Monday, 20 July 2015

Whither Derbyshire Lane? Part 1

A Slice of Sheffield History
As late as 1883, Sheffield had not yet splurged very far southwards. There is no Abbeydale Road, no Queens Road, but at least the important things are in place, namely the cricket ground on Bramall Lane, later to be the home of a once famous football team!

But historians tell us that a turnpike (toll road) was opened to Chesterfield in the mid 1700s. It had to climb a steep hill to escape from the city-to-be. Here in the 1790s is an engraving of a weary traveller desecnding the hill to the toll bar with a view of the flesh-pots of Sheffield across the verdant Sheaf Valley.
This "track" became known as Derbyshire Lane. Ta-da! It had a nice pub, The Cross Scythes, at the top of the hill to provide refreshment for exhausted travellers.
In 1797 a new (competitive?) turnpike was constructed on a slightly less precipitous alignment which became the present Chesterfield Road, somewhat eclipsing the original route.

But we can still follow Derbyshire Lane today. It is steep and, for the must part, narrow and one way up.
The Cross Scythes is still there, rebuilt to serve the expanding Norton Lees estates ...
... then the road opens out and has developed into a noticeable community complete with shops, another pub and, of course, a bus route.
At the top is one of the many entrances to Graves Park ...
... philanthropically donated to the City by Alderman J G of that ilk in 1925. Its land obliterated the former turnpike, but the route is marked by a parallel line of trees.
Derbyshire Lane (the narrow bit) and Chesterfield Road are separated by the former Woodside brickworks.
The lane and the newer Norton Lees development (1930s) can be seen top right. The quarry is now the Heeley Retail Park.
Spin the Google Earth pic about 45 degrees to the left and you can match the images.

Whereas trams ran up Chesterfield Road, first to Heeley, then Woodseats, then along Abbey Lane and up Meadowhead to a terminus at the former city boundary, hardworking motor buses scaled the steepness of Meersbrook.
And it was steep; too steep for trams! The Upperthorpe to Heeley Green service was the second motor bus route in the growing conurbation that became the City of Sheffield.
In 1929 the service, numbered 34, was extended via Norton Lees and Derbyshire Lane to the gates of Graves Park. By 1952 (the date of fbb's oldest Sheffield timetable) the service had become frequent.

We continue the tale tomorrow.
Farewell Fine Friend (Retired not Expired!)
Back in March 2014 fbb told the tale of Axminster Ticket Clerk Bob Driscoll and his above-and-beyond recovery from an fbb incompetence. See "Nostalgic Northampton Nurdle" (read again).

Bob has recently retired.
Rather than repeat the previously reported incident, fbb will simply quote from the Editorial in the Axminster local rag. It says it all. The editor opines:-

I’ve often written in this column how fortunate we are to live so close to the Exeter-Waterloo railway line and, generally speaking, what an excellent service it is. However, like many others who take the train from Axminster regularly, I am going to miss ticket clerk Bob Driscoll who has retired after a career spanning 50 years. 

If there was an award for Britain’s most helpful railway official, Bob would surely be in the running. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he was always anxious to make sure all railway travellers were treated fairly and politely. 

Bob was so highly thought-of by the customers of Axminster station that on his last day at work a number of them, accompanied by the Mayor, Councillor Douglas Hull, turned up at the station with a bottle of bubbly to toast him.

Bob was not only a credit to British Rail in an age when the service industry leaves much to be desired in many sectors, but also a credit to Axminster.

He will be much missed!

And a loud "amen" from fbb.
 First Glasgow - A PS 
The new (and apparently secret) Hospital services 15 and 16 referred to in a yesterday's blog (read again) did appear on First's site yesterday, the first day of operation.
This suggests that either the First Bus web master was poised at 0001 on Sunday to upload the tables, or, they were set to appear automatically based on date. But surely potential customers will want to know what is happening IN ADVANCE?
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 20th July 


  1. When trans first ran to heeley they did not use Chesterfield Riad they terminated on London Riad South oposite the pub ( may be red lion) remember the depot at heeley was BEFORE Chesterfield road.

    Note modern maps don't use the term London Road South but there is still a road sign for it

    The former quarry is NOT heeley retail park the retail site is on land that was heeley carriage sidings and latterly Greshams timber yard. Not to be confused with Arnold Lavers timber tard slightly to the north which was on the site of heeley goods yard.

  2. Another bus bloke boob. Thanks for the correction, Roy.

  3. Whilst not wanting to ‘second guess’ the next instalment of “Whither Derbyshire Lane?”, I can imagine that you will be lamenting alterations to route numbers in the forthcoming ‘throw it all in the air, see how it lands’ reworking of the Sheffield Bus Partnership.

    We should put the SBP in context along with other projects that SYPTE has undertaken over the past few years. It should not be forgotten that since David Brown vacated the DGs seat and went to Merseyside, the PTE has declined considerably – this has culminated most recently with the closure of the Information Centres, withdrawal of paper timetables and the total reliance on ‘self-serve’ channels. The rot appears to have set in with the North and South Park & Ride schemes in Doncaster. Even prior to the removal of the dedicated 638 service, this vanity project never reached anything like its potential and now see’s only a handful of users with hundreds of empty spaces every day. In Sheffield the Nunnery Park & Ride has seen a massive decline in patronage since the attendant staff were made redundant. The recently completed Elsecar Station Park & Ride site is served by just ONE train per hour – very convenient (not). The only Park & Ride scheme in the southwest of Sheffield (which generates large numbers of commuters) at Dore Station is over flowing every day.

    Many staff involved with strategy and planning are now being moved to the Sheffield City Region, denuding the core of SYPTE still further. There is little publicity about BRT North (remember that £38m+ scheme?) and what there is usually comes about in a negative context. Tram Train? Oh yes the first of the new units will arrive in late 2015 but won’t actually see Rotherham Parkgate until 2017 – only then if Network Rail have done their bit and wired the line from Tinsley (confidence levels? Zero). The tram network has not increased 1mm since it was completed in the early 90s and yet we see the networks in Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham expanding and what’s more usually welcomed by those that live on the new routes. Yet in Sheffield all we get are plans - reworked every two years to keep some staff in a job.

    So SBP? Like all projects involving SYPTE we shouldn’t get too excited – no ambition, no teeth, little support from the travelling public and as stated last week, pathetic attempts at “consultation” for what is clearly ‘a done deal’.

    1. However it may be dressed up, the primary aim of the changes to the SBP is to cut costs and the revised network which is the subject of the current 'consultation' will reduce the number of buses on the network by between 5 and 10%. The extent of the changes, combined with the almost guaranteed lack of information and publicity will inevitably lead to a further drop in patronage and revenue, which, it has to be hoped, will not exceed the cost savings. And there seems to be no immediate prospect whatever of new Euro 6 buses to address the city's dire air quality issues. In short, Sheffield does not have the quality of public transport that a city of its size and status merits, and it's about to get worse. It also lacks the leadership to get anything done about it.

    2. What you say Anon reinforces my statement about the PTE. It is becoming more and more toothless and with the pull of the SCR combined with the prospect of the addition of the "Transport for the North" statutory body this will only get worse.

  4. The quarry is now the Heeley Retail Park? Heeley Retail park is in the valley bottom on Chesterfield Road, near to Windsor Road. The the retail park in the old quarry is in fact Woodside Retail Park. See for details of Heeley Retail Park. For information (address) of one of the shops at Woodside Retail Park see the web page.