Friday 1 May 2020

Sixty After Sixty(3)

In the absence of much that is newsworthy in the field of public transport, the fbb plan was to choose nostalgia topics and link them with the present day; hence is perusal of a United Counties timetable from 1960.
With a soup├žon of serendipity, this blog was being compiled on Captain Tom Moore's 100 birthday, celebrated at his home in Bedfordshire.

Moore married Pamela in 1968, and they had two daughters, Lucy and Hannah. Pamela died in 2006. Moore has lived with Hannah, her husband, and two grandchildren, in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire since 2008.
fbb's first choice for a nostalgia and comparison blog is this group of services ...
... of which the 159 and 161 served Marston Moretaine.
If the above graphic is too small on your "device", fear not because fbb will elucidate in due course.

So, where are we? We are south west of the town of Bedford, on and off the new-ish A421 which links the former County town with the M1 at junction 13.
The old road through Marston Moretaine was the B557 ...
... but most roads served by this complexity of services did not even warrant a B number.

The first thing to note from 1960 is that everything ran via Wootton; everything that is, apart from the 161 which didn't. The 161 used the B557 "fast" to Stewartby and then Marston Moretaine.
At this stage it is worth mentioning that the only part of this network in the hands of Stagecoach, successors to United Counties, is service 53 from Bedford to Wootton (GREEN) ...
... now operating a neat and tidy 20 minute frequency.
Thanks to the growth of housing en route Wootton gets a much more "urban" service.
Although it is barely 9am in 1960 as we wait, wide eyed, at Bedford Omnibus Station, we already have four little time exception notes to contend with. We also have five different ultimate destinations on the 158 alone.

operates via Fields Road and Wootton Green Road.
fbb reckons that this bus ran from Stewartby ...
... across the B557, conceptually across the new A421 on Hoo Lane, now closed off completely by the new road ...
... and via Wootton Green to Upper Shelton where The Exhibition pub still exists.
This particular 158 then continued via Lower Shelton and Caulcott to Marston Moretaine.

Possibly? United Counties called Upper Shelton Marston Shelton to cause fbb a good half hour's frantic Google searching.

timing at Marston Moretaine Lidlington Turn
The Bell, normal time point in the village, is roughly in the centre.
There is no Lidlington Road in the village but the road TO Lidlington ...
... is Station Road, a turn south just before the pub.
But, inevitably, Station Road does not lead to Marston Moretaine station - oh no siree, that would be far too simple. It leads to Millbrook Station ...
... which, as its name suggests, is much closer to Marston Moretaine than Millbrook.
The space between station and village is filled with the world-famous vehicle proving ground.

operates via Bourne End
A nice little double run to the hamlet ...
... where today's stop is probably in the original location ...
... as the settlement is down a cul-de-sac road.
The 158 did run to Cranfield in Stagecoach days ...
... but no more.

operates via Wavendon
The short working 160 (there are through buses from Bedford) called at the pretty village of Wavendon, just on the eastern edge of Milton Keynes.
It still has a bus service today, but not through from Bedford.

Next we will look at some of the other routes in this group and who (and what) is operated today to served most of these villages.

More About Captain (Now Colonel) Tom
We have seen buses and trains named after this magnificent centenarian but the very resourceful Hornby company have just announced their contribution.
You can order loco 66 731 now and it will arrive in the autumn. And, by today's standards it is not too expensive at £75!
Only 500 are being made.

 Next Sixty After Sixty blog : Saturday 2nd May 


  1. Bedford is still a county town. Bedfordshire County Council may no longer exist, but that doesn't mean that Bedfordshire has been abolished. The county existed for hundreds of years before the county council came along which was only in 1889.

  2. Indeed, all unitary authorities remain part of their traditional ceremonial county, thus Berkshire also still exists, although there is no Berkshire County Council.

    Likewise, Kingston is the country town of Surrey (Now in the LB Kingston), and Nottingham that of Nottinghamshire, despite being a unitary authority.