Tuesday 31 December 2019

Not Just A Trim But More Of A Grade 1?

Killamarsh in in Derbyshire, as is Eckington ...
Both of them lie just outside the Sheffield City boundary, contiguous with the Mosborough "new town".

Buses from Sheffield to Killamarsh used to be oh so simple. 
Buses ran along the B6052 (BROWN) and reversed just past the village. With one man operation, the route was extended to the junction with the A618 (RED) where the roads meant that a reverse was avoided. Numbered 26 since time immortal the route became 226 with the standardised PTE renumbering system. It later became 260 to provide some affinity with other buses to the growing Mosborough area.

fbb has a souvenir of that change!
It was officially obtained; fbb did not swing from the rafters of the old bus station clutching a large screwdriver. It may also be obvious that it does not normally live propped up against the TV!

But right up until privatisation/deregulation, the timetable was blissfully simple  ...
... an hourly service running via Mosborough and the main Mansfield Road, now the A6135 (see modern map) via the original Mosborough village and the old faithful B6058.

The growth of housing in Killamarsh, the opening of the Crystal Peaks shopping centre, and a steady decline of First Bus routes eventually put Stagecoach as exclusive operator in Killamarsh and Eckington. First Bus ventures no further than Crystal Peaks with its share of joint route 120 (except evenings and Sundays when both "partners" (stop sniggering at the back!) run the whole length to Halfway.

But, clearly, Stagecoach has struggled with commercial viability on its circuitous set of routes from Chesterfield to Killamarsh and on to Sheffield. Daytime there are currently two buses every hour from Chesterfield ...
... with a service 72 contining to Sheffield - but NOT via the "traditional" route.
72s run to Crystal Peaks then non-stop via the Parkway to Sheffield. Early morning, evening and Sunday services still follow the old route via Mosborough and the Mansfield Road.

Early mornings and evenings had a "trim" as recently as 1st September this year but Sunday is still hourly, but with no through journeys across Killamarsh.
To the uninitiated, both timetables look pretty straightforward - but there are problems. Stagecoach has attempted to provide a service to as many parts of "greater" (?) Killamarsh as possible but in a way which is hard to explain in a simple (?) timetable.

Does a map help?
Probably not!

Maybe if we split things up a bit? The 72 is straightforward ...
... but anything that terminates in Killamarsh gets in a real kerfuffle due to the unwillingness of modern timetables to grapple with loops. Look at the 71 on Sunday. Only one bus from High Moor at 0907?

All 71s run via High Moor ...
... in a different loop from the Monday to Saturday route. Just one example of the way Joes Public can be challenged by bus travel.

Good here, isn't it?

You do wonder whether this operational convenience and publicity complexity has led to a steady decline in usage at Killamarsh. If folk cannot understand the timetable, they will not travel, however clever the schedulers have been in "making the best uses of resources".

But, from the end of January, all this is to be tidied up (Hooray) but with a real slash and burn for Chesterfield customers (Boo).

We will explore this tomorrow. And a happy new year to all???

Amazon, Responsible Environmentalists?
A delivery for the fbb household arrived in a reasonable sized box, you may think.
It was packed to the gunwales with screwed up paper and another double fold of cardboard seen here leaning aginst the mega heap of ex rain forest.
And inside the flat bit?
A new kitchen knife. 

Amazon had warned the fbbs that they would have to prove they were over 18 before delivery could take place. Mrs fbb opined that this might not be too challenging a task. Clearly the Amazon van-man didn't need much convincing as he nipped off smartly, leaving the box on the step.

But fbb has had another package, this time courtesy of Royal Mail, which, at first sight, contained a box of mince pies.
Sadly those seasonal delectations were not within the tempting outer wrapper. But what was it that engendered yet more excitement in the old man?

We will find out soon!

 Next Chesterfield blog : Wednesday 1st January  2020 

Monday 30 December 2019

Corrections and Collection

Chesterfield blog is postponed until tomorrow
Adams and an Airplane
Due to (a) a misunderstanding and (b) a memory failure (both corrected promptly by Alan from Northampton!) fbb provided his loyal readers with some fake news in yesterday's blog. Writing about the now-defunct Adams bakery in his home town, your author reported that the Adams shop on Wood Hill ...
... was now selling houses. The premises pictured used to be a chemist's. Adams Corner House was next door ...
...and is also in the property business!

But fbb had forgotten Janet's wedding reception. Janet was fbb's father's cousin once removed; but thanks to the huge size of the old man's band of relatives, was somewhat younger. So the family duly attended her wedding to Frank. fbb was c 5 years old.

And the reception was at the caff on the corner of Wood Hill and St Giles Square. fbb distinctly remembers going downstairs and sitting at a table with an aircraft porthole on the wall.

Eh? Surely the old man is mistaken? Sometimes he thinks he is but, in this case, Alan sent a BBC on-line article to support his correction.
The seats were obtained, so the BBC explains from a transatlantic Clipper plane, hence the name of the nosherie. To be helpful, the Beeb's journalist has appended a picture of "The Clipper".
But, hold on a sec; if fbb was five and the caff's owner bought genuine seats from "The Clipper" it would have been a technological miracle. 

The first Jet airliner was the deHavilland Comet which had its debut in 1952 when fbb was 7. It was unlikely that the corner house could obtain a few spare sets from the Comet factory in 1950!

Good old "Fake News" BBC.

Here is a picture of the Boeing Clipper.
The Boeing 314 Clipper was a United States long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941. One of the largest aircraft of its time, it used the massive wing of Boeing's earlier XB-15 bomber prototype to achieve the range necessary for flights across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Twelve Clippers were built; nine were brought into service for Pan Am.

That's more like it!
Whether the caff's seats were really from a Boeing Clipper is unclear, but the idea was excellent and it has even remained in fbb's memory for 70 years!

You have to admit it; this blog goes on some crazy journeys. From vintage bus advertisements to the collapse of a town's bakery, to Janet and Frank's wedding reception and via a piece of poor BBC journalism to transatlantic flying boats.


And Another Strange Journey ...
... which begins with a question. If it looks like a routemaster, if it has routemaster windows and routemaster seats and a routemaster floor, surely it MUST be a routemaster.
Well, yes - and no.

Ray Stenning (of "creating desire" by decorating buses with swirly livery fame) has been on a notalgic bus trip on London Buses route 234 to Hackbridge.
And it looks like a routemaster.

But really it isn't. It is, of course, FRM 1
The FRM was unfortunately only a single prototype. Unfortunately because it was a bus that drivers, mechanics and passengers liked. One wonders what the history of London Transport in the seventies and eighties would have been like if these had been available in bulk rather than the Fleetlines.

The idea of the front entrance, rear-engined Routemaster was a response to the pressures of staff shortages and the pervasiveness of the new generation of rear-engined buses that were all the fashion. In 1964 London Transport started a collaboration with AEC and Park Royal to develop the bus. With the Routemaster already being seen to be a good design with high reliability and public acceptability, it seemed sensible to employ the RM technology. In the event 80% of parts were from the RM standard parts list. 

For more information go to "Ian's Bus Stop" (href
= "http://www.countrybus.org/FRM/FRM.html" target = "_blank">here)
Another Flying Banana Picture
Much celebration took place as L N E R ran some special "Farewell to the HST" tours. One tweet was particularly appropriate.
Both pictures are taken from the Castle at Newcastle upon Tyne. The train looks the same, but the station has changed dramatically.

Devon General Centenary
Whilst enjoying a coffee with friends on Saturday last, fbb was keeping a weather eye on things omnibological at Seaton sea front. He was surprised to see the Stagecoach bus decorated to illustrate the 100th birthday of the Devon General company.

Was It Really  CHRISTmas  ??
Of course we all have enjoyed the festive season in various ways. fbb and Mrs' highlight was time withe family at Abergynolwyn. For fbb, personally, a deep joy was attending church in Towyn on Christmas Day.
St Cadfan's Church held a fairly formal Eucharist service (Holy Communion) at 1115. Carols were sung, bread and wine were shared and there was something special about taking part on the day arbitrarily chosen to celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the World.

Another Christmas picture gives some impression of the less satisfactory commercial Spend-Fest.
The picture is NOT of Merry Hill ...
.... but the concept of commercial excess is still thought provoking.

 Chesterfield blog tomorrow (hopefully) 

Sunday 29 December 2019

It Pays To Advertise

Advertising has become far more sophisticated that it was back in fbb's youth. Most will be well aware of the exhortation to "Shop at Binns" on bus fronts in the North East.
And on the backs!
It therefore follows that bus preservationists will need to ensure that correct and appropriate adverts are re-created for the heritage vehicles. Northampton correspondent has sent some excellent pictures of the Corporation's "preserved" fleet - all emblazoned with appropriate ads.
A blog or so back, fbb remembered his father going to Scout camp at Pevesey Bay loaded with all the kit in the back of Hamps's pantechnicon.

One preservationist has been brave enough, in the interests of accurate history, to have a cigarette advert painted on the bus.
fbb's dad enters the narrative again as a ciggy smoker par excellence! His smokes of choice were Players Navy Cut ...
... which originated in packs of baccy and then moved on the ciggies "in packets of 12 and tins of 24, 50 and 100".

The packet with the "old salt" was iconic.
Dad moved on to "No 6" and the world has quite rightly moved against death-inducing cigarettes but, back then, the adverts were common.

Local firms (like Hamp's) would advertise locally as truly national brands were far less common than they are now. Thus we have Adams Bread ...
... which was a common sight in fbb's birth town.
Sadly Adams, in its modernised form, has recently disappeared from the streets of Northampton, despite still having an on-line presence.
Alan writes:-

Daimlers 154 and 246 advertise Adams Bread. (without an apostrophe) Alas the buses have lasted longer than the bakery which failed, due to competition from Greggs and the supermarkets.
The Mercer’s Row shop survives under new management next but one to a Greggs ...
... but the one round the corner in Wood Hill is now the premises of an estate agent. 
Sadly, even the big bakery on Gladstone Road is to be demolished.
It is good, therefore, that bus preservationists are preserving much more than "the bus", they are preserving a whole lifestyle - and may their efforts continue to bring pleasure to enthusiasts and interested bystanders alike.

But one advert has caused fbb some bafflement.
The adverts makes the product sound a bit like Marmite, an "extract" to add to make "tastier dishes".The only item with the "So-Taist-Ee" brand that fbb could find on-line was this :-
Not an "extract" but a tin of "meat roll".
Sounds very much like an older version of Spam.

So here is a problem for our widely-read and more ancient blog readers. Was there a range of "So-Taist-Ee" products? Can anyone shed any further light on the brand as emblazoned on a preserved Northampton Corporation Transport bus.

Very "tasty"!

Tomorrow we go to Chesterfield.

 Next cut-backs blog : Monday 30th December 

Saturday 28 December 2019

Surprise Swish Swiss Service

But first, the answers to Quiz Part Three
  1 :  Glasgow's FastLink - slower the ordinary buses!
  2 :  Vintage Triang (recognisable by the old couplings.
  3 :  Originally part of the Olympic Rings at St Pancras
  4 :  Solihull Station to town centre
  5 :  Trolley head off a busted Seaton tram
  6 :  Former Brackley Central station
  7 :  Tweeter's shoes matched the new East Midlands Trains livery
  8 :  Regular service (regularly once a year) to Imber
  9 :  A Cravens "FIVE bay" body, usually four on an RT
10 :  South African in Glasgow Transport Museum

And Now To Helvetia:-
No 3 son has finally completed his six month contract to work in Switzerland, a contract which has lasted two and a half years. He is now intending to sort out his house which he bought some months into the start of his duties and he really does need to unpack!

He was taking a trip to Rheinfelden enjoying InterCity comfort on an IR36 which continued to Zurich.
Note that this timetable operates seven days a week and that the punctilious Swiss have included timetable changes (wiggly line notes 1 and 2) by one or two minutes. 

Anyway, when the lad boarded the train he noticed immediately that it had that distinctive smell of newness about it; so out came the phone-camera and a set of snaps whizzed through the ether to fbb's inbox.
The larger European loading gauge means they are obviously more roomy that any new UK train where passengers are cooped in very tightly indeed, as below in the class 800s.
Note that the end few seats are raised up a couple of steps ...
This part of the carriage is over the bogies, but the rest has a much lower floor than we are used to in the UK - ideal for stations with low platforms. Presumably, much of the ancillary equipment is built into the roof rather than under the floor, hence the height above window level.
There is plenty of electronic information ...
... including a guide as to where empty seats may be found.
Clear signs guide the passenger to other on-board facilities ...
... and, of course, there is a rack for your skis!
One innovation is a section of seating designed for families with younger children ...
... with attractive pictures and similar "stuff" on the tables.
It is good to see the little boys playing happily!

And, UK please note, all seats have a window!

Sadly, No 3 son did not make a note of the train's classification or manufacturer - he did not even take down its fleet number! Poor.

But whilst enjoying Christmas fun at Abergynolwyn, he and fbb were able to identify the train.

The Stadler EC250, also known as SMILE, short for Schneller Mehrsystemfähiger Innovativer Leichter Expresszug (speedy, multi-system, innovative, lightweight express train), is a high-speed electric multiple unit train produced by Stadler Rail of Switzerland for the Swiss Federal Railways According to Stadler Rail, it is the world's first single-decker low-floor high-speed train.
The 11-car articulated units ...
.. are to operate with a top speed of 250 km/h (160 mph) and have a length of 200 metres (660 ft); they are to accommodate up to 400 passengers (117 in 1st class 286 in 2nd class). In 2014, Stadler Rail won a tender to deliver 29 units by 2019 for CHF 980 million, with an option for up to 92 more.

The Swiss Railways call them "Giruno".

Note also that each carriage has only one centre doorway ...
... which, fbb wonders, may slow loading and unloading at busy stations - maybe OK as the articukated "chunks" are shorter than some vehicles. There is one carriage with red window surrounds which is the restaurant car.
The Swiss rail authorities give you a clue!

Initial deployment is on the lines between Basel OR Zurich and Milan via the 35 mile long Gotthard Base Tunnel.
Neither fbb nor No 3 son is able to explain what the train was doing chuntering for just over an hour between Basel and Zurich. Unless this is phase two?

Whatever - No 3 son was well impressed.

If only Brunel had won the gauge battle we could have had something like this in the UK. Sadly it looks as if the "commercial model" of UK rail operation will condemn passengers to cramped seating and a lack of windows in many cases.
Roll on HS2?

 It pays to advertise blog : Sunday 29th December