Thursday 30 April 2020

Rhododendrons And Soap

fbb's quote from John Betjeman's poem referring to (Rhododendron) Ponticum blooming in Broomhill brought a comment from Alan, our Northampton correspondent, who, like most of us, has very little to correspond about.

Here is his most recent communication suitably amended and extended by fbb.

Up here in Duston, Rhododendron Ponticum is about to flower.
This year there will be no excursion to see all the other rhododendrons in flower ...
... in May at Sheffield Park Gardens (National Trust) in Sussex.
(For other confusing location names see Leeds Castle - in Kent).
Traveline claims the gardens to be but a sixteen minute walk from Sheffield Park Bluebell Railway Station.
However currently suspended Compass Bus service 121 (Lewes – Newick) ran four Saturday journeys between station and gardens ...
... where this timber stop flag plus timetable can be seen. The building in the distance is the tea room.
Should you wish to give your bus a wash there is a suggestion for the ideal detergent for the job at the railway station.
The soap was called "Volvo" for short but no one seems to know why. It was "boiled" in Kingston upon Thames and contributed all sorts of enamel signs to the railway of the region.
As well as the affable and buxom Mrs 'V', some adverts featured a really spooky image designed to put people off using the soap and to scare children into good behaviour!
We have heard of "having our head in hour hands" but having a hand instead of a head seems quite gruesome.

You can buy a model of the first motor van bought by the company's owner, one Mr Smith.
This was sufficiently revolutionary to provoke an interview and an article in the trade press of the day.

At the Grocers Exhibition of 1911, the head of the firm of Smith had his attention drawn to the delivery prospects held out by the modern motorvan, and he eventually became the purchaser of a 30-cwt. Thornycroft machine which he anticipated would suit his requirements. Those anticipations have been satisfactorily fulfilled.

The vehicle has now been in service for just over 12 months, it having been taken over on the 12th September, 1912. Up to date, the chassis has accomplished a mileage of over 15,000 without any repairs being necessary. The tires, in the user's opinion, are good for a further 5000 miles of running.

"And so you are quite pleased with the advent of the motor, Mr. Smith " was our first question.

"I am more than pleased," was the answer, "I am delighted."
Back at Sheffield Park station, you can appreciate how preserved railways have become big business over that last 60 or so years.

The Bluebell Railway is an 11 mile heritage line almost entirely in West Sussex in England, except for Sheffield Park which is in East Sussex. It is managed by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society. It uses steam trains which operate between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, with intermediate stations at Horsted Keynes and Kingscote.

It is the first preserved standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service. The society ran its first train on 7 August 1960, less than three years after the line from East Grinstead to Lewes had been closed by British Railways.

On 23 March 2013, the Bluebell Railway started to run through to its new East Grinstead terminus station where there is a now connection to the national rail network.

Sheffield Park was a quaint station in the middle of nowhere.
 Now it has a quaint coach park ...
... a quaint engineering block ...
... and a tiny little quaint engine shed!
All very - erm - quaint? The station also has a bus stop but not as quaint as that at Sheffield Park Gardens!

Castles In The Air On The Tunnel (2)
fbb was fascinated when he received his Noch ruined castle model to find out what it wa made of and, for that matter, how it was made.
The detail is exquisite but, unlike the UKs ready made building suppliers (Bachmann, Hornby and Oxford) is is not the hard thick plastic usually called "resin".  Noch explains.

Please note that these paragraphs have been translated from German to English by computer or by the efforts of a GCSE student revising for his exams!
So, it is some kind of foam but firm not squidgy.
The moulds are designed by Herr Manfred Luft.
Noch continues:-
Miniatur Wunderland at Hamburg is, probably, the largest model railway in the world. You can see evidence of Herr Luft's style ...
... and this is how Noch suggest their castle might be displayed.
Will fbb's look like this.

Erm, no!

 Next Sixty after Sixty blog : Friday 1st May 

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Baffling Buses at Broomhill (3)

Along Comes A Nasty Virus ...
... and we have to stay at home unless our exit from the domestic portals is really necessary. So we don't need the buses. But Boris and his chums do want to help those who need to actually go to work so HMG agreed financial support to keep a basic bus service running - albeit with negligible numbers of passengers.

The effect on buses via Broomhill was significant.
Using the same presentation as for yesterday's pre-crisis timetables we have the following:-

51 : Gleadless - City - Lodge Moor (YELLOW)
First - every hour

52 : Woodhouse - City - Crookes and beyond (RED)
Stagecoach - every 30 minutes

52 : Woodhouse - City - Crookes and beyond (RED)
First - every hour plus extras

At this point, fbb should point out that the 52/52a (and the 120 below) ate JOINT servicesd operated under the Sheffield Bus non-partnership. As you saw yesterday, the normal timetable involves both operators running alternately through the core of the routes. but in comes the crisis - out goes the partnership.

Ignoring the suggestion that Sunday services plus early extras where necessary should be the norm, First knocked everything back to hourly or two hourly. Meanwhile partner (don't laugh) Stagecoach operated every half hour. 
therefore makes good sense to show the timetables separately bercause that it what they are. Not very partnership-ly coordinated.

120 : Crystal Peaks - City - Crimicar Lane (Fulwood) (ORANGE)
First - hourly plus extras

120 : Halfway - City - Crimicar Lane (Fulwood) (ORANGE)
Stagecoach - every 30 minutes

Here the results of the non-Partnership are even dafter. First are running an hourly version of their pre-crisis Monday to Saturday route whilst their non-partner is running a half hourly version of their normal Sunday route. Makes no sense at all.

6 : City - Millhouses Tesco (MUD PINK)
T M Travel - just five journeys

Pre-virus this route ran every 20 minutes. The reason for this near collapse of the timetable quickly became obvious when it was revealed that T M Travel had deregistered the service completely from mid April - a decision taken before the crisis happened.

The PTE quickly re-tendered and Powells took over from 17th April.

6 : City - Millhouses Tesco (MUD PINK)
Powells - hourly

X2/2 : Barnsley - City - Hallamshire Hosp (PURPLE)
Stagecoach - hourly

Leaving aside the nonsense with the joint services, this is very much what you would expect as the crisis developed and deepened. Certainly Broomhill has more than enough buses for general use and the Hallamshire Hospital is also well blessed.

So the next development came as a bit if a surprise; a combination of two surprises in fact.
While everybody else was hastily scything away at their normal frequencies, T M Travel nobly battled on with a bus every 20 minutes between Crystal Peaks, Beighton and the city centre (YUK GREEN).
Between Crystal Peaks and Handsworth, the route travels via several areas not served by other buses, most notably Sothall and Beighton. The 27 runs to Rotherham, not Sheffield.
At Handsworth the 30 runs via Richmond Park Road, again not served by anything else, before zooming non-stop via The Parkway to the city centre. The RED line is the eastern end of the 52/52a.
Next came a preliminary non-surprise with T M Travel, at last, announcing a reduction to one bus an hour.

But service 30, surprisingly, would be extended to the Hallamshire Hospital "to replace service 6". 
Fair enough, you may think; but Powells had already "replaced service 6" and were running every hour via Hallamshire Hospital. 

In the true spirit of working together (NOT!), could it be that T M Travel, having reduced then abandoned the 6, regretted the loss of revenue from folk going from city to the Hospital?

Or were they hoping to pick up a pretty penny out of the pockets of passengers from Woodhouse and Handsworth to the hospital; who had hitherto crawled there via the much slower 52/52a?


Next in this convoluted tale, First Bus announced a smattering of timetable changes from the non Bank Holiday 4th May. 
One of these "tinkerings" included a change on the the X5.
The X5 is part of a fiendishly complicated set of routes serving Swallownest, Wales, Todwick, Kiveton, South Anston and Dinnington; (216, X5, X54, X55) thankfully reduced to an hourly X5 for the duration. Like the X30 it calls at Handsworth and then runs fast via the Parkway,
From Monday 4th May (demoted from Bank Holiday status in favour of Friday 8th May) the X5 is extended to Broomhill via the Hallamshire Hospital, but on Monday to Friday only "to provide support for service 52"..

There are three buses an hour from Handsworth to Broomhill on services 52/52a.

Has First discovered lots of people who need to make essential journeys from X5 locations to or from Broomhill? Or have droves of hospital staff from way out east asked First to get them direct to their bedside caring duties?

Or, is First having a little commercial sulk at the marginally unlikely prospect of losing droves of non-existent passengers between Handsworth and Hospital to T M Travel's equally unnecessary extension?


What is certainly isn't is working together in the virus disruption!

Castles In The Air On The Tunnel (1)
fbb struggles with the lottery that is on-line purchasing. His new castle (not the one he ordered) was offered at widely varying prices. Having ordered the model, your prudent blogger received the package and was very satisfied indeed.

Then, to his abject horror he saw yet another Noch model adverised at three quid less than he had just paid. Bummer. And it was a bigger ruin to boot!
But, click one page on and the real truth is revealed.
£36.35! Very ouch!

Quite how anyone could charge £13.95 postage for a model which is solid and weighs just a few ounces fbb does not know.

Caveat emptor yet again

A Train Down The Drain
fbb has seen a good number of pictures of the lift that carries carriages for the Waterloo and City Underground (a k a The Drain) line from surface to tunnel - but he has never seen one like this.
"Going down!" or maybe coming up!

The lift was obliterated by the construction of the Eurostar platforms on the north side of Waterloo. Stock now has to be lowered in/lifted out by a huge crane hired for the purpose.
This is through a hole on the south side of the station.

fbb Does Not Know His Onions!
Regrettably Mrs fbb has all the horticultural knowledge in the fbb team; the old man is ignorant. He can spot roses and loves marigolds and daffs but beyond that the best he can offer is "those little blue flowers" and similar nomenclature.

When it comes to onions, the old man enjoys them in stoo, mince and the like - he also likes an onion as a simple vegetable. Yum yum!

So this illustration from another German scenic accesory company, Faller, came as a bit of a surprise.
Ornamental onions were unknown to your elderly blogger.

Such things are real and the flowers are indeed giant.
It is unlikely that fbb will be planting HO giant onions at any time yet. He guesses that, despite the appellation "giant", the tiny "plants" would be easily destroyed by fbb's stubby fingers and/or the attack of the killer raindrops.

 Next Flowers And Soap blog : Thursday 30th April