Friday, 22 October 2021

A Book fbb Would Not Normally Buy ...

... But Was Really Excited To Read It!

Published by North Riding Classic Bus at £14.99, this volume is simply a collection of pictures of buses in the City of Steel. The ABC of the title refers to the unusual workings of the Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee. There were thee other JOCs, Huddersfield, Halifax and Todmorden, but Sheffield's was by far the biggest.

It was all a cunning plan by A R Fearnle ("his" grandfather) to ensure that the railways did not nick too much business from Sheffield Transport. As a municipal operator, STD (Sheffield Transport Department) had the unalienable legal right to operated all the buses within the 1929 city boundary. This was enshrined in the 1933 bus regulation legislation.

Outside that area it was more of a free for all. The railway companies had begun to operate buses from early on in the history of the motor omnibus, but there was a danger that they might take trade away from Sheffield buses which had expanded well outside the city limits before regulation was enacted.

It worked like this.

Buses owned by STD and operating within the 12929 boundary formed the A fleet.

Routes that were suburban but crept outside the 1929 boundary we designated the B fleet. Half wer owned by STD and half by the railways, later British Railways.

Long distance inter-urban routes were wholly "owned" by the railways, as were the vehicles.

But the whole lot was managed by STD with its GM as "Secretary". Effectively it was all one "company" with huge amounts of paperwork to ensure that costs, revenue and profits found their way into the right piggy bank.

As the time came for the JOC to be disbanded there was less and less "ppressure" to keep up the pretence. Whether the finances were casually assembled or not, buses often found their way on to "foreign" routes. Here is an A fleet bus negotiating the famous chicane in Bradwell on route 72 to Castleton, a B route!
The route is now the 272 but still creeps gingerly through the same gap!
The route is now joint with Hulleys ...
... but the gap is still VERY scary!

Then here is a B fleet motor on an ex-tram city service.
fbb would have liked a map, ot at least a list of which services were in which category.

Sadly, for a book costing £15 there are several errors. This picture is captioned "a servic 60 passing Midland Station".
If so, it was passing driverless!

It is actually standing at its terminus having either swung round in the road, or, more likely turned at the roundabout a short distance past the station building.

Because most of the pictures come from the zenith of STD operation and because they are mostly from fbb's pre-marital days with plenty of time to explore the city's bus routes, fbb enjoyed a book that he would not normally enjoy.

But sadly it lacked that particular something that would take if from being a thoroughly interesting book to being something really outstanding.

Locations are not always mentioned. These 95s are at the Intake tram turning loop that became the Intake bus terminus/

The remnants of the terminus are still there ...
... but no longer in use!

This service 1 (a city route with a B bus) ...

... is climbing Pitsmoor Road on a route to Firth Park via areas on new housing.
The road is no longer served and the estates have been incorporated into cross city services.

There are some rare destinations that deserve a mention; 118 a shift time bus via East End industry and on to Sheffield Lane Top ...

... and, shame upon shame, a route that fbb never rode!

The 29 ran to Blackburn, a suburb of Rotherham ...

... again for shift change workers at Shardlows. This was thee reason it had to be single deck!
And Shardlows has long gone, replaced with a crane hire company that featured in an early episode of  the Jodie Whitaker Doctor Who series.
The 99 to Ford deserves a mention.
The full route ran to Chesterfield via a low bridge at Barrow Hill and was always single deck. But an evening trip at peak hour was duplicated as far as Ford. Yes it is a village just over the border in Derbyshire. Part of the route is now provided by T M Travel 252 ...
... but the double deck 99s used to reverse (fbb thinks!) at the Bridge Inn.
And yes, fbb did once ride the 99 all the way to Chesterfield!

One other rare route deserves mention ...
... and another route omitted from fbb's extensive ride-on list. It ran from Parson Cross, the big estate in the north of the city, avoided the city centre and terminated at "Queens Road" which always appeared on the blind in a much smaller print than normal.

The Queens Road terminus location is straining fbb's memory, but he thinks it was here ...
... turning in that triangle of "yellow" roads at the bottom of Granville Road. There is a very different form of transport there now!

So, if you like pictures of old buses, or those from the glory days of Sheffield Transport, this book is a must. But for fbb's taste a little more information about the pictures would have brought it to life. And showing two pictures of the same bus in the same location on the same page was a bit of a booboo!

And Just For Fun ...
This is the new timetable for the SL1 and SL1a starting on Sunday 41st October.

A Puzzle Picture
What is it and where is it? Or maybe where will be - perhaps?

Photogenic London

 Next Variety blopg : Saturday 223rd October