Saturday, 2 May 2015

GWR, GWR and GWR [5]

Welcome to Winchcombe.
During Anglo-Saxon times, Winchcombe was a chief city of Mercia favoured by Coenwulf. During the Anarchy of the 12th century, a motte-and-bailey castle was erected in the early 1140s by Roger Fitzmiles, 2nd Earl of Hereford for the Empress Matilda, although the exact site of this is unknown. In the Restoration period, Winchcombe was noted for cattle rustling and other lawlessness, caused in part by poverty. In an attempt to earn a living, local people grew tobacco as a cash crop, despite this practice having been outlawed since the Commonwealth. Soldiers were sent in on at least one occasion to destroy the illegal crop.

But fbb is assured that it is quite safe to visit now.

The "Cotsworlds" web site does not admit to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway as being a local attraction ...
... and under a heading "Steam Railways" guides visitors to Toddington in a list of lines that includes Severn Valley (Kidderminster), Avon Valley (Bristol) and other Heritage railways NOT in the Cotswolds.

One reason for this coyness is that Winchcombe Station is not at Winchcombe!

It is at Greet ...
... a pace or two north of the village whose name it bears.
Winchcombe station, in common with a number of former Great Western Railway stations, is not actually in the place it carries the name for and is situated in the village of Greet about 1 mile outside Winchcombe.

Winchcombe's facilities include a 1950's style coffee shop on the platform where you can have a drink or a snack before catching the train. Please note that there is only limited car parking at Winchcombe.

Bus can we get there by bus? YES WE CAN. Traveline lists three services (plus another three schooldays only routes) ...
... of which the 656 is a shopping bus for Tesco ...
... returning from Bishops Cleeve's super Supertore at 12 noon. Which leaves us the 606 and 606S. The Monday to Saturday timetable on Traveline is, as we come to expect, utterly baffling. (click on the timetable extract to enlarge).
Buses call at "Greet Harvest Home" (1230 and 1658) or "Greet opp The Pines" (0843, 1030, 1234, 1516 and 1811); then at the bottom absolutely nothing serves GWR Railway, The Pines (again!) and Otters Field.

Does the Traveline map help? A bit.
Harvest Home would be the "glass" symbol to left with "The Pines" round the corner. Otters Field is on the right and not the best stop for the station. Here is a Streetview picture of road and pub ...
... with not a bus stop in sight. Round the corner, "The Pines" stop is equally clearly labelled.
Is that a Marchants 606 approaching the invisible stops? No. Marchants have a predominantly red livery.
But hold fast me hearties. On Sundays, the 606 and 606S (S for Stratford upon Avon, a Sunday extension) advertise a stop "opp Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway".  It is here ...
... and equally clearly signed. There it isn't, just next to the easily spotted white-on-brown pointer to the station.

Obviously if you were coming to Winchcombe by bus you would hope that the driver could let you off at the appropriate stop. But how would it be if you arrived at Winchcombe by train to travel to Cheltenham on the 606?

But thanks to some astounding detective work by Alan, our Northampton correspondent, this blog can now reveal ...
 ... that there is public transport information at Greet. Oh yes! Look; on a lamppost opposite the pub is a timetable frame ...
... containing timetables. There are no bus stop flags, no guidance as to where any one of the six possible stops might be; but there is information. Alan was unable to stop to check whether it was up to date; but why worry? Everybody knows where the 606 stops in Greet, don't they.

Other sources of information for the 606 include Gloucestershire ...
... where, once you know the route number, you get a link to the Traveline timetable. Big Deal! The "open map" button opens to a google map of the county with no bus information. Great! Or should that be "Greet"!
Marchants own timetable is a little better ...
... as it makes some attempt to explain things. Even so, that 0840 at Becketts Lane The Pines does serve the GWR stop at 0841. As, presumably, that's the main reason for running a bus that early on a Sunday, a little more thought in presentation might help.

Welcome to the world of UK Public Transport Information.

Somehow you are left with the feeling that nobody want you to travel to the GWR by bus. A pity, because it is a splendid line.
GWR web site in (here)

Tomorrow, fbb is off to Paris - where things may be different.
The fbb chosen five star Parisian Hotel with three Michelin rosettes (in your dreams, pal) has WiFi (in French, WiFi; pronounced WeeFee) and fbb intends to summarise each day's activity. Monday 4th will be a report on Sunday 3rd and so on. In the event of technical problems, fbb will be copying the BBC etc. and publishing selected repeats from the last five years of Public Transport Experience.

Detailed blogs on Parisian transport topics will continue from time to time over the ensuing months.
 Bank Holiday weekend rail blog : Sunday 3rd May 


  1. The Gloucestershire map uses Open Street Map rather than Google, and when opened in Firefox, does show the route and bus stops.

    According to the NaPTAN database, the Cheltenham-bound stop at Harvest Home is marked (the others are 'custom'). By deduction, the case must be what deems it to be marked - though I wouldn't mind betting that regular passengers wait at the seat on the other side of the junction, next to the post box.

    Finally, it might be worth advising the GWR of the Greet bus stops, as their advice is "Passengers should get off at Harvest Home Public House in Greet or Becketts Lane stop, and walk back to Winchcombe Station, approximately 3 minutes away".

  2. Re maps and browsers ; aAlways check that your clever and twiddly web site works in all browsers. Not all of us are sucked into Google's and Microslop's "we rule the world" policy!

  3. The silver 'not Marchants' bus in The Pines pic is one of Castleways' Mercedes Citaros. Marchants took over the service (and some of the buses, I believe) when Castleways closed down a couple of years or so ago (I think when the owning family decided to retire, but again I stand to be corrected on that). Castleways were a splendid firm whose vehicles were always immaculately presented and who produced some decent publicity.

  4. The stop for the GWR at Greet is only served by the 606S, and therefore on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays only. On other days of the week the service is 606 and does not stop there, although it does go past. The reason for the difference is not clear but may well be entwined with such matters as Gloucestershire CC subsidy for the 606.

    To take a bus on the many more days that the GWR operates and the 606S doesn't they are correct in suggesting you should go to The Pines and walk from there.

    A possible solution is for the GWR to convert a couple of vehicle wheel rims into temporary bus stops and put them out on Sundays, or get Marchants to do the same thing and bring them up on the first departure from Cheltenham and pick them up again on the last departure to Cheltenham.

    The reason for the complicated timetable on Traveline can be seen if you look at the map for the 606 and see the large number of possible permutations or journey.