Saturday 18 November 2023

Saturday Variety

 The Watlington Mystery - A Big P.S.

Back in the day, Watlington had its very own bus and coach company, namely House's, usually dubbed House's Watlington Buses. With many thanks to correspondent Julian, fbb can bring you the company's timetable for its service to Reading.

Two timetables are shown, one for a Wednesday and Sunday service ...
... and one for a daily service ...
... note daily means Monday to Saturday! And here is Mt House's bus at Reading Station in 1972.
One of his vehicles is preserved at the Oxford Bus Museum.
The blind shows Watlington Henley as House's service ran through.

Later, the Reading route had passed to Motts who, in 1991 were branding themselves as Yellow Bus ...
... with their bus also seen at Reading Station.
In 1999 a company called White's was operating to Thame.
And guess who was running to Thame in 2003?
Indeed, the current tender winner, Red Rose.

Correspondent Julian offers a cynical comment along the lines that, as the services have never been successful in recent years, why is Oxfordshire wasting his money and fbb's subsidising them all over again!

Of course, some local authorities like to do things which will win  votes at the next election - even at the next General Election. Or maybe Oxfordshire has surveyed all the rural unserved villages in the county to discover where replacement services might be needed?

Back, Sure, At Blackmoor
Blackmoor Gate once had a railway station ...
... on the much loved and much missed narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple Railway which closed in 1935. The station buildings were recycled as a pub but the preservation people have aspirations to reopen the whole line.

So the following appeared on-line ...
... complete with a well chosen thumbnail picture to illustrate the line!!

fbb was at first confused (it happens more easily these days) by pictures of Barnstaple Town signal box ...
... which looked a bit posh for a creaky little narrow gauge line.

That's because there were two - one (above) for the standard gauge line and one ...
... for its baby brother. The two lines shared an "interchange". The box above still exists in private hands and is to be revived and installed at Blackmoor.
It might be some time before it is returns to full use. The water tower at Blackmoor was repurposed as a shed ...
... but the original is seen as an "O" gauge model.

U1 - Who Might Buy You One?
The London and North Eastern Railway Class U1 was a solitary 2-8-0+0-8-2 Garratt locomotive designed for banking coal trains over the Worsborough Bank, a steeply graded line in South Yorkshire and part of the Woodhead Route. It was both the longest and the most powerful steam locomotive ever to run in Britain. It was built in 1925 with the motion at each end being based on an existing 2-8-0 design. The original number was 2395, and it was renumbered 9999 in March 1946, and then 69999 after nationalisation in 1948, although it retained its cab-side plate bearing its original number throughout its life. The locomotive ran for some time as an oil burner, and was tried out on the Lickey Incline in 1949–1950 and again, after the electrification of its home line, in 1955. These trials were unsuccessful, and so the locomotive was withdrawn in 1955 and scrapped.

It was a monster!
And it did a monster job!
The Worsborough Bank led from the sidings at Wath ...
... up the hill towards Penistone.
The Danish model maker Heljan has just announced an OO gauge model of the U1.
Guess how much it will cost?

Answer tomorrow.

An Accolade For fbb!
It is not often that fbb gets addressed in an adulatory mode - so to be calles "awesome" is a rarity (although very much deserved, says fbb, with uncharacteristic modesty!).

As a regular customer of Oxford Diecast, (this is fbb's second purchase) it must ber his latest order for four "pot-luck" models sold cheaply that has provoked the note below.
fbb wonders how he would be recognised if he really spent loadsa money.
Fortunately there is no room for such biggies at Peterville.

N.B. The "toothbrush" project follows tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 19th November 


  1. The first House's timetable is for "Weekdays", not Wednesdays. The image is not very clear, unfortunately.

  2. And increasingly in timetables recently ‘weekdays’ seems to be used for Mo-Fr rather than Mo-Sa as in years gone by