Wednesday, 23 April 2014

fbb Declares an Interest ... [1]

... in Sittingbourne.
The town is located on the A2, the pilgrims way to Canterbury taken by Geoffrey Chaucer's tale tellers.

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
And specially from every shires ende
By Sidyngborne to Caunterbury they wende

Chaucer experts may spot a small piece of editorial adjustment by fbb; but "Sidyngborne" is mentioned in the Wife of Bath's Tale. Much later than our Geoff, and in the 18th century, Sittingbourne was just a minor blip on the Canterbury Road.
Milton was the more important port and trading centre. Nowadays both Milton and Chalkwell have been absorbed into a much bigger settlement.
Apart from a passing "credit" in "The Canterbury Tales", what is Sittingbourne famous for? Probably for paper mills and the crossing to the Isle of Sheppey.

The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway in Kent is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway that operates from Sittingbourne to the banks of The Swale. The line was developed as an industrial railway by paper maker Frank Lloyd in 1904, to transport carry pulp materials and finished products between Ridham Dock on the River Swale to the company's paper mill at Sittingbourne, and from the mid-1920's to a second mill at Kemsley.

In the late 1960s the railway faced closure by its then owners Bowater, but the Locomotive Club of Great Britain accepted an offer to operate the railway from 1970. The section of line from Kemsley Down to Ridham Dock was however abandoned for redevelopment of the paper mills. In 2008-09, the line again survived a threat of closure due to the owners of Sittingbourne Paper Mill closing the mill and selling the land, the lease then held by the railway expired in January 2009. Negotiations resulted in the railway being saved, although no public trains ran in 2009.
The line runs mainly on Sundays and bank holidays with Tuesday running in August. Here is a typical timetable ...
... which comes with the depressing note that the Milton Regis halt is closed because of vandalism. The railway's web site is (here). The line is industrial rather than picturesque ...
... but fascinating nevertheless. Sittingbourne Viaduct station is within walking distance of National Rail at Sittingbourne.

Some parts of Sittingbourne haven't changed too much in the last 50 years, as here at Canterbury Road ...
... but the town centre has gained the Forum, a shopping "mall" replacing older property between the traditional High Street (bottom left) and the station (top left).
Many of the streets shown below have disappeared.
Not only has the town changed, but so have its buses. Once upon a time almost exclusively Maidstone and District; ...
... successors to the green buses was Arriva. There have been retrenchments and loss of tenders leaving the 333 ...
... and 334 to Maidstone and a couple of local routes, one to Kemsley and one to Great Easthall.
By far the majority of local services, plus the "Main line" route from Sittingbourne to Chatham, are operated by Chalkwell.
A recent news item in "Route One" magazine shows that there have been some significant changes from early April.
It is here that fbb must declare an interest, as will be revealed tomorrow.
Parkway Publicity Problem
Bristol correspondent Paul has directed fbb to a batch of changes in the Bristol area as a result of expansion of Southmead Hospital. Doubtless further blogs will proceed. In the meantime, Paul points out that First's 18 route changed on 13th April.
Service 18 (Emersons Green - Henbury): To coincide with the expansion of Southmead Hospital a number of significant changes are being made to Service 18. The route will change so that buses operate via Gloucester Road North, Filton Road and Monks Park Avenue (instead of Southmead Road). This change, which follows customer requests, means a new direct link to the hospital will be created from Gloucester Road North and Filton Road. In addition to this the route is being extended beyond Southmead to Henbury, via Westbury, Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston. Buses will run every half an hour Monday to Friday daytimes, and hourly on Saturdays.

So quite a big change! But First have produced a new leaflet and thus get a gold star on their chart!

The information rack at Bristol Parkway station, however, offers a choice of TWO leaflets. This one ...
... with its start date:-
Or, as an alternative, this one ...
... with its start date:-
Both out of date leaflets are helpfully displayed together in the rack.
In case you had forgotten, Bristol Parkway station is run by ...
Well done all concerned!
 Next bus blog : Thursday 24th April 

1 comment:

  1. The rack of leaflets at Milton Keynes Central station (see still has an out of date timetable for the 7 (and no doubt others too).
    But it did prove useful to see what had changed to accommodate the electric buses' needs!