Saturday 27 September 2014

The Adventures of Rupert Bear [1]

Wrong. Not Bear but Street
Bristol, like Exeter, Plymouth, Sheffield, Coventry and others suffered badly from enemy air raids during World War 2.
The central shopping area was badly damaged and, post war, a major rebuild was put in place replacing older shops etc ...
... with shiny modern concrete buildings. This area was known as Broadmead. In the 1930s the first sections of an "Inner Circuit Road" were created. The blue line on this 1930s map extract shows the ultimate extent of the change ...
... and the later addition of a link to the M32, top right. In 1936/7 an act of disgraceful urban vandalism created a brand new route through the beautiful Queen Square. Magnificent houses were demolished at the south eastern and north western corners and a main road slashed through the central gardens (dotted red line).
Wiser counsel eventually held sway and in 2000 traffic was diverted outside the square and the gardens restored.
Much of the post-war architecture was "brutalist late 50s early 60s" and has become tired and dilapidated. One of the modernist-turned-ugly features was a high level walkway and foot bridges crossing Rupert Street and Nelson Street.
In the 1960s and 1970s there were grandiose plans to separate pedestrians from traffic using high-level concrete walkways or decks. The vehicles would have the ground level, while pedestrians would move around central Bristol on ‘walkways in the skies’. At the middle of this system would be a huge plaza, up in the air above the (ex Tramway) Centre ...

... from the end of Baldwin Street almost as far as Colston Hall. It was, at the time, considered a bold and modern vision. A furious public campaign against it at the time and the financial crises of the early 1970s killed the idea off completely.

It is this somewhat horrifying headline that caught fbb's eye as he perused a selection of First Bus news items.

Bus users advised to leave more time
for important journeys this weekend

Local bus operator First West of England is advising bus users who are planning to travel into and around central Bristol this weekend (27/28 September) to allow extra time for important journeys. The advice comes as First considers the impact of a weekend road closure on its services.
From 9.30pm on Friday 26 September until 6.30am on Monday 29th September, part of Rupert Street in Central Bristol will be closed (between Bridewell Street and Christmas Street). This is due to the demolition of a concrete walkway connecting the buildings on either side of the road, which is being done as part of planned redevelopment work.

The development is substantial and will fill much of the area between Rupert Street and Nelson Street.
In the indicative sketch above, Rupert Street is on the left; the bridge has been removed and is replaced with a pedestrian crossing and central reservation. A rebuild is long overdue and the whole area, including the distinctive NCP car park ...
... opposite the development area, have been described as "an architectural disaster".

Rupert Street is a significant and busy "bus" road southbound; Nelson Street is ditto northbound; which is why First Bus has issued its warning of doom and potential disaster.

As we shall see tomorrow!
Breaking News
Hit a Man When He's Down?
Poor old Western Greyhound [WG], once an example of all that is superb about independent bus operation, has been going through tough times. First Bus seems to be flexing its newly toned muscles for a contretemps with its hitherto peaceful neighbour.

In September First's "traditional" route between Truro and Newquay gained an increased frrquency from hourly to half-hourly. Now comes another onslaught from 2nd November. There will be additional peak hour trips on the 89/90 route.

First has also announced a third route between the two towns, this time via Perranporth; very much WG territory. WG numbers all its routes in a 500 series.
The press release states ...

First is introducing a second route between Newquay and Truro via Perranporth hourly, combining with its current route to give a First Kernow bus every 20 minutes between the two major towns.

... and goes on to deliver a double whammy:-

Additionally, it is introducing a Newquay to St Austell service, a corridor it has served historically, but which has not seen a First service for several years.
fbb awaits details with bated breath!
 Next bus blog : Sunday 28th September 


  1. One of the firemen in your second photo seems to have been an early convert to the later 1960's vision of pedestrian walkways in the skies!

  2. First's latest choice of 'new' routes is really rubbing salt in the wound, as it passes through Summercourt, headquarters of Western Greyhound.

  3. Unfortunately despite me receiving your email to me my reply failed to send as was returned, so I am forced to post it publicly here.

    Hi fbb

    Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying readiong your blog. As a fanatical blogger myself - never meant to be that way but it takes over your life if not careful - it's just wonderful to see another blog that takes the more cynical angle, as well as injecting humour in a "hobby" that seems to have a distinct sens of humour defecit.

    It is also good to see another blog that isn't obviously sucking up to individual companies and is not afraid to criticise and say as it is.

    I have given you a huge plug on my blog, and link, and will continue to do so. Keep up the good work and if you ever venture into East Anglia let me know as this church organist would love to buy you a coffee and chew the cud for a bit.



    1. As an occasional snippet-contributor to FBB (and fellow church organist...!), I have also had emails returned in recent days. FBB, it seems your email may be playing up? :-(

  4. You wrote " In 1936/7 an act of disgraceful urban vandalism created a brand new route through the beautiful Queen Square." Is date correct?

  5. Notwithstanding the fire, WG have been largely the architects of their own downfall. You cannot operate buses without basic things like functioning destination equipment for months on end and blame the council for a basic failure to spend money. Clearly no money is being spent on things not viewed as essential anymore - accounts still not filed at Companies House despite being due months ago.

    WG's service delivery issues are not as well masked as they once were- evidently First has spotted an opportunity to provide reliable bus services rather than leave WG to carry on losing customers with its erratic and slipshod methods of operation.

    It is not that hard to operate buses, basic things like reliable running times and proper planning (not having impossible running times to save buses and costs like on the 555), proper information both at the bus stop and on the vehicle, rather than caring about a flashy numberplate to hide the true age of the bus.

    People want to know where the bus is going, they don't care for how old the bus is. They want the bus to turn up at a time close to or exactly when the timetable says it will turn up. If you have no confidence in the reliability of a service, you will not use it.

    If you can't properly run a service, then leave it to operators who can.