Friday 30 November 2018

Going Up In The World (2)

Of course it was the steps that made escalators more useful.
Eaton's was a big department store and mail order company in Toronto, on Yonge Street at its junction with Queen Street.
It is thought that this was the first installation of a proper "stepped"escalator in retail premises.
Only wide enough for one person, pictures on-line suggest that a section has been preserved - but not in working order.
The Eaton's site is now redeveloped as "The Eaton Centre" with the obligatory shopping mall.

An article in a London periodical announced the first such installation on the Underground.
The article explains all!
Do not be to surprised at the idea of riding on an escalator as n entertainment. When, a few years ago late 1980s), the Newport branch of British Home Stores was refurbished, an escalator was installed - the first EVER on the Isle of Wight.

For many weeks it was the place for a family outing so the kiddies (and, fbb suspects, many of the adults) could experience this astounding novelty!

Some of the older installations required the rider to step off to the side, "encouraged" by an angled wall.
Whether the Underground did actually employ a man with a wooden leg to appease the anxiety of the apprehensive London public is not at all certain - but the idea is regularly included in histories of the system.

The highest rise in the UK used to be at Angel station ...
... with a rise of 27.39 metres (approx 90 feet in real money).
It certainly looks long (or is it high?) but a flight at Heathrow's Terminal 5 ...
...  now beats it!

In a back to the future decision, the Underground decided to help out weary commuters who needed to get from the Waterloo and City platforms at Bank Station to the main exit and interchange area.

It was a long wearisome trudge.
Enter the Trav-O-Lator!
It was opened in 1960 and was the first (in the modern era!) of its kind in the UK. Now the genre is common throughout the world's transport systems, especially at every expanding airports.
But the Bank Station example still has a fond place in fbb's heart and that of the millions that use it every day - but not many these days sporting their "bowler het".
Tomorrow, we reach to top of our escalator ascension with a few more ramblings.

In the meantime here is Midland General bus 514 (529 VRB) in service.
And here preserved.
And here?
Complete with its advert for Phil Whiting, Butcher (a market trader with his company address at 32 High Street, Codnor), the bus has popped up in Basel,Switzerland.
It appears to be a mobile (or immobile?) chippy associated with the posh Cafe Spitz ...
... part of the Merian Hotel - with a nice view over the Rhein.
Yummy, yummy!

Thanks to correspondent David for the info. 

fbb has remonstrated with No 3 son who has failed to report the vehicle. "Yes," he replied, " I have seen it but I was on a tram at the time." No sense of dedication, these young 'uns!

 Next going up blog : Saturday 1st December 

Thursday 29 November 2018

Going Up In The World (1)

fbb is occasionally called upon to give stunningly interesting (?) illustrated talks to groups of "mature" folk at their regular weekly meetings. Recent topics have included bridges, tunnels, tall buildings and sub atomic physics (really!), the latter being disguised under the innocuous title "What are we made of?"

Understandably, the elderly audience failed to grasp the concept of the Calabi-Yau manifold ...
... but as one "senior" opined, "It was a pretty 'thing' and looked very, erm, interesting".

The most recent peroration was all about lifts and escalators, hence today's blog title.

When fbb was taken to London by a doting maiden aunt, he was captivated by the Underground and remembers parting advice from dad, "Whatever you do, always stand on the right." Auntie was not aware of this mantra and had to be guided by your youthful pre-blogger.

Old artistic posters strongly upheld the rules ...
... with some in cartoon style.
Other examples were more prosaic!
Such posted delights no longer appear on the walls of today's more sanitised system.
Some modern versions are quite aggressive!
But such edicts are now under threat from science. London Underground has done some experiments and discovered that ...
... and escalator can carry MORE people if everybody were to stand. Shock horror! The ravens will desert the tower of London at such earth shattering news.

But please do not panic too much. It all depends on the length of the escalator AND, whilst more people can be moved, the walkers/sprinters will rise more slowly and possibly miss their connection.

It looks as if the mantra will remain at most stations.

This man ...
... is often credited with "inventing" the escalator. But he didn't! Several patents predated his designs but, as far as escalatorologists can tell, none of them was ever built. But the dapper Jesse W Reno gets the fbb vote.

His first effort rose to a  astounding height of seven feet (gasp!) and was a fairground ride at Coney Island USA.
The steps did not move; the rider sat on one of a chain of saddles which lifted the client's posterior to the top of the short incline. A longer version was later built, again at Coney Island.
You had to pay for the dubious privilege.

Charles Seeburger also did some escalating development ...
... but, eventually, all the various designs and patents were bought out by the Otis company, equally famed for its lifts. Early version still lacked steps, however, and were simply powered ramps with nobbles on them to stop the riders from sliding back down (on the up) or sliding cataclysmically to the bottom  (on their bottom?) as they descended.
A sketch of one such in operation accompanies the working diagram above.
The slope was, not surprisingly, much more gentle than a modern stepped escalator; as  illustrated by the first in a store in the UK - at Harrods, of course.
Tomorrow, we bring the story "up" to date.

Going WHERE?
But, meanwhile - a picture from Alan (taken at Northampton station).
Alan muses that you might be able to fit the train with third rail electric gubbins to get it to Portsmouth Harbour, but there isn't really enough room on the ferry ...
... and the coaches are too long to go round the corners in the Ryde tunnel!
As we are repeatedly told when they malfunction, on-board staff have no control over these displays so ...

... how did "Shanklin" get there.

Presumably some "wag" in the computer department was having a bit of a laugh?

Chortle chortle.

 Next upwardly mobile blog : Friday 30th November 

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Who Would TRY To Run Buses (3)?

Bother In Bristol 1
This blog has recorded some of the problems faced, in recent months, by First Bus in Bristol where a combination of critical staff shortages and horrendous traffic congestion have led to huge reliability problems and public dissatisfaction.

Things are getting better with additional staff being trained and back-up bods being bussed in from elsewhere in the group. In this week's staff newsletter (and in James Freeman's absence) we are told that improvements are working - BUT Christmas shopping is in full swing so the company is not "out of the woods yet".

The stand-in editor hints at "improvements" on some of the worst performing routes.
Let hope the "improvements" are not the same as were brought in by Sheffield Supertram some months back where the public was overjoyed to learn of a better service running every 12 minutes rather than every 10!

Bother In Bristol (2)
This rather lurid headline greeted readers of the local on-line rag a week or so ago.
It wasn't quite as bad as the headline might have suggested - but bad enough.

Three buses were damaged by vandals (local kiddies having a bit of harmless fun!!!!) on one evening. Repairs were undertaken but not finished in time for the following morning's peak timetable; hence:-
It looks like they were one bus short.

Vandalism is difficult to combat because, by definition, it is unpredictable. It is, sadly, a feature of our 21st century broken society and presents yet another problem for bus managers.

Would fitting external video cameras help?

And Back In Sheffield.
How's this for a piece of considerate customer service>
After the flimsy notices for the service 97/8 disruption in flimsy plastic pockets tied on the bus stop poles with flimsy string comes the above.

It was posted here ...
... at the bottom  of Scarsldale Road Woodseats. A map will show what had happened.
Under a recent "revision", service 18 (PINK) was changed to run down Scarsdale Road, right into Chesterfield Road, back up Derbyshire Lane then via Norton Lees Road (passing Meersbrook Park) before trundling off via Meersbrook to the city centre.

But with Norton Lees Road closed by a burst water main, it could not do that!

Instead, the hourly service followed the 19 (MUD BLUE) route missing our the Chesterfield Road wiggle completely. That is a major inconvenience for shoppers (the main reason the 18 goes that way) and a minor inconvenience for anyone want to get to Norton Lees Road on the pink line.

Service 20 (PALE BLUE) every 20 minutes was diverted via Chesterfield Road and up Scarsdale Road., again depriving folk of their link to the shops.

Needs must, you may say; burst mains can have a disastrous effect on the road surface ...
... and losing a bus and its passengers down a massive sink hole would, surely, be bad PR for First Bus?

But two questions spring to mind.

Does it really take from Friday 24th to Tuesday 27th to mend a pipe and fill the hole? If it does, it shouldn't!

And then ... here is a press headline about a burst water main on Norton Lees Road.
It looks quite bad.

But it happened back in March.

Is there something radically wrong with the water supply on Norton Lees Road? Why has the problem not been solved.

But thanks, PTE for the good advice.
What "other arrangements" do you suggest?

Poor customer service and poor labelling of bus stops.

If you do manage to make it up the steep hills without falling into the slough of despond, "Bishops House" in Meersbrook Park is well worth a visit. fbb never did!
Bishops' House is a half-timbered house in the Norton Lees district of the City of Sheffield, England. It was built c. 1500 and is located on the southern tip of Meersbrook Park. It is one of the three surviving timber-framed houses in the city (the others being the Old Queen's Head and Broom Hall).

It is known as Bishops' House because it was said to have been built for two brothers, John and Geoffrey Blythe, both of whom became Bishops. There is, however, no evidence that they ever lived in this house - the first known resident is William Blythe, a farmer and scythe manufacturer, who was living here in 1627.

The "Not The Bishops House"?

fbb Has Switched!
Or, more correctly, is in the process of switching.

After annual battles with N-Power who, every autumn, decided on double fbb's monthly direct debit for not good reason, the old man was simply too fed up with the system for a fight.

The proposed N-Power payment was £150, TWICE last years £75. There was and inder payment of£ £144 so, add this at £12 per month to the £75,  plus, say, 10% swingeing increase and fbb reckons about £95 would be about right.

One deciding factor was the response from the N-Power "team". fbb asked (last year and inthe previous three years) how they could justify such increases, the man suggested that the fbb's "might be watching more television".

Snorts of derision! A modern TV uses a negligible amount of juice thus illustrating the appallingly bad management at N-Power.

Welcome "Bulb" who quoted £99 based on just a postcode. Close enough for a starter and a lot less than £150.

But these newer suppliers are a bit to chatty for fbb's liking.
Time will tell. But they will "see you next week". That must be really interesting technology!

There have been heart-rending offers from N-Power of a "fixed tariff" (which is what fbb was on, anyway) and, stunningly, a promise to plant two trees if fbb stayed with them.

You can just imagine the tears streaming down the cheeks of the N-Power executives as they wave goodbye to fbb's business.

AND the old crusty gets £50 for joining.

 Going up in the world blog : Thursday 29th November 

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Who Would TRY To Run Buses (2)?

Which Stop For The Non-Stop Stopped Service?
We saw yesterday that road resurfacing on the A621 had resulted in the withdrawal of evening and early morning bus services from large chunks of south-west Sheffield.
The feeble alternative (actually no alternative at all) offered by First ...
... took buses up Dobcroft Road (served by route 82), left into Whilowdale Road (never served by buses) ...
... through Ecclesall woods, left into Abbey Lane (never served by buses) ...
... across the A621 at Beauchief (see a 97/98 zooming past, the Beachief stops are to the left) ...
... continuing along Abbey Lane, once blessed with a tram every 8 minutes on reserved track (for years since with no bus service at all) , now the "service road" (left) ....
... to terminate (stop or "safe location", according to First) at the Bocking Lane/Abbey Lane roundabout.
And here, thanks to Sheffielder Roy, is one at the "terminus".
Did buses stop at Beauchief crossroads, the former tram terminus? As there are no designated stops on the diverted route you might expect temporary "dolly poles" somewhere at the junction.
There were none. The notice at the Beauchief shelter ...
... offered no alternative (click on the pic below to enlarge the unhelpful information).
To compound the potential confusion some buses were showing "Abbeydale" on their blinds ...
... a destination which First and the PTE explained would NOT be served.
The yellow "diversion" notices were not stop-specific, so there was no effective guidance as to where you MIGHT find your bus. Also, the notices were printed on thin paper, encased in thin plastic sleeves and, by last Friday morning many had vanished from the stops - either through rain and wind or at the hands of Sheffield youff having a jolly time!

On the Friday evening/Saturday morning the section of road between Beachief and Millhouses was resurfaced and open ...
... but some buses still obediently followed the diversion!

By yesterday, however, the notice on First's web site had been changed.
Buses, we were told, would run all the way up Dobcroft Road ...
... returning to the normal route via Abbeydale and now continuing Totley and Totley Brook.

Sadly, Roy does have a life and was not able to stand at Beauchief every evening and early in the morning to see what actually happened, but the extended diversion, if it was ever followed, would still miss the stops at Beauchief!

Roy confirms that he was on a diverted 97/8 crossing on Abbey Lane on its way to the Bocking Lane roundabout which stopped about 200 yards beyond the traffic lights to allow a passenger to alight  ...
... and, as confidently predicted, there was no temporary stop in either direction.

First was showing the revised diversion (as per map above) as this blog was being composed (1000 yesterday). The PTE note - if you could ever find it - was unchanged.


Whatever the rights and wrongs of the resurfacing schedule, the travelling public were served badly by both First Bus and the PTE.

There were two possible ways of getting buses through to Totley (dotted lines on map below).
Buses could, in theory, continue from their pointless Abbey Lane terminus via Bocking Lane, Greenhill and Twentywell Lane ... rejoin the Abbeydale Road near Dore and Totley Station. Of course, this would add significantly to the scheduled running time and might require a temporary timetable. This might mean dropping an extra bus into the schedule which of course the resurfacing contract would pay for.

Fat chance!

Twentywell Lane was, briefly a Stagecoach bus route (Sheffield to Dronfield Woodhouse).

There is a route through from Dore village via Church Lane ...
... but it is narrow in places and would arouse the ire of posh car-owning and car-using Dore residents. Maybe an hourly portmanteau 97/8 shuttle via Dore operated by a small single decker "paid for" by the costs saved by turning the big buses short.

All too much trouble for a brief interruption to service?

Readers who get fed up with Sheffield posts will forgive the detail - but surely the Council, the PTE and First Bus should be working hard to keep their customers happy. If that costs a few quid it is surely money well-spent. The alternative is unhappy (angry? furious? cold and wet?) passengers who will seek to desert public transport at the earliest opportunity.

The policy of  "there ain't nothing we can do, mate; tough luck" seems to be far too prevalent in today's go-getting, passenger-declining bus industry.

 More  frustration elsewhere : Wednesday 28th November