Sunday, 27 September 2020

Sunday Variety

Church Link
Service starts 1030

Today the church is running a LIVE "Car Park" service.
The fbbs will be attending. It is not possible
to set up an on-screen link before they depart.
A link can be obtained, however,
via the Church YouTube channel
(here) and click on the panel for today's date.

Tricky Ticky Tacky Tank Boxes?

It is possible that loyal blog readers may feel that fbb has finally flipped into a sort of elderly gibbering mode, (many say yea!) but the little re-write of the "little boxes" song does have a purpose.

fbb is confused!

As he continues with his ever growing collection of OO gauge tank wagons, examples of all types of tank and all manufacturers, he regularly scours Ebay and the second-hand departments of model shops to fill the gaps; of which there are currently at least four. But one example intrigued the old man and, because it wasn't expensive, he bought it.

But first, back to basics.

Here is a Hornby Dublo tank wagon from the very early days of production ...

... late 1938 early 1939. It has a PALE BLUE box and "continental" couplings. Exactly the same wagon was on offer post WW2 ...
... same PALE BLUE box but now with couplings designed by Sydney Pritchard, founder of PECO. Some time in the 1950s there was a change. The wagon is utterly unchanged in construction ...
... but now with a MID BLUE box. Exciting isn't it? Moving on to the late 50s and early 60s, the wagon is totally unchanged but - tada ...
... the box is now DARK BLUE with  WHITE STRIPES . But, please note, throughout this time, the wheels are metal ...
... the couplings are metal and the brake gear is solid, no see-through between the brake rods.
Finally, it dawned on Hornby Dublo that their three rail system was outmoded, so they added two rail to their already extensive production schedule.
2 rail boxes are now RED with  WHITE STRIPES  and, of course, the wheels are now plastic because metal wheels would short out the two rail supply. The brake gear was still solid.

Over the years, some of the designs printed on the actual tanks were changed with the older liveries being dropped in favour of more familiar names.

The next exciting development is that Hornby started fitting plastic versions of the Peco couplings.

Hanging on by their commercial finger tips, and after nearly 80 years of producing the same tank wagon, Hornby Dublo changed the chassis and gave it a see through set of brake gear. 

The shock was so great that Hornby handed their name over to arch competitor Triang and all production ceased.

So fbb's latest purchase came in a  MID BLUE box (early 1950s) ...

... had Peco metal couplings ...

... see-through brake gear (mid 1960s) ...
... and plastic wheels (for 2 rail)!
The tank itself was still of the good-old 80 year old construction as expected BUT - the livery was one that had long since disappeared from the range (date unknown but well before plastic wheels!).

Mysterious, eh?

We may be able to resolved the mystery in tomorrow's blog.

A Bus, A Bus, My Kingdom For A Bus!

What with social distancing and the return to school, some operators are getting a bit sort of buses. We have already heard that Supertram had no money from HMG to offer replacement bus services during work to replace the rails, so the job was put out to tender.

Powells won the contract, but this ended when Powells needed the buses for school services.

Stagecoach then won the contract and had to beg, borrow or buy six double deckers from Edinburgh buses. In the latest ramification, trams are getting a bit closer to the Halfway terminus, to Donetsk Way to be precise ...

... whence the Edinburgh buses trundle passengers on to the terminus.
But the schedule, being shorter, requires less buses. Imagine Northampton Alan's surprise as he passed Stagecoach's depot in the town ...
... and spotted two of Sheffield's Edinburgh deckers grazing peacefully amongst Stagecoach normality. They have flown south for the winter. Also in the depot were these:-
Alan explains.

Stagecoach Midlands has borrowed ten ex Tower Transit and Metroline Volvos and Enviro 400s from Ensign Bus.Several of them are five to six years younger than a lot of what is in daily service in Northampton.  I wait with interest to see where they will turn service.

Alan also has a letter in the October edition of Buses - on a subject dear to his and fbb's heart.

Wrong Again!

Thus wrote Alexander Pope in his "Essay on Criticism", a glorious vituperative attack on the poor standard of English Literature of the day. Young Alex was the mainstay of fbb's many happy years "doing" English Lit at "A" level and "Special Paper" (both passed!).

Recently your noble and literary author wrote this:-

It turns out that this was utter drivel, a fact gleefully helpfully pointed out by correspondent Julian.

I have only just got round to looking at timetables 

You thought Gamesley had never been linked with Manchester by bus.

In May 1986 GM Buses 224 linked Gamesley with Manchester via Hyde Rd hourly every day including evenings and Sundays. This combined with 225 to provide a further half hourly service into Manchester, and even every 15 mins on Saturdays. There was also Maynes 229 which covered the same route every 2 hours. With the 236/7 which went via Ashton New Rd into Manchester 4+ bph, 6 on Saturdays , and there was also a 211 between Old Glossop and Manchester which served the Dinting Rd between Glossop and Hadfield and was hourly on top of all of the above

By May 1991 224 had become 214 but still hourly daily, and the 211 was still there unchanged.

GM Buses of course still had a depot in Glossop, Ex North Western

fbb could find no pictures of buses to, at or from Gamesley, but here is a picture of Glossop bus garage ...
... in North Western Days. The depot was at the end of a little back street (York Street) ...
... just off the A57 between High Street and the Royal Oak Pub (former terminus).
The depot has been demolished and the site is currently for sale.

Puzzling Political Policy?
Marvin Rees, Bristol's City Mayor has come up with a "Good 'Un".
He is having an ecological emergency; probably caused by turning bus lanes into cycle ways and clogging the city centre up with traffic jams! He has excitedly tweeted his plans.
Another twitterer added a succinct reply.
Rare As Hen's Teeth?
Ensign have just published a timetable book. For those born after about 1986, such publications are little known; BUT they are printed booklets containing timetables. There is a clue in the name.

You can carry one in your pocket; you do not have to log on or spend hours searching and scrolling and there is no need to charge the thing every 7 hours or so. A USB socket is also unnecessary.
fbb has asked Mr Ensign to send him a "review copy" and will let you know when (if?) it arrives.

Anticipation indeed!

More stuff tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Monday 28th September 

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Saturday Variety

 A Glossop P.S.

When fbb was writing about Hulleys "courageous" service from Sheffield via Glossop to Manchester, he pointed out that, earlier this year, Stagecoach had withdrawn service 236, half of the route that now only runs as far as Ashton.

But for a few fleeting days there was a 236 replacement. Buses magazine for October (just arrived at fbb mansions) explains all.
On line evidence suggests that the company has (had?) some smart coaches ...
... and some very un-smart buses used for school contracts.
Tameside Radio, that bastion of all that is hip hap and happening in Glossop, reported the development enthusiastically ...

After discussions with Derbyshire County Council and High Peak MP Robert Largan, Northwestern Buses has announced its plans to take over the 236 from Tuesday 1 September and extend the route to serve Simmondley, Gamesley and Tameside Hospital. 

The county council has confirmed that, as is the case with the Stagecoach-run 236, the new service will also be a commercial service with no direct financial subsidy from DCC. 

The service will operate every hour from Mondays to Saturdays, with buses mainly departing from both Glossop and Ashton at 35 minutes past the hour.

Their web site also has a picture of two of the buses, looking rather splendid in a full repaint (?).

Aha! Maybe not as these two used to be owned by the defunct Halton Transport.
Sadly, Tameside Radio had to report the demise of the 236 three days later.
The operator blamed the Virus, which, apparently, came as a shock to the company as they must have known nothing about it three days earlier.

Seynes In Milton Keynes

Bravely, showing no fear in the face of Covid, but dressed as a gangster, Northampton Alan took a trip to the home of Concrete Cows and Notwork Rail. 

He spotted this awaiting departure at the stands outside the station.

U No Who operates for several Universities, this being the University of Cranfield, formerly the RAF Technical College of many moons ago. There has been a rebranding exercise (why?) over that last year or so, because the bus used to look like this:-
Before it was Cranfield Connect or even just Cranfield (why?) it looked like this ...
... as it dutifully served Reading Buses Loddon Bridge Park & Ride.

The Loddon Bridge Park & Ride site has not been a resounding success ...

... which may explain why the buses have "moved on".

Public Transport - Co-ordinated Planning?

fbb is fairly sure that this tweeted picture is a fake; but it does illustrate perfectly the big problem with all forms of public transport in the UK.

Little Boxes (Remember?)

fbb has a problem - well he has several problems but one which blog readers may able to solve. It concern one tank wagon that fbb bought to enhance his somewhat esoteric collection of similar rolling stock from the many and various model railway companies or old and at present.

This one, from Hornby Dublo, came in a DARK BLUE PLAIN box ...

... and, st first is seemed nothing special.
It could easily have been a duplicate, a repeat of a wagon already safely accumulated on the blue box under the dining room table with most of the other tank wagons.

But wait and see! There is something very odd about this model. (more tomorrow).

You Never Know What's Round The Next Corner

The fbbs were happily bumbling back from the Wednesday afternoon prayer meeting at Church, when approaching was a vision in cream and green; a rather splendid double decker.

What was Seaford and District's finest doing on the road between Seaton and Axminster?

Buses magazine answered the question. It have been acquoired by local operator Axe Valley Travel via Ensign Bus and Coach and was off for a school run still in full Seaford Livery. Seaford had registered it as SFZ 454 but it now bears its original plate LB02 YXL.

SFZ 454 was originally on this vehicle ...

... whilst LB02 YXL came from The Big Smoke. 

It was operated by GoAhead as per the picture above.

Axe Valley closed down under lockdown AND faced a Traffic Commissioners hearing for maintenance problems. Bus watchers wondered whether its redoubtable proprietrix  would "throw in the towel" - but services are now running at BC levels.

Another No Comment Picture!
Need a clue? Surely not? OK, it shares its name with this feature which you can spot in the main picture.
Or even a bottle of this:-
SlĂ inte mhath!

More stuff tomorrow.

 Next Sunday Variety blog : Sunday 27th September 

Friday, 25 September 2020

The Long Reach - A Few More Bits

More From Glossop.

Buses from Manchester to Glossop did, historically extend beyond the centre. One route went to old Glossop ...

... where it reversed under the guidance of the conductor and his whistle. Today the view is little changed ...
... and just round the corner on Shepley Street, when the 125 has just egressed ...
... is a bus stop. But we don't want to give you that - oh. no, dear reader. With the advent of one man operation, conductor-less and whistle-less reversing were considered less than "safe", so buses proceeded along Shepley Street, past the Meadow Mills, somewhat changed from Old Glossop's heritage ...
... to a delightful turning circle almost in open country.
But bus stop is there none. Buses now come down Hope Street, stop at the stop and turn right into Shepley Street to reach the ever welcoming Arms of the Queen.
Old Glossop lost its bus through to Manchester long ago. Its replacement, the 390 serves Old Glossop with a loop.
Despite the asterisks and the mixture of light and dark blue on Derbyshire's out of date map. All the 390s loop at Old Glossop ...
... and, as usual, the timetable is not shown properly. Why can't you go TO the Queens Arms? Her Majesty's times (0752, 0815, 0854 and so on) should be shown below Old Glossop Buckshaw Road on the lower, outbound table.
High Peak are equally guilty on their own table, slavishly copied by Derbyshire.
Thus Old Glossop has lost its connection with Manchester; a change in (new) Glossop is now required.

Old Glossop, by the way, was Glossop before (new) Glossop existed and (new) Glossop renamed Glossop as Old Glossop. 

The original community was just a small village on the edge of the Pennines.
As the industrial revolution spread through the other Glossopdale villages, the "new" Glossop grew and became and important community. The original spread a little further to serve Meadow Mills, but the main residential and commercial growth was with its supplanter! Eventually the upstart added "Old" to its progenitor's name and Old Glossop sank into near obscurity.
The other destination for Manchester buses beyond Glossop centre was "The Royal Oak" a pub on the A57 just before the road climbs up to the Snake Pass.
Here buses from/to Manchester simply swung road, using a wide splay of Hurst Road ...
... left in the Streetview view above. Here is a Stagecoach bus of old waiting to return city-wards ...
... parked where white van is resting in the picture above. Maybe an aerial view will help.
Also c/o Streetview is a "hwat happens now" illustration. Local bus route No 393 is all that is on offer at the Royal Oak and it turns via a little know of "social" housing just off the main road.
Queens Drive has thus ousted the traditional Royal Oak terminus. The route is operated, once again, by High Peak ...
... as 393, linking Hadfield, Padfiield, Glossop and Shirebrook Park, soon to be joined at the latter by Hulleys X56. The printed timetable doesn't really do justice to the services travel opportunities ...
... as you really need Queens Drive and Shirebrook Park repeated at the top of the table. Maybe nobody travels from Shirebrook Park to the 1930s comedy duo of Hadfield and Padfield (a song, a dance and flags of all nations).

Once again, all this interest provoke by just one chapter in the Long Reach Book.

And fbb has not begun to revise and extend his knowledge of the Manchester ...
... and Ashton joint trolleybus network.
But that, as they say, is another story.
And a reminder that "the Long Reach" is available from Manchester Transport Museum reduced from £17 to £14 AND with free postage.
If you know Manchester it is an excellent read, packed with gloriously nostalgic pictures and heaps of useful information. If, like fbb, your detailed knowledge of the greater Manchester network is less than complete, this book is an really helpful and stimulating starter to more detailed study.

It will keep fbb happy for weeks!
Happily At Hestercombe 
The fbb's visit to meet up with friends was a very pleasant time. The grounds are beautiful ...
... if a little frayed at the edges under the present unprecedented circumstances. The French Marigolds were gorgeous ...
... as was the Lutyens designed orangery (now without oranges).
The fbbs and chums had planned to take luncheon in the Column Room Restaurant ...
... open daily - only it was closed and, moan number one, this deficiency was not mentioned anywhere and only became apparent when the gang arrived at the doorway of the big house to repair to the said Column Room.
A nosh therein would have been very tasteful - instead it was a chilly "light meal" in the semi open air at the caff.
The other moan was the pharisaic and threatening interpretation of the mask-erade rules and recommendations. It was a bit like doing the hokey-cokey ...

Put you face mask on
Go for a pee
Take your face mask off
Put your face mask on
Pay at the the pay desk
Take your face mask off
Put you face mask on
Order your food from the counter
Take your face mask off
Eat the food

Face mask on, face mask off
Do the safety safety
Or end up in the jug.

Etc etc. The aggressive notices conveying this over-reactive nonsense were unpleasant and unnecessary and spoilt the day for fbb. AND they didn't have proper table service!

But, if you can stand the threats, it is a thoroughly pleasant place to go.

But utterly inaccessible by Public Transport.
 Next Weekend Variety blog : Saturday 26th September