Sunday 12 June 2011

Hairy Fair-y Berks Larks [2]

The Antiques Roadshow?
fbb arrives at Reading to visit the Bus and Rail Collectors fair as previously blogged.  Would fbb remember how to get the the Rivermead leisure centre?  No probs!  On leaving Reading Station and circumnavigating an acre or two of blue hoardings hiding preliminary work on the re-development, fbb spots a crowd of slightly hairy old men clustered round a bus stop.  Actually they were, generally, much more hairy that this respectable trio.
Antiques, group one.

After a few minutes apprehensive delay, a red Routemaster rolled up, crewed, not by scruffy old men, but by smartly dressed somewhat younger men.  A real live London Transport string-driven "ting ting" and we were off for a nostalgic 5 minute ride round Reading's less beautiful retail parks.
The bus, originally from London, of course, was ex Reading Mainline; a noble but ultimately doomed attempt to bring conductor buses back to Berkshire.  The last trip ran in 2000, (was it really 11  years ago?  Help!) complete with farewell wreath,

a sad but probably inevitable demise.    Antiques, group two.

In principle fbb objects strongly  to paying to go into a shop, but it cost £3 to enter the portals of the somewhat unfare fair.  Now there's an idea for Tesco:- "Every Little Helps but it'll cost you a fiver to get in." But the return Routemaster ride was probably worth the outlandish outlay.  So, into the Rivermead Centre to lasciviously lumber round the, well, lumber!

fbb had rapidly overspent the budget agreed with the domestic authorities:- 
"Pride and Joy", Roger French's excellent account of his highly successful 25 year Brighton Busman's holiday; well, perhaps not holiday. £2.50  discount.
"London Underground Stations for Real Saddos" (at least that should be the title), a colour picture of every LU station collected and annotated by Stephen Durnin.  £10 discount.
"Clyde Coast Connections", a wonderfully evocative portrait with excellent comment on the social history, the diversity and the superb beauty of Ferry and connections "Doon the watter" from Glasgow. Full Price but, "Mrs fbb would love it", which was fbb's defence - and she does!

Just departing, fbb noticed the sole sales stall selling old bus timetables.  Good thing he didn't start there or the budget would have been totally blown.  But what caught his eye was this ...
... October 1951 edition, and the last booklet published before the Tramway replacement programme started in January 1952. For the pedantic purists, let the record show that three tram routes were bussified in the 1930's, Petre Street, Fulwood via Broomhill and Nether Edge. (Saves anyone making an adverse comment!)
But what was even more juicy was that, folded, but in almost pristine condition within the book, was a full set of leaflets for service changes as a result of the first tram withdrawal.    Antiques, group three.

fbb reckons that if the stall holder had realised what he was selling, he could easily have upped the price.  fbb is happy that the £20 for a sexagenarian booklet, that was originally distributed free (!), represents good value. Mrs fbb is not so sure!

Why did we throw so much away all those years ago?  

And so, forward to Slough and Hairy Fair-y Berks Larks [3] coming soon to a blog near you!

Hairy Fair-y Berks Larks [1] is available here

Tailpiece : fbb could not resist adding this Antique, pictured swooshing sweetly and silently along the road at Tilehurst.  Reading Trolleybus No 150. Sadly fbb never knew or saw the Reading system in action.
What delights did the old fellah miss!

Next blog : due Monday June 13th  

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