Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Happiness in Harrogate [1]

 with minor reservations.
Tewit Well, Harrogate

The first Harrogate mineral spring was discovered in 1571 by William Slingsby, who found that water from the Tewit Well possessed similar properties to that from the springs of the Belgian town of Spa, which gave its name to spa towns. The medicinal properties of the waters were publicised by Edmund Deane, whose book, Spadacrene Anglica, or the English Spa Fountain was published in 1626. Harrogate developed a spa town following the enclosure of surrounding lands in 1770, when 200 acres (0.81 km2) were reserved as a public common, the Stray ...

... which has remained a spot for picnicking, kite-flying, outdoor games and local football matches. Bath Hospital (later the Royal Bath Hospital) was built in 1826. The Royal Pump Room was built in 1842.

The nosh after Archie Fearnley's Christening [Sunday 18th November] was at the internationally famous Betty's (posh, expensive and utterly delicious!) so fbb did a "recce" before the service. Whilst Mrs fbb and friend Julia enjoyed a smidgen of sinful Sunday shopping, fbb was allowed to visit the bus station.

At 12 noon on a chilly November Sunday it was bustling and busy. Harrogate and District are running every 15 minutes to Knaresborough (svc 1 etc) then variously to the estates, every 30 minutes to Jennyfield (3), every 30 to Dene Park (2A), every hour to Bilton (2) and every hour to Pannal Ash. And that's just the town routes. Service 1 has its own brand whilst the others are marketed as "Harrogate Connect".

The 36 southbound to Harewood and Leeds and northbound to Ripon is every 30, the 770 to Wetherby and Leeds is every hour and thee are four journeys to Pateley Bridge. Pretty impressive by today's paltry Sunday standards.

Apart from the occasional National Express interloper ..

... the other Sunday route is the 737 via the airport to Bradford.

This and the two other airport rotes (747 direct from Airport to Bradford and 757 to Leeds) are operated by Centrebus now with a strong foothold on West Yorkshire.

5 passengers alighted and 5 boarded, none of them dressed or burdened by luggage for a flight! Perhaps that's why Harrogate and District withdrew from commercial operation of the route they started but recently with Dales and District on tender as route 767. The 737 also replaces the former service 653 from Bradford to Harrogate extended in the past to Knaresbrough on Sundays.
So far so good.

The next question to be asked by your fearless investigator is, "What about information?" An initial glance across the road from the bus station stands is typically depressing ...

... and that gold coloured notice on the door confirms those first impressions.
But, as Scarlett O'Hara might say, "tomorrow is another day" ...

... and things are much better than might be supposed.

P.S. fbb has not forgotten his day in Sheffield (Monday 12th November) and the associated excitement (?). More "Sheffield" will follow in due course.

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 22nd November 


  1. "5 passengers alighted and 5 boarded, none of them dressed or burdened by luggage for a flight!"

    Sounds like the MK-Luton Stagecoach 99 (former VT99 rail link). This is nominally an MK Station <-> Luton Airport link, but carries almost no passengers between MK station and the shopping centre, and between Luton and Luton Airport, but plenty from MK shopping centre/Kingston Industry to/from Luton just off the motorway[1] and Luton town centre.

    [1] It's fairly evident given their obscure locations that the stops at Kingston and Luton-just-off-the-motorway are there to make it eligible for BSOG, but are probably the busiest stops!


  2. Go back 15 years or so and Harrogate's Sunday buses were paltry with very few locals. Just proves that bold initiatives can work, given willingness on the part of the company and the right commercial environment.
    And about the same length of time ago the old bus station was closed and the present one not yet built. So infrastructure improvements can happen.

  3. We were passing through Worthing mid-day on a Friday a few weeks ago just after the 'collapse' of Countryliner. Whilst the Stagecoach office was open the Tourist Information Office two doors away was closed for a two hour lunch! Frustratingly I could see the other operators information I wanted in the racks but couldn't wait for them to re-open!

    Three weeks ago I stopped off at Huntingdon, also on a Friday. Went to the library first (there is no longer a TIC)and only managed to get one leaflet for the bus-way service. Walked round to the bus station to find that its enquiry office had closed ten minutes before at 1400 hours. Sorry I forgot bus services don't operate in the afternoons!!!!!

  4. There is a staffed cabin in Hgte bus station so bus info and timetables are always available, unless there has been a very recent change of policy