Thursday, 23 April 2015

Consternation at Castell Cas-gwent [1]

It was all Henry VIII's Fault ...
It usually was!

Henry VIII did not see the need to reform the government of Wales at the beginning of his reign, but gradually he perceived a threat from some of the remaining Marcher lords and therefore instructed his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, to seek a solution. His solution was the annexation or incorporation of Wales. Effectively he legislated for Wales to become part of England!

He didn't consult the Welsh! It would appear that the legislative draughtsmen missed Monmouthshire off the list, so until it was finally resolved in 1972, no one really knew whether it was part of Wales or not. The omission was irrelevant anyway as it was all intended to be part of "England". Hence, in fbb's youth, the Principality was always referred to as "Wales and Monmouthshire".
Chepstow's Castle, situated on a clifftop above the Wye and its bridge, is often cited as the oldest surviving stone castle in Britain. The castle was established, to quell the uruly Welsh, by William FitzOsbern immediately after the Norman conquest, and was extended in later centuries before becoming ruined after the Civil War. A Benedictine priory was also established within the walled town, which was the centre of the Marcher lordship of Striguil.

So it was that Paul, our Bristol correspondent, toddled off for a day trip last Sunday; and the ever-vigilant Paul kept his beady eye open for matters of omnibological interest.
Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy) is quite a small rural county with Gloucestershire to the east, the River Severn to the south, the Welsh "Valleys"  (e.g. Torfaen)  and Newport (Casnewydd) on the western side and lots of sheep to the north. So it does not have a huge amount of bus information to contend with. (Click on the list to enlarge it)
17 are routes operating Monday to Saturday; four operate on occasional days leaving 3 Monouth locals (Ws), three Abargavenny locals (43, 45 and 46) and five Chepstow locals (C1 to C5). Service 1 is a Brynmawr (Blaenau Gwent) local that just creeps across the border.

Most services are Stagecoach with Phil Anslow as a recgnisable name among the "independents". First Bus creeps in with tendered Sunday journeys on service 34 between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye with positioning journeys from a base in Hereford.
Approaching from Bristol, First also runs the X7 (Bristol - Newport) partial successor to a complex "X" service joint with Stagecoach running through to Cardiff. Contrary to expectations, this has a very presentable hourly Sunday frequency as far as Chepstow.
It was an X7 that correspondent Paul caught for his day out.
Chepstow does have what it calls a bus station, consisting of 5 chevron laybys outside the Co-op ...
... and blessed with one solitary shelter and not much else. The co-op and bus laybys are on Thomas Street (bottm left on the aerial view) ...
... and the Castle entrance is top right. So we trot off to the car park in Bridge Street and seek an answer to Paul's question. After a Castle visit, can I catch a us back to the co-op, or must I walk?

Guess what the answer is - on a Sunday!
News announces last Monday is that Andrew Dyer, GM of Stagecoach South (Portsmouth, Chichester, Worthing, Aldershot etc. etc.) is to retire in July.

Andrew worked as a District Manager for the National Bus Company in Exeter and Cheltenham before joining Cheltenham & Gloucester Omnibus Co in 1986. He became Commercial Director and then Managing Director of the business, which was bought by Stagecoach in 1993.

After spending two years at South West Trains as General Manager, Wessex Division (in charge of the Weymouth and Exeter Lines) in the late 1990s, we was appointed managing Director of Stagecoach South in 1999, a post which he has held ever since.

He is also a regular participant in the annual Worthing-based Southdown running day and other such enthusiast events.
His successor is blog-reader Mike Watson, currently GM of Stagecoach Devon ...
... and recent generous donor of sausage, chips and a mugga to fbb!

Best wishes to both these splendid folk in their new roles!
 Next bus blog : Friday 24th April 

1 comment:

  1. While it's true that the X14 did initially run to Cardiff, it was cut back to Newport around 1999 when it became apparent that Cardiff was equivalent to a Welsh version of the Bermuda Triangle where timetables and X14s vanished without trace!