Sunday, 15 May 2016

Transforming Troglodyte Travel (2)

Waterloo to St Pancras by Bus (1)
On his route north to Sunny Sheffield, fbb had arranged to meet No 3 son outside W H Smiths on the lower level at St Pancras International station. The meeting with the great and good of the Sheffield's public transport network (PTE, First and Stagecoach) was scheduled for 1500, thus it would be prudent to allow at least one train's-worth of recovery time.

As this precaution was not needed, there was more than enough time to cross London by bus, hence the No 59.
Route 59 was introduced in 1999 in order to replace part of route 109 and also provide a service between Streatham and Euston station. It was and still is contracted to Arriva London.

On 10 November 2007 the route was extended from Euston to King's Cross. The move, which was intended to provide a direct link between Waterloo and St Pancras stations, coincided with the relocation of the Eurostar terminal.

New Routemasters (aka Borismasters) were introduced on 22 March 2016.

fbb's bus was appropriately in a Boris political blue colour!
We will see why later.

Although London bus timetables are a State Secret, information screens at the stop were helpful after fbb just missed one.
The next ten journeys are shown and the information is in very real real time. Buses pulled up as the minutes changed to "DUE" with almost spooky accuracy. On a 6/7 minute frequency, the next 59 departure was shown as in 4 minutes (!), so real it was. The bus was only lightly loaded, so a seat near the front on the top deck was available. Enjoy the ride.
The subway route to Tennison Way had taken fbb under the station cab road, under Mepham Street and under the railway line from Charing Cross to Waterloo East. Whilst waiting for a couple of changes of traffic lights to permit escape from the bus lay-by, "South Eastern" trains trundled by.
In the background is the tower block that formed the focus of the Shell Centre.
Much of this huge site is now refurbished as private housing; but fbb remembers that, back in his teenage days, you could pay a shilling (such extravagance!) and ride the lifts to the top floor for what was then the best view of the Thames and its surroundings. Now you can take out a second mortgage and ride the London Eye!
The Festival Hall (1951) is to the right and Big Ben (correctly now "The Elizabeth Tower", Ben is a bell.) is framed by the ever turning wheel.

The Thames looked glorious in warm summer sun.
Here is Cleopartra's "Needle" cynically pinched from the Egyptians in 1877; and the magnificent Shellmex Building now more prosaically known ans No 80 The Strand. The clock ...
... nicknamed "Big Benzene", is the largest building mounted clock in the UK.

Glance the other way and many of London's more modern buildings adorn the view. Now dwarfed by modernity, stands St Paul's Cathedral, once the biggest edifice on the city's skyline.

We've been rolling for barely 5 minutes and there has been much to see. On leaving Waterloo Bridge, your top-deck blogger wonders how many bus passengers will understand the significance of the tunnel entrance on the right of the bus.

Called prosaically the "Strand Underpass A301" ...
... it was built using part of the Kingsway tunnel which took trams from The Embankment through to an exit near Holborn underground station.
Two tram stops were in the bowels of the earth, one just north of Aldwych ...
... and the other is near the northern exit which we will meet in tomorrow's blog. The Subterranean Britannica site has an excellent section on this fascinating bit of London's transport heritage (here).

Tomorrow, we complete the journey. Meanwhile ...
Crazy at Coombe
Blog reader Peter got in touch with fbb who reprints extracts from his emails as received.
But why, you may ask? What is special about this obscure little halt? Peter explained all a week or so ago.
Passenger services to Looe commenced on 11 September 1879, but the Moorswater terminus ...
... was inconvenient as it was remote from Liskeard and a long way from the Cornwall Railway station on the south side of the town. On 15 May 1901 the railway opened a curving link line from Coombe Junction, a little south of Moorswater, to the now Great Western Railway station at Liskeard. The section from Coombe Junction to Moorswater was closed to passenger traffic on the same day but passenger numbers tripled. The new connecting line had to climb a considerable vertical interval to reach the Cornish Main Line which passed above Moorswater on a 147 feet (45m) high viaduct.
Hence the unprecendented crowds at Coombe for the second and final train of the day, 115 years later!
What as gloriously silly idea; but great fun. Will it become an annual event?
 Next 59 ride blog - Monday 16th May 

No comments:

Post a Comment