc., fbb remembered that the city's buses were involved some sort of Partnership.

Followers of this blog will know -  (because fbb has yabbled on about its ineffectiveness and stupidity - yawn yawn) that the Sheffield Bus Partnership is condemned, not just by your elderly scribe, but by the Sheffield City Mayor, Dan Jarvis, no less.
He has also said, officially, that the South Yorkshire PTE is "not fit for purpose". In fbb's eyes, therefore, bus partnerships don't have a very good image.
Their purpose is not always positive ...
... and certainly, in Sheffield, the whole idea was to reduce competition by reducing services - all sold (ineffectively) to the public as "improvements".

The Sheffield partnership is very dead; so how are things in Merseyside? .

The partnership is between Arriva and Stagecoach ...
... brokered by yet another collection of logos!
The Metro Mayor is Steve Rotherham ...
... who writes of himself thus:-

In 2010, Steve was elected as the Member of Parliament for the Liverpool Walton constituency. During his time in Westminster he led campaigns for justice for the Hillsborough families; in support of blacklisted workers; for compensation for those suffering from mesothelioma and asbestosis; and to change the law on the use of old tyres on buses and coaches.

From 2015, Steve served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, before successfully seeking the nomination to be Labour’s candidate for Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

In May 2017, Steve was elected with 59% of the vote and has overseen almost a billion pounds of investment, as well as delivering half-price bus travel for apprentices and implementing the pioneering Households into Work programme.

So we should not be surprised to discover that his political heart does not beat cosily with that of the present government!

Time and time again, Westminster has found itself unable – or unwilling – to find solutions to the problems facing ordinary people’s lives. It is why I am convinced more than ever that the solutions to the biggest challenges faced by our society can be met through devolution.

His half price inbus travel scheme was very successful in that it broke the bank and the operating heart of a number of smaller bus companies. So, apart from logos ...
... what do the good folk of Liverpool get for their omnibological togetherness.

Here is what Mersetravel (the PTE) has to say.

 Some services on the bus network are part of a Quality Partnership between Merseytravel, the bus operators and the local councils. On these “Quality Bus Network” services, bus operators coordinate timetables to deliver a frequent turn-up and-go service. It also doesn’t matter which operator’s ticket you have, you can use it on any bus on the route. 

The PTE's colours are yellow and black. But we learn, perhaps (???), from the above that the "Partnership" has been created service by service, rather than network-wide. We may also guess that those services were originally at the forefront of competition between Stagecoach and Arriva.

Merseyside PTE was formed in 1969 by the merger of Liverpool ...
... Birkenhead ...
... and Wallasey Corporation Transport departments.
Two more joined the club in 1974, viz ... Southport Corp ...
... ditto St Helens.
Mereyside PTE ...
... was privatised as Merseyside Transport Limited (MTL) ...
... which went bust and was sold on to Arriva in 2000. You might well ask where Stagecoach came from. Stagecoach "got" Ribble which assaulted feebly from the north but later bought out Arriva's Gilmoss depot and Glenvale Transport.
This sale of Gilmoss depot, a condition of the privatisation diktat, was protracted and fraught, but, eventually, it brought Stagecoach into competition with Arriva.

Tomorrow, fbb will look at the list of "Partnership" services.

Raconteur Reveals Riddle of Wrenn (5)
The suggestion that fbb's Wrenn tank wagon was a Triang body on an ex-Hornby Dublo chassis does not hold water, as the body would have been far too short. The UD version (above) was made from 1955 to 1975 and the upgraded version (with strapping) from 1975 to 1982 and the fully strapped version well into the 1990s.

But, it does appear that the Wrenn tank has a Hornby Dublo chassis. The original, with solid brake gear, ran from 1938 to 1965-ish.
Some wagons (possibly not tank wagons - this one is a "marriage") ...
... were sold with open brake gear, still crude as the brake blocks were not in line with the wheels! This new chassis was slightly longer (by about 3mm - fbb has measured it!) than the original and ... tada ...
... exactly matches that of the Wrenn wagon; but the latter has Triang couplings not the traditional Hornby Dublo style designed by Peco! Both chassis are in cast metal.

And, if you need more convincing, look at the axleboxes. Old Hornby Dublo ...
... new Hornby Dublo ...
... and Wrenn.
So we have the ancestry of the chassis, which fits the general transfer of Hornby Dublo production and sales to Wrenn. But as for the body ...

More tomorrow.
Personal Note
The fbbs are, today, attending the funeral of Helen Fearnley
(Giles' mum). Depending on how the day pans out, it may
be necessary to post a shorter blog tomorrow.

 Next Mersey partnership blog : Wednesday 21st October 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Monday Variety

 More Parts From The Part-Work

Encouragingly, an email arrived yesterday lunchtime from a blog reader.


I do remember with great affection collecting and placing into binders these partworks, if I'm correct (I'm also of the fading memory age group) History of Railways ran to two volumes with Great Trains only being one volume, I do however have a clear memory of them being weekly rather than monthly publications.

Your blog is my first read of every day and has yet to disappoint, well done and keep up the good work.


Sir? A bit of respect AT LAST! Erm, actually not; the email address used was fbb@xephos.com and our correspondent preferred something more "polite".

fbb's second look at the book concerns technology. On of the privileges of being ancient is to be able to remember how much electronic stuff has developed over night on half a century. we oldies grew up with the Edmondson ticket, dated in a clunker and removed from a rack. It was a world-wide system ...
... this rack was from Paraguay! But the part-work editors enthused over ticket machines for the Paris RER ...
... an "electronic" booking office in Japan ...
... and the new ticket office at London Euston.
It was now called, we are told with a breath of wide eyed wonder, a "Travel Centre"! Even the humble suburban ticket gets a mention; as it can now be ... wait for it ...
... printed by a machine!

It cost £1.48, was type A (Ord. Single) for a journey to 83 (Guildford) and from 39 (unknown) and from memory it issued forth from something that looked like a supermarket cash till.

fbb wonders what the editors would make of the substantial bundle of "tangerine stripe" tickets issued at Axminster for a Super Saver to Sheffield!

The technology of the trains is duly recorded with the first French TGV heralded as the start of a travel revolutions as it was powered by gas turbine engines.
Likewise the first APT in the UK was turbine powered.
Probably the escalation of prices brought about by the oil-rich nations persuaded the authorities that electricity was the power of the future. Here in the UK we still haven't quite grasped the need to electrify the majority of our nations rail arteries. 

But we may well get there - but likely not in fbb's somewhat limited remaining lifetime!

Of course, far more successful was our HST and a part of the work pictures the prototype under construction.
The PEP, although an ugly brute, was the precursor of today's sliding door EMU ...
... although the design has improved.
Or has it?

We are also introduced to the Road Railer ...
... the technological answer to the wagon-load freight business being lost to road transport. Peco joined in the euphoria for the "transport of the future" ...
... and was selling (trying to sell) the model kits years and years after there real thing was dispatched to the scrapyard. The railways had lost the wagon-load business and all efforts to keep it or regain it were, ultimately, a failure.

But back to smaller technology; the arrival of - pause for breath - computers! There are a couple of pictures thereof ...
... and the output - a computerised ...
... reservations system - in Sweden.

But there was more, this time from London's Undergound. Here the station supervisor at Holborn is overseeing his empire using ...
... television! Who would have thought it?

One of the most emotive pictures in this ancient part work illustrates the feeling of many as steam power was declining (had declined in the UK) world wide.
Readers "of a certain age" are allowed to shed a sympathetic tear. But fbb must add a more realistic thought - namely that steam was inefficient, smelly and, compared with today's trains, slow!

But it had CHARACTER!

St Pancras Surprise
Over the weekend, kings Cross Station was closed to allow for the next stage of re-opening a previously disused bore of Gasworks Tunnel etc. and a whole lot more.
Showing splendid entrepreneurial skmill and amazing concern for their customers, Hull Trains ran their service into St Pancras.
Well done all concerned.

New (Well, Different) Technology
If only!

Remember Nelson?
It is 215 years since his death.

Despite popular myth, he never wore an eye patch, but he had lost the sight of one eye - hence the other myth of his placing a telescope to the dud eye and saying "I see no ships". But, The Lord's disability ...
... is remembered in the nickname of the 4COR train sets that ran between Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour; appropriate as his flagship sits just across "The Hard" from the station. They were called "Nelsons" because they only had one eye.
Where you might expect two windows at the front there was only one - the second aperture  being filled with the route code panel. A twittered posted a photograph of a Portsmouth train at Guildford which reminded fbb ...
... of happy times attending and later helping with leadership and even later leading summer holidays at Westbrook on the Isle of Wight.

Church Mask-Erade
The "band" was back this week - singing live. They wore visors but for what purpose is unclear. If the idea was to contain possible viruses, it would fail as the singers' breath would have to go somewhere; and that somewhere is out and into the congregation!

Likewise they had to breathe in; breath from amongst the congregation.

Protection? Or Political fear-mongering?

Raconteur Reveals Riddle of Wrenn (4)
So; if fbb's Wrenn tank wagon was not a Hornby Dublo model re-badged by Wrenn, where did it come from?

fbb asked a very nice man who was in charge of the Wrenn Railways Collectors Club.
"I think you will find," he wrote, "that the tank wagon was a Triang body fitted on a Hornby Dublo chassis."

fbb is not so sure.

Triang's first model tank engine was not overly realistic. It might have been intended to represent something like this ...
... a short wheelbase chassis with wooden bars to support a "loose" tank held front to back by metal bracing rods and tied down to the chassis with tensioned metal non-bungee riopes. It was considered too risky to fix the tank down with bolts or welds - the inflammable stuff might escape and inflammable stuff does not go too well with spark and cinder belching steam engines!

The only way in was from the top! So here is the Triang effort.
The couplings were improved (slightly) ...
... but strapping was there none. A United Dairies milk tanker appeared ...

... which was blessed with some rudimentary plastic diagonals. Of course milk takers were six wheel not four. Then came a vast detail improvement with end strapping and plastic ropes over the top.
The plastic ropes often broke and were almost unrepairable.

But the basic body shell remained the same, dating from the mid 50s until well past the merger with Hornby and dealings with Wrenn.

Could you fit one of these bodies on a Hornby chassis and end up with fbb's Wrenn style of tank wagon?
More to follow in due course.

 Next as yet unplanned blog : Tuesday 20th Oct