Friday, 5 August 2011

Why Bother with Wyming Brook?

Some devious detective delving reveals all.

It starts with a simple enough picture found on the interwebnet. It is of the very first motor bus purchased by Sheffield Corporation Tramways. Registration W 3201 fleet number 1 (surprise, surprise) was delivered  in January 1913 
It was used to run the very first bus route in Sheffield, from the bottom of Manchester Road in Broomhill...
... to Lodge Moor, on Sunday 27th January in that year. [NOTE : Charles Hall's date differs from the "official" celebration date of 15th February.] The above pic shows the bus trundling back down Manchester Road. The 40 minute frequency on that Sunday afternoon was so successful that it ran again on the following Saturday. The route settled down with trips on Saturdays, Sundays and Thursdays; from 2nd March increasing at the weekends to every 20 minutes when an extra vehicle was purchased. [Info courtesy of Charles Hall's "Sheffield Transport"]
On Easter Sunday that year, 400 people were waiting at Broomhill at one time. Buses ran full to the gunwales with most passengers making the round trip, just for fun. There were vehement complaints from hospital visitors who couldn't get on to return to city!
Lodge Moor Hospital was erected in 1887, to hold 192 patients. Extensive additions were made in 1902, 1903 and 1917; but it was mainly an isolation unit so visitors would have hitherto been infrequent with no easy means of transport. The hospital is now converted to the usual trendy flats.
Crimicar Lane TB hospital (opened 1902) was also on the route (just the gates remain today), but not much else in 1913. The route was numbered 51 in 1926 and retains that number today.

Indeed the 51 from City to Lodge Moor is the oldest service in the city to have escaped major change of route in nearly 100 years. [For those who like to be "picky"  this assertion does NOT include changes made because of one way systems, turning arrangements etc., nor does the cross-city extension to Gleadless count!]

The service was extended from Broomhill into City on 25th October 1936.

A mile or so beyond Lodge Moor can be found Wyming Brook Drive,
a rough-surfaced "track", seen here in 1910 the before newly planted trees engulfed any view of the road. It was water company access, open to the public, which linked Redmires Road with Manchester Road, passing through wooded areas in the water catchment area for the Rivelin reservoirs.
From 4th August 1923, buses were extended from the Hospital to the top of Wyming Brook on certain days. These were numbered 52 from 1926 to 1957 when the number was needed for the tram replacement service between Crookes and Handsworth.  Buses were also run on Summer Sundays, for the benefit of  those seeking a bucolic break from the blackness of big industry. And very popular they were, too. Buses were extended to Wyming Brook on the instructions of an inspector at the Pinfold Street (city) terminus, according to demand.
By the time the route was "one-manned" (11th May 1969), demand for the simple delights of an afternoon at Lodge Moor had declined and all that remained were peak time "shopping" trips for the few isolated residents, as here, for example, in 1982.
This last bus to Wyming Brook ran in July 2010.

So, why does fbb play Sherlock Holmes? What fiendish mysteries lie dormant in a simple bus picture?

The caption to the photo of bus No. 1 ...
... says that it was photographed at "Wyming Brook". But, in its short life from 1913 to 1922, this vehicle never went to Wyming Brook, certainly not "in service". And where, pray, at Wyming Brook, was the picture actually taken? Confirmation of the actual location has never, as far as fbb is aware, been published.

But it's not at the top of the Drive ...
... where the previous bus "swing round" has disappeared under trees, just leaving a simple entrance to a parking area. Neither was it pictured at the bottom where the normal exit is via the dam wall on to Manchester Road ...
... or at the western exit, now demoted to a footpath, which was, even then, a completely different shape.
But in the middle! Observe the retaining wall behind the bus, then look to the very right of this old postcard ...
... the same retaining wall at the road junction part way up (or down?) Wyming Brook Drive!
Bingo! Q.E.D! Eureka!

So presumably the Corporation ran their pride and joy, their new motor omnibus, out there for a publicity picture. Or were they considering running via Wyming Brook? Probably not! 

P.S. The later terminus of the Wyming Brook journeys was outside the same cottages as shown in the picture of the ECW bodied Leyland bus above. Google Streetview was there before the route extension was withdrawn, hence the stop sign.

Next blog : due Saturday August 6th

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