Wednesday 31 July 2019

Farewell To An Old Friend (3)

First, An Apology.
fbb and his ex-brother-in-law, ex-Sheffield flatmate and ex Sheffield Transport Department employee assembled a detailed list of Sheffield route changes from 1913 to the arrival of the PTE in 1973.

Whenever he is writing about history, your noble blogger goes to the files (the heap) and extracts the relevant pages of typed script. After completing his ramblings on service 4 earlier this week the sheet for service 31 disappeared in to a temporal and spacial vortex (the place whither one sock of a pair vanishes!) where it was, of course, invisible to the old man.

It re-appeared yesterday morning in the most unlikely and unpredictable place.
Which partly explains why fbb wrote (later corrected) that the service to Upperthorpe started in 1919 rather than 1913 and why he also wrote 1945 instead of  1954.
By way of repentance, here is the early history of the route:-

And we thought modern-day public transport was unreliable!

The new service started from the Royal Hospital in Glossop Road ...
... closed in 1978 and demolished in 1981.
The only remnant of this venerable pile is the listed frontage of the former Mount Zion chapel on the east side which was taken over in 1922 and formed the Outpatients Department.
Was part of the purpose of the 31 to provide a link from the Royal Hospital to the Royal Infirmary ...
... whose back entrance is at Upperthorpe? The main hospital block remains, joined by a Tesco which removed some less admirable buildings.
More bizarrely, the 31 also ran via Victoria Station!

Whatever the "policy" at the beginning, on 3rd April 1955 the 31 was revised to run from the bus station, omitting Victoria Station,  with its route unchanged until 1969.

It left the city centre via Scotland Street which in 1771 was a big brave extension of residential property into open country ...
... but many houses had their workshops in the back yard. By 1954 it was a mix of housing, small works and a few pubs. A few remnants of those days could be found ...
... but mostly the run is through light industrial units ...
... lacking the character and cohesion of ancient times.
The route crosses the supertram and inner ring road (Netherthorpe Road) ...
... but the pre-dual carriageway route up the hill was St Philips Road crossed by the 31 running on Watery Street
Here there used to be a small shopping centre but trade is not so good today!
Slowly, low grade housing was demolished ...
... and replaced with the Netherthorpe tower blocks.
In the late 60s, however, when this route became an fbb favourite, there was plenty of the "traditional" Sheffield to enjoy!

Then we come to Upperthorpe, still alive but in decline ...
... before the real fun part of the route begins. It is something of a mountaineering expedition.

First comes the narrow, blind bend of Daniel Hill.
It has been opened up in recent years with much of its traditional housing demolished ...
... but looking back down towards the corner with a 31 descending ...
... you can see what "fun" it used to be. Then there is the steady assault on Whitehouse Lane and Walkley Road.
The climb seems to go on for ever. Again, looking back down the hill, the older photo shows what it was like when there was more densely packed housing on both sides of the road.
And as soon as you reach the summit, just short of Walkley Library, your 31 would turn sharp right ...
... and begin the long steep Walkey Lane descent to Hillsborough ...
... right back down into the bottom of the Upper Don Valley.
Obviously Streetview pictures do not show the gradients as well at personal experience as the noddy car was already going up (or down) the hill, but, for a residential route it was, and currently is, something special.

As we shall see tomorrow, the 31 disappears completely after service on 31st August, but there is a replacement for part of the route. This requires a bit more explanation which will conclude in tomorrow's blog.

There may be steeper climbs elsewhere in the UK, but there is no route full of so much variety and social history in its short 18 minute running time.

 Next farewell blog : Thursday 1st August 

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