Sunday, 29 September 2019

Tuesday Trip To Topsham (1)

Actually, the fbbs went last Thursday but the alliteration is better on Tuesday! They were in the company of their chums from Mid Wales who were staying for a few days. They have visited several times before and Top[sham was not previously a destination.

Amazingly in their 6½ years at Seaton, the fbbs had never ventured thus far either!
Located south east of Exeter, Topsham is near the confluence of the River Ex and the smaller River Clyst. Nowadays the little town's river views are somewhat dominated by the M5 bridge.
Nearby is the Countess Wear bridge ...
... which carried traffic in the good old days.
The bridge itself has had a number of makeovers and is now much wider!
There is a still a Countess Wear Hotel ...
... now the Beefeater front entrance to a much more modern Premier Inn.
Buses past the popular Premier pub pass along the main road to Topsham in the person of the No 57 bus c/o Stagecoach. This route has gone from unassuming 57 ...
... via Go 57 ...
... to Stagecoach Gold. Long-term readers of this blog will remember that fbb was invited to the official launch of the Gold 57.
The service runs every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 30 evenings and Sundays. A recent development has been the N57 ...
... continuing the 30 minute headway throughout Friday night and Saturday night.
The route is simple in Topsham ...
... with the bus continuing to Exmouth where it fulfils the role of a local service to Brixington.
Exmouth town centre is off the above map extract, centre left.

So what is route "T", we hear our perceptive readers cry.
Lettered services have their ancestry in"city" routes operated by Exeter Corporation Transport later taken over by Devon General.
Look up service T today and you are taken to a complex Stagecoach timetable for

I  - Digby • Whipton Barton • City Centre • Countess Wear
    • The Rydons • IKEA • Digby

J - Digby • IKEA • The Rydons • Countess Wear
    • City Centre • Whipton Barton • Digby

K - Science Park • Tithebarn Green • Whipton Barton
      • City Centre • Countess Wear

T - Whipton Barton • City Centre • Countess WearTopsham

It is probably best not to try and understand these services, but if you are keen to do so, it works like this; The I and J and alternate ways round an "East Exeter" circular focused on Digby Retail Park and IKEA.

K provides additional journeys over part of the circle with an extension into the rapidly developing Science Park located between the Pinhoe Road and Honiton Road. To confuse us all, the K shows the same number in both directions so, through the city centre, I & K and J & K run in opposite directions.


Which leaves T!

Here it is.
An hourly evening service just like an I and a K, but continuing from Countess Wear to Topsham, and not just the Topsham of Gold 57, but to Topsham Quay.

On Sundays the hourly T runs all day!
Our knowledgeable readers will, obviously, be asking the key question.

What runs to Topsham Quay during the day Monday to Saturday?

Answer? Nothing! Or, more correctly, nearly nothing ...
... just a couple of odd (very odd) short workings from City to the Quay.

At bus stops between Countess Wear and Topsham, Stagecoach have provided a special timetable page for route T, a page not available on-line.
And, before you jump to any conclusions, there is nothing happening on the Quay each evening and all day Sundays that might justify the T service - not even a service of tea?

fbb is hoping one of his better informed readers (better informed on matters Exoniensian) may be able to explain the mysteries of Stagecoach T. The old man is baffled - it is quite a Tser!


 Next Topsham Trip blog : Monday 30th September 


  1. From what I remember, it's as simple as the T declining in frequency from every 30 minutes (sometimes 15 in peaks) as the Exmouth service has increased in frequency and profile to what is is today. Back in the 70s and 80s, as the 5 amd later 356/357, it was half-hourly and whilst the 57 and T take different routes to the city centre, once the 57 splits off, the roads served by the T are also covered by the much more frequent K and R/S and now the I and J too. The extenson to the Quay came in the minibus era IIRC. Quite simply, the T isn't as needed as it once was and at the back of my mind, I think the remaining journeys may be tendered.

  2. I don’t keep historic Exeter timetable leaflets so this is from fairly recent memory and adds to the above.

    Historically the T was simply an extended K. The I, J and Science Park extension of the K did not exist as it was all fields and no roads. However the T and Exmouth 57 both go to Topsham.

    At one time the combined K&T was every 10 mins with T continuing every 30 mins.

    Topsham has a railway station near the quay with a service to Exeter every 30 mins serving a number of stations, with Digby&Sowton and Newcourt being new. With traffic congestion and the off-peak fare reduction when First took over, the train has become much more popular. The evening and Sunday service has been increased from hourly to every 30 mins.

    Stagecoach decided to try increasing the 57 from every 15 mins to every 10 mins with Gold specified buses and withdrew the T completely. Some locals complained of the lack of a shopping bus from the quay end of Topsham and with council agreement the two shopping journeys were added back. Since then the 57 has returned to every 15 mins. The retained evening and Sunday Ts cover for the reduced i,J,K and 57.

  3. Some extra trivia to the above.

    The quay area has more historic housing than you expect, and the pub and restaurants are open.

    There is even a private ferry across to the pub on the other river bank.

    The bus turning point is about the only possible place, but it is difficult. The provision is an oversized bay in the car park into which the bus reverses. All the yellow lines and signs do not keep it or the approach clear, so the bus stops short.

    The station is the passing place on the single track branch. Every 30 mins is the maximum frequency, with a crossing trains every time. There is a level crossing at the end of the platforms used by the 57, which can be held for several minutes waiting for both trains.

  4. Anon 09:04 here again. Whilst Anon 09:20 is correct about today's T effectively being an extended K, I would say it's more accurately the other way around in that the K is a truncated T. The T pre-dates the K by many, many years - go back to the 1980s and the K didn't exist*, the T was the core service. Go further back, and in Exeter Corporation days, Topsham didn't have its own city service, the CW went to Countess Wear, being replaced by the T in 1967, but it was served by the joint ECT/DG service 5 to Exmouth, precursor of today's 57.
    *K has been used for various city services over the years. Tradionally it was city centre to Pennsylvania and later city centre to Cowley Bridge.

  5. Another issue with the Quay is the Turning bay is frequently blocked, when the T ran more frequently the Stagecoach Twitter was reporting the T having to turn by the station as the reversing bay at the quay was blocked on an almost daily basis

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