Sunday 6 January 2013

Dawdling at Dorchester

Just Passing Through
On their way to a winter break in Sidmouth, fbb and Mrs fbb decided to eschew the A35 by-bass and stop in Dorchester, the Casterbridge of Thomas Hardy's eponymous Mayor. Unusually, they found a parking place in the main street (roughly bottom left of this picture) and toddled off to the "Horse with the Red Umbrella" for a snack.
What an odd name. According to a sign inside, the caff was once the foyer of a theatre at which the very last play performed was entitled "The Horse with the Red Umbrella".
Oh really? Can you trust s sign writer who can't cope, grammatically speaking, with potatoes?
Debate on the interwebnet concludes thus:-

Just to wrap up this query: total failure to prove that the play ever existed, that there was ever a theatre at the premises of the present-day Dorchester cafe. Neither the Local History Library nor Records Office for Dorset had any information. The Theatre Museum in London didn't have any record of the title either, nor is anything held at the British Library, either published or unpublished (BL holds the Lord Chamberlain's plays - all unpublished plays performed in UK are recorded there up to 1968, partially thereafter).

Nevetherless, the caff is absolutely superb with mine host wandering round the tables offering gratuitous sweeties to his customers; although the box had run dry by the time fbb's table was reached. (boo). fbb followed a tasty toasted bacon and cheese sarnie with a delicious spotted dick and custard.
Mrs fbb just stuck to the sandwich, but not literally!

There was insufficient time to take a good look at the buses but amongst First's high profile and lengthy route 30/31 ...
... from Weymouth to Axminster ...
... (showing rail connections at Dorchester and Axminster), and their X10 to Weymouth and Portland, was the route 6 to Poundbury.
Poundbury? That place is weirdsville, man!
Built by Prince Charles, with, we suspect, a few of the lads to give him a hand, it promotes all Charlie's principles of architecture. It consists of high density town buildings and appurtenances in a variety of very traditional styles. The tower above is known, locally, as the whispering witch!

But, because it is all new and untainted by the touch of time, it looks, well weird; soul-less like some kind of out-of-use Disney film set. It is also usually empty of human activity when fbb passes by. Quite unreal.
Anyway its route 6 vehicles have been all electric since Summer 2012.
In March 2011 the Department for Transport awarded a £166,600 Green Bus Fund grant to the partnership to purchase two electric powered buses. An order was placed with Optare, a British manufacturer based in Leeds, to purchase two Optare Solo electric buses, each bus cost £197,000. Dorset County Council contributed £130,000 and West Dorset District Council contributed £100,000. The Duchy of Cornwall contributed £11,000 to pay for a higher electric bus specification and also installed some bus infrastructure in Poundbury. The range of each bus is between 80 to 100 miles per battery charge.

Clever blog readers can amuse themselves by working our whether one bus will last out for the whole day's service; but fbb thinks not.

The aim of the township design was to reduce reliance on the private car. In fact car ownership per head of Poundbury population is somewhat higher than the rest of rural Dorset. So another honorable and royal (and very expensive) environmental failure, no doubt?

There was a less technically interesting appearance in Dorchester. But something strangely familiar:-
fbb last saw this bus on the Island ...
... but before that it was with Wilts and Dorset ...
... before W&D decided to become part "Red" and part "More". The green motor is now with the fleet of fellow GoAhead company Damory whose vehicles always used to be painted blue ...
... as here on another ex W&D midi also wending its way to Christchurch.
It's all very confusing?

So fbb and Mrs, refreshed by the mendacious Horse with the Red Umbrella, continued their journey to Sidmouth, where, interestingly and serendipitously, something special and omnibological is due to take place on Tuesday.

ffbb (Fearless Fat Bus Bloke) will be on hand to report.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 7th January 


  1. What's route 30/31? Has the chubby one been careless with the detail? Naughty naughty!

  2. Quit right Anon - well admonished. In a pathetic attempt at a defence, didn't buses run through Axminster once and on to ??Ilminster etc.??? And that the extension became route 30?

    But you are right, I should check more carefully rather than relying on a decaying memory.

    Still, it gives blog readers something to comment on!
    I have told myself that I am not allowed pudding with today's Sunday Lunch by way of punishment.

  3. Seeing the photos on this post, one is tempted to mimic your style about the North Yorkshire bus map a couple of days ago, only this time in respect of the readability of destination displays. We start with the Solos in W&D livery, both operating in or to Christchurch.

    'What can we do to make things a little more challenging for the passengers?' 'Well, we could use an electronic display that is very feint, execpt for one character.' (See the green Solo).

    'Hmm, they might still be able to work out which route it's working.' 'OK, let's make the whole display feint so that it can only be read when the bus is 10 feet away.' (The blue Solo.)

    'Yes, but they can still see it, for a few seconds before it reaches the stop.' 'OK, why not redesign the front of the bus and put it behind a curved piece of glass, which is facing up into the sky?' 'Yes, perfection, now nobody on the pavement will have a clue where the bus is going!'

  4. Indeed RC169. I have oft wanted to blog about such but, as you will be aware, for some electronic reason, displays that seem "fixed" to the eye are actually refreshed at intervals which leave the screen partially (or completely) blank at normal photo speeds. When the conductor wound a little handle, this was not a problem.

    Such are the benefits of progress!

  5. OMG Poundbury! Finding one's way around, ig you need to visit someone is not my dream task.

  6. Well, yes, FBB, you're right about the 'refreshing' of the electronic displays, and that may well be the explanation for the display on the green liveried vehicle. My point (partially, at least!) is that even when the camera does capture the display, it is much less distinct than the paper/linen blinds - e.g. the blue Damory liveried vehicle.

    Of course, the problem with the electric vehicle (the SR) is the ridiculous design of the destination box - even the paper blinds would probably be hard to read in that case!

  7. I don't believe the 30/31 was jointly worked but happy to be proven wrong. Didn't the routes overlap in the recent past with the 30 extended through to Lyme Regis and only cut back in recent years to Axminster thanks to the EU drivers hours nonsense?

  8. Ken Traveline Dorset here.
    In August 2005 whenI was first appointed to my job, Service 30 was one of mine, however since its divestment from 31 north of Axminster earlier in 2005, only one journey per day each way entered Dorset and that was to and from Woodroffe School at Lyme Regis which is exactly one bus stop within the Dorset Boundary. It's now looked after by my Somerset counterpart.
    In recent years I believe 30 has not extended to Lyme being covered by a duplicate 31 between Woodroffe School and Axminster.
    The Poundbury service is a one bus operation and I think that when the early driver changes to the late driver, the buses are changed also.

  9. "reduce reliance on the private car"... well, that does not happen if you put lots of streets and parking space but only scarce public transport in the town.

    If you want to see how this really can be done look for example at "Langwasser P" in Nuremberg Germany. (In Google Maps search for "Carossaweg, Nuremberg".) Cars have to stay outside and a tube station is at the edge of the area. Also notice the playgrounds directly at the street. Try this in a normal housing area!

    I assume the street view car went around mid-morning. In the afternoon you would see more people and more kids on the streets.