Sunday 6 January 2013
Dawdling at Dorchester
Just Passing Through
On their way to a winter break in Sidmouth, fbb and Mrs fbb decided to eschew the A35 by-bass and stop in Dorchester, the Casterbridge of Thomas Hardy's eponymous Mayor. Unusually, they found a parking place in the main street (roughly bottom left of this picture) and toddled off to the "Horse with the Red Umbrella" for a snack.
What an odd name. According to a sign inside, the caff was once the foyer of a theatre at which the very last play performed was entitled "The Horse with the Red Umbrella".
Oh really? Can you trust s sign writer who can't cope, grammatically speaking, with potatoes?
Debate on the interwebnet concludes thus:-
Just to wrap up this query: total failure to prove that the play ever existed, that there was ever a theatre at the premises of the present-day Dorchester cafe. Neither the Local History Library nor Records Office for Dorset had any information. The Theatre Museum in London didn't have any record of the title either, nor is anything held at the British Library, either published or unpublished (BL holds the Lord Chamberlain's plays - all unpublished plays performed in UK are recorded there up to 1968, partially thereafter).
Nevetherless, the caff is absolutely superb with mine host wandering round the tables offering gratuitous sweeties to his customers; although the box had run dry by the time fbb's table was reached. (boo). fbb followed a tasty toasted bacon and cheese sarnie with a delicious spotted dick and custard.
Mrs fbb just stuck to the sandwich, but not literally!
There was insufficient time to take a good look at the buses but amongst First's high profile and lengthy route 30/31 ...
... from Weymouth to Axminster ...
... (showing rail connections at Dorchester and Axminster), and their X10 to Weymouth and Portland, was the route 6 to Poundbury.
Poundbury? That place is weirdsville, man!
Built by Prince Charles, with, we suspect, a few of the lads to give him a hand, it promotes all Charlie's principles of architecture. It consists of high density town buildings and appurtenances in a variety of very traditional styles. The tower above is known, locally, as the whispering witch!
But, because it is all new and untainted by the touch of time, it looks, well weird; soul-less like some kind of out-of-use Disney film set. It is also usually empty of human activity when fbb passes by. Quite unreal.
Anyway its route 6 vehicles have been all electric since Summer 2012.
In March 2011 the Department for Transport awarded a £166,600 Green Bus Fund grant to the partnership to purchase two electric powered buses. An order was placed with Optare, a British manufacturer based in Leeds, to purchase two Optare Solo electric buses, each bus cost £197,000. Dorset County Council contributed £130,000 and West Dorset District Council contributed £100,000. The Duchy of Cornwall contributed £11,000 to pay for a higher electric bus specification and also installed some bus infrastructure in Poundbury. The range of each bus is between 80 to 100 miles per battery charge.
Clever blog readers can amuse themselves by working our whether one bus will last out for the whole day's service; but fbb thinks not.
The aim of the township design was to reduce reliance on the private car. In fact car ownership per head of Poundbury population is somewhat higher than the rest of rural Dorset. So another honorable and royal (and very expensive) environmental failure, no doubt?
There was a less technically interesting appearance in Dorchester. But something strangely familiar:-
fbb last saw this bus on the Island ...
... but before that it was with Wilts and Dorset ...
... before W&D decided to become part "Red" and part "More". The green motor is now with the fleet of fellow GoAhead company Damory whose vehicles always used to be painted blue ...
... as here on another ex W&D midi also wending its way to Christchurch.
It's all very confusing?
So fbb and Mrs, refreshed by the mendacious Horse with the Red Umbrella, continued their journey to Sidmouth, where, interestingly and serendipitously, something special and omnibological is due to take place on Tuesday.
ffbb (Fearless Fat Bus Bloke) will be on hand to report.
Next Bus Blog : Monday 7th January