Sunday, 24 June 2018

You May Have Missed ...

More 230s Ordered
When Adrian Shooter ...
... came up with the idea of turning withdrawn London Underground D units into "real" trains, some industry commentators feared for the big man's sanity. When one of the test units caught fire, everyone held their breath!
A trial on the line between Coventry and Nuneaton collapsed and some nodded sagely and thought, "told you so."

But three 230s are being painted right now ...
... for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line.

Announced a few days ago was order No 2. KeolisAmey, franchisee have ordered five for use in North Wales.
Artists' impressions of the interiors ...
... looks bright and cheery.

Adrian Shooter spouts the usual positive sound bite.
Certainly the trains will be streets ahead of their spartan originals.

Big Bus Station Beautified
It's very much like Marmite (fbb's spread of choice - always!), you either love Preston Bus Station or you hate it. It opened in 1969 replacing several town centre departure points, including this ...
... for Ribble services! It was, at one time, due to be demolished (shame!!!) and then given a Preservaion Order and thus saved. But saved for what?

Preston Corporation sold it to Lancashire Council for £1 and the latter has undertaken a substantial refurbishment and restoration plan.

Buses are removed from the "corporation" side ...
... and replaced by a large Piazza, meaning that access need no longer be via a gloomy pedestrian tunnel.
All buses now leave from the "other operators" side.
A Youth Zone is to be built on part of the closed section ...
... although, in the latest version of the plans, this no longer seeps through into the bus station itself.
Looks like excellent Marmite to fbb!

Another Minibus App
Is the Oxford Bus Company (GoAhead group) wise to compete with itself?
Or is the Company clever to challenge the Uber philosophy? It is App based, inevitably, with actual App availability being held back.
It appeared on Wednesday just as fbb settled in to his B&B at Chilsworhy. No time to explore its electronic depths, but fbb welcomes input from any blog readers who try out the service.
It all starts on Monday 25th June and the service operates seven days a week.

Hapless In Hatherleigh
Prior to their return eastwards today, the fbb's had a gentle toddle round border country where Devon meets Cornwall. At Hatherleigh ...
... fbb had a few moments to explore and seek out the town's bus service. The narrow streets of the town are now by-passed by the A386. The now-quiet streets are quaint ...
... and just across from the square near the Church ...
... is a delightful Tourist Information "shop".
It is staffed by volunteers, but, amazingly was open on Saturday early afternoon. fbb was able to obtain a couple more of the ubiquitous Devon timetable books.
Hatherliegh's main bus service is the Stagecoach 75A ...
... and fbb was in time to find the 1400 to Bideford. Also fortunately, the fbb limo was parked in the Market Car Park, time point for the buses.

There was a splendid people shelter ...
... with a pretty "murial" on one side ...
... and a lovely blank wall on the other.
This would be an ideal place to display a timetable and map for route 75. But there wasn't even a bus stop "flag".

Did the service 75A really stop here or had it been banished to the by-pass road? Happily (?) as 2pm struck on the Church clock ...
... the bus pulled in and collected one passenger (far right) ...
... from the utterly anonymous bus stop and time point. Obviously regulars would get to know the secret, but, yet again,  it is no surprise that passenger numbers in rural areas are in decline.

But fbb did find a timetable!
It was up a flag-less pole at the end of the road leading to the "Market" stop.

"Up the pole" is an appropriate phrase!! Would the bus have stopped had fbb been waiting there?

 Next Bodmin blog : Monday 25th June 

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Cornwall At Last!

The original plan was to spend a few days in Cornwall ...
... but B&B prices were a bit higher in the fbb's first choice, namely Bude. So Mrs fbb hit on Holsworthy or, more specifically Chilsworthy, a couple of miles to the north thereof - and still in Devon! The wiggly blue line on the map extract above marks the border.
The sign is not original, but "repro".

So yesterday, after a light breakfast (no cereal!) ...
... the fbb party sallied forth southbound to Launceston, thus crossing the border into furrin' parts, viz the Principality of Kernow.
Saint Piran's Flag (Cornish: Baner Peran) is the flag of Cornwall,. The earliest known description of the flag as the Standard of Cornwall was written in 1838. It is used by Cornish people as a symbol of identity. It is a white cross on a black background.

The flag is attributed to Saint Piran, a 6th-century Cornish abbot. One early use of a white cross and black background design is the 15th-century coat of arms of the Saint-Peran family.

The border is crossed, of course, at the River Tamar ...
... with old and new bridges side-by-side on the A388.
The more famous Tamar crossing at Plymouth is just a tiny bit bigger ...
... but still two bridges side by side; old and one a good few years newer.

The fbb threesome continued en voiture via the A30 to Bodmin to enjoy the steam railway.

It would be fair, fbb feels, to admit that Mrs fbb and chum Julia's enjoyment was not of the highest level. "All we saw," they opined, "was bushes!"
Bodmin General station was, they thought, "interesting" but less so the ride. fbb tried to enthuse over the GWR seats ...
... and the shiny milk churns.
Also on view was a set of "genuine" (NOT) enamelled station signage ...
... many of which would never have adorned any GWR station. He even feigned fake excitement at the GWR liveried modern dustbin!
The train itself was standard fare for your day rover fare, fair enough ...
... but it was no different from the train ridden on at the West Somerset Railway at Minehead.

This lack of boundless enthusiasm should not be taken as a criticism of the tireless efforts of the people who work so hard running the line and preserving its trains BUT provokes a broader question, "Are there too many heritage lines doing exactly the same thing?"

Answers on a postcard, please!

But, fortuitously, there was something different - but not directly derived from railway preservation.

As the fbb gang was waiting to board their ordinary Mark 1 British Railways coach, a party of World War 1 Tommies marched briskly down the hill from the Cornwall Regimental Museum!
They all wore tin helmets and khaki capes ...
... and carried "rifles" realistically made of wood. Sensibly, bayonets were not fixed, but the orders barked out by their commanding officers were nerve-tinglingly realistic.
It was only when they marched on to the platform and in to a reserved coach on the 1230 to Bodmin Parkway that fbb twigged - too late to take detailed pictures.

Under the capes and tin hats were jeans, shorts and brightly coloured trainers. It was a party of school kiddies kidding on that they were off to the trenches.
But, in a way, they were.

The train pulled to a halt short of Parkway Station where a small scaffolding platform had been built.
Off marched the "troops" across the field.
And there, behind the screens, would be a very realistic trench ...
... complete with smoke and explosions. Participants are warned!
As the new recruits approach, two nurses appear, hauling a badly inured and bandaged casualty of "war" - very compelling and challenging. (just about visible in the picture above)

History lessons were never like this when fbb was nobbut a lad.

It would have been nice to have had a fuller explanation from a commentator. That would have made the trip much more memorable, albeit co-incidentally.

The general public can book up for a similar evening experience. Go on-line to "the trench bodmin".

fbb will write more about the line later in the week, this time from a rail enthusiast's perspective.

 Next "you may have missed" blog : Sunday 24th June