So what's all this about an Outer Circle Route?
This bus is at the junction of Gladstone Road and Ranmoor Road on its way to Sandygate. Alas there is no bus route up this "select" thoroughfare any more, but the ambience is little changed. The house has lost its decorative barge-boards in favour (possibly) of plastic replacements and many of the chimney pots have succumbed to central heating. But, we run ahead of ourselves!
From Sandygate, the route then left built-up Sheffield to take a picturesque run via the wooded and attractive Rivelin Valley.
And yes, this glorious route did run westwards along Manchester Road (seen here), turned sharp right at Rivelin Bridge Post Office (top left) and returned to Malin Bridge via the lime-tree-lined Rivelin Valley Road (upper right).
In 1952 the 2/3 ran hourly right round the circle with short workings between Carterknowle Road & Elm Tree and between Sheffield Lane Top and Malin Bridge.
By 1963, when a student fbb arrived in the Steel City, the hourly circle remained, joined by Malin Bridge to Carterknowle Road trips filling the half hour gap. A service 3 from Southey for 3 hours right round and back to Southey was there first fantastic fascinating bus ride taken by the later-to-be chubby one.
Sadly, just under 40 years after this splendid route started, the Circle was broken. In November 1970 the hourly clockwise service 3 took a right hand turn at Sandygate and ran into the City centre, now numbered 2 in both directions. The intermediate journeys were extended from the top of Carterknowle Road, also into the city but via Hunters Bar and numbered 59. 6 months later the 59s were diverted to serve Norton and Meadowhead.
Why 59? It was the lowest unused route number!
Thus it was that the popular circular ride came to an end. One possible reason put forward was that the round trip was particularly popular with pensioners who had just gained free travel in Sheffield; the change cut down on joy-riders and left room for "genuine" passengers. A more likely explanation is that by running into city from Sandygate the Corporation could save some of the costs of the route 2/3 and some of service 54 which had, hitherto, run that way with minimal passengers. This timetable extract shows the result.
A final possibility is that it seemed a good idea at the time.
fbb does not usually get too excited about wheelnuts, body types and bifurcating ninge-wheel brake actuators. His interests have been more with where and why buses (and tains) run. But an acquaintance from the Sheffield Transport Study group, where fbb was a guest speaker in October 2011, opines that the bus pictured above (registration TJ 10 on Outer Circle route 3) is "a very interesting vehicle". A future blog will explain its significance.