Friday, 24 May 2019

How Are The Mighty Fallen (1)

This 1880 map extract shows Pond Street in Sheffield, leading to The Ponds, which were, well, ponds!
The ponds, and the streets that bore their name, had already existed for over 100 years but by 1880 we have Pond Hill and Harmer Lane plus an embryo Flat Street.

Pond Street (on the above map shown as "Little" Pond Street) was used for bus departures pre WW2 ...
... whereas trams used Flat Street (off the shot above to the left) and the rest of Pond Street; which enjoyed some very low grade tenement housing.
The post war bus station was created on the right of the above picture, originally just roadways and some open shelters. Sheffield folk were hardy folk back then!
The above view looks towards Harmer Lane and, beyond the chimney, Midland Station.

Next (in 1955?) came a proper bus station.
It was "refreshed" from time to time and renamed Central Bus Station.
An escalator link was installed to a modern shopping gallery (replacing the long-gone tenements) ...
... Fiesta nightclub and Cinecentre multiscreen picture house, also via steps and escalators to the newly-built Arundel Gate up above.

Then came a complete rebuild in the early 1980s, to include "The Archway" shopping arcade ...
... (now almost shopless) and brand new stands parallel to Pond Hill and at right angles to the normal Pond Street layout. These are seen below under construction ...
... viewed from Arundel Gate. (Spot the old queen's head?) They formed a useful set of stands whilst the main bus station was demolished and rebuilt but it was the pre-advertised intention that they would be for long distance coaches.

The Old Queens Head pub survived ...
... but the coach station didn't; giving way to the office block in the above Streetview picture. A glance at a modern map ...
... shows the new bus station still located between Pond Hill and Harmer Lane but with the original "little" Pond Street unnamed but still running from Pond Hill to Shude Hill.

Commercial Street was built across the ancient roads on a viaduct.
The former Gas Offices form a useful landmark.
Commercial Street was widened several times, most recently in connection with the Supertram routes ...
... but broadly these ancient Sheffield roads still remain.

But it was privatisation and deregulation that changed Central Bus Station, now dubbed Sheffield Interchange, from what it once was.

More from the Interchange tomorrow.

Isn't technology wonderful No. 472.

On Wednesday last, fbb took his dear wife to Axminster Station so that she could nip to Totnes to meet her chum.

Whilst there, two things happened which were of interest to the old man.


Axminster Station, in common with all others on the former South West Trains (Stagecoach - now First's South Western Railway) network, has touch screens for smart cards. One is by the station caff ...
... and is well-encrusted with cobwebs and other natural detritus - indeed fbb had to clear the cobwebs to see if the screen was working. It was, but was well-nigh unreadable in the sunlight.

The one near the platform exit from the booking "hall" was readable.
fbb has never seen an passenger use either of these pieces of technological wonder; until yesterday, that is. A gentleman of sprightly gait but mature years bought his orange-stripe ticket from "the man" and then spend a few moments trying to get it to register on the terminal.

After several waves, prods and twists, he gave up with a shrug and moved along the platform.

Apart from the ambiguous words on the screen (the man had a "card', i.e. his ticket!) there are no explanations or instructions at Axminster and never have been.


The customer in the queue in front of Mrs fbb was purchasing his ticket with some hesitation. The ticket clerk was equally unsure of his required destination.

Helpfully the young go-getter besuited traveller was able to spell his destination.

M-A-I-Z-E Hill, he advised.

Clerk types this into his Deep Throat terminal and returns with a visage of gloom and perplexity.

"No such station", he said with a tear in his eye.

Up steps fbb with a touch of the subservient forelock and a gracious bow and announces to all and sundry in a stentorian voice.

"It's M-A-Z-E Hill", he opines with consummate confidence.
There it is, one stop east of Greenwich.

With much relief for both passenger and clerk the sale was completed.

Without modern technology he would have had to look it up in a book, a concept now foreign to the transport industry, apparently.

 Next bus station blog : Saturday 25th May 

1 comment:

  1. Commercial Street was actually widened c1972 when a dual carriageway was built. The road was 'singled' gain when Supertram was built in the early 90s.