Tuesday 30 July 2013

Rejoice for Rotherham [3]

Why Rotherham?

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there be any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. [John's Gospel, Chapter 1 verse 46]. The "good thing", of course, was Jesus.
Many might rewrite the quote as follows:-  Can there be any good thing come out of Rotherham? Certainly the town would not feature at the top of a "must see" list of places in the UK worthy of an extended visit; although the heavy industry featured in the picture above has almost all gone.

One of Rotherham's claims to fame is as the home of many great comedians; the late great Sandy Powell ...
... the still very much with us Chuckle Brothers ...
... and the biggest star of them all ...
... William Hague! Who could forget his first televised stand-up routine at the 1977 Conservative Party Conference when just 16. The boy's done good. [But the long hair didn't last!]

Rotherham's history is a tale of ups and downs:-

In the 1480s the Rotherham-born Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotherham, instigated the building of The College of Jesus to rival the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford. It was the first brick building in what is now South Yorkshire and taught theology, singing, grammar and writing. The College and new parish church of All Saints ...
... made Rotherham an enviable and modern town at the turn of the 16th century.
college gateway - re-erected in Boston Park

The college was dissolved in 1547 in the reign of Edward VI, its assets stripped for the crown, so that, by the end of the 16th century, Rotherham had fallen from a fashionable college town to a notorious haven of gambling and vice.

We are reminded that last Friday saw the official celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Rotherham's first motor bus. But even for omnibologists, the town has never aroused great enthusiasm or excitement. More of its transport history will materialise in subsequent blogs; but there is one feature of Rotherham's bus-story that often escapes the pen of enthusiasts who focus solely on the cornucopia of vehicles.

We need to get legal!

In simple terms (and legislation is never simple) the above act allowed Municipal Authorities the exclusive right to operate public transport with the existing borough boundaries. This right also included the ability to prevent anyone else from so doing; which is why, before deregulation, many country buses could not carry passengers entirely within those 1930 boundaries. (Although the Act did make provision for operating "agreements")

Rotherham Corporation Transport [RCT] obtained licences to operate extensively outside its designated area, presumbly reflecting pre-legislative practice and agreements. So Corporation buses ran everywhere! An fbb diagram will summarise the extent of that "everywhere".  [diagram not to scale : designed as a rough guide for general interest!]
RCT ran joint with Sheffield and Doncaster corporations on the 77 (with variant later numbered 78). Traditionally only every 20 minutes at best, this is now First's X78 running every 10.

The 69 was joint with Sheffield and managed a bus every 4 minutes in its heyday.
Now its paltry half hourly service indicates the decline of both residential areas like Attercliffe and the disappearance of mass employment in the heavy industries. Also joint with Sheffield were shift-time routes 58 and 29 and the half-hourly route 87 to Maltby.
These routes did not even serve Rotherham centre and all have disappeared as such leaving just an hourly service 87 between Maltby and Meadowhall a "commuter" Monday to Friday X7 into Sheffield. As a ghostly shadow if its illustrious predecessor, there is one Monday to Friday 87 from Maltby to Sheffield. 87 and X7 are now  run by Powells.

The 27 was joint with Yorkshire Traction ...
... and is now run (as 227) by Tates Travel.

That left the 10 and the 19 jointly operated with East Midland.
The 10 was split up and has since disappeared as such, being replaced by services to Crystal Peaks. The 19 remains in the sole care of Stagecoach.
Which leaves the 8 and 9, formerly joint trolleybus routes with Mexborough and Swinton ...
... but now a much changed part of the Stagecoach Dearne Valley network as route 221.

So RCT's tentacles spread wider than any other municipal operator with its many joint services; even some of its exclusives ran well outside the 1930 boundary. One of these was the very first motor bus route (to Thorpe Hesley) which was celebrated in yesterday's blog.
For the really dedicated enthusiast, these are the journeys to be operated by the repainted Rotherham bus.
 Monday to Friday :-
 Saturday :-
and  Sunday :-
Obviously, maintenance requirements mean that these schedules cannot be guaranteed 100%, but the company will do everything possible to stick to the above workings. The two Sheffield 100th special vehicles will join Rotherham's beauty on the X78 in due course.
 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 31st July 


  1. Saying that Rotherham ranged wider than ANY municipals is a bit sweeping. Walsall? They stretched from Stafford to West Bromwich and, latterly, Birmingham. Wolverhampton? They reached Bridgnorth, West Brom, etc. And I think the erstwhile 39 which took an age to get from Salford to Liverpool hjad some municipal input.

  2. Point taken Dennis. I suppose the rural nature of some of RCT's services makes them a bit different; but you are, of course, right!

  3. Cardiff ran to Newport and also to Merthyr Tydfil (until c1971). There was also the splendid Joint Councils 36 of happy memory between Cardiff and Tredegar (33 miles) shared between Cardiff, Caerphilly and the West Monmouthshire Omnibus Board ( and their successors). Not to be outdone, following the Gwent Valleys service rationalisation in 1968 both Bedwas & Machen and Gelligaer operated journeys on the Newport - Rhymney Bridge service.