Tuesday 22 May 2012

A first in York and First in York

 Dateline Sunday 20th May 
Sunday marked a first for fbb and "the gang" on their short break in York. They attended Morning Service in York Minster. This was very different from the small but informal congregation at Clarence Road, East Cowes, where fbb is one of the "ministry team". From free church to elevated Anglican was a bit of a leap.
fbb party sat bottom edge, right of aisle

Despite the very different churchmanship, complete with processional posh frocks ...
... candles and complicated musical bits in latin (translation supplied in the order of service booklet) there was a spirituality in the building which was compelling and moving. The preacher was James Bell, the Bishop of Knaresborough (on loan from neightbouring diocese of Ripon)...
... and "the boy done good" sermon-wise. He preached the need to witness to the risen Lord Jesus as the power and example in our lives. Hear hear to that!

After an excellent cup of free ecclesiastical coffee and a visit to the recently renovated York Museum, fbb was released from duties for a while to look at buses. And the question to be tackled is, "What is First Bus doing in York?"

It all started in 1906 when the Harrogate Road Car company began operating steam buses in the town. This small operator grew to become the giant West Yorkshire Road Car Company [WYRCC] but with its head office remaining in Harrogate for many years.
The building still stands, shouting stolid reliability and respectability although the associated depot has now gone; and so has all links with bus operation.

In 1932 WYRCC reached an agreement with York City Council to operate the city's buses jointly ...
... and thus begat York West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Company was sold to Alan Stephenson at privatisation and subsequently chopped into chummy chunks; the brand York City and District was used for city routes and associated country services. Commentators have suggested that profitability and timekeeping in a city beset by the motor car were a struggle; but it was something of a surprise when this bit of the old WYRCC was sold to employee owned Yorkshire Rider in 1990.
Yokshire Rider was an employee buy-out (technically and "ESOP") of the former West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive bus operations. After only four years the whole lot was sold on to Badgerline. One year later Badgerline merged with Grampian (a privatised Aberdeen Corporation bus undertaking) and thus First Bus was born and the dreaded "F" appeared in York.
So, to summarise ...
Harrogate Road Car, then
West Yorkshire Road Car and
York City Council
York West Yorkshire
York City and District
Rider York
Rider York (Badgerline)
Rider York (First)
First York
Which bring us back to the current First and its new livery; of which there was no sign in York on Sunday.
We were promised local variations and here's a few:-

aren't we wonderful in Manchester

one of the originals, Leeds with city silhouette

plain Southampton

generic (olympic?) shuttle

plain Millbrook Flyer [svc X2] Southampton

Solent Ranger in blue with plane [4, 4A, X4], Fareham

X78 (Sheffield Doncaster) with silhouette, Sheffield

409 (Rochdale Ashton) with silhouette, Manchester
Leeds bland & rejected (thankfully) ...
... but something special : Bristol to Weston-super-Mare
And, doubtless, there is more subtle variety to come. Maybe a call to re-issue the traditional I-Spy book:-
         First Bus Livery Edition          
Next, off to the Yorkshire Dales; but, because we need fbb maps, further "York" blogs will follow once re-settled at home base. Tomorrow, a visit to Leicester (whoops, adopt "Plan B") Rochdale.
 Next Blog Wednesday 23rd May 


  1. Thanks for your openness in this blog about being a Christian. A reminder in these increasingly difficult times to stand for what we believe.

  2. Thanks Clive. I am preparing an additional and separate blog, called "fat bus bloke's bible blog". I have plenty of material of interest to believers and heathens alike, but I am struggling with creating an entertaining format. I don't want it to be "preachy", but I do want it to promote the logic and sense of Christianity.