Sunday 19 March 2023

Sunday Variety

Who's Views? Whose Blues? They Just Confuse!

fbb receives regular bulletins from the team that is aiming to reprint the National Bus Company Corporate Identity Manual. Some folk are fortunate enough to own a copy of the original.
The boss of NBC was determined to make it truly "National" aiming to show all its customers that they were travelling on a super successful nationally owned bus and coach network.

Well it seemed a good idea at the time!

The man charged with "creating desire" was Noman Wilson.
He and big boss Fred Wood certainty came up with a distinctive image! And we all know the results. Buses were red and green and coaches were white. fbb was told, in no uncertain terms, that "National Blue" was unwelcome at the highest level.

But the latest blog reveals that this piece of information was, at best, a half truth, more an urban myth.

National was intended to be red, white and blue obviously!! 
Buses would be red or blue and coaches would be white.

But there were many constituent NBC companies that had green buses and it was felt that there would be great unrest amongst staff and management if their buses were no longer green. 

In the end the classic UK colours were abandoned in favour of poppy red white and leaf green. Blue remained an option for companies that were already blue - but it's use was not actively encouraged.

But which blue?

There was the blue that appeared on the "double N" logo. The first graphic on this blog (above) purports to show the official blue - but the cover of the manual has a significantly lighter shade and one which fbb perceives to be more accurate.

But the blog about the blues tells a complex story. It shows the nine different blues that adorned the rogue companies' buses.
There is, of course, a big problem with colours. Firstly, there is often a difference between printed colours which work by the reflection of light and on-screen colours that are created by light shining through them.

Secondly there always was a perception that blue was a difficult colour for livery.

And thirdly, the human eye, although an astounding part of God's creation, is never 100% reliable, especially in different ambient lighting conditions. fbb can just (and only just) differentiate the nine blues in the above graphic - and then only sometimes.

By way of confirmation of the dilemma, the blog tells us thay Jones of Aberbeeg was the only NBC company to use the official NBC blue. To fbb this one looks about right, but ...
... this one doesn't.
Even if fbb uses electronics to lighten it, it still looks different.
The darkest blue was Sunderland District - almost black ...
... and the lightest, obviously, was Cambus.
fbb's favourite was Midland General ...
... for only an undefined subjective reason.

Would red and blue NBC buses have created more desire?

How Much?
2023 marks the 100th Birthday of the locomotive "Flying Scotsman" and celebrations are many and various, including the coins from the Royal Mint. They will even sell you a sort-of "normal" 2023 £2 coin in a box with a 1923 half crown!
Hornby is producing a range of "Flying Scotsmans" in its Dublo (expensive diecast metal - only £379!!) range ...
... but the latest to enter the market are Trix and Marklin. There is a pre-production promo video on YouTube that lasts over 9 minutes - too long for a transient blog but easy to find if you are interested.
But there are now better pictures of the finished model available ...
... on many model retailers' sites.
Rails of Sheffield lists all the goodies that this model offers.

mfx+ digital decoder and extensive light and sound functions.
high-efficiency motor with a flywheel in the boiler.
3 axles powered.
Fitted traction tyres
constructed mostly of metal.
factory-installed smoke unit with speed-dependent, 
          dynamic smoke exhaust and it can be controlled digitally.
Dual headlights change over with the direction of travel
            and a lamp on the back of the tender.
These lights will work in conventional operation
              and can be controlled digitally.
The lamp on the tender can be changed to a red lamp.
A third headlight on the front controlled separately
                and it can be changed to red.
The cab lighting and firebox flickering controlled digitally.
The lighting on the tender corridor controlled digitally.
Maintenance-free LEDs
adjustable close coupling between the locomotive and tender.
The back of the tender has a close coupler
Brake hoses, imitation prototype couplers are included.

And all at a recommended retail price of ...


The really good news is that most retailers are discounting this loco. But the not so good news is that the discounted price will still be well over £500.

The big snag, however, is that it is to HO scale. So, although it runs on standard 16.5mm track, the model is built to 3.5mm to the foot rather than the UK standard of 4mm to the foot.

So it won't match with any UK model. It will look like a shrunken Flying Scotsman.

The video suggests that the loco should haul Trix vintage Orient Express coaches "and it will look beautiful"!
Beautiful maybe, but hopelessly unrealistic.

The coach set is currently on sale at 549 euro.
So, total cost would be about £1000 for a loco and a five coach train!

What a snip!

Puzzle Map 1
Guess where.
No 1 son and wife have visited for a short break. fbb feels the urge to investigate the public transport! It's a cracker of a map!

Puzzle Map 2
Guess where.
Maybe this helps. It is a "work in progress".
Obviously, it is part of the series for Mr K.

X-Rated Article?
Classic Bus is a magazine about old buses, edited by an old enthusiast otherwise known (in this blog, at least) as the Bearded Bus Beautifier from the Bush.
If you like the historic stuff, this is the magazine for you.

And Another Odd Name
But this time one that fbb knew! Less acceptable than it once was, this is a birdcage ...
... and so is this.
The coach is part of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway stock and is/was indeed nicknamed "Birdcage" Sadly, because of tight clearances in the Island's lines. its birdcage was removed.

Whilst passenger guards' vans often had "duckets" ...
... a little sticky-out bit to allow the guard to see forwarded (and backwards (if marshalled in the centre of s train) ... the S E C R managed to squeeze a "birdcage" on the top of their guard's compartment.
The above carriage is on the Bluebell Railway.

Needless to say, you can buy this as a OO model from Bachmann, discounted by Rails of Sheffield,  for a modest £60. Modest - HA!
Note the RRP of £90.  OUCH!

PLEASE NOTE : The item on the replacements for Arriva services in Macclesfield will follow later. There is more information on the way.

BREVITY NECESSITY? : A fairly frantic week coming with Prayer Meeting on Monday, Church Lunch on Tuesday and Myrtle's funeral on Wednesday. Also preparation of our monthly Fellowship leaflet for April to be distributed before next weekend.

Blogs may perforce be shorter that usual.

 Next Macclesfield blog (possibly) : Monday 20th March 


  1. Not sure you can count Cambus, it was a much later creation, not envisaged when the corporate identity was created. The same would apply to North Devon's dark red.

    Did the Jones shade change? The top picture is much earlier than the second one going by the double-N logos.

    1. Yes, that is quite correct. Cambus was setup in the early 1980's, and there were a few other NBC companies that also used blue in their (new) liveries during that period in the run-up to deregulation - Cheltenham & Gloucester for buses in Gloucester, and part of the former West Yorkshire RCC network (Coastliner, I think).

      FBB is referring to the liveries used in the period directly following the introduction of NBC corporate identity in 1972, which didn't envisage any blue-based liveries. Indeed, an article in "Buses" a few years ago reported that the NBC HQ wanted all of the buses to be poppy red - but thankfully we were spared that! I am reasonably sure that those companies that retained blue liveries for about a year (presumably with some form of dispensation from NBC HQ), continued to use their previous shades of blue - hence the variety of shades that FBB mentions. East Yorkshire used a dark blue (indigo) for buses, but dual purpose vehicles carried a paler shade, which I understand had also been used for the coach fleet.

      Jones of Aberbeeg retained their blue livery for a period of ten years from the acquisition of the company by NBC, and this is generally understood to have been a condition of the sale. A member of the Jones family also remained with the company in a management position for several years after the sale. I am also reasonably sure that the shade of blue used in the NBC era was the same as had been used in the pre-NBC era. The layout of the colours was different, and the colour reproduction on those now quite old photos is probably not entirely accurate.

  2. Andrew Kleissner19 March 2023 at 07:39

    I won't spoil the fun by saying where your "mystery map" is from - just that I recognised it immediately as I've been there more than once. And, for public transport enthusiasts, the place is a marvel: bus, trolley-bus, tram, Metro (large and small), river-boat, rack railway, funicular, chairlift and various kinds of railway including a most unusual narrow-gauge one!

    1. Indeed it is very good. Let's hope our beloved blogger is more accurate than the recent family-inspired Potsdamer Platz piffle!

  3. In the meanwhile summer starts today between Poole and Swanage on Breezer 40, with More(bus) to come:

  4. Your mystery city also has a fascinating, if small, central metro museum as they have been in the public transport business for a long time.

  5. Andrew Kleissner19 March 2023 at 14:43

    Indeed it does, plus a bigger Transport Museum (not sure if that's still open) with another one in a town about 15 miles away.