Sunday 24 June 2012

Languishing in Largs [Day 2]

Information is Power : Information is Poor?
By 1840 yesterday, fbb and Mrs were happily ensconced in their rented first floor flat in this block, evocatively entitled "Sandringam". Mrs fbb's mother (deceased) always dreamed of owning a flat in Sandringham, so the residence has emotional overtones. Behind lie the hills that separate Largs from the busy urban areas of Greenock and Gourock and out-of-shot to the left is the Island of Cumbrae, of which more later in the week.
the sun sets slowly
the ferries bustle to and fro every 15 min
view from window at 1915 Saturday evening
enlarged a bit too much!

So here is the challenge.

Having arrived in this picturesque seaside resort, where might you wish to go next?

Back in the good old days, Western Scottish (later Clydeside) had a small depot in the town which doubled as a de-facto bus station.
The bus station is now a car park, note the two blocks of flats top left now more obscured by trees.
Facilities were limited but it was a start. fbb fondly remembers the superb network timetable booklets ...
... issued in the 1960s by each of the Scottish Bus Group companies at the modest price of 4d; that's four of these:-
There were other "independents" in the area, notably Clyde Coast Motors of Saltcoats. This operator was one of a group of Ayrshire bus "co-operatives" [others were "A1"  and "AA"], a splendid system whereby several companies worked together to proved an integrated and jointly publicised service.
What a good idea.

But, generally, information was available locally or by post in advance; allowing the vehicle-less visitor to plan their excursions. Of course, none of that sort of nonsense is available today but we can go "on-line" and have all we need at our fingertips "just a couple pf clicks away". Oh yes, sirree!

The information for Largs Bay ...
Largs Pier Hotel, Largs Bay

... is superb in every way, timetables, maps and even an explanation of how to read a timetable.
Sadly, this Largs Bay is in Adelaide, Australia.
Largs Bay Adelaide and pier (or jetty)

But in response to a "google", offers a list of services, retyped here. fbb has added some comments.

Bus service number 585
Greenock, Inverkip, Wemyss Bay, Largs, Fairlie, West Kilbride, Seamill, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Irvine, Prestwick, Ayr.

 Right  and successor (in part) to the Clyde Coast service of old. Evenings are numbered 585A.
Bus service number 18
Largs, Kilbirnie, Beith, Johnstone Centre, Elderslie, Paisley Centre, Renfrew, Braehead Shopping Centre.

 Wrong   : no such service; no such operator. Arriva sold out to McGills earlier this year. Do McGills run an 18 - NO. McGills aquisition of Arriva is subject to a deferred decision by the Competition Commission, so repainting of buses into the new owners' livery has ceased. So Arriva-like vehicles still pass the flat! Is fbb's brain playing up, or was the number 18 used to the "Largs Local" route in "Western" days?
Bus service number 901 
Glasgow, Port Glasgow, Greenock ,Gourock, Largs.

 Wrong  (but partly  Right ) : The 901 is now run by McGills. Citylink (not City Link) have not run to Largs for a few years.
Bus service number 17
Largs, Kilbirnie, Glengarnock, Beith, Paisley, Partick, Glasgow.
 Wrong  : Riverside operates a local service in Paisley numbered 17. DJ International is a company operating tours to the Far East, possibly a different DJ International from the purveyors of the erstwhile route 17.
Bus service number  [numbers not given]
Largs to Greenock town centre, one route goes via IBM, another via Gourock. Other stops include Skelmorlie, Wemyss Bay and Inverkip.

 Right  (sort of) : McGills operate services 901, 904, 906, 906X and 908 between Largs, Gourock, Greenock and Glasgow.
Braehead Express Service [number not given]
Largs, Kilbirnie, Lochwinnoch and Braehead Shopping Centre/IKEA.
 Wrong  (but was  Right  until sometime in May this year) : The company is in severe financial trouble and its service from Largs no longer operates. It is/was numbered 66, but the way. Pity, fbb was looking forward to a quality ride on a vehicle like this:-
It would appear that bills have been unpaid, particularly to the Inland Revenue and, yet again, we have the "tragedy" of an over-stretched under capitalised operation.

So far, then, the "local" source of on-line information doesn't win many Brownie Points.

But there's more!

Continuing with considerable clicking, and with a little more perseverance, we find the National Rail Onward Travel Map ...
... useless as usual, and a list of destinations and the routes that serve them.
Only part of the list is reproduced above but it does appear to offer a different set of information compared with "Largsonline".

New information needs to be uncovered for additional routes (possibly):-

40 : 45 : 576 : 578 : 800 (904 and 908 do not appear)

Further research is clearly necessary so, next we need to look at Traveline and SPT [Strathclyde Parternership for Transport]. Fbb will save that excitement for later.

Today (Sunday) is scheduled for a relaxing inactive day with Church in the morning, a stroll to the Pencil ...
... in the afternoon and searching the TV channels for something watchable so as to to avoid the England Match this evening.

 Next Blog : Monday 25th June 


  1. Booklet? At 444 pages for the summer 1965 edition, the diminutive suffix is hardly justified. Anyway, fbb, your memory is right: 18 was the Largs local, though you'd need to turn to Table 158 to find it. (Confusingly, services 22/23 and variations, Glasgow-Largs, were in Table 18).
    Those SBG timetable books lasted at most companies until 1981, when mainly replaced by leaflets; unlike their predecessors, these were not obtainable from SBG's London office at Oxford Circus (which was also the registered address of the Western SMT Co. Ltd) which was a place of pilgrimage twice a year to obtain the new editions!

    By the way, the co-operatives were perhaps more accurately described as individual shareholders working together - all three were companies in their own right, holding all the licences, rather than the individuals.

  2. In the winter 1975/76 edition of the Western SMT book (480 pages!), the 'Largs Local', service 18 was actually shown on Table 18. By then services 22/23 were shown in Table 22.

  3. Although McGill's do run a 904 from Largs, it doesn't serve Greenock, Gourock and Glasgow as suggested above. Instead it runs to Kilbirnie, Beith, Johnstone Centre, Elderslie and Paisley Centre, i.e. it is a truncated version of Arriva 18. Whether the cut-back from Braehead to Paisley took place before or after McGill's took over, I would have to leave to a local expert!

    Regarding the Western timetable, when I first came across it around 1966, it was the largest UK bus timetable I had ever seen - and remained so until 1995 when the GBBTT first appeared. Does anyone know if there were any which weighed in heavier or had more pages ?

    To English eyes, its use of Scottish terminology also sounded rather strange on occasions. Timetable notes along the lines of "Passengers will not be uplifted at Waterside Colliery" led me to think "Surely it can't be that bad ! "

  4. NMcB. Thanks re 904. The route description was not intended to be taken as anything other than a list of general destinations for the network. More details will appear tomorrow. Arriva's former service 800 also comes into the historic frame!