Friday 26 September 2014


What a Super Mess in Weston Super Mare
When fbb last blogged about North Somerset's biggest and brashest seaside resort it was in connection with "trouble at 't'mill" for Webberbus. Fell free to do a bit of revision. See "Worrying Wobbles in Weston" episodes [1], [2] and [3] penned in February 2013.

Then, the "super mess" was with tendered bus services. This time the mess is largely of fbb's creation; his research and preparation was well below par; it was also not helped by diffuse bus publicity. fbb had arrived from Burnham-on-Sea via Service 76 which deposited him here in Regent Street ...
... next to this giant drain-cleaner which doesn't lean dangerously; it's a trick of Google Streetview!

A structure known as Silica was installed at Big Lamp Corner during 2006. It is a piece of public art, an advertising sign, a retail kiosk selling newspapers and hot food. It has been criticised by local residents who liken it to a carrot or a space ship (but not a drain cleaner), although it is meant to symbolise man's harmony with the sea. This was part of North Somerset Council's ongoing civic pride initiative that has sought to revitalise Weston-super-Mare's public spaces. 

fbb's bus ... 
... from Burnham then set off up Regent Street to lurk somewhere in the distance. fbb then spotted it returning in the opposite direction, picking up passengers from the shelters opposite the springy carrot.
fbb's cunning plan was to catch Buses of Somerset service 21 which runs the "slow" way via Burnham and Bridgwater back to Taunton. A quick look at the mobile phone suggested that the old man might miss (or have missed) his chosen bus; certainly it never appeared. Never mind; the half hour until the next trip could be filled by further investigations.

But first check that the 21 did indeed leave from Regent Street. Yep, thus spake the BoS timetable book ...
...  and thus fbb made his first serious bludner. But no matter, there was loads of maps posted at almost every stop.
But this production showed no route numbers (why not?); for these you had to look at the panel below and match the colours.
This panel also gave the town centre stop letters ...
... which are not shown on the map. But at least fbb now knew that he was looking for stop N. Here your intrepid blogger made his second serious bludner. He had looked directly at a diagram showing where all the stops were located a few minutes earlier; but ignored it!

On an unassuming wall at the corner of High Street (opposite the drain cleaner/carrot) was an electronic next bus departure display. This is nowhere near any bus stop and, as usual, an impossible to phone-photograph.
It appeared to be the only such device in Weston. But next to it is the only map showing bus stop letters. Of course, you have to stand there like a wally until your service appears on the screen in order to find your stop.

The aimless wandering around Regent Street did reveal a few interesting pictures. Where once First Bus was the only game in town, Crosville have become an obvious player. fbb spotted several local services ...
... the open top service 100 to Sand Bay ...
... operated by an ex Edinburgh (Lothian) decker. Also awaiting passengers was the town tour ...
... and a very familiar vehicle indeed. The history of this bus deserves a blog in its own right (and, one day, it may well get one!) but, suffice it to say, it has carried fbb, friends and families on many an open top ride on the Isle of Wight. Registration VDL 613S ran as a convertible open topper for many years in many liveries.

By now fbb had missed one service 21 and failed to find the stop for the next. If he had bothered to focus his addled brain on the timetable book he would have seen ...
... that the BoS enters and leaves the town via the station (bottom right). It then creeps via back streets to the sea front (lower left) and picks up at stop N; the very stop by the carrot/drain cleaner where fbb alighted from his Webberbus 76. But, of course, it does NOT stop opposite stop N on its return journey. Bonus for Webberbus as seen above!

Thus fbb realised his errors after missing another 21 (now an hour behind planned schedule), panicking and catching a 76 back to Burnham. Ironically a party of six tourists also caught the 76 thinking it was "the bus to Burnham" aiming to alight at Brean Leisure Park ...
... and have lots of fun. They were decidedly dis-chuffed upon arriving in Burnham-on-Sea having seen no sign of funky fun on the way. The 76, remember, is "fast" and doesn't go past the gut-churning house of happiness. It transpired that they couldn't find the 21 stop either.

Perhaps a lesson for Buses of Somerset? The company lost six adult singles and an OAP; from the Webberbus loading from Weston (all seats taken) it would appear that the 21's terminal circuitousness is a sore disadvantage in the competition stakes.

Weston-super-Mud is in North Somerset which isn't the same as Somerset.

Between 1 April 1974 and 31 March 1996, it was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon (named after Woodspring Priory, an isolated mediaeval church near the coast just north east of Weston-super-Mare).

The district of Woodspring was formed from the municipal boroughs of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead urban districts, Long Ashton Rural District, and part of Axbridge Rural District. Though the government proposed that the new unitary area be known as "North West Somerset" from 1 April 1996, the council voted instead to adopt the name "North Somerset" and so the name "North West Somerset" was never widely used.

North Somerset is much more bus-friendly than its ancient master. BUT, please, please, can we have a stops map posted in all the frames round the central area? If they had been there, (and if he had used a bit more of his brain?) fbb might have found his 21.

GCSE will conclude later.

 Next bus blog : Saturday 27th September 

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