Saturday 31 March 2018

Misplaced Magnificence in Miami? (1)

It was a short-ish article by James Abbott, the editor of Modern Railways, that aroused fbb's public transport curiosity.
It told of a brand new railway in Florida, USA.

Except that it wasn't.

It started with this man

Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 to May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, first based in Ohio. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of St. Augustine, Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.

Standard Oil is, of course, Esso!

Our Henry saw the potential of the Florida Coast as a resort area and began development by building hotels. But what was needed was a means of getting people to the developing areas. So he built a railway all the way along the coast from Jacksonville all the way to Key West.
Key West was actually the largest settlement in the area, with substantial industrial activity on land and sea and a population of 20,000. But the only way to get there was by ship!

Undaunted by the engineering challenge, Flagler extended his line all the way to the end. Although the strip of land looks solid on the map above, "The Keys" were actually a string of Islands separated by large expanses of the blue Florida sea.
Flagler just built bridge after bridge until his line made it to Key West. The first train arrived there in 1912.

Despite the hardships, the final link of the Florida East Coast Railway to Trumbo Point in Key West was completed in 1912. In that year, a proud Henry Flagler rode the first train into Key West aboard his private railcar ...
... marking the completion of the railroad's oversea connection to Key West and the linkage by railway of the entire east coast of Florida. It was widely known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Probably the most famous of the links was the "Seven Mile Bridge" ...
... between Knights Key and Bahai Honda Key.
One of the little Islands was Pigeon Key ...
... which was a good place o get some idea of the size and length of this single track piece of railway engineering.

But this end section of Flagler's so-called "White Elephant" did not carry its impressive railway services for very long. In fact it only lasted 23 years.

In 1935, the Great Labour Day Hurricane cause so much damage hat repair was beyond the resources of the Company.
The damaged infrastructure was handed over to the State authorities who turned it into a road!
But the main part of the Florida East Coast Railway remained and is still in use today as a freight line.

Steam ...
... gave way to Diesel, of course.
Passenger services, which were but a shadow of their former self ...
... finally ended in 1968 by which time Flaglers vision of luxury trains to his holiday resorts ...
... had become a train of one loco and two passenger coaches.

Various plans have been discussed to re-instate a passenger service on Flagler's line but nothing has materialised. Meanwhile, enter Tri-Rail.

Planning for a new commuter rail line began in 1983, and building the organisation began in 1986. The current system was formed by the Florida Department of Transportation and began operation January 9, 1989, to provide temporary commuter rail service while construction crews widened Interstate 95 and the parallel Florida's Turnpike. Tri-Rail was free from opening until May 1, 1990, at which time the fare became $4 round trip.
The line is an all-stops "commuter"-type line ...
... and connects with the Miami Metro system.
Tri-Rail has, over the years, struggled; but now seems to be settled and successful.

It follows a rail route roughly parallel to Fagler's line.
But there is a new kid on the block, and that was the subject of the Modern Railway Article.

 Next Brightrail blog : Sunday 1st April 
For nigh on 1000 years in what we now call "Old Testament Times" offering a sacrifice was central to the ritual of the Jewish faith. It began with the transportable temple-substitute that travelled with the "Children of Israel" as they escaped from slavery in Egypt and wandered erratically towards their "Promised Land".

The idea was both simple and profound. To pay the price of sin, blood was shed. The penitent worshipper gave something of themselves by offering up an animal (an important and expensive economic resource) on the temple altar; work actually carried out by the priesthood. Blood was shed.

This history led Paul to write, in his letter to the Romans,

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

But on Holy Saturday (NOT Easter Saturday, that will be April 7th, the Saturday of Easter week!) you would be forgiven for thinking that Jesus was an abject failure. Derided by passers-by, mocked by the authorities, his body carried hurriedly to some else's grave and abandoned by all his followers, the Jesus plan, however spiritually noble it might have been, was looking like one enormous damp squib.
A dead man doesn't offer much hope to the future.

That is certainly what his followers felt; why, even Jesus himself had cried "It is finished" as he hung in agony on the cross.

Of course we all know what changed things.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Friday 30 March 2018

A Porlock P.S.

Porlock Blue Picture
It is amazing what this blogging fettish turns up. No sooner had fbb posted a picture of a bus labelled Porlock Blue than the emails flooded in (well two of them!) with details. Here is the photo included yesterday ...
... and here is the original (?) zoomed out at bit version.
And here is the email received from our man in West Somerset (with fbb additions).

The photo of JYB 168 is a 1947 Harrington bodied Dennis Lancet. It looks as if this was possibly taken in North Road, Minehead, where Blue Motors had a garage, although I stand to be corrected on that as if anyone comes up with a better suggestion.

You are right Mt Nonymous. Here is the present street lamp on North Road ...
... and local authorities are rarely inventive enough to move a street lamp, straight replacement involves far less paperwork! The white house on the right is unchanged and the slope of the land is definitely the hills at the west end of the sea front.
There is also a clutch of assorted garages somewhat nearer the town; some or all of which could have been occupied by lovely blue coaches.
They also had an outstation at Porlock Weir - see attached pic taken from google maps.
The building was (is?) in use by an Exmoor Adventure Company.
Such fun!
Their facebook blob is still at the dormy shed!
The service was very frequent in the halcyon days of bus operations running almost every quarter of an hour in in the early 1950s and joint with Western National.

There was one other important operator from Minehead – Scarlet Pimpernel and the two fought over coach business.
In 1954 the two businesses merged into Scarlet and Blue, eventually shortened to Scarlet Coaches which was in 1966 purchased by Douglas (Douggie) Venner.

That is now explained - thanks fbb; as is a Scarlets bus outside the premises in North Road!
Scarlets passed to the next generation of Douggie’s family and, a much smaller business, eventually sold out to Southern National in the late 1990s. Scarlets operation, in post-Douggie days, was basically in the hands of Martin and Terry Venner who could not get PSV driving out of their blood and, having sold out, today both work part-time for Buses of Somerset.

Both Scarlet and Blue have buses in preservation.
JYC 855 has classic Harrington "tail-fin" bodywork ...
... but if you want a real "luxury" coach, look no further than Porlock Blue's preserved beauty/
EYA 923 has the fin (of course) but also quarter lights above the normal windows and a roll-back canvas (?) roof, just glimpsed rolled back in front of the fin, above.
Now those WERE the days.

It was, as we all know, Baroness Orczy who wrote the classic tale about the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel ...
... and one of the key characters, Sir Percy Blakeney, who uttered these immortal lines as he waited by a desolate West Somerset roadside.
We seek it here, we seek it there,
The people seek it everywhere.
Is it in heaven? - Is it in hell?
The bus that once was Pimpernel.
Tomorrow, fbb hopes to go to Miami.

 Next Brightline blog : Saturday 31st March 
Looked at from theological innocence or ignorance, the name "Good" Friday is utterly daft. The Mel Gibson film (2004) "The Passion of Christ" was condemned by the press and, indeed, many Christians for its "gratuitous violence".
It certainly had more than its fair share of grue.
But is was, essentially, very accurate violence! And today's "audience" doesn't like the scourging, the crown of thorns and the spear in the side. But a Roman Crucifixion was appallingly cruel.

So why did Jesus willingly suffer?

The prophet Isaiah sets the theme when he prophesies what God's servant (the Messiah) will do when he comes.

But he endured the suffering that should have been ours,
    the pain that we should have borne.
All the while we thought that his suffering
    was punishment sent by God.
But because of our sins he was wounded,
    beaten because of the evil we did.
We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
    made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
    each of us going his own way.
But the Lord made the punishment fall on him,
    the punishment all of us deserved.

It was Jesus' prayer in the hours before his arrest that clinched the deal.
He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

So it was not HIS punishment, but OURS?!

Thursday 29 March 2018

Another Collection of "Stuff" (2)

Sid Is In Trouble
Apparently, although his coaches are plastered with a special cheap fare offer ...
... the Advertising Standards Authority have (amazingly) discovered hat it is very difficult to find any journeys at the bargain price of £1 (plus 50p booking fee). Shockingly, they looked at services between Aberystwyth ...
... and Birmingham.
Another astounding revelation!
Stagecoach have agreed to have a "different focus" - i.e. tell the truth - on their web sites!

It's All On-line Episode 542 - Sheffield
Attempting to chase up timetable changes due from the end of April, fbb dutifully logged on yesterday and ...
... the site was "down" yet again. Not just "down" but giving full details ...
... of weather disruption from ten day ago.


It's All On-line Episode 543 - Weymouth
Thanks a bundle, First Bus, for keeping us all informed via a Twit from  ...
... 7 days ago telling us which buses were operating normally. And, as a bonus, First have posted (viewed on fbb's phone) a map of their Jurassic Coaster services with X54 and X55 buses back for the "Summer". 
The map does pop up correctly on the laptop but which ignores the X55 ...
... which serve Bovington Tank Museum and Monkey World.
This table comes from the PDF of the excellent Weymouth timetable book.
But the web site warns us that:-

We are experiencing problems serving our timetables at the moment. Until we get this resolved, you can call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or visit

As ALL the timetables are in this booklet, shouldn't the web site cross reference to those tables rather than Traveline?

All together now ...


Sid Goes Sightseeing
News also from Stagecoach that a Megabus (Megasightseeing) tour of London is about to start.
The above from a trade periodical, but the Megasightseeing site says much the same.
And, despite our first item above, there were seats available at £1 for early days of the service when fbb looked yesterday evening.
It will be interesting to see if they survive that Advertising gauleiter's diktat.

And Sid has bought a camera.
Let's hope he doesn't try to use it which driving the bus!

Now, how many sightseeing companies are competing for the tourist's cash? And will the "mega" style of "on-line booking only" tempt confused tourists from "furrin" parts?

Porlock P S
Whilst seeking extra material for the blog written mainly by a contributor, fbb came across this on-line picture.
Further information, please?

STOP PRESS - at 0755 this morning an email from a West Somerset correspondent answered fbb's question in some detail. More later!

Non-Stick Sticky Backed Plastic
A comment writer points out, from bitter personal experience, that "stick-on" vinyls become "fall-off" vinyls when applied to glass. So the Buses for Sheffield non-publicity non-campaign might come to a non-sticky end sooner that planned!

How sad!

[Chortle, chortle!]
Post Palm Sunday!
There was a third act of provocation or confrontation as Jesus approached his own arrest and execution.
He told a little story. It was about the owner (God) of a vineyard and its tenants (The Nation of Israel).
When the time came to gather the grapes, the owner sent a slave to the tenants to receive from them his share of the harvest. The owner sent another slave, and they killed him; and they treated many others the same way, beating some and killing others.

The people had, largely, ignored the prophets sent to encourage them to turn back to God

The only one left to send was the man's own dear son. Last of all, then, he sent his son to the tenants. ‘I am sure they will respect my son,’ he said. But those tenants said to one another,
This is the owner's son. Come on, let's kill him, and his property will be ours!’ So they grabbed the son and killed him and threw his body out of the vineyard.

And who might that son have been? Easy peasy!
It does not take a genius (or a committed Christian) to see that Jesus death was not some rragic accident, or simply a piece of mis-placed political or religious arrogance by the authorities - IT WAS AN INEVITABLE PRE-PLANNED ACT OF SELF SACRIFICE.
Plenty of Failures - so what was the plan?
Tricky to achieve from on a Cross?