The Vulture Circles
Wikipedia offers a splendid picture of "The Magnificnt Bearded Vulture" ...
... anticipating for the slow death of its prey, death by a thousand pecks.
Despite a few gains over the years First in North Devon began losing tenders all over the place; but the first death peck came in March 2006 when Uncle Brian the Bearded started service X55, three journeys Monday to Saturday, between Exeter and Barnstaple.
Keith Shayshutt documents this in all its gory but fascinating detail in Chapter 6; it is not a pretty sight.
But the Great Bearded Vulture still had one killer blow left.
It's a shopping centre, innit!
Stagecoach also attacked First's fares with some undercutting special offers.
The end was both final and farcical.
First offered to sell its remaining North Devon business to Stagecoach, who agreed to buy. Then the Competition authorities announced that they would investigate the deal as it might be bad for the customer.
Stagecoach walked away from the deal, First closed down and ...
... the Bearded Vulture got the whole lot** for nothing.
So Keith's book ends with ...
The "main line" has been tidied and rationalised into a useful stable service ...
Again, do not expect to hear the soporific creak of the mill wheel as it turns slowly but firmly to grind some heritage or artisan (but very expensive) flour.
It is, in fact, what used to be called a static caravan park ...
Atlantic Village (a k a Affinity Devon) now has a half hourly link to Bideford only and beyond via Great Torrington - but no longer through to Barsntaple.
Keith's book retails at £21.50 and is so packed with information on the challenging times of the British bus industry over the last couple of generations that you could hardly begrudge the price. The author certainly knows his stuff.
When fbb last looked, copies were available from the Great South American River, post free if you subscribe to Prime.
If fbb had not received a kind and generous review copy from the author, he would definitely have bought a copy. Sorry Keith, that's £21.50 you've lost.
Next Thinking About Thurrock blog : Thursday 15th Oct
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