Friday, 21 November 2014

Stagecoach are Bettering Buses to Kettering [4]

And on to Market Harborough.
Around 1570, Robert Smith (or Smyth?), from the town, walked to London. By 1598, he had become comptroller of the City of London. In 1607 he founded Market Harborough Grammar School. The building still exists in the Market Place. For the first 150 years, it was only open to boys who were of the Anglican faith.

From an omnibological point of view, Market Harborough was a boundary town. Midland Red (later Midland Fox, now Arriva) approached from Leicester. Another bit of Midland Red arrived from Rugby and United Counties rumbled in from Northampton, Kettering and Corby. Things are very different now:-
The 43 is a variant of the X43; the 77 ditto of the X7. Rural Riders are occasional days only routes.
It is what remains of the United Counties "network" that is the interest of this blog. The X7 has been doubled in frequency between Northampton, Market Harborough and Kibworth.
This odd destination, part way to Leicester, mystified Northamptonian bus watchers; but the Stagecoach web site reveals all (nearly all). The magic words "Section 106 funding" are quoted. This is a scheme whereby local authorities and/or developers sling money at bus companies to ensure a good "start-up" service for the folk who buy their houses. Explained at last, perhaps, by a big development at Kibworth Meadows?
Good bus territory at Kibworth Meadows?

The other remaining United Counties route offered just six journeys a day Monday to Friday between Kettering and Market Harborough in 1952 (service 9).
Intriguingly there were twice as many journeys on Saturdays when all good housewives would trek to their local market for bargains, fresh produce and a cheap lunch! On Sunday afternoons, through until 2200, the service was hourly. How times have changed, eh?

In the renumbering it became 259 but by the time of the Great Britain Bus Timetable (e.g. year 2000) it was a 19, offering much the same level of service Monday to Friday ...
... but with no Saturday enhancement. On Sunday you had three tendered journeys.

Yet again, Stagecoach developed the route until it became an hourly service 18 Monday to Saturday (only) as reported yesterday.
Like the 18, the replacement X43 serves the Cromwell Crescent estate in Market Harborough ...
... on a double run from the bus station.
Did this area once have the more prosaic name of "Southern Estate"?

Bus Station? Did fbb write "bus station"? There used to be one, with proper, if rudimentary, departure stands.
The equivalent stop, outside the Market Hall, is spartan by comparison. Two shelters and a couple of stop poles?
This exuberant facility is on the fringes of the town centre. The X7 to Leicester, for example, stops at the much more useful High Street.
So the 18 becomes an X43 and is extended fast (less slow?) to Northampton. Whilst residents of Market Harborough would use the X7, the new link gives the good folk of Braybrook, Desborough and Rothwell their first-ever through bus link to the retail fleshpots of central Northampton. Only time will tell if this facility proves attractive to the customers.
P.S. re: Southern Estate.

A new Southern Estate was planned to accommodate 700 dwellings, shopping centre, school and recreation ground. The Council laid initial access roads named after personalities of the Battle of Naseby since these fields were crossed by both armies on 14 June 1645. A plaque now records the events and was unveiled by Mrs H.B. Lenthall on 1 February 1951 to mark the opening of the Estate development. Around 150 dwellings were built for rent with the remaining plots available for private building. The final phase of development occurred in the 1980s. 

fbb's memory ain't that bad after all!
A Sheffield Correspondent
in Kettering writes:-

"All Stagecoach timetable leaflets for Kettering are also available on a self-service basis from racks inside the Stagecoach Depot which is about half way between the Railway  Station and the Town Centre stops. There is also a window where you can ring a bell for attention between certain times to speak to a human. There is a "safe route" round the depot to this facility."
follow the green brick road (centre right)
for secret Stagecoach timetables?

"BUT, of course, THE PUBLIC WILL NOT BE AWARE OF THIS. It is only the curious, informed, enthusiasts and people like me (which category am I?) who will know they can obtain information there. I was in Kettering at about 1700 on Wednesday, en route back from Corby and collected publicity for the changes."

Thank you John H.
 Next split ticket blog : Saturday 22nd November 

1 comment:

  1. This one brings back a lot of memories for me. I worked for Leicester City Transport and exactly forty years ago was being taught to drive (on a Leyland PD crash gear box ) for a dual car and PSV licence (office staff shouldn't be responsible for jobs they can't do themselves!).

    The driving school had various routes they took you on once you had grasped the essentials and Market Harborough was a favoured destination as the bus station had a cafe. The surprise to me was that such a large bus station had no enquiry office probably due to it being a 'border town' between the companies. I think there were some timetable displays but nowhere I knew to get a timetable. If my memory serves correctly N & S coaches operated one return journey a day plus a market day return from a village to the west. Also possibly a service from the north east by Nesbits? All had timetables but you had to write or visit them to get a copy (all buried somewhere in my part sorted library)..

    Two months ago we were in the area, returning from a family event, and found ourselves driving through Market Harborough. One of the ladies saw a shop that she couldn't live without visiting (!) and road side parking permitted a limited stop in the High Street. The place was a lot busier than I remembered, and the nearby bus stops saw many buses during the short spell we were there. The market building was visible in the distance so I don't see its location as a drawback. Unfortunately insufficient time to try and source any publicity on the ground.

    On returning home I attempted to print off a Leicestershire County Council bus map for Market Harborough. Simple but adequate - just a shame it prints out at about 75% width of the page against a full A4 size. It was dated August 2014 and the route list is I see somewhat different from that in the list above (so I'll be printing off a more up to date one shortly). Centrebus have previously produced a small booklet of their services in the area but this was 'out of print' at the time and reliant on photocopies.