Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Languishing in Largs [Day 4]

Search for the Holy Grail?
See "Languishing in Largs [Day 3]" (read again)
c/o Largs Tourist Information
A helpful sign directed fbb to the main station building wherein he espied this ...
... a lovely little information booth. "When does the TiC open?" fbb asked young Hamish, the ticket salesman. "Och that's closed permanently; but here's a wee shop round the front run by volunteers. But it's only open when they've got a volunteer to open it."

Thanks, Scotrail for not removing the signpost! A later visit to the "wee shop" provided encouragement in part.
McGills 901, 904, 906, 907 and 908, OK. 
Stagecoach 585 OK.
Local service 40
   no copies available except one stuck on the wall
   (the yellow leaflet).
45, 586, 587?

Just as a check, fbb looked up the now withdrawn Harte service 66 on Traveline Scotland and, correctly, it has been removed. However, in amongst other Scottish service 66s, this was listed ...
... for buses between Swindon (in Scotland), Faringdon (in Scotland) and Oxford (in Scotland). Don't bother checking maps and gazetteers!
So fbb and Mrs were off to Glasgow for the day, yesterday, Monday 25th June ...

Seeking a Secretive Station?

fbb can only conclude that the modern denizens of Largs have some difficulty in finding their station. Too much information, perhaps?
But perhaps they have good reason to miss the entrance. It was back in 1995 that a whole train left the station, not on the rails but by way of two shops. This was the first and only time that a train was parked in the High Street but it did take much of the station building with it.
The picture above was taken after the clear-up had started. It was a bigger mess immediately after the non stop train, sort of stopped.
Mercifully no-one was injured but the replacement station building was a more modest affair, placed part-way along the platform usually used.
As is so often the case, Larges once had a much grander set of buildings with substantial platform canopies as here in 1908.
Even in the early days of dieselisation, there were still four platforms and a substantial goods yard, ...
... the latter now occupied by a Morrison's supermarket, suppliers of tasty morsels to fbb and Mrs during their stay. In the late 1980s a major rationalisation took place involving the removal of the two platforms on the right. The passenger line is now single track between Ardrossan South Beach and Largs.

It is just possible to make out the full width footbridge which was provided (when the station was first built) to maintain the public right of way along the severed Gogo Street.
The present and smaller bridge also provides a useful link to Morrisons, the big block at the bottom right of the map extract above. The remains of the old being removed alongside the new can be seen below.
Here is a picture taken yesterday morning showing the gap where the platforms were.
Lots of pictures of the station in transition can be viewed on the excellent Railscot web site. fbb's regular (albeit widely spaced) visits to Largs show the tortuous progress of livery in the Stratclyde rail area.

From green diesels to blue diesels ...
... to blue and grey diesels and orange diesels ...

Fron blue electrics ...
... to orange electrics to carmine and cream electrics ...
... and culminating in the new 380 class EMUs in their distinguished (?) "measles" livery.
And not forgetting ...
Measles diesels!

Largs station has been graced by huge variety over the years. Maybe the simple pattern of one train an hour to Glasgow is not particularly exciting for the enthusiast, but fbb's three journeys (so far this visit) have proved beyond doubt the effectiveness and the popularity of the service. All trains have been comfortably full.

You can only wonder what the directors of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, who opened the line in 1885, would think of it today. Utterly different but still carrying significant numbers of satisfied passengers 137 years later.
Today, the fbb's are off (weather permitting) for a cruise on the P.S. Waverley.
P S Waverley departs for its Sunday cruise on 24th June

 Next Blog : Wednesday 27th June 


  1. I'd loved to be proven wrong by a photograph, but I doubt that rail blue electrics ever reached Largs. It was the last part of the Ayrshire electrification scheme, dubbed "AyrLine", that opened in 1986/87, and by which time electrics were firmly in the orange and black scheme. (As an interim measure, passengers from Largs had to change from diesel shuttle to electric at Ardrossan for onward journeys).

    The singling was part of that scheme, but memory is that Largs signalbox burnt down in either 1985 or 1986, and that hastened the process.

  2. On reflection, Exile, you are almost certainly right. Unless anyone knows better? Also correct about the Largs signalbox conflagration. Certainly the black and white picture above would appear to show an "orange" blue train.

  3. Unfortunately, despite first appearances, Harte's 66 IS still on Traveline Scotland - and can be found if you select Harte Buses from the 'Current Timetable Library'. The reason it doesn't show up under 'Timetables' is that its route number is actually HB66 - so simply entering 66 won't find it. When you do enter HB66, it is listed with a little red triangle to the right, which if you hover over it displays a useful message 'THIS SERVICE IS NOT OPERATING. CLICK FOR MORE INFO:'. If you do so, this leads to the Harte website, which states "hopefully these financial difficulties can be overcome and the Largs-Braehead service can resume again quite soon". Whether "quite soon" means this afternoon, next month, or some time later in 2012 is not altogether clear ! As Traveline Scotland clearly know about the situation, I'm not sure whether the inclusion of HB66 is only temporary until the next formal database update, or whether it will be left as it is until the service is officially de-registered.

    Regarding the Swindon - Oxford 66, this is one of many 'inter-urban' bus services included in the 'National Coach Services Database' on all the regional traveline sites. This is intended to allow you to plan journeys on Traveline from an address within the region to any reasonably sized town outside it, whether or not it has a rail service. This fact doesn't seem to be made clear on Traveline Scotland, but the principle is explained on the Traveline South East Journey Planner page, which states : "This site has full details of all services within the coloured areas above, and of rail and coach services throughout Great Britain.
    For journeys to or from addresses (underlined) outside the coloured areas go to Transport Direct.info".

    In fact, this statement isn't quite correct, as you can also plan journeys to addresses in the West Midlands (outside the coloured areas) on the Traveline South East and associated sites.

  4. Local (Largs) information suggests that the Harte situation is terminal. There is some local "pressure" for McGills to offer an alternative. I am aware of the somewhat selective "inter urban" idea, but it has never really made any sense as the selection is, by definition, subjective and ill-defined. For example, is Ryde to Newport (Isle of Wight) available?
    The HB66 oddity exposes a weakness in Traveline's search routines; suprely an "instring" search should find 66 and HB66?

  5. Like oh so many other towns - don't expect to turn up and find a local source of printed bus information. If you do it won't necessarily be comprehensive or accurate.
    Had a similar experience in Worcestershire. I expected Redditch with its bus-ways and newish bus station to have an enquiry office of some sort. Nope. Library had no information and directed me to a TIC which was in a theatre which was closed until after i was due to return home three days later. Worcester TIC had some timetables but no sign of the then WCC maps anywhere in any of the four towns I visited.
    Its getting as bad here in Kent.

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