Friday, 3 July 2020

Famous For Visitors Since 1066 (1)

Battle of Hastings?
Not really.
Battle of Battle?
Battle Abbey was built some years AFTER the battle as a penance for the many lives lost. The community that grew up around the abbey became known as "Battle" but well after the battle was embattled.

Battle of Senlac Hill?
The name was popularised by a Victorian historian but with only tenuous links to more ancient documents.

But surely Harold was definitely shot in the eye with an arrow?
The Bayeux Tapestry provides even shakier evidence for that because it is possible that the arrow's feathers were added by an over-enthusiastic restorer.
So maybe chummy was simply holding a spear.

In any case maybe the next glyph of the tapestry is Harold being "cut down" ...
... (interfectus est); so maybe he was Harold and the dubious arrow recipient/spear thrower  wasn't!

What we can be sure of, however, is that Hastings' popularity as a resort grew rapidly once the railway from London opened.
The railway was constructed by the South Eastern Railway in the early 1850s across the difficult terrain of the High Weald. Supervision of the building of the line was lax, enabling contractors to skimp on the lining of the tunnels.

These deficiencies showed up after the railway had opened. Rectifications led to a restricted loading gauge along the line, requiring the use of dedicated rolling stock.
Although the contractors had charged for six rings of bricks, they had only used four. Due to the cost of reboring the tunnels, this had to be rectified by the addition of a further two rings of brickwork, reducing the width of the tunnels by 18 inches. The result of this was that the loading gauge on the line was restricted, and special rolling stock had to be built.

Note the very flat and narrow shape of the carriages in the picture of a train at Wadhurst.
Then in 1957/8 steam was replaced by diesel electric units which, likewise, were built with narrow dimensions.
Preservationists Hastings Diesels Limited has superbly re-created the colour and the shininess of the carriages as delivered. Here is a gorgeous motor carriage (No S60000) as preserved.
We will continue with the story of the Hastings line in tomorrow's blog; so look forward to some Jaffa Cakes and a song from Neil Diamond.

But now, the long awaited item from Wales ...

Porthmadog For Breakfast
Northampton Alan is quite keen on the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways and visits often. He brings some good news for others who may wish to enjoy these magnificent narrow gauge lines.

Firstly, a snippet of geography. Porthmadog is on the west bank of the Glaslyn estuary linked to the east bank by a causeway, known as the Cob. 
The terminus is lower left ...
... with platforms extended onto the Cob.
These were built to accommodate the longer trains running through from Caernarfon on the Welsh Highland Railway. It must be fun to meet one of these as it trundles along the main road outside the station!
The large block on the opposite side of the road from the railway ...
... looks a bit like a hotel - only it isn't.
It is, or more correctly was, a tax office. But the council has approved its demolition to be replaced by ...
... you guessed it, a hotel - a Premier Inn no less; but with a splendid view of goings on at the station.  And, yes, that is a routemaster bus in the distance.
Alan, a great Premier Inn aficionado, is thrilled because for years he has had to slum it in the Travelodge at the other end of town.
Alas, the Travelodge has no caff, but Alan recommends a nearby establishment, literally 3 minutes away and on a mini industrial estate.
It offers take away or eat in ...
... and Alan kindly sends a menu. The Hercules Breakfast ...
... looks like a nice snack to start a busy day watching and riding on gorgeous narrow gauge trains.
It would certainly keep you going till lunchtime - and much better value than anything a future Premier Inn can offer.

fbb might well stick to the Travelodge!

The breakfast would certainly set him up for a Welsh Highland line run to Caernarfon and back.

And Especially For A Complaining Anonymous

Comment the first ...

I doubt if Anonymous has any knowledge of TSY operations at first hand. The situation on the ground can be far WORSE than you depict. 

Comment the second ...

Tram on-board announcements:-
It is confirmed that after leaving Spring Lane we get a general announcement that this tram terminates Birley Lane (it doesn't go that far - it terminates at Gleadless) change Manor Top for forward connections.

Approaching Gleadless ; tram terminates, change here for - SILENCE. Then, after a pause ...

There are no replacement buses. (as seen below)

Comment the Third ...

218 Stand at Sheffield Interchange.
For this week's prize, spot the departure list of times for the service to Bakewell.
The PTE/TSY expects you to guess.

Beyond belief - yet again.

 Next Famous For Visitors blog : Friday 4th July 

Thursday, 2 July 2020

A Rare Delight (part four)

Firstly - A Riposte
Yet again this week an anonymous has upbraided fbb for "slagging off" Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) as if that were some crime of the bloggersphere. The same comment writer suggested that fbb would be better employed writing about all the developments in Devon.

1. TSY is the publicity arm of South Yorkshire PTE. The PTE has, quite rightly, been pronounced as "not fit for purpose" by Mayor Desperate Dan Jarvis' year long investigation into the buses. fbb has sat in meetings with THREE PTE directors general and in each case has been told that they were working hard to improve the standards of their publicity.

It is now much worse.

2. Many of fbb's posts are prompted by information sent in by correspondents, some of whom wish to remain anonymous because they have a passing financial interest in keeping their jobs! Others are happy to be quoted as correspondent Bill, Stan or Clint. If any reader has an item of interest, please send details, plus the essential photographs where appropriate, to

Please remember that fbb's vital piece of blogging technology has broken down ...
... and the repair shop at Hogwarts remains closed as a result of the unforseen lockdown.

Criticism is always welcome when it is measured and informed. Moaning about content from mice of the anony kind is unlikely to have much effect.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

Is This The Best Way?
Midland Classic route 21 sets of from  Burton upon Trent and trundles alongside yesterday's service 4 along the A444 which would eventually take you to Coventry.
Ir dives off the A444 ...
... to serve Linton then circles back to wiggle via Castle and Church Gresley and on to Swadlincote. Effectively it is a service from Burton to Linton/Gresley linked end-on to a service from Swad to Linton/Gresley. It currently provides a 30 minute headway Monday to Friday and a bus every hour on Saturday.
Mention should also be made of route 19 ...
...which runs Burton Swad via a direct route and then goes on a magical mystery tour via Overseal and Measham to Ashby de la Zouch.
The town was known as Ashby in 1086. This is a word of Anglo-Danish origin, meaning "Ash-tree farm" or "Ash-tree settlement". The Norman French name extension dates from the years after the Norman conquest of England, when Ashby became a possession of the La Zouche family during the reign of Henry III.

Neither the 19 nor the 21 has an evening or Sunday service which, one assumes, is particularly bad news for Overseal.
Overseal is located very close to the furthest point from mainland Britain's coast, at Church Flatts Farm near Coton-in-the-Elms 3 miles to the west.
Not very exciting, is it, for such a geographically auspicious place?

Overseal was said to be the 'population centre of Britain' in 1971 with an equal number of people living north and south of it, and similarly for east and west. However, this centre has slowly been moving southwards and is now claimed by the nearby village of Appleby Parva in North West Leicestershire 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of the village.

Overeseal lies at almost the same latitude as Shrewsbury and Barmouth.

Not a lot of people know that!

Anyway, fbb does not really know why Overseal should get special treatment, but it alone of the wiggle villages of service 19 gets an evening and Sunday service. Might it be because Overseal is in Derbyshire and the rest of the route is in Leicestershire - where be dragons?
But service 21E incorporates some of 21 and a little bit of 19; but, in order to achieve this, its route is radically different from the 21. It is normal to south of our old friend Stanton, then it nips smartly across to Swad (cased green line) ...
... then runs due south. missing out great chunks of the 21 before arriving at the start of the Linton loop. Instead of looping like the 21, it zooms off down a bit of re-routed A444 ...
... before turning via a turning loop at Overseal ...
.. and returning to Swad and Burton via Linton and "as outward route reversed" - as they say.
Maybe Derbyshire pays for the service; which is why it goes no further than Overseal? L**c*st*rsh*r* is only about 1½ miles along the A444 with the boundary at the Hooborough Brook ...
... which flows gracefully under the bridge shown above.

So here is an extract of the 21E timetable.
Presumably the timings are such that you can get an hourly service (sort of) out of one bus, and thus providing some sort of service can be done as "cost effectively" as possible. Hopefully the few regular evening passengers on the 21E will soon learn how it works - but you do wonder whether its very different route will be off-putting to new entrants into the "travel by bus" market. 

Would running two-hourly over the normal 21 route, with an extra "stub" to Overseal, be more attractive than the 21E? At least people would understand it!

There again, does Overseal deserve an evening and Sunday service when Measham, for example, gets none?

Such are the mysteries of transport politics.

And Wetmore Park?
fbb is eternally grateful to correspondents Julian and Tony for reminding fbb of the location of Burton's Wetmore Park. On reflection, fbb had not forgotten where it was - he never knew and had never been there. But now he knows.
On the above aerial view you can see some Midland Classic buses lower left at the termini on New Street. Next road north (centre above) is Station Street, now pedestrianised but formerly the main corporation bus stops area. At the top, upper right, you mught spot a "traffic gyratorty".
The curvy bit of road was Wetmore Park.

Julian explains:-

Wetmore Park was at the western end of Bridge St, the northern of the two river bridges. There is a little loop in the bus routes which is where a road was built through the former bus park. It was there to provide a park for out of town buses to keep them out of the town to protect the Burton Corporation Buses, with the misguided idea that passengers would change to a Corporation bus for the journey into town.

When Stevenson’s fought and won the battle to get into the town centre, passengers went up by 30%, after several days in traffic court. Midland Red soon followed. This was in 1978.

If you are younger than ancient, you need to remember that this was before "deregulation" (actually the replacement of one sort of regulation with another more frustrating sort!). The incumbent operator (e..g. Burton Corporation) could object to any bus service that might compete with or extract revenue from its existing services. It was very hard indeed to "break in"!

There was also New St Bus Park, for  buses from the south of the town.  This was close to the present town bus stands.
The town shopping area moved to the south, it was originally centred around Station Street. 
When the Octagon shopping centre was built the owners wanted the buses outside their shopping centre so persuaded the Council to shut Station Street to buses.

So now fbb knows.

Flixbus Starts UK Internal Routes - Today?
A few days ago, fast growing European cut-price coach service operator Flixbus made a significant announcement.
Flixbus will launch domestic intercity coach services in the UK on Thursday 2 July. The network will initially be resourced with six vehicles from smaller operators, but that number will be added to “quickly” as demand rises, the company says. It aims to be market leader in the UK by 2025.

Birmingham, Bristol, Guildford and Portsmouth are among the first domestic destinations to be served via four routes from London. In a further indication of the speed of its planned growth, Flixbus says it anticipates carrying “several million” passengers in the UK in its first 12 months.

Bristol-based Turners Coachways and London operator Your Partner In Journey are each involved in providing vehicles for the launch network.

Around 200 internal journeys will be made per week in the initial stages.(from today?) Fares will start at £2.99.(but where will they finish?) From the same date, Flixbus will also restart its international scheduled coach services from London to cities including Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

fbb has tried to find some timetables - but has failed. He was (at 2100 last night) unclear as to how you might book.
The above graphic refers to coaches between London and Paris, NOT internal UK services.

No doubt somebody will comment that it is all on-line and fbb is, yet again, not savvy enough to find it!

Tomorrow we go to Hastings.

 Next Narrow-thinking blog : Friday 3rd July