Friday, 24 January 2020

Surprised by Superb Semley (1)

The current (February) edition of Railway Modeller features as its headline layout ...
... Semley, which is quoted as being a station on the London and South Western Railway main line to the West Country.


fbb travels from Axminster to London from time to time, likewise from Axminster to Exeter; but the name Semley did not even produce a dim glimmer of light in the old man's somewhat older brain.

Reference to a map, places Semley station a mile or two north of Shartesbury ...
... home of the much loved but long gone Hovis advert.
It dates from 1973, the street is Gold Hill and it is a veritable hill! But Shaftesbury never had a railway station, so the LSWR built one at (actually "near") the village of Semley ...
... but close to the main A350 road between Shaftesbury and Warminster. Semley itself boasts a pleasant looking pub ...
... what does nice looking meals ...
... at, by today's standard, reasonable prices. There is a church ...
... and a cluster of houses, barely enough to justify a station without the "Semley for Shaftesbury" tag. Despite the proximity of the Hovis loving community, the station closed in 1966, but the station buildings are still extant some ¾ mile from the village.
Despondent as a result of his ignorance of the station's existence, despite whizzing through it on many occasions, fbb prepared to read the Modern Railways article. The model was depressingly good, being to EM gauge (that is correct distance between the rails, not reduced size as is OO gauge) and, as the saying goes, "to museum quality".

What fbb needed to enhance his stuttering but improving knowledge of Semley were some pictures of the old station from on-line sources.

One picture looked ideal for fbb's purposes, a pale sepia view of the station approach and on towards the platforms.
Upon closer inspection, it turns out that the above sepia view IS the model railway!
fbb can only adulate the maker, one Martin Finney ...
... his skill and dedication explained, in some measure, by the "builder's note" attached to his mugshot.

Old-style bullhead rail was held in place by chairs ...
... screwed to the sleeper with gurt big bolts. The rail was wedged in place with a wooden "key" (later sprung metal) which the lengthman (railway worker) would tap firmly in place as he walked his "length" of the track, usually every day!

Young Martin's chairs were small and fiddly castings in two halves, glued to the rail. Just imagine the modeller's joy (mind-blowing tedium) of doing that for 10,000 fixings.

But the results are worth it if your desire is accurate historical detail - below is Semley's model track.
Of course, Peco now produces bullhead rail ready made but only for OO gauge, not EM.
Not quite true, in fact. Peco produces EM gauge bullhead rail and pointwork for the EM gauge Society.
Stunning - although the above is a CAD graphic, not the actual track. Of course bro Finney was creating n true-to-life copy of Semley so pre-configured track and points would simply not do!

Tomorrow we look around the station area, model and today, and explore the village's bus services in 2020.
Rumours are flying around of the imminent collapse of Halton Transport (former Widnes Corporation of yonks ago).
Press reports say that some school buses have not run, schools are booking vehicles from other operators and drivers have not been turning up for work. As of 0930 today, nothing official has come from the company's council owners.

The Halton Transport web site is currently blank.

 Next Semley blog : Saturday 25th January 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Grief Over Grave : Grief Over Greave (3)

Yesterday, the eagle eyed fbb revealed that the excellent Hulleys Peak District timetable book included a map of route 178 ...
... but no timetable! TWO 178 journeys (1205 and 12405 from Bakewell) were shown on what turned out to be a summary table of all buses to Youlgreave, but only with a note at the foot of the table.
Reference to the maps shows 171 as offering three "direct" journeys continuing to Middleton by Youlgreave ...
... and three journeys which area diversions off some of the 172 buses which follow an attractive "round the villages" route to Matlock.
Fair enough, you would agree; to provide a full set of times to Youlgreave by any of the three routes is a noble idea for a booklet aimed at tourist travel throughout the Peak District. But what is the dark blue line to Shutts Lane and Over Haddon on the 178 map?
Whatever it is, its gets no mention in the booklet! To find out more we need to go to Derbyshire's excellent timetable library - and, lo and behold ...
Extra journeys run to Shutts Lane, where lives Lady Manners School ...
... forming an hourly (almost) Bakewell town service. This is confirmed by Hulleys on-line timetable of the 178.
Again, if you are looking for a picturesque ride, the 172 to Matlock is a delight and those 178 circular journeys will take you to Monyash ...
... home of the celebrated Icky Picky Lane ...
... or on to the somewhat larger settlement of Youlgreave ...
... famous for its "fountain" which doesn't "fount" and never has done.
It was built in 1829 as a simple water tank to provide adequate pressure for a supply to the town.

But have you spotted the problem.
In his prognostications, fbb has referred to the village as YoulgrEAve as does Hulley's text (above). But the maps spell it as YoulgrAve.

How you actually spell the village's name has been contentious for ever and a day. A village schoolteacher and historian has collected a vast array if variant spellings.

Giolgrave Yolgrave Jalgrave Hyolgrave Hyolegrave Yolgreff Yoleg Yolegreve Yolegrave Youlgraue Welegreve Yoelgreve Oelgreve Yelegreve Yeolegreve Yolgreave Yolgreve Yollegreve Jol’ve Zolgrelf Yollgreve Yoligrewe Yollegrewe Youlgreve Zolgreff Youlgrave(1492) Yolgreyva Yolgreyve Yeolgreave Youlgreave(1595) Yellegrave Yollogreve Yollograve Yeollgreave Youldgreave Yograve Isgrave Yalgrove Yolegreue Jolegreue lolegrave Jholegreve Yelegrave Yellegrave Iolgrave Yholgreve Yelgreve Zolgreve

Grave is the older, but Greave is still the more usual.

The County Council's latest emanation and the Parish ditto seem to favour The "Grave" ...
... as does the Hulley's cartographer! But almost everyone else sticks to the "Greave" ...
... including Hulleys bus blind.
But the most power argument comes from none other than the sainted Ordnance Survey.
fbb, who has never met "Grave" until preparing this blog, votes with the Ordnance Survey!

The arguments continue.

Best not start on the vexed question of Bakewell Tart versus Bakewell Pudding!

"You say TomAYto and I say TomAHto; let's call the whole thing off!"

P.S. Monyash actuall has a SUNDAY service ...
... two journeys in each direction on High Peak service 58.

 Next Semley blog : Friday 24th January 

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Grief Over Grave : Grief Over Greave (2)

Hulley's Brilliant Book Continued
fbb is reviewing that delight is public transport publicity, namely a timetable book. We are told that "everything is all on line" - which it is if you can find it - but a printed book is second to none in encouraging exploratory travel around a network. Hulley's network covers large chunks of the peak district including Bakewell, Matlock and Castleton with links to Sheffield and Chesterfield.

One omission is fares information with one exception.
The family Hopper is for a day! Excellent value all round.

Almost all the routes are scenic in quality, some, like the 173 via Monsal Head are truly spectacular.
That's the 173, by the way. (click on the map for an enlargement)
And there's a railway tunnel to walk through as well.
Catch a journey that runs via Cressbrook and you will be utterly delighted.
Cressbrook is quite "thin" for a bus!
With careful planning some exciting round trips can be planned and some users may look to the Derbyshire Wayfarer to allow multi operator tours. The ticket's availability is expensive on bus or train withing the county and to/from bordering towns, i.e. Sheffield and Macclesfield.

Details are too complex to include in a simple timetable book, but reference to the appropriate page on Derbyshire's web site gives the full monty (href
= "" target = "_blank">here).

Another goody is this map of Bakewell itself ...
... which, obviously, shows what stops where (A to E) but also indicates, with little white on orange numbers, places that have special offers for Hulley's customers. It's quite a wide range although fbb does not have any experience of the actual good things available.

It does represent a splendid PR effort for the town, for the traders and for what is only a small local bus company.

One niggle, however, concerns routes 271 and 272, Castleton to Sheffield.
In fact this service is hourly seven days a week!
The "missing" journeys are by First Bus and, in the past, tickets were sensibly inter-available. This is no longer the case.
First Bus don't acknowledge Hulleys either!

What is achieved by First and Hulleys NOT working together? Whilst each may feel it is preserving its precious revenue, surely both companies would benefit from increased passenger numbers if fares were "joint". The "enemy" is always the private car and everything needs to be done to encourage bus travel, especially in the Peak District where summer cloggage is normality.

Even if tickets are not inter-available, why not tell folk that "other journeys are operated by First Bus"?


Then there is the mysterious 178. There is a map ...
... but no timetable. The 178 does appear as a footnote on a summary timetable for 171/172 and 178 to Youlgreave ...
... but for the full service numbered 178 you need to turn to Derbyshire's information. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that the information is different and potentially confusing.

But, never fear, fbb will sort it all out in tomorrow's blog.

But it is one set of services that Hulley's could do better, as we shall see.

A couple of bits of "stuff" which were omitted from last weekend's variety blogs:-
One tank wagon NOT
on fbb's shopping list!
It is OO gauge and, in construction, nothing special - just a bog standard tank wagon. It is not particularly well detailed either. So why the ludicrous price; fbb usually pays about £10.

The answer is that it is a very RARE model.

Why it should be rare is for later, but, for the time being, our readers may just wonder about the complexity of the market for something a simple, as ubiquitous, as a tank wagon.

Here is a much better model, with vastly improved detail of much higher accuracy announced by newcomer manufacturer Oxford Rail last November.
Price £16. Still a bit painful when you add postage on top; but fbb may ask for one for his birthday.

And a reminder from our Senior Isle of Wight correspondent. Services between Portsmouth, Bristol and Cardiff have recently been upgraded.
Instead of three car 158/159 units, most train are now worked by 5 car Turbos displaced from services in the Thames Valley. Getting a seat on the former units could be a challenge, but the Turbos offer a significant increase in capacity.

Good. But there is a snag. The trains consist of a two car Turbo couples to a three car Turbo ...
... and there's no gangway between the two units.


Does fbb remember a journey from Portsmouth to Bristol on one of these?
He definitely remembers being able to view the track ahead through one of the small windows adjacent to a minimalist driver's cab.

It was a "proper" train (with gangways!) even if it didn't have an obvious locomotive on the front.

And a correction!
Of course the 78 runs to Staveley and on to Hartington. fbb apologises for being an idiot! He should learn to read a map. See yesterday's blog.
 Next Hulley's blog (and more) : Thursday 23rd January