Thursday, 28 May 2015

Not Rushing to Flushing [3]

Comprehensibility Lumbered
when Confusingly Numbered?
Back in the "good old days", the suffix letter A added to a route number meant that buses showing the "A" were very similar to the un-suffixed route but a minority of passengers may need to take careto get th correct bus for the "minor" diversion..

Our friendly 69 and 69A are very different once that have traversed the old hill, to the north of Falmouth town centre, and called at Penryn.
Indeed the web site "timetables" section shows an additional 69B which is (a) very different again, and ...
... (b) has minimal affinity with its "parental" schooldays variant by serving Penryn College; otherwise a totally different route! There is no sign of this beastie in the new timetable book pages.

The long lost principle that the route number should define the roads served and the destination name should indicate where along that route the bus will terminate is a lost cause in today's information not-so-super highway.

Thus it is that the 69 and 69A serve very different markets at their outer ends.

 Market 3 : Mylor Bridge & Flushing 

Geographically, Falmouth and St Mawes guard the entrance to Carrick Roads, a huge natural harbour. The Falmouth River is still navigable at high tides by smaller boats as far as Truro and the Roads is/are famous as a parking place for laid-up vessels.
But all these creeks and inlets make for a difficult area for bus routes; made more challenging commercially in recent years by the explosion in second homes and holiday lets. 40 years ago,
Western Nations served Mylor Bridge (right) and Carclew (top) in a big loop as routes 561 (clockwise) and 562 (anti-so).
Todays 69 also loops, but via Flushing, and with no indication by number as to which way round it goes.
In 1974, Carclew residents could, of course, go the "long way round" via Mylor Bridge, but thy needed to look at the bottom half of the timetable to seek their ultimate destination. Now they have to walk!** It is perhaps for this both-ways- roundreason that the current 69 journeys are shown as a "circular",spilling over to a second page and stretching the table and credibility!

Mylor Bridge is a pleasant village whose main street, Lemon Hill, leads down to yet another inlet ...
... whereas Flushing, once providing homes for wealthy sea-captains, is the larger settlement but with the bus at one extremity and the ferry to Falmouth at the other, linked by long narrow (and unserved by bus) waterside streets.
fbb is hoping that a comment writer will explain what buses ran to Flushing (if any?) in the 1970s; it was not a Western National destination. fbb's higgerance is disappointing.

 Market 4 : Penryn Local 

Service 69A runs to Mabe Burnthouse ...
... via ASDA.
Of course, it also links the Old Hill area of Falmouth with this exciting superstore (?).

Oddly, as you will see from the map extract, it duplicates service 2 and, less helpfully, leaves Falmouth at similar times, although return timings are better spaced.
It's exclusive market is serving the unnamed wiggle to the right of the above map. The wiggle is (or are?) Greenwood Road and Green Lane, newer housing "over the hill" at Penryn.
Falmouth University at Penryn (ancient settlement of Tremough) is in the Parish of Mabe but the origin of the name Mabe Burnthouse is "obscure".

From a "public service" point of view we have two routes (69 and 69A) which serve a mixture of four markets. But is it really necessary to present this information in such a user-unfriendly way?

Of course not. fbb will bravely (after his bog-up with the 56) offer an alternative in tomorrow's blog.

And, talking of First's 56, competition arrives from AtoB Newquay Travel ...
... hitherto operators of mainly school contracts, taxis and coaches.
Oh, look. A nice simple timetable with no shading, no notes and no seasonal variatons to bemuse Joe Public. Given a choice, fbb would plan to use the 171; less likely for the old man to get it wrong.


** For the pedantic, Carclew (blink and you will miss it) is served by the Monday to Friday shoppers bus (route 66) between St Gluvias and Truro.
Carclew House, one of Britain's lost houses, was a large Palladian county house near Mylor Bridge in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The House was rebuilt in the 18th century and again in the early 19th century but was destroyed by fire in 1934.

The owners of Carclew were the Lemon family; hence Lemon Hill and The Lemon Arms in Mylor Bridge. But not Miss Felicity Lemon, secretary to Hecule Poirot!

 Next bus blog : Friday 29th May 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Not Rushing to Flushing [2]

Comprehensive or Comprehensible - Which?
It is an understandable disease of the bus operator; a desire to show everything possible in a bus timetable. In the case of the convoluted 69 (click thereupon for a readable size) ...
...there are the additional pressures of space in the timetable book and an over-riding desire to serve the customer. In this case, the customer is primarily Cornwall Council which covers a great hunk of the costs via the tendering system. So much so that, in the usual First timetables section of the web site, the joint operator is shown as being the Council!
When we were "inventing" the Great Britain Bus Timetable, we needed some principles; a set of "rules" which would allow compilers to condense that national bus services into a manageable size. We would search for the "essence" of the service, i.e. the main reasons for the operation of the route. We would then try to include these key features in thr summary timetables to b published.

So what essences flavour the 69 and 69A?

Over time, the creators of the route have cleverly devised a way of serving several declining markets using the core principle of "one bus in steam".

 Market 1 : Old Hill 
Historically, the road into Falmouth ran from Penryn Harbour (top left) along the edge of the water. Then, post World War I, development began on what is shown above as the "Golf Course". A new road, now the main approach to town and docks was built, partially by-passing the old hill which dominated the north of the ton centre. This road was first the B3290 ...
... then became the A39 and was eventually the main bus route to and from the north. In 1973, the Old Hill area ...
... mainly council housing, was served by a link with the aforementioned main road.
A half hourly frequency was operated as route 567, continuing cross town to Gyllingvase Beach and the "Old Station". The railway line had been cut back to Falmouth Town (The Dell) and was subsequently re-opened to the old terminus, now renamed Falmouth Docks.

The Four Winds pub still stands on on Dracaena Avenue (A39) ...
... serendipitously serving an excellent Sunday nosh to fbb and family on their February half-term sojourn at Mylor Bridge.

Thus the 69 and 69A jointly provide the modern equivalent of a service to Old Hill.
It maybe that the desire to show this hourly combined frequency has contributed to the muddle that are the current 69/69A pages.

And next to Penryn. Both routes serve the historic High Street are of the town, calling at the Seven Stars outward ...
... and Costcutter on the return.

 Market 2 : St Gluvias 

St Gluvias?

St Gluvias is a civil parish and settlement in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The village is now a suburb on the northern edge of Penryn which is situated two miles northwest of Falmouth. The historic parish church of St Gluvias, dedicated to Gluvias of Cornwall (or Gluviacus) serves the Church of England parish of St Gluvias with Penryn, Cornwall. Gluvias of Cornwall was the son of Gwynllyw the warrior, King of Gwentlog, and a nephew of St Petroc. The church was founded in the 6th century and the parish was in the Middle Ages sometimes called Behethlan or Bohelland. The present church is a Victorian construction by J. P. St Aubyn in 1883, though the tower is medieval.
The 69 serves Bohelland Rise (in the timetable) ...
... and Round Ring (on the Cornwall County map) before passing close to the eponymous church. For reasons which are mysterious and unexplained, First Bus never acknowledges the existence of the former community of St Gluvias despite the name's appearance on all maps.
Nevertheless, calling it Penryn (which may be its correct postal address and database location) is unnecessarily confusing. St Gluvias Bohelland Rise, please!
Certainly, this is not particularly good "bus territory" and a journey every two hours is possibly over-generous.

Two more "essences" to look at tomorrow.

 Next 69 bus blog : Thursday 28th May 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Not Rushing to Flushing [1]

More Cornwall Confusion
But first; First's good news. Or is it?
The responses to fbb's incompetent attempt at a better 56 timetable was justifiably, erm, justified. fbb got it wrong. The problem was this:-
Too many notes, too many colours; a timetable impossible to unravel (well.impossible for fbb!). But, we were told, the Newquay area booklet would show the 56 in a form "that was easy to understand". Here is the "better" Monday to Friday ...
... still needing four colours ...
... and an orange dot! Better, but not the best. Then the (a bit) better had replaced the not-better in the "service changes" link ...
... but in the front end index of "timetable booklets" (which aren't) confusion still reigns with route 56.
Click here and you get the original incomprehensible timetable. YUK!

Nearly better but not quite, First. Could do better!
Let's hope it's better than what went before! The cat was waiting to get to Newquay Airport, presumably?

But our task for the next blog or so it to try to unravel a timetable that does not have the benefit of an additional area timetable book. All we get for the 69 and 69A ...
... is one of these (click on the panel for a full size version):-
Only three colours of shading this time;  BLUE  is for schooldays,  PINK  is for school holidays & Saturdays,  YELLOW  is for Mondays to Fridays only. All unshaded trips run Mondays to Saturdays. There is no Sunday service.

We can quickly (?) dispose of the  YELLOW  shading. Once numbered 69 to avoid confusion with service 69 (!), this is a Monday to Friday Shopping trip from "Penryn" (whch isn't Penryn at all!) to Truro and back. It is now, sensibly, renumbered as 66 and is given its own table, a whole precious page, in the new Cornwall booklet (click on the panel for a larger version) .
In a massive timetable development, the route now included Cosawes Park.
Yes, it's an un-mobile mobile homes (i.e. caravans glued down) site.
Sadly, the Traveline map (above) suggests that the stunning diversion of the 66 never makes it to Cosawes Park as per timetable but shows the stop at Cosawes turning on the A39 (aerial view, top right).
fbb wonders which is right.


Or First Kernow?


 Next 69 blog : Wednesday 27th May 

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Sombre and Sorrowful Memorial

The Princess Royal and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were among those attending a Memorial Service on Friday last to mark 100 years since the worst accident in UK railway history. Quintinshill is an unassuming non-event of a place just north of Gretna Green.
You would take this unmade-up road from just outside Springfield, so remote that Google Streetview does not venture along there!
Just a few farm buildings and a bridge under the West Coast main line are all that bears that fateful name. The actual Quintinshill bridge and farm are at the other (Carlisle) end of the loops.
Amazingly, the two passing loops are still in use and it was the fact the both loops were occupies by goods trains waiting for fast passenger expresses to pass that set the scene for the horror to some.

Three railway employees broke the rules and were subsequently arrested and tried in the Scottish Courts.

So what happened?

The sorry tale centres round Quintinshill signal box, no longer in existence.
Signalman Meakin was due to come off shift at 0600. But the signalmen had an "arrangement" whereby the morning shift man (in this case Signalman Tinsley), instead of walking from Gretna, would cadge a ride on the local passenger train if it was due to be stopped at Quintinshill. There was no station there, but the local was often required to get out of the way of a fast Glasgow expresses, especially if they were running late. Meakin would write details of all post 0600 trains on a piece of paper and Tinsley would copy them into the official log book. That way no-one would ever know!

Because both loops were occupied, the northbound local was reversed on to the southbound line.
In these diagrams, Glasgow (north) is to the left.

This apparently risky manoeuvre was quite safe if everybody followed the rules. The signalman would place a collar on his signal lever ...
... so he could not physically release the signal and allow a southbound train to pass. He would inform  the preceding signal box  (by bell code) that the line was occupied. In addition, the driver of the local train was required to go up into the signalbox and ensure that these actions were done; his presence would be a reminder that his train was blocking the line.

Inexplicably none of this happened and signals were cleared for a southbound troop train ...
... which, of course, collided at speed with the stationary local. The troop train consisted of old wooden coaches lit by gas so fire was inevitable.

The reasons for this slackness have never been fully explained. The signalmen were busy copying the information into the official log; there was a goods train in the way visually which may have confused them and other staff from both goods had popped into the signal box to keep warm and/or have a cuppa (also against the rules).

Then the northbound Glasgow express appeared on the scene, also travelling at speed hauled by two locomotives.
It collided with the wreckage as those fit enough worked to rescue the injured.

The pictures of the accident are harrowing and painful. The fire was intense ...
... and four hefty locomotives were written off.

The trial of the three men started on 24 September 1915 in the High Court in Edinburgh. The Lord Justice General, Lord Strathclyde, presided over the trial; the Lord Advocate, Robert Munro KC prosecuted and the three men were defended by Condie Sandeman KC. Tinsley, Meakin and Hutchinson (driver of the local) all pleaded not guilty to the charges of culpable homicide and breach of duty against them. The trial lasted a day and a half; after the prosecution had concluded their case, Sandeman submitted to the Lord Justice General that there was no case to answer by Hutchinson. This submission was accepted by the Lord Justice General and the jury were instructed to find him not guilty at the conclusion of the trial.

A simple nameboard at the side of the track marks the site today.
It was the telling of this story, using extracts from L T C Rolt's book ...
... that saved fbb's teaching career and was referred to in a blog on  Saturday 1st September 2012, See "L T C Rolt and a Teaching Career" (read again).

 Next bus blog (Cornwall at last!) : Tuesday 26th May