Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Long Buckby - Getting There

In the days of fbb's tininess, there were two possibilities - train or bus.

When your esteemed (?) blogger was taken to visit "Aunt" Rose, he went by bus because it stopped outside her house.
fbb's detailed memory of the journey is dim but a United Counties timetable from 1952 is likely to have been in force, or something very much like it. Then it was service 58, which, fbb thinks, became 308 on the great United Counties renumbering.
There were journeys seven days a week.

What the lad does remember, oddly, is that the bus set off down a lane to Ravensthorpe ...
... turned at the village ...
... and returned the same way to East Haddon. No-one boarded, no-one alighted; and this was in the mid to late 1950s. Plus ├ža change!

By the 1970s, Long Buckby had weclomed a service jointly operated by United Counties and Midland Red. 
Midland Red ran through to Coventry, this being the remnant of the long standing X96 which, in its heyday, linked Northampton with Shrewsbury.
Journeys via Long Buckby Station and (Buckby) Wharf had become peak times only Monday to Friday and return journeys to "Aunt" Rose would not have been possible from the Northampton end. Alas, both "Aunt" Rose and fbb's gran had, by then, shuffled off this mortal coil.
Roll forward to 2017 and the nearest you get to Buckby Wharf from Northampton is Stagecoach service 96.
Were fbb to wish to take a nostalgic stroll to see of raspberries still grow in the cottage garden, he could take the 96 ...
... most journeys of which do a double run down the hill from Long Buckby to the Station.
Worry not, dear reader, if fbb ever did return to his haunts of over 60 years ago it would be in the comparative luxury of a motor car.

What about D4 on the map?
An hourly service from Daventry to Long Buckby via the Station and Buckby Wharf? "Aunt" Rose would be gobsmacked - except that there wasn't too much smacking of gobs back in her day.

So why this superabundance of buses to long Buckby; and what about trains?

But why December 25th?

We are all familiar with the image: falling snow, lighted windows, a curl of smoke from a pretty cottage and a snowman in the front garden.
So strong is the image that a couple of chums of the fbb's, who emigrated to Australia, were amused to visit their local shopping mall as their first Christmas "down under" approached. As they entered, strains of "Frosty The Snowman" wafted along the walkways!
Note the "snow" at the reindeer's feet! And this is during the heat of mid-summer in Oz. Bondi Beach, anyone?
Or perhaps you might read an item in the January 1872 edition of Scribners Monthly in London?
It was here that this poem first appeared.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Christina Rosetti wrote the words which were later set to music by Gustav Holst (of "Planets" fame) to create one of our most enduring carols; enduring but wrong!


There wasn't any snow at Bethlehem at the time "The First Christmas" happened. The "bleak midwinter" has been part of a manufactured back-story since the Victorian era. Blame Charles Dickens and folk memories of colder winters in the distant past.

The original and best Christ Mas was most likely in Bethlehem's warmer times. Luke, Gospel writer, explains it thus:-

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.

If it had been winter, the sheep would have been brought down from the hills and into a covered overnight refuge. Not only wouldn't there be any room at the inn, all the caves, stables and cattle sheds would be full of animals. there would have been no room there either.

So where does December 25th come from?
 Next Long Buckby blog : Wednesday 6th December 

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