Saturday, 29 September 2012

Swift Nostalgia? [1]

In recognition of Modern Railways' 50th anniversary issue (October 2012) ...
... fbb takes a look at a publication that is slightly older.

Anybody remember Swift?

Swift was a weekly comic published in the UK as a junior companion to the Eagle. It was founded by the Rev. Marcus Morris and launched by Hulton Press in 1954. After Hultons were sold to Odhams Press in 1959, Swift was merged into the Eagle in 1961.

Kathy is a good friend of fbb's, a member of his church congregation and a volunteer in a charity shop. She kindly buys old transport-related books as presents for the portly perpetrator of these prettily penned pieces. One of these treats was:-
Clifford Makins, one of the prolific authors on the Eagle and Swift team, wrote this volume and it was published in 1960. So for a blog or two of pure nostalgia, fbb had extracted some of the pictures and attempted to bring the items up to date. The illustrations are of very poor quality, printed on something like blotting paper, but for a 1960s young lad, the book would have been an educational revelation.
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Take this, for example:-
This is a 1909 "gearless" bus built by Daimler. It had a petrol engine which drove a generator which powered an electric motor; or so Makins wrote. fbb has not found any other reference to this very early hybrid! So this sort of vehicle ...
... isn't as new as we might think.
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A snap of a Midland Red coach on the very first day of the new M1 is highly revealing. Where is the traffic? Where are the central barriers? And look at the short exit lanes.
The vehicle was iconic and latterly available as a diecast model.
Things have moved on since 1960 and here is Sir Brian launching his Sleeper Coach.
Sleep tight Bri!
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The sharp corners, low bridge and steep hill between Bargoed and Aberbargoed (Wales) required special vehicles in 1960.
The railway over the low bridge (just glimpsed behind the lorry behind the bus) closed in 1966 and was subsequently lifted; the corner was smoothed out and the Travellers Rest is now a private house.
And the bus doesn't go that way any more. [an fbb intelligent guess; Traveline Wales is quite tricky to use!]
The "steep hill" road actually lies between "blue"service 2 and "green" service 3 on this rather crude Stagecoach diagram.
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Sheffield Transport had bought some of the revolutionary new Atlanteans to replace trams between Wadsley bridge, Neepsend, City and Woodseats. One was exhibited to Department staff and is shown here parked in Barkers Pool opposite Sheffield's City Hall. The STD offices are just out of shot on the left.
Clifford Makins' description sounds hilarious to today's readers; but in 1960 the look of the bus would indeed have turned a few heads! This text panel was printed to the right of the picture, hence the italicised "Left" on the left.
Barkers Pool is now a pedestrian precinct but the City Hall still hosts major concerts and events. In 1866, (it seems like that) fbb was presented with his degree within its hallowed portals.
The Atlantean was parked where the shopper is sitting on the granite plinth. The shop that the shopper has just shopped at is a branch of the John Lewis Partnership, formerly Cole Brothers, which opened on this site in 1963. It's former store at the junction of Fargate and Church Street ...
...was a memorable Sheffield landmark for generations. "Us'll sithee at Co-ulls Corner, luv, then us'll get a car up Manner. Unless its sighlin' dahn, then us'll be just intside doo-ers" [see Google Translate if help is needed]

50 plus years of progress but ...
... First still runs the 53 between Wadsley Bridge, Neepsend, City and Woodseats although the outer extremities have changed.
More to follow ...
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ADDENDUM
The mysteries of the blogosphere.
Thursday's blog attracted a record number of reads with pageviews continuing at a high level yesterday. It would be really nice to think there were record numbers of people interested in changes to bus services in Portsmouth (read again); but Blogger's statistics show a substantial interest in a blog written in July 2010, relatively early in fbb's illustrious blogging career.

And what piece of earth-shattering transport news has produced this retrospective enthusiasm?
A brief, nay minimalistic, blog about a road name in Sheffield (read again)! What is even weirder is that most of this burgeoning interest emanates from ...
... the United States of America. This is USA page view totals at 1540hrs yesterday. The mind most certainly boggles.

Sadly fbb's international fame appears to have been short-lived; possible 'all expenses paid' speaking engagements across the pond have not materialised and blog reads seem to have settled down to 'normal' from today (Saturday).
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 Next Nostalgic Blog : Sunday 30th September 

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