Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Have You Been to Conder Green? [2]

It's All On Line - If You Can Find It
The old and abandoned xephos database confirms Darren Wichman's memory that his bus from Knott End to Conder Green used to be Stagecoach service 89. (See "Have You Been to Conder Green? [1] " (read again). Way back in the early 2000s, buses ran every two hours (daytime) seven days a week  with a proper evening service; last bus from Knott End was 2134.

The first port of call to trace the present service (if any - Lancashire have joined the cut-backs club and are well to the top of the slash-a-service league) has to be Traveline North West.

Here we get our first shock.
"Where you can plan any public transport journey within our region."

Only you can't!
The North West Journey Planner
is no longer available.
To be directed to a journey planning service
for the area you are travelling in,
please select from the list below,
thank you:
And here is the list below.
Click on Blackburn with Darwen and up pop "a journey planning service for the area".
Only it didn't. It linked to the "national" Traveline web site. Surely there is a local journey planner for some or all of Cheshire?
Nope. And for Lancashire, where be our troublesome locations, the same again.

HOPELESS

What about Manchester? Ir does have a journey planner that looks very different from Traveline. It must be much better because it has lots of huge whirling circles to entertain you while it is thinking.

An enquiry for a journey from Knott End to Conder Green finds the locations; they are all in the database.
But the sneaky folk in Transport for Great Manchester wont give away national journey data.
Meanies. Merseyside has a journey planner but ...
... cannot get there from Knott End. You can take nearly all day from Liverpool, but the planner resorts to a taxi for the last leg.
But there is yet hope. National Traveline will find a timetable, but only after you have planned a journey. Not much good if what you want is to interrogate the 89 - if it still exists. An enquiry yesterday evening offered another ...

... smidgen of hope.
The 1930 appeared to be the last sensible bus of the day but best not try the 2005 departure arriving Cinder Green at 0653 the following day!
MORE HOPEFUL

From Esplanade By Esplanade, Knott End On Sea, take 89 bus to Ship Road By Conder Bridge, Conder Green

fbb is not a party to what, or where, "Esplanade by Esplanade" is. Perhaps there are two Esplanades at Knott End.

37 minutes, Depart 19:30, Arrive 20:07

We are told the operator - looking better so far.

Kirkby Lonsdale Coaches

Shall we click on "Service Timetable?

Today's Live Departures / Service Timetable

Why not? fbb is always willing to have a go. And, tada! The timetable is electronically generated from the database. How jolly clever ...
... and utterly useless.

There are NO DAYTIME JOURNEYS!

HOPES DASHED

Listen to Roger French, AGAIN.
Of course, the average bus user will have long since given up - as did Darren Wichman, fbb's enquiring friend.

But, armed with the operator name, fbb was able to inject some small amount of sanity into the problem.

A GLIMMER OF HOPE

And Kirby Lonsdale Coaches web site HAS TIMETABLES.
And, with much rejoicing ...
... here it is (click on the table to enlarge it):-
And now we can see why fbb had so much trouble with his databases. The main daytime service is numbered 89H, possibly because it runs via Lancaster Hospital, so the idiot computer system (or the people that designed it) treats it as a separate and unconnected service ...
... which it isn't.

IF the closed Traveline North West had chosen to announce its demise HELPFULLY, it might have provided a link to Lancashire County Council's bus timetable site. Here the "split of 89 and 89H will befiuddle a search by route number. BUT, joy of joys (?), a search by location will reveal the two services that are really one.
But there is still a snag. The search her is by stop name (too much information?) so you really need to know what you want before you can look for what you want. The associted map, however, is better but you need to scroll to see the ferry from Fleetwood. Surely the Bourne Arms Stop should have "for Fleetwood Ferry" added to its name?
More guessing?

Knowing the truth (AT LAST) meant that fbb could offer Darren the comfort of knowing that he could get to Conder Green and back.

If the pub is still open?
Jim assured us that it is!

Phew.

 More Missing Common Sense - Thursday 29th September 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Fleetwood Ferry Fascinates

But Terrible Trouble with Tides
Many years ago, the fbb family, the famous five with Timmy Jazz the dog, hired a holiday house in Silverdale, Lancashire. fbb cannot remember the exact address (it was twenty years ago) but recalls that just up the road were extensive woodlands and "The Pepperpot"
fbb never walked to this exciting location ...
... but one night the dog did a runner and disappeared in that direction. Several hours of panic later, the dog re-appeared with a "what are you lot fussing about" expression.

One excursion was to Blackpool. fbb had never ridden on the trams and persuiaded the family that it would be fun.
The schedule involved driving from Silverdale (top right) to Knott End (near Fleetwood, bottom left). A ferry ride between the two would put the gang at the northern terminus of the trams.
The imposing railway terminus is long gone, but you can just glimpse a tram centre left in the 1950s picture above. Today you have a cafe and slot machine "place" with a tram again visible centre left.
When the fbbs crossed, the ferry the service was in a poor way and the boat was very tatty. Mrs fbb was a tad uneasy, not fancying being immersed in the murky waters of the River Wyre.
The first meeting to propose a steam Fleetwood-Knott End ferry service was held in 1851, but is was not until 1892 that the Fleetwood Improvement Commissioners reached agreement with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway to build a ferry jetty at Fleetwood. Agreement was then made with the local landowner to gain access at Knott End. The predecessors of the Fleetwood Urban District Council assumed responsibility for the ferries in 1893, but leased the operation to local operators, 
The late 1990s and early 2000s were turbulent times for the ferry, with a succession of operators running the service (usually summer only), including Wyre Boat Services, and Swift Offshore Services).

The service was suspended in 2001 and for several years was operated erratically. Recently some stability has returned to the route, but threats of cut backs in funding from Lancashire Council continue to threaten ongoing operation.
Lancashire County Council plans to stop the £85,000 subsidy it gives to the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry. The county council, which said it needs to reduce its budget by £65m over the next two years, pays half of the ferry's running costs, with Wyre Borough Council paying the other half.

Councillor Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Council, said: If county withdrew their half we would really struggle to pay for all of it. We are not a transport authority at the end of the day."
But Darren Wichman, fbb's Isle of Wight chum, would use the ferry to get from Blackpool to Conder Green; and Blackpool's trams are not what they used to be either.
Wyre Council publishes the ferry timetable and there's a different one each month.
Why? Here is the reason.
At low tide there simply isn't enough depth of water to get to the slipway at Knott End. Apparently paddling through mud is deemed unsatisfactory!
September's timetable (extract only) looks like this:-
 NS  is no service
 AA  is Access for All : half hourly service.
 RS  is restricted service

fbb could find no explanation of what restricted service entailed. Perhaps that is when you only have to wade through shallow mud?
We can only hope that Darren can plan his journey to and from The Stork at Conder Green carefully ensuring that he can actually get there and/or get back.

Which brings us neatly back to the 89 bus.

If it exists.

 Finding Nemo the 89 blog : Wednesday 28th September 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Have You Been to Conder Green? [1]

An Interesting Challenge
fbb occasionally receives phone calls, txts or emails seeking information on proposed journeys by public transport; one recent such was from central France seeking times of buses from Sheffield Interchange to Aston on the X5. Fortunately, with the GoTimetable Sheffield App close at hand, that specific enquiry was dead easy.

But the particular call which has provoked this series of blogs began innocently enough. Chum Darren Wichman rang to tell fbb that Mollie's funeral was not yet arranged. As fbb already knew that, there had to be another motive for the call.

"I am going to Blackpool for the weekend (for some sort of tram "do" - fbb) and would like to stay at The Stork in Conder Green."
fbb had never heard of Conder Green.

"It's near Glasson Dock", advised Darren.
"I rang up Stagecoach for the times of the 89, but the young lady said that they no longer operated the route."

Darren is a technophobe of the highest grade and has no computer, smart phone or any kind of pad; which is why, in desperation, he turned to the chubby one. fbb in turn turned to the old xephos files and there, indeed, was Stagecoach 89 via Glasson Dock and Conder Green Stork Hotel.
We know that Stagecoach no longer serves these destinations; but who does, if anyone?

But before looking at the detail, your noble blogger needs to refresh his memory as to where these places are on the map.
Glasson Dock was built by the owners of Lancaster Docks to make it easier to get ships in and out. Access is only available for an hour or so around high tide, so the port never became very important.

The quay was connected to the railway network in 1883, operating until the closure of passenger services on 5 July 1930. Goods rail traffic continued until 7 September 1964. The track bed of the disused branch line is now a linear park and cycleway.

And here is an old map which shows a station at Glasson (red blob)  ...
... and sidings continuing westwards to the dockside. The station was not huge.
It also shows a closed station (white blob) near Conder Green. An aerial view reveals the station house as a cafe and the footpath running from the north ...
... and crossing the Conder River on the old railway bridge.
The access road to the rest of humanity curves round to leave the picture at bottom right. At the Lancaster end, this line curved sharply into Lancaster Castle Station with a spur to the dockside.
There is nothing recognisable of the line as it approaches Lancaster but a real expert might spot the remnants of a bridge abutment; the Google maps aerial view does, however, show the obligatory line of undergrowth!
Assuming Darren were coming from Blackpool he might well take the tram to Fleetwood and cross by the Knott End ferry (of which more later).

At Knott End he might, in the past, have been able to observe another little branch line.
This ran almost due east to Garstang Town station whence it turned south and ran alongside the west coast main line to terminate at Garstang and Catterall station.
This line also closed to passengers in 1930 but the station was right next to the ferry slipway.
The site is now occupied with flats and a cafe.
All of this provokes an interesting thought or two. If Darren had been making gis journey in the early part of the twentieth century, he might have chosen to go all the way to Conder Green by train.

Train : Blackpool to Poulton-le-Fylde
Train : Poulton-le-Fylde to Fleetwood
Ferry : Fleetwood to Knott End

Train : Knott End to Garstang & Catterall
Train : Garstang & Catterall to Lancaster Castle
Train : Lancaster Castle to Conder Green

Followed by a short walk to the Hotel.
The above is a menu extract published by an on-line writer; it has probably changed by now.

But enough of this nostalgic digression. Darren wants to get to Conder Green in 2016 and is starting in Blackpool. The first obstacle in the ferry at Fleetwood!
-----------------------------------------------
Electronic Information Delights No 34
This was Axminster Station a week ago. All signs were malfunctioning. The ticket office was closed and there are no departure posters on display outside the closed booking hall.

 Next Ferry confusing blog : Tuesday 27th September