Friday 31 August 2018

Spending Really Speeding Heeley? (1)

Before 1870, Sheffield was on a short branch line from Rotherham, terminating at Wicker station.
It became the huge Midland Railway goods yard ...
... and is now a Tesco Extra store.
Getting the main line into Sheffield from Chesterfield was a real toughie. Bradway tunnel had to be bored ...
... and although the approach began through a wooded valley ...
... as the city came nearer, there were roads to be crossed, old property to be demolished and the river Sheaf to be buried in a huge culvert to allow the building of Sheffield's so-called Midland Station. 
Stations were built at Beauchief, Millhouses and Heeley (map above), the latter on a substantial embankment.
The line had two tracks initially with the station building being on the western side, as crudely illustrated in this engraving of an early accident.
This picture is of the two track layout.
The curved road leading up the the east-side goods yard from London Road can also be seen in this sketch.
In about 1900 the line became four track with Heeley equipped with platforms on all four lines.
This aerial view shows part of the station ...
The white "slash" (botttom centre is an access road to the minimal goods facilities ousted from the east side by the four tracking. The building (bottom left) is the replacement station building which still stands today!
Also the gateway to the station yard is still there.
Access to the platforms was by subway and, by the time fbb arrived in Sheffield in the mid sixties, the station building was barely used.
With the news of impending closure in 1968, fbb and chum decided they had to travel from Heeley to Sheffield Midland. Needless to say, they were the only passengers to board an evening train and the fare, if fbb remembers correctly, was 6d shown on a hand written ticket.

The subway entrance can still be discerned but it is, understandably, bricked up and weed encrusted.
Naughtily, the two lads travelled in the First Class section of the diesel unit in the hope that they might be charged an excess. The guard, sensibly, decided that the two young men were completely nutty and allowed them to travel in utter luxury.

The four tracking meant that two extra single-track bridges were needed to cross the busy London Road.
It was difficult to photograph all three bridges from road level because of the different heights at which the road was crossed. This tram ...
... has passed under the bridge nearest to the city. The abutments are still easy to see.
Likewise the bridge furthest from the city has also been removed ...
... when four tracks were reduced to two under a "rationalisation" scheme.

How long, a cynical fbb ponders, will it be until Notwork Rail announces four tracking from Dore and Totley station through to Sheffield to increase capacity - especially as HS2 is planned to come that way and the Transpennine (South) service is due to be enhanced!

Watch this space!

As aerial view of the former station site shows something of where it and its yards were.
But it is those bridges and the incursion of the railway into Heeley that presents a problem for today's public transport through the suburb; a problem which has required the City and H M Government to break open their piggy banks for significant expenditure - again!

 Next Heeley blog : Saturday 1st September 

Thursday 30 August 2018

The Only Way Is Essex - 3 (Brightlingsea)

Various operators have plied the Brightlingsea Road, namely Cedric's ...
... and Horizon Bus which turns up today with a clutch of school services.
Back in the days of the great Great Britain Bus Timetable (in this case in year 2K) the "main line" service from Colchester was service 78/78A, running every 30 minutes.
In passing it is worth noting that services between Colchester and Clacton and between Clacton and Walton were much the same in Y2K as they were before the July capitulation.

First bus (and its predecessors) was king of the road for many a year, but recently the challenge of competition has reared its ugly head.

Headingham started their service 87 ...
... a direct copy of First's Brightlingsea offering, running every 30 minutes.
The route is the same.
Perhaps in response to competition, First uses green wedge branded buses ...
... and has a much better map!
The timetable differs, however, in a couple of ways. First maintains the long-standing half hour frequency through to Brightlingsea, but adds an extra half-hourly 62A plunging more deeply into Wivenhoe.
Everything serves the Co-op ...
... thence the 62 turns sharp left along Bellevue Road ...
... to rejoin the "main road". Likewise Hedingham's 87.

62a journeys continue along the High Street, then turn right almost at its end to serve an nice little turning circle layby thingey outside the railway station.
There is also a route 61 to Wivenhoe Station (every 30 minutes).
These services combine to give the University of Essex six buses an hour.
In Colchester, First runs to the so-called North Station - which doesn't actually exist!
As far as fbb is aware, it has always been just Colchester Station, never with North added to its name. There is a "Colchester Town" station, located more in the centre of the town - there's a clue in its name!

For countless generations local folk have referred to the main station as "Colchester North" and bus destination blinds and timetables follow this tradition.
From an outsider's point of view, it seems that First have been offering the better service of the two competitors ...
... so perhaps we should not be surprised to read this in Hedingham's web site.

Unfortunately route 87 will be discontinued from September 2nd 2018.

However, to say goodbye we will be offering a £2 a ride Farewell offer from Saturday 18th August until Saturday 1st September 2018. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Please be aware on Tuesday 28th, Wednesday 29th, Thursday 30th  and Friday 31st buses will only run

i.e. only an hourly service.

From Brightlingsea Victoria Place to Colchester at:
0544, 0721, 0751, 0827, 0900, 0957, 1057, 1157, 1257, 1357, 1457, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2200.

From  Colchester High St only at:  0730, 0904 then every hour until 1604, 1710, 1810, 2006, 2106, 2306

On Saturday 1st September buses will only run

From Brightlingsea Victoria Place to Colchester at:
0727, 0757, 0900, 0957, 1057, 1157, 1257, 1357, 1457, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2200

From Colchester High Street only at:
0904 then every hour until 1604, 1710, 1810, 2006, 2106, 2306

As T S Eliot did not quite write in his poem, "The Hollow Men" ...

This is the way the service ends
This is the way the service ends
This is the way the service ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Bus watchers will be interested to see if, with the removal of the competition, First begins to reduce its joint 61/62/62A frequency.

P.S. Alresford Creek Ford.
fbb referred to this in yesterday's blog (read again). But a gang of keen Land Rover enthusiasts were not going to let about three feet of gloopy mud impede their desire to ford the ford!

First, turn your Land Rover into a bulldozer and attack the gloop.
It takes several goes!
But, eventually, success!
After a rescue or two!
And there it is ... Alresford Creek ford available to all ...
... maybe not!

The various videos can be found on YouTube.

Presumably the next few tides filled it in again. Videos were dated 2008.

Tomorrow - how to spend £4 million plus!

 Next bus lane blog : Friday 31st August 

Wednesday 29 August 2018

The Only Way is Essex - 2 (Brightlingsea)

But First ...
... a correction from correspondent Keith.
Hedingham's main depot is now in Clacton, not far from the now-abandoned First depot.
Tollesbury depot closed some time ago.
Brightlingsea 1798
Back in the late 1890s, Brighlingsea was not much more than a sleepy fishing village on the River Colne opposite Mersea Island.
Brightlingsea Oysters were/are much prized by sophisticated diners. (fbb has never been keen on culinary "delights" that are slimy - so oysters are a no-no!)
As fishing faded, so the village developed into a holiday resort, retirement area and dormitory town for Colchester. It has a collection of uninspiring streets and a huge length of beach huts.
There is a lake and a huge outdoor pool ...
... and at the end of Promenade Wayu is a mysterious tower.
Bateman's tower was built in 1883 by John Bateman which he used as a folly for his daughter to recuperate from consumption; however it may have been intended as a lighthouse as part of a failed plan to expand the port. During The Second World War the original roof of the folly was removed so that the tower could be used as an observation post by the Royal Observer Corps. In 2005, a restoration project funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund took place to restore the tower to its original condition, including the fitting of a replica of the original roof, refurbishing the interior of the tower and also painting the outside. The tower is now used by the Colne Yacht Club to administer races. During race days, the public can visit the tower, whose new roof makes it a popular gallery from which to watch races.
Bateman's Tower is leaning slightly; it is said that its foundations were laid on bundles of faggots.
Wrong kind of faggots! Right kind of faggots!
The former fishing harbour has been redeveloped by some rather intrusive posh flats.
Very pleasant, to be sure, but surely out of character for such a quaint little town?
Development of tourism was helped by a railway branch line leaving the Clacton and Walton "main" line just east of Wivenhoe station.
It still has a Railway Tavern ...
... opposite which is a pleasant and well tended chunk of parkland.
Here stood the station ...
... seen here from the "business end" of the railway.
The trackbed is now a footpath, seen here atop a low embankment.
You can therefore walk the old line as far as the point at which it crossed Alresford creek which was once traversed by a splendid viaduct and swing bridge.
The bridge swung to allow boats to go up the creek to collect loads of gravel from various wharves and loading docks (see "Aerial Ropeway" on map below). But this splendid piece of engineering is no more.
Older maps show a ford, newer maps a footpath through the creek; but there is no such usable crossing now. On YouTube is a video of someone having a go at using it!
The video is entitled "First Attempt"!

No longer can you travel by train as the line closed in 1964; so, if you wish to visit the Leaning Tower of Brightlingsea, your journey must be by bus.

We will focus on a bus developments in tomorrow's blog.

 Next T O W I E blog : Thursday 30th August