Saturday, 17 August 2019

Blue Or Red : There's More To Be Said (2)

The keen modeller could buy a blue Coronation class loco plus some blue coaches to make a partial representations of the train which started running in 1937. These have appeared in various forms over the years and usually consisted of a loco and three coaches in the blue and white streamlined livery.
Or was it silver?

No longer in production, today's prospective purchaser could buy second hand; and there is plenty available, loco and coaches at widely variable prices.
But what about the set in LMS maroon with gold stripes?
No longer available but, apparently, also obtainable in "bits" "pre-owned"?

Not only are they always more expensive (often horrifically so as we saw yesterday) but inevitably the coaches are tagged as being "out of stock".

It is, in some ways odd that this "red" train should be more popular and thus more pricey because it actually never existed.

After building five blue streamlined engines, the LMS announced that it had a further five under construction but, like the Hornby model, in maroon and gold. 

Here is the cover of a 1939 Meccano Magazine ...
... showing the train powering our of Euston's platform 1. The picture is remarkably similar to one of a blue train ...
... doing its stuff in a copy-cat manner.

In 1939 LMS added a big headlight and a bell to the front of red 6229 Duchess of Hamilton and renamed and renumbered it to 6220 Coronation.
The loco was duly shipped off to the USA ...
... together with a set of coaches, also in maroon and gold. Some were articulated in pairs and all were given a valance below the solebar to accentuate the "streamlined" image.
It even had a poshed-up back end! At least one photo on-line shows canvas "curtains" between the coaches, again (but rather crudely) designed to make the streamlining more of a stream!
The train toured various sites and then took its place at the main exhibition as a static display.
There was a very detailed information board provided ...
... and visitors were invited to walk through the carriages to experience to luxury of rail travel in the UK.

But a nasty nazi little man was causing great distress in Europe and war was declared. The maroon Coronation Scot was marooned! The loco eventually returned to Blighty in 1942, the coaches a while later.

But a blanket speed limit with "is your journey really necessary" for the duration and nationalisation soon after hostilities were concluded meant that slick streamline expresses never returned to the UK rail network.

The locos had their streamlining removed and the maroon and gold coach set was split up, had its gold removed and the vehicles were marshalled in "ordinary" trains.

A maroon Coronation Scot clone NEVER operated in the UK and NEVER carried paying passengers anywhere in the world.

The National Railway Museum owned (4)6229 in preservation and arranged to have its streamlined casing rebuilt.
It usually sits with a "matching" LMS coach ...
... which is nothing like anything which went to New York.

A model enthusiast has created two car articulated pairs ...
... which look the part, 'tis true, but fbb can find no clear on-line evidence that they are totally authentic.

But we can only imagine what such a train would have done for the struggling post war railways had it been retained and used "proper-like".

Incidentally, the loco's designer (Sir William Stanier) ...
... opined that streamlining was of no practical use whatsoever, but bowed to the LMS publicity machine, saying; "we'll build them five as they want" ...
... "then set to and built the real ones!"

fbb ends with couple of snaps of the train "on tour" in America.
It does look small against the yankee giants ...
... but undoubtedly more graceful and stylish - less garish, less threatening!

 Sunday Snippets blog : Sunday 18th August 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Blue Or Red : There's More To Be Said (1)

Have you heard of this man?
A composer and song writer whose most famous ditty was probably "Spread A Little Happiness" as featured on the sheet music album above. Then there is this group, snapped in 1937!
Then there is this author ...
... whose most endearing character was played, for many years on radio and TV, by this actor.
Top is Francis Durbridge; below is Francis Matthews. And there's this tune, and these pictures, which link them all together ...
... with a recent but failed purchase for the model railway.

The theme tune to the Paul Temple amateur detective series on the good old steam radio was "Coronation Scot" written by Vivian Ellis!

Paul Temple is a fictional character, created by English writer Francis Durbridge (1912–1998). Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and an amateur private detective. Together with his journalist wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve from her pen name 'Steve Trent', he solves whodunnit crimes through subtle, humorously articulated deduction. Always the gentleman, the strongest oath he ever utters is "by Timothy".

Created for the BBC radio serial Send for Paul Temple in 1938, the Temples featured in more than 30 BBC radio dramas, four British feature films, a dozen novels, and a BBC television series. A Paul Temple daily newspaper strip ran in the London Evening News for two decades.

The series regularly features on Radio 4 Extra.

Be that as it may, readers may remember fbb's unbridled excitement when chum Richard sent him a tatty old Hornby Dublo tank wagon.
The post can be re-read (here).

As you author was browsing through the second hand lists from Hattons of Widnes ...
... he spotted the near identical wagon like this one below, but in the same red as the tired old tat above.
It was catalogued as Triang although almost certainly Wrenn, but more importantly it was advertised at a Triang price (£6) not the OUCH amount being asked for Wrenn products.

fbb thought it would be a nice treat for chum Richard (who is visiting soon) to see an equivalent of his elderly gift but in good nick. As a bonus it would run happily on fbb's layout whereas the original Hornby Dublo, with metal wheels, would cause a power-stopping short circuit. Hattons postage charges are punitive (at a flat rate of £4) for small orders so fbb sought another model to bulk up the package a bit.

This model ...
... which, with a little added research, might make and interesting read for the fbb audience.

Then Hattons rang to say that the tank wagon had been bought by another purchaser 30 seconds before fbb pressed the "Enter" key. So the old man ended up paying over the odds for coach-plus-postage, so you had better enjoy the blog!

Prices do vary ...
... with a whopping premium for the maroon and gold versions, but the model is not new having been in and out of the range since the early 1990s. fbb's must be an old model ...
... as it wasn't made in China! he paid £17 plus the £4 - too much!

The Coronation Scot express train started in 1937 and five locos and three sets of coaches were painted in a special blue and white livery, hence the model.
It ran until the start of the war in 1939 when train speeds were reduced and expresses effectively ceased to exist. It ran London Euston and Glasgow Central, stopping at Carlisle for crew change and to pick up and set down passengers to and from London only. The service was designed to compete with the rival services on the East Coast Main Line, for prestigious London to Scotland traffic.

Present-day Virgin Pendolino trains from Euston to Glasgow Central take four hours and twenty nine minutes! But they are nowhere near as luxurious!
And the grub is nowhere near as good.
But it 1937 it was all about style, not just about cramming in as many passengers as possible. It was also about competition with the LNER!
The Edinburgh trains were faster, so LMS had to out-style the east Coast route and, with their blue,"streamlined" trains, they did just that.
There is also a stylish book about it, available from the usual on-line sources ...
... and, back then, you could buy a board game!
What better evening entertainment could be had in the late thirties; playing a board game, listening to a Paul Temple episode on the wireless and rounding it off by putting Vivian Ellis' record on the gramophone ...
... all the time dreaming of your next 6½ hours of indulgence!


So what's with the red and gold livery?

P.S. For Modellers
Hornby are currently advertising a pack of three Coronation (blue) coaches in their Railroad range.
.That's £23.33 each and cheaper than some second-hand offers! Crazy!

Peco advertise a Royal Daylight tank wagon kit from an old range. It's a bit pricey, but fbb might be popping over to Beer to investigate.

 Next "Coronation" blog ; Saturday 17th August 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Cleverly Commercial : Consumer's "Carnage"? (4)

Spokes Sort-of Safe : Rims Really Risky?
The majority of changes to Sheffield's "main line" cross city routes from 1st September are negative; with one exception being a reduction in frequency. The commercial argument is clear but ill-received (even misunderstood) by the travelling public.

It goes like this. To ensure that our services are sustainable (a k a make a profit), we need to match resources to demand (a k a reduce the services because less people are travelling). This would make sense if it were always true.

Local Sheffield opinion is that the 97 to Nether Edge has been cut from every 10 to every 15 minutes (see above for "sustainable" and "resources") because First have whopped a huge £3 fare on the route and have done so with impunity because there is no competition.

But there is always a danger that the frequency reduction (even with the lollipop of a fares cut as at Nether Edge) will discourage usage and, next time, the reduction will be from every 15 to every 20.
It would be easier to sympathise with bus operators (in this case mainly First) if there had been any attempt to generate new business. But Sheffield has lacked any positive bus publicity for five or six years. 
Buses for Sheffield ...
... offered nothing new, apart from a few branded buses. The generous offer of "high frequencies" belied the fact that nothing had changed!

Buses for Sheffield have co-ordinated Sheffield’s bus services to provide a unified service that works for everyone. By working together, we can offer more frequent bus services (up to every 10 minutes in some cases) on key routes in the city, and provide more efficient services to make life a little easier for our customers. 

Nothing, repeat nothing, was any different from what had been happening since the privatisation farce settled down. Well something did happen when the Sheffield Bus Partnership came in - frequencies were reduced!

Of course this is an old beef by fbb, but it does seem that the vicious circle is very much on the rampage. 

Even if routes to or via the city centre survive with a modest cut, services that seek to run around the outer rims of the city can suffer much more savage reductions.

Here, for example, in RED is the route which fbb will call "via Deerlands Avenue" in 1960.
it did not quite make it to the centre of Hillsborough, but it ran from north of Hillsborough Park via Fox Hill and Deerlands Avenue ...
... working its way round to another busy suburban shopping centre at Firth Park. It was unique in Sheffield Transport History in having one number for two routes (shown by the bold star on the above map). Running every half an hour the route difference was shown by a slip board in the driver's cab reading "VIA ELM LANE".

Note also the route shown in BLUE. fbb will call this "via Herries Road" and it was part of the wonderful half hourly outer circle. (Purists please note: the full circle was only every hourly but it was half hourly for ¾ of its gyration) It ran from Malin Bridge via Hillsborough but missed Firth Park.

As time went on these orbital services got "revised", renumbered and relinked. The "via Herries Road" became route 45 (DEEP BLUE) ...
... whilst "via Deerlands Avenue" became 17 (MUD BROWN).
Notice that in this variant the 17 takes an enjoyable tour of the Parson Cross estates to ensure that people's journeys are slightly more tedious. But, take heart, both the 17 and the 45 still ran every 30 minutes.

Roll on to the present day. "via Herries Road" is 38 and 38a (BLUE GREEN), similar to previously with a few extra wiggles but with a combined headway still at every 30. (click on the map to enlarge it).
But "via Deerlands Avenue" was reduced to hourly a few years ago and now is route 35 (PINK)
It now has a lengthy detour via Grenoside (upper left on the map above) thus adding to its tedium as well as reducing its frequency. But with route 135 it does give Grenoside village two buses an hour.

While you are looking at the above map please note route 32 (DARK BROWN) which we will meet again in a moment.

Its history is too complex for this brief (?) blog but its route map explains everything - or, more likely doesn't!
It continues via Pitsmoor into the city centre and runs, amazingly, every hour.

So here is First's sustainable resource-effective plan from 1st September, having won the tender to operate route 32.

The 32 does look a bit like parts of the 35 so ...
The new 32 looks a bit like this.
Profuse apologies for the different styles of map, but fbb had to use what was available to him - too much like hard work to redraw them all.

So the "traditional" route via Deerlands Avenue from Hillsborough is, effectively destroyed - but the new route, we must assume, is sustainable and matches rescourced to demand!

Anyway, folk from Hillsborough to Firth Park can, at least catch the half hourly 38/38a.

True, they can but, from `1ast September, with a reduced service from every 30 minutes to hourly.
And, just for fun, renumber it to 18!

fbb has not the slightest doubt that First has done its sums, and by company standards they needed to do something (sustainable, resources etc. etc) but where does it all stop?

no profit -
no PTE money - 
no subsidy - 
no buses -
more cars - 
more congestion -
more accidents -
more pollution -
more house-bound people -
more work for Social Services -
more cost to all of us -


For our few remaining readers who have NOT lost the will to live - something completely different tomorrow.

Blue or red, there's more to be said!

 Next railway blog : Friday 16th August