Sunday 26 March 2023

Sunday Variety

And the Winner Is ...

Readers may well remember the derision which greeted this video starring (?)  Grant Shapps (who was Transport Minister that week) and Michael (pink jacket) Portillo.
The video was regarded as childish and flippant, lacking the gravitas of such a major change in the way railways would be tun in the UK - possibly.

So The Winner Is ...


Yes, Derby is to the new (and probably VERY expensive) HQ of Great British Railways. Pause for celebration,
Derby was, of couse, the HQ of the much loved Midland Railway, famous for its small engine policy, leading to a small train policy stopping at a small station policy!
Apparently the GBR team, currently beavering away in dark and gloomy basements trying to work out how the GBR policy decision can work in practice, now have the unenviable task of finding a site in Derby and getting the lavish HQ built.
fbb suspects that the HQ will be opened by King William just in time for a new railway policy of decentralisation to the regions and nations; and the property will be sold to a developer and be converted into luxury bijou apartments at high rental.

Unless GBR as a whole is ditched before sods are cut.

More Electric Extravagance
Like fbb, you may have forgotten that First still has a remnant of its once huge network in Manchester. Part of the Oldham system remains, with a bit of Rochdale and  couple of routes south to Thameside (Ashton under Lyme).
These are all based in the Wallshaw Street depot in Oldham itself. It began as Oldham's tram sheds ...
...which morphed into the Corporation bus depot.
SELNEC took over ...
... and First got the northern half on privatisation. First and the depot are still there.
According to First, the company has big plans for its Wallshaw Street premises.
Now fbb is no high powered businessman, but he does wonder about the wisdom of investing in a fully "electrified" bus garage, only to lose the business completely under mayor Andy Burnham's franchising plan.

Maybe it doesn't matter too much to First as much of the bill for Wallshaw Street and its electric vehicles will be paid for by "the government" and that is you and me, folks.

The world of public transport is an increasingly weird place!

Historic note. fbb visited this very depot back in the late sixties. Oldham corporate had been upbraided by Her Majesty's Vehicle Inspectorate for poor maintenance and a clutch of buses had been "stopped". Sheffield Transport sent over a handful of buses similar to Oldham's finest that weren't so fine. fbb joined some chums from STD Traffic Office for a state visit.

For The Discerning Modeller?
In the drive for more detail and accuracy, fbb is pleased to bring before his utterly fascinated readers three models that can grace their superiorly detailed tracks.

For Narrow Gauge and N-thusiasts!
"Bug Box" is the nickname for diminutive coaches that used to run on the Festiniog Railway and still come out on special days.

For The OO Good Goods Wagon Collector
Another in their series of faux Private Owner liveries. The toffee company is ancient ...
... and its blue tins are famous "oop noorth" - although fbb has never knowingly chewed a Farrah's toffee.

Of course, it will be delicious - as is this wagon c/w small tin of tasty filling removers.

What Colour Are Lego Bricks?
When fbb was nobbut a lad, he had some Lego Bricks were red, blue, yellow, black and white. So when he saw this news item he was incensed with rage. 

An artist has painted a former railway bridge in Wuppertal (that's the Wuppertal of the dangling railway) ...
... a bridge which used to look like this.
He has painted it like it is constructed with super giant Lego!
It looks even better from underneath!
But what aroused the ire of the chubby one was that pale green brick! fbb was aware that a mid green brick was added to the colour range, but pale green - horrors of horrors!

Oh sad and ignorant fbb! There are actually Lego brick collectors. They don't make models from them, they just collect and enjoy their aesthetic beauty, And here are the colours so far assembled in a claimed complete collection.
And MEGX, (the artist - no idea how he pronounces his name!) has done another one.
Pink! Orange! Pale green, again! Pale Blue! Purple!

What is the world coming to?

Alas, trains no longer cross the Lego bridges. The line is now a high quality footpath and cycle way.

Herrlicher Fußweg auf einem alten Eisenbahnviadukt!

Barely Relevant Snippet.
Two gorgeous pictures of London at Night.
There is something very appealing about a modern well-lit city, especially where river reflections add to the beauty.
Or, how about a panorama in Budapest, split into three for the purposes of blog visibility.
Buda Castle, The Chain Bridge and tram route 19.
The trams look good in he dark as well.
More variety tomorrow.

 Monday Variety Blog : 27th March 


  1. In London it’s Thameside but in GM it’s Tameside.

  2. Andrew Kleissner26 March 2023 at 08:06

    To go with the bug-boxes, the Ffestiniog Railway should temporarily rename its loco "Prince" as "King"

  3. Could LEGO coloured bridges stop bridge bashing?

  4. I doubt First will do any work at Wallshaw Street until they know what (if anything) they have won in the next round of Manchester franchising. They (and we) should find out in the next few months.

  5. As a Derby resident, I'm pleasantly surprised that someone in Whitehall knows we exist. When it comes to government investment, the East Midlands normally feels like a UK version of a "flyover state".

    The Midland Railway had tentacles everywhere, so Derby has trains to almost everywhere important, though we do need to re-open the line to Manchester. As hinted at in the press release, most of the technical services that the railways need stayed in the area after privatisation.

    The HQ needn't be expensive. The Midland Railway's HQ building is empty, though I hope the front offices are smarter than those round the back where I had my last two Covid jabs. And some of the former Ralway Technical Centre is empty, for more junior staff to use.

    As an aside - the Midland Railway's small engine policy is now taken to extremes - every coach on a Meridian or Voyager has it's own engine!

  6. FBB - You obviously have never eaten Harrogate Toffee as you cannot chew it, because if you did, you would break your teeth on it. It is a very hard toffee so the only way to eat it is to suck it.