Monday 16 September 2013

Gone for a Burton [1]

Northampton's Heritage weekend
The three busketeers at the former NCT depot
See yesterday's blog (read again)
Gone for a Burton
A phrase used by RAF personnel in WW2 as a euphemism for being killed in action may have had its origin in the idea of a absent friends having gone to the pub for a drink of one of the many beers brewed at Burton-on-Trent.
Or it may not!
Midland Red's tentacles spread far and wide. fbb remembers in his childhood being amazed when his grandmother informed him that she had travelled to visit her sister in North Wales by bus. It sounded much like an expedition to darkest Africa! She had caught the Midland Red X96 all the way from Northampton to Shrewsbury. [for omnibological numerologists, Stagecoach runs a route 96 between Northampton and Rugby, just  a minute part of the original!].

One slightly less lengthy route was the 112 from Birmingham to Burton upon Trent, running every 30 minutes with a few journeys extended though to Derby.
X12 was also used as here on a "Lancer" branded Leyland National. Post deregulation, Stevenson's of Spath (aka Uttoxeter) became involved ...
... but by the year 2000, it was Arriva ...
... (which bought Stevensons in 1994 [?]) ...
... running hourly Birmingham to Burton with the service 111 making up the half hourly frequency from Sutton Coldfield to Lichfield. No Longer could you ride all the way to Derby! The core 112 remained hourly for some time but the latest Arrive offering is a paltry bus every two hours between Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield only. No longer can you ride all the way to BurtonNo longer can you ride all the way to Birmingham

Today's on-line publicity does not encourage confidence; with an error ridden table heading ...
... and an unnecessarily befuddling timetable ...
... offering connections with the 110 to get you into central Birmingham. Mysteriously the 110 has different timings on Saturday, hence the duplication of information. Messy and unhelpful.

How the mighty has fallen! All that is left of the great Midland Red enterprise is a 25 minute nip down the former A38.
Little Butlers Lane and busier Four Oaks stations are cruelly expunged from the map.
And what's so special about Clarence Road (see map; near Hill Hook) Maybe tomorrow's blog will reveal all?

Because ...

... this little remnant of Midland Red greatness has become the scene of a mini bus war (not a minibus war!) as two newcomers are battling for the lack of passengers.

P.S. fbb apologises for the wholly inadequate history of the 112/X12; but his sources are older (even older!) than he and their memory is less effective than hithertofore! Please feel free to add correcting comments.
fbb has reported, from time to time, on the doings of Axe Valley (Mini) Travel, led by the redoubtable Frances Searle. This past weekend all seven of her double decks have been lined up at the depot; the first time the full "concours d'élégance" has been parked visibly together since the fbbs arrived at Seaton.
Auntie F needs 5 deckers each schoolday:-
1 for Axminster
3 for Colyton Grammar (at Colyford)
1 for Woodroffe (at Lyme Regis)
Having two spare and working is very wise; the kiddies would be so disappointed to miss a day's toil amongst the hallowed halls of academe!
 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 17th September 


  1. Unfortunately long-distance journeys on buses are becoming more and more difficult to make. I assume very few people got on at Birmingham and disembarked at Burton

    What is the railway system like that way on?

  2. Additional comment as requested.

    In the fifties and sixties the three buses per day that extended to Derby were numbered X12. At some point when I was away from the area, this extension was withdrawn and the main service renumbered X12, as shown on the photo of the National. During the eighties it was worked from Swadlincote depot, and linked to the Burton-Leicester service, some buses worked right through! Stevenson's bought Swad depot and its routes from Midland Fox in 88 or 89. They reverted the number to 112, concentrated on the Burton-Lichfield sector and ran deckers on it for a while, which I don't remember Midland Red ever doing.

    Arriva have played around with the timetable in recent years, without ever getting good loadings.

    For anon at 18:33;
    Trains between Lichfield and Burton were withdrawn in 1964, so buses are the only public transport available over that sector. In contrast, B'ham - Tamworth - Burton is the Cross-Country main line, and service frequency has improved since privatisation to half-hourly plus extras at present. B'ham - Sutton - Lichfield has been at least hourly since 1956, and is now up to 4/hour.

    Lichfield is a popular destination for OAPs for days out from B'ham. Centro OAP passes are valid on trains in Centro-land, but Lichfield isn't included, so they use the bus between Sutton and Lichfield.

  3. Thanks Frankfrog for filling out some of the detail.

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