Saturday 19 September 2020

Overstone's Odd Overtones (2)

Readers whose memory is sound and vibrant from yesterday will remember that Overstone has the dubious privilege of a sporadic service consisting of an occasional route 10 and an equally occasional route X10. Residents of Moulton, Overstone and Kettering could be forgiven for feeling that they are the forgotten ones, forgotten in the interests of commercial bus operation. Apparently anything with a wheel at each corner will do for the 10/X10.

An ex CorbyStar double decker with branding removed ...
... and ex (?) CorbyStar midibus with branding still in place ...
... a Gold with branding for the X4 ...
... and, of course, the full gamut of Stagecoach's normality, liverywise - but vary varied vehiclewise. Route branding - Ha! Consistency - Ha!

Of course the world has changed (even BC), and Stagecoach needs to concentrate on making money rather than encouraging bus travel; but in fbb's youth the main road carried a service 256 Northampton to Kettering and Corby (every 30 min at times), A 301, also every 30, ran indirectly from Northampton to Moulton every 30 minutes and the delightfully wiggly 401 ran via Overstone, Sywell, Mears Ashby, Earls Barton and Doddington to Wellingborough (sort-of every hour)
More recently, route 7 ran to Moulton and route 39 to Kettering via the villages. Then the 39 was diverted via Moulton ...
... and the decline continued.

But, according to publicity at Northampton bus station, that has recently changed. Overstone gets a bus every 10 minutes.
Even the early morning "works" service 53 now runs via Overstone!
If Hulley's X57 was "courageous" then Stagecoach's service 1 to Overstone is hyper-courageous.

Of course it is all utter twaddle!

Service 1 does not run via Overstone between Blackthorn and Rectory Farm, never has done and never will do. This is a glorious example of Stagecoach management incompetence developed skillfully from an over-reliance on spreadsheet technology and a serious under-reliance on good staff route knowledge.

fbb will explain with the help of Stagecoach's network map.
Service 2 (ORANGE) runs from town via Kettering Road (the old A43) to Goldings then does a mega clockwise loop via Rectory Farm and Blackthorn.

Service 1 (GREEN) runs via the Wellingborough Road and Weston Favell District Centre to Goldings. It then goes via Blackthorn followed by a smaller loop via Great Billing Way, a "U" turn and via Rectory Farm before returning as outward route reversed.

It is that "U" turn that needs out attention ...
... and there, c/o Google Earth, is that roundabout at which route 1 "U" turns. And there it is up ahead with a dinky little shelter for route 1 under the footbridge.
But look carefully at the aerial view above and you will espy a light coloured track continuing north from the roundabout. This track is one of the ancient roadways of Overstone Hall ...
... the now-closed school for the daughters of well endowed gentlefolk.  The planners of Northampton's much expanded Eastern District obviously spotted this lane and decided to name the estate to the west of Great Billing Way and close to that roundabout ....
... Overstone Lodge!

If old maps are to be believed, there never was a "Lodge" as this point. The not very well compass-based "South Lodge" ...
... has been obliterated by the Southfields estate. We must thank the Northampton Development Corporation (long since defunct having Developed) for the names chosen for the development. Maybe the chief architect, one "whiskers" Redfern, did find an old lodge on an old map.

The name doesn't feature, these days, on any road sign, the estate being "annexed" by Goldings; but the sign on Great Billing Way does show that the real Overstone as some distance away from Stagecoach's misleading invention.
The next OS map up from 1:10,000 - the Explorer - does confirm that fbb has not imagined the name.
Pity the poor passengers who catch a No 1 bus in the forlorn hope of getting to Overstone!

For the pedants among us, fbb is reminded that, for a while, Stagecoach did run a couple of peak hour Service 1 journeys from/to the real Overstone. These were tendered by Northampton County Council and ceased as the council slid inexorably into bankruptcy.

Big Brother Is Watching You (1)
No sooner had fbb put finger to keyboard for his posts on Glossop (published on Blogger, part of Google's world domination policy) than another piece of computer wizardly found out.
Pinterest (Pictures of Interest, perhaps?) instantly (well within a few hours) assembled a relevant collection of snaps. Mostly they were of  the electric locos that plied the Manchester, Sheffield and Wath lines, but a few are of the Glossop branch. 

Beware - everybody knows your on-line business unless you hide it very well.

Big Brother Is Watching You (2)
Glasgow Central Station has, for some time, had a permanent police presence on one of the galleries above the main concourse.
His ability to spread the virus, even his ability to prevent crime; EVEN his ability to call for backup, is somewhat limited by the fact that he is a cardboard cut-out! But one that now wears a mask.

The mask is real.

Mysterious Arrival In Seaton.
On several occasions recently an unusual bus has found itself in the coach park at Underfleet. The oddity joins the usual suspects from Dartline, two school double deckers and ...
... the service 30 bus on layover.

But what is the intruder and what was it?
You can have a jolly good guess from a couple of stickers ...
... but the give-away is the route information, also in Welsh.
The even better give-away is on the back.
And below is the same Ex Stagecoach bus, registration number ...
... on its rightful and former Traws Cymru route in Cardiff.
OK, it's a second hand bus, but now owned by whom?

Answer, Sewards Coaches of Dalwood near Axminster. 
Sewards is not normally a "bus" operator, usually buying rather nicely equipped coaches.
Maybe this acquisition is for a school contract or maybe with a view to tendering for rail replacement, where, once the current "delay" runs out, "accessible" vehicles will be mandatory.

More Stuff tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 20th September 


  1. The route branding of your mystery bus is clearly Trawscymru T4, Cardiff-Newtown via Brecon. Not all buses that cover the whole route but those that do take 4 hours - it's about 100 miles. As you may know Trawscymru isn't an operator itself but, like TfL, contracts in operators (on behalf of the Welsh Government); T4 is run by Stagecoach but re-equippped a couple of years ago. As it's not National Express etc. I presume my Concessionary Pass would be valid for the entire route. Until Covid the buses were free to everyone at weekends.

  2. T4 is a great way to reach Shrewsbury from Cardiff with just one change in Newtown or two via Oswestry. One ticket covers Cardiff to Oswestry too. Fab route and you usually get to visit the Brecon depot en route.