Monday 5 October 2020

Monday Variety

 Northampton Newsworthy Notes

A blog or two back, fbb reported that Stagecoach depot Northampton had become the home of several London double deckers plus two of the Edinburgh buses recently used on the tram replacement services in Sheffield.

Ever eager to complete his correspondental** duties, Alan has been out and about enmasked and socially distanced, so see what use is being made of these flash motors.

** correspondental : fbb reckons that if a certain W\Shakespeare could rise to the heights of England's Greatest Dramatist by making up words when there was none suitable ...

... then fbb, with a GCE English Special Paper success (one up from A Level), can also do a bit of verbal creative inventing.

The Edinburgh (a k a East Coast buses) vehicles have been provided with large labels made of stick-backed plastic and stickily backed all over the outside of the destination screen.

So there is a fighting chance you may find them on service 7. It would be nice to observe ...
... the flock of deer grazing peacefully on the hillside whilst visitors enjoyed a cream tea at Ye Kinges Park Tea Room.

Alternatively, after an afternoon spent enjoying the animals at the Lower Farm Visitor Centre, the family could enjoy a meal at the reasonably priced Red House Restaurant. All very bucolic.

It's an industrial estate, innit?

The Ex London Buses have not fared so well in the information business.
Generally speaking they are to be found on service 1 to Rectory Farm. Once the home of buses branded in the same green ...

... as the route map.

We met service 1 a while back when fbb revealed that Stagecoach thought it went to Overtone ...
... which it doesn't!

But the clever Stagecoach people have had selected Northampton destinations added to the London  blind system - furthermore, they are in London style lettering.

Impresssive, eh? Well it would be if it worked.
It seem that "the lads" can't get the hang of these new-fangled clockwork roller blind displays, more complicated that the all electronic stuff on Stagecoach's home vehicles. So, it's back to the sheets of paper stuck in the windscreen.
It is not not in service, it is not on route 58 but, dear confused Northampton passenger, it IS on service 1 to Rectory Farm.

Sometimes the blinds get stuck half way.

Swan Valley is an industrial estate to the south of the town ...
... NOT served by route 51.

But the curse of Overstone strikes again.

We met Overstone Lakes in the earlier blog, known in fbb's youth as Overstone Solarium. Remember?

It now looks like this ...
... and doesn't have a bus service of any kind and never has had such a convenience!

Stagecoach has some sort of agreement with the Northampton Councils, and is thus responsible for timetable displays at Northampton's bus station. This one caught Alan's eagle eye as an example of a full refit of timetable frames at North Gate.

And this is one of the two Barfields accessible via Google Maps.
This one is in the USA; there is another American Barfield and one in Canada. fbb is not sure, but does not think either is served by Stagecoach - and certainly not from Northampton.

In the UK, we have Barfield Prep School near Guildford ...

...and Barfield Park and Ride in Winchester.
It is now called Winchester East ...
... and IS operated by Stagecoach - although NOT (as far as fbb is aware) from their Northampton Depot.

The infrequent minibus service quoting Barfield is run by the "Village Hopper" ...

... in the capable hands of Cogenhoe (pronounced Cook-Know) and Whiston (pronounced Wish-Ton) Parish Council. The route, in a slightly different form, used to be run by York Brothers ...
... and many moons ago used to take the scholarly fbb (???) on his daily trek to Northampton Grammar School.

The route now no longer serves the historic (for fbb at least) village of Little Billing, but runs via Great and Little Houghton before turning left off the Bedford Road A428 ...

... at a village called ...
... Brafield-on-the-Green (pronounced (Bray-Field) - but not mentioned on the Northamptonshire map above.

Alan is of the opinion that this lengthy and as yet incomplete list of bludners is due to data management and processing by computer rather than local knowledge or common sense. A clue to the problems is, perhaps, revealed by this previously published photograph of the department that looks after these things for Stagecoach operations in Northampton and elsewhere.

And the true source of this previously blogged delight!

More Variety from Northampton tomorrow.

From The Twitterati


fbb has to confess that his knowledge and understanding of the whirly bits that go to make up a bus engine are something of a closed book. When he ran buses and coaches on the Isle of Wight, all that technical stuff was left to his Transport Manager, now his Senior Isle of Wight correspondent.

But GoAhead North East is playing with a new bus, more correctly a bus with a bigger engine.

The bus itself looks like the others ...

... but those two extra cylinders must do something. fbb guesses that it is all about balancing the benefits of extra power against things like fuel consumption and maintenance costs.


Readers may remember that buses were banished from the close confines of Pinstone Street in Sheffield where, obviously, extra space is badly needed.

So buses have been moved to grotty stops in a grotty back street, making bus travel really attractive for the public. Meanwhile the City Council has made Pinstone Street a haven of peace and tranquility ...
... road markings, cones and ...
... ugly barriers. Progress?


Scotrail is justifiably proud of its refurbished shorty HSTs. But they do things differently north pf Hadrian's wall. There is one door through which the passenger may not step. A simple "No Entry" would normally be thee simple warning cum threat!

But they do things differently in Scotland. How's this for a novel but noticeable notice?

More stuff tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Tuesday 6th October 


  1. It is a long standing agreement in Northants that the dominant operator serving a stop has to include the times of every other operator serving that stop in the display, in most cases now that will be Stagecoach as there are few other significant operators in the county (Uno being the only other operator who may dominate a stop). I can't help feeling FBB is being deliberately unfair about the Barfield vs Brafield error. It is a simple transpositional typing error of the type that we are all guilty of at times and it is the type of error that is difficult to spot when checking as it is established that your brain can reorder letters to what it should be if it is roughly right. It has nothing to do with computer processing and given it is a small village out in the countryside and not on the Stagecoach network itself it is perfectly possible for even a local to not know the precise spelling of every small village.

  2. Andrew Kleissner5 October 2020 at 08:34

    Scotrail also have a "Stay out: Live Haggis Transport" notice. I wonder if there are any others?

  3. Brafield is on the Stagecoach network but it is on the route of Stagecoach East service 41 from Bedford to Northampton. Due to a road work diversion in Turvey this currently takes 85 minutes to do 19 miles.

    It is a rare roadside display in Northampton that currently has any departure information for any operator’s services as they are full of exhortations to wash our hands, keep apart, dig for victory etc.
    Over the border in Milton Keynes and Warwickshire the local transport authority produces the timetable displays .