Wednesday 6 August 2014

Where the Heyl is Helford? [1]

 In case some of our readers think they are 
     joining fbb in his declining brain     
  elderliness, this blog did appear briefly 
    & erroneously in July. It is déjà vu!   

Geographically, dead easy to find.
Cleverly, Helford in on the Helford River (originality in naming skills is not a feature of this particular area!) and Cornish heyl means estuary. So Helford is at the Helford heyl ford.

Opposide Helford on the north bank of the river is Helford Passage, Treth Heyle in Cornish. So Helford Passage is where you went to pass over the Helford heyl ford to get to Helford.

One last introductory point is to recognise that the blue flower symbols represent, erm, blue flowers; well, any flowers, i.e. public gardens.

Perhaps a tentative look at the history of bus services to this area will help? No, it won't help at all; but it might explain some of the on-going confusion. There again it might not! Back to fbb's 1973 Western National timetable book for Cornwall.
535 runs infrequently via Constantine to Helston and, less frequently on to Penzance.
563 runs to Durgan Crossroads as an extension of a Falmouth "local" route via Budock Water.
564 runs locally in Falmouth to Golden Bank; the asterisked journeys are Summer only and extend to Helford Passage (Trebah) trundling a little further than Durgan Crossroads.
566 (not shown on the map) is another local Falmouth route via Acacia Road to Budock Hospital.
Budock Hospital was closed down after the obligatory crisis over the care of mentally ill patients ...
... thankfully!

Now, loyal readers, all you have to do is to throw all that information into the air, beat it with a baseball bat, reduce it to the bare minimum and you have, more or less, the service pattern used by fbb to get from Falmouth to Helston.
The 535 of 1976 is pretty much the same as today's 35A, but without the diversion to Porth Navas, a tiny settlement on a creek of the Helford River no longer served by bus.
The 563 of 1976 is like todays 35 as far as "Helford Passage" with the former 564 having no modern equivalent in that Maenporth is no longer served by bus. A blog correspondent was actually there a couple of weeks ago and found a nice shiny bus stop standing proudly at the Maenporth terminus.
Shiny enough to make our correspondent wonder whether there were, after all, buses from this stop. In the frame on the pole below is the answer.
Or is it? Is there a non-First route? Cornwall county thinks there is ...
... but Traveline thinks there isn't.
Traveline is right. The "First" notice is confusingly ambiguous. 

Falmouth local 68 nearly gets there every two hours ...
... but turns on its tail at Pennance Mill.
The timetable implies that it calls at Maen Valley Park (yet another caravan site) on the way back only ...
... but that is yet another First Kernow lie and delusion; there are "official" stops on both sides of the road.

The 566 of old is included because it serves the Acacia Road area in Falmouth.
As does todays 35.

Put all this together and you might see why fbb found the 1750 departure from Falmouth worthy of his interest. It, like the first 35 of the day, is a normal 35 to "Helford Passage" where it turns right round, returns to Mawnan Smith, then nips off to be the equivalent of a a 35A to Helston.
It is a fascinating route, slow, wiggly and, on Friday 27th June, completely devoid of passengers once Falmouth was left behind.
O.K., fbb was a passenger, as was the girlfriend/partner/spouse/moll of the driver, but neither was what you might call a genuine local customer. Falmouth is off the map top right. and Helston  is reached, eventually, off left centre. 

So why the fuss about Helford Passage?

We shall see.

 Next bus blog : Wednesday 6th August 


  1. At the risk of spoiling our rotund investigator's next issue . . . . this story so far is why rural bus services are in decline. There just ain't no passengers!

    One starts to understand the reluctance of councils to support such journeys, and maybe we in the industry should be pointing out such journeys upon re-tendering.

    Yes, we may well lose work in the short term, but if it means that council funding is directed towards trips that actually DO carry a few passengers (and thereby protect such trips/routes) . . . isn't that a "good thing?".

    Comments eagerly awaited!!

  2. Unfortunately I think many councils will simply be more interested in the financial saving they can make, and not in redirecting that money elsewhere!

  3. And why are we seeing an increase in standardising Monday to Saturday tendered timetables. Nottinghamshire County Council have just revised their tendered network so many Saturday routes start at 6am like weekdays. Why? When there isn't the demand on Weekdays never mind Saturdays!

  4. I think there's a danger in focussing too closely on journeys which carry the most people and withdrawing those which carry fewer - for example if one was to take that logic to its fullest extent there would be no journeys in the reverse peak direction and some journeys would be truncated to the point at which the last, say, three people were on board, and in both cases the decline then starts. There is also the concept that running a comprehensive service gives passengers at any part of the day the confidence to use the service as they know they won't be left behind when they want to return - if a few evening journeys run empty but providing them ensures that the daytime journeys are used by a higher percentage of people that's worth doing. Also, although working hours don't now always match the traditional 9-5 I always judge a bus timetable on two key elements - journeys before 9am and after 5pm and the last bus being after 11pm. The latter relates more to urban service of course.

  5. Is that because it is known that people who live in villages go to bed early?

  6. Anon 21:29 . . . . I'm not suggesting that journeys should necessarily be withdrawn because passenger loadings are minimal per se. My point is that (and we all know of them) some trips simply don't carry any "real" passengers from one week to the next, and these should be withdrawn.
    If your point about providing a "confidence" trip is germane, then such a trip must carry at least occasional passengers to be included in the overall service offered and costed accordingly. Any commercial operator (and increasingly we are seeing councils act in a similar manner) will provide trips that will take no cash fares, but if return ticket holders use the journey in sufficient numbers the bus will continue to run.
    No passengers . . . . . no bus! Simples!!