Tuesday 31 January 2023

Three Cheers For| Three Piers (2)

The Pedestrian Pier

Back in he 1950s and 1960s foot passenger traffic on a Summer Saturday was huge! You would find it hard to get a motor vehicle to the pier head, although, in theory it was possible! Now the motorist dominates and promenaders are restricted to a narrow walkway on the eastern side of the structure.
In 2010/2011 major renewal work was undertaken to strengthen what had now become a motorists pier with those on foot just about tolerated. The work involved replacing cross beams with new girders ...
... new lengthwise girders and some massive timber supports ...
... or the decking itself. Effectively the pier was renewed from the pile tops upward. It cost a lot of pennies and we wonder why the Wightlink ferry services is so expensive. As part of this rebuild, the tramway pier received a splendid and wide walkway for foot passengers and cyclists.
Everyone thought this was a super smashing idea and looked forward to its permanence and an ongoing safer stroll up the pier.

But the tram pier planking was removed as soon as the main pier was complete. We were told that English Heritage would not approve the conversion of the dilapidated tram pier into a walkway as "it would detract from the Victorian original".

The rotting tram pier was a far worse detraction!

In tomorrow's blog shall see the new walkway soon to open (in 2023) on the tramway pier. Porky pies in 2010/11?

Now it is the turn of the railway pier, the last of he three to arrive.

The Railway Pier
Once upon a time Ryde Pier Head had four platforms, originally three with a fourth (far right) added later.
Platform 4 was last in first out and its remains can still be seen.
In recent years platform 2 has been covered over ...
... leaving a two-sided platform 3, now renumbered 2.
This platform is, effectively, disused as is the eastern track along the full length of the pier.
Access to Platform 2 at Ryde Esplanade is now blocked off and the platform replaced by flowerbeds ...
... BUT ...
... a working signal forlornly waits for ever for trains that will never run.

Once again, the piles are in good condition ...
... it's the stuff on top that is rotting.

Now here is the daft thing. The Island Line has only recently re-opened after a major refurbishment to accommodate the new class 484 ex Underground trains. This work overran drastically. So to welcome back the Island's rail service, the line up the pier is now closed from October 2022 to "Spring" 2023 - whatever that means.

Wouldn't it have made sense to do both "big jobs" at the same time?

This is what they  say about the present closure.
Sounds expensive again!

Island Line has produced a leaflet giving full (overfull?) details ...
... including a shuttle bus from Esplanade to Pier Head. Here is part of the timetable.
The result of the shuttle bus provision is that any through passengers using rail and ferry will have 30 minutes added to their journey time.

So the result of all this money's being spent on the pier may well be a further reduction in ferry traffic, higher fares and a steady decline in the "classic" passenger only route.

Of course this all comes soon after a massive rebuild of the Portsmouth Harbour ferry terminal ...
... to stop the ceiling falling in; and ...
... to prevent passengers' falling through the floor and thus taking sn unexpected dip.

Necessary but costly work, fbb thinks.

Tomorrow, the tramway pier.

 Next Three-Pier blog : Wednesday 1st February 

Monday 30 January 2023

Three Cheers For Three Piers (1)

Dateline 1814

Ryde (Isle of Wight) was graced with the very first "pleasure pier" in the world; although this claim depends very much on you definition. The main purpose of the pier was to allow passengers to access Ryde from boats. Before that it was a case of being helped off a boat by a burly "porter" and walking up the slightly soggy sands. Tow boats were also used. In 1833 the pier was extended to allow bigger vessels access.

Dateline 1864
This was a big year for transport in Ryde. The proper steam railway opened from the south as far as Ryde Railway Station - which is now called St Johns Road. To connect boats at the pier with the station a tramway was constructed. This involved an additional pier to the east of the boardwalk pier for foot passengers.
Photographs of the tramway once it left the pier are rare, if not simply unavailable. But the route can be traced. Here is an old map ...
This shows the later railway route from St Johns Road, but just north of the station (map centre right) a line curves off to the right. This is the route of the tramway. It passed through what is now called Cornwall Street (upper right in aerial view below) ...
... and turned left along the esplanade.

Electric trams arrived in 1866 ...
... taking their power from an outside third rail.
Petrol engines trams arrived in 1927.
On of the challenges that a teenage fbb faced in 1958 and 1959 upon arrival at Ryde Pier Head, for onwards travel to a camping holiday with a party of over 100 lads and leaders, was either to obey the leaders and walk down the pier or to surreptitiously join the queues for the tram and get a ride.
The luggage was conveyed to the esplanade by a mini-tractor hauling two or three wheeled cages unloaded by crane from the ferry.

fbb was too much of a wimp to disobey - anyway he feared missing the coach to the campsite and thus being late for dinner! So he walked wearily down the pier! By 1961 he had become a junior leader and was loading and unloading the luggage at Waterloo, Portsmouth Harbour, Ryde Esplanade and the campsite.

The ride in the back of Shiner's van was far more exciting that some boring old petrol driven tram.

But it was still weird to hear a tram changing gear!

Also dating from 1864 was the Victoria Pier (shown on the map above - for a while there were FOUR piers). This was built to receive ferries from Stokes Bay pier west of Gosport. The service was a failure but the facility remained ...
... as a pier for bathers. The tide goes out a long way at Ryde! It succumbed to storm damage and finally demolition in 1920.

Dateline 1880
The "proper"  railway found its way to Ryde Pier Head via a tunnel under the Esplanade, thus Pier number three, to the east of the tramway pier, was constructed.
In its heyday there were four platforms at Ryde Piet Head controlled by a signal box and facilitated by a wonderful scissors crossover on the approaches the the station.
All three piers, joined only by their appurtenances at both ends, still stand seen here from the Esplanade end. Amazingly the piles of piles are still basically sound; its just the bits on top that need attention.

The overall concept at the "dry end" is much the same as ever it was - only the detail has been tweaked over the years.  

The "wet end" is very different.
Here we see (looking approx north and from left to right) the walking pier, the tram pier and station, some "leisure" buildings and the canopies for the four train platforms.

Looking southbound towards the town today, it is quite hard to match the two.
Counting from left to right, the train station is reduced, effectively, to one platform; the tramway pier is just a rusty skeleton and the pedestrian pier is now prioritised for the all-conquering motorist.

The worlds oldest "pleasure" pier now lacks any semblance of traditional "pleasure". It is all about parking the car or arriving for a tight connection by train and running to catch the ferry.

In tomorrow's blog, fbb will briefly revise the demise of much of the railway pier and focus on the future of the tramway pier as it prepares for a sort-of resurrection.

Have We Really Moved On?
Roger French is now doing an alphabetical fortnightly blog on Transport Companied. (fbb thinks : why didn't I think of that?) and, after Avanti West Coast he came to Blackpool on Saturday last.

Roger was impressed that at Blackpool North station there was a display of leaflets ...
... not a full set, but better than most.

But then there was the beautifully attired travel office (sorry, Customer Centre) ...
... utterly closed to customers.
How can an award winning Council owned bus company be so dismissive of its customers, and, indirectly, its council tax paying shareholders?

 Next Three Piers blog : Tuesday 31st January 

Sunday 29 January 2023

Sunday Variety

Un Nom AppropriƩ Pour Un Nouveau Service

The French Government really doesn't like the idea of new and competitive operators running on the national network. Likewise S N C F is very dischuffed by the idea, but then S N C F IS the French Government! But La France is an enthusiastic member of the EU (well, enthusiastic when it suits them!) so "Open Access" must happen.

The rather garish yellow and white train (only a "suggested" styling at the moment - computer generated) is for a company called, with stunning originality, "Le Train". The name is unimportant, so fbb will leave his keener readers to struggle with the translation!
The plan is to grow to run 50 services daily thought France.


If you geographical knowledge of France is as bad as fbb's you will need a map.
There is Bordeaux at the bottom and Rennes, on the main line between Paris and Brest, at the top. 

No sign of Arcachon at this scale. It is actually west of Bordeaux.
Arcachon is a commune in the southwestern French department of Gironde. It is a popular seaside resort on the Atlantic coast 34 miles west of Bordeaux, in the Landes forest. It has a sandy beach and a mild climate said to be favourable for invalids suffering from pulmonary complaints. Arcachon is twinned with five cities.

fbb had no idea either and, presumably, neither did the writer of the Le Train piece as he put it in the wrong order!

Looks a nice place, though.
It seems particularly good if you like sand ...
... and intriguing properties on stilts (Les Cabanes).
As yet, Le Train is not advertising itself with a web site - so these are early days.

Is expensive Talgo Train technology a commercial proposition on routes that do noy serve the capital? Although the georgraphy is different, it would be like running HS2 stock between Bristol and Newcastle.

Time will tell.

Flixbus Forges Forward ...
McGills is on the expansion trail yet again.
Here a Flixbus liveried coach outside one of McGills depots.
And here one with a subtle Scottish hint!
The blue and the green together don't seem to work visually 

Currently Flixbus only serves six destinations north of Hadrian's Wall, those shown here ...
... plus Aberdeen, just off the map top right.

McGill's expansion seems spectacular. Let's hope they've done their sums correctly.

Noy quite, Pinterest!

Isn't Technology Wonderful - Puzzle Picture
"It looks like a tin opener," suggested Northampton Alan. 

It is actually one of these:-
It is a wire stripper, of course! When a youthful fbb was previously wiring his model railway, stripping wire was achieved using human teeth. A similar device was used for domestic wiring jobs and very effective it was, too. But alas, 70 year old teeth are not ideal for such tough work. So fbb bought a wire stripper.

It is an amazing bit of kit,
It has a blade for cutting wire and wiggly bits for crimping.  Do you crimp, missus?

You crimp spade connectors ...
... and ring connectors ...
... to the stripped ends of your wire.

But it is the stripping that is so sensuous.

You poke the end of your wire at right angles to what might appear to be its jaws.
You squeeze the handles and, piff paff pouff, the insulation is stripped revealing the three wires within, the brown, the blue plus the yellow and green.
But the jaws do not even graze the internal wires. 

But then you need to strip the inner three to fit them to your 13 amp plug, ot, in fbb's case to a Peco point motor.

3 amp wire for a 12 volt solenoid? Don't ask?

So now you poke the thin wires into the chomper, one by one, as below with the blue ...

... and, lo and behold it strips that effortlessly - with a squeeze of the red handles.
Now the baffling technology question is this. How does this mechanical contrivance know how deep to cut. fbb makes no adjustments, just poke'n'strip.

Technically beautiful. And not a computer in sight.

It is slick and quick - the answer to an old railway modeller's dream.

Even if fbb didn't need such a device, he ought to have bought one, just to gaze on its mechanical magnificence.

Surely Stagecoach gave up on rail?
It certainly has a touch of the South West Trains about it.
The one car unit was photographed in India and fbb forgot to note where.
It is certainly not up to the standard of the Bearded Bus Beautifier from the Bush and not really good enough to be creating desire!

Here is real desire creativity ...
... on a GoAhead Salisbury Red at Wilton House. The duck does not seem to have had its desire created!

A demonstration from America showing why we need LESS cars ...
... rather than electric cars to save the planet.

 Next Isle of Wight blog : Monday 30th January