Thursday 29 February 2024

Dramatic Dudley Developments (1)

Nostalgia Nuggets?

An 1835 nap (above) shows the early Dudley next to a blob of parkland on top of which (a strip of red) is Dudley Castle. The castle was once a Motte and Bailey establishment (remember from school day history) which was later rebuilt, burnt down, rebuilt and left to become a ruin. 

And here is the castle hill in 1938.
We now have a few railway lines running to the east of the hill..

The Castle mound became the site of the celebrated Dudley Zoo with its skilled advertising slogan of the 1960s.
fbb remembers a huge poster to that effect clearly visible from Dudley's bus station. The zoo had a chair lift to assist folk up to the craggy summit ...
... and once up there you would find a whole range of entertainment including a miniature railway.
Todays chair lift looks a lot more secure but may be the original ...
... and the miniature railway ...
... has taken a leap onto modernity. There is also a land train.

But next to the castle and zoo excrescence was once Dudley Town station, not to be confused with Dudley Port station or Sandwell and Dudley station.

Even worse, do not confuse it with the orange line at Dudley Station ...
... because, as you all know what fbb didn't, namely that the orange Dudley is in Boston USA.

So what of Dudley's Town station?  Well it isn't there any more, but, as they say in all Romantic Dramas, it's complicated.
The Great Western arrived ex northwards from Wolverhampton, calling at Tipton. From the north east came the South Staffordshire Railway, (later the LMS) running from  Walsall via Dudley Port Low Level.

Even Wikipedia struggles to tell us much about Dudley Port.

Originally the canal port 
for the town of Dudley.

Proper noun
Dudley Port
A suburban area in the
Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell,
West Midlands

And here ... tada! ... is the Port today!
Ane here it is on an aerial Streetview view.
But back to the Town station. 

South of the station the line, once again, splits into two.
The slightly more notable route for passengers was a shuttle to Old Hill.
(click to enkarge the timetable) whilst the other route, manly freight only, continued to Kidderminster and was used to get goods trains to Bescot yard without cluttering up central Birmingham.
The central Dudley station had two Island platforms, the one on the left being for GWR trains and then one, accessed via the over bridge in this north facing picture, was for the LMS. The LMS chimneys are disinc.tive!

It follows that Dudley Town was, in general, served by very local trains carrying few passengers. 

Here is a GWR train ...
... and an ex LMS "rail motor".
It is not at all surprising that these lines have been closed completely for passenger trains.

There was a freight development which, for a time, brought Dudley into an uncharacteristic burst of railway modernity. More tomorrow!

So lets look at buses.
Across Castle Hill (the road) from the Zoo/Castle mound is a road called Birmingham Street. It is a very tired and tatty thoroughfare ...
... which forms a back entrance to the current bus station in Dudley. It also led to the previous bus station once visited by fbb.

The original bus station was constructed along Birmingham Street on a steep hill overlooking Dudley Castle in about 1950. It was complemented by an additional line of shelters along neighbouring Fisher Street. However, a series on incidents of buses rolling back injuring passengers led to widespread local criticism of its design. This resulted in the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive rebuilding the bus station on a completely level site along Fisher Street.

Although there is little sign of the original bus station today, you can gauge the slope up from Birmingham Street.
fbb can find no pictures of the bus station as a whole, but these two buses are on the slope ...
... and there is the castle, faint but real, top right.

Construction of the new bus station began during 1985 and it was opened in 1986.

Here it is, the new one.
It is not the most gloriously luxurious bus station but it is level, so there is less chance of being squished by an out-of-control bus.

But back in January 2024 this event was happening at Dudley bus station ...
... as was this.
Look, there in the background is our old friend Dudley Castle!

More tomorrow!

 Next Dudley Development blog : Friday 1st March 

Wednesday 28 February 2024

t's As Easy As A B C - NOT! (3)

Arriva's Cunning Plan

To mitigate the complete withdrawal of services 405 and 408/9 with a half hourly service from Askern into Doncaster via Owston, Toll Bar and Bentley, the 51 is diverted via the A19 instead of the Great North Road (A1 as was).

Odd, really, as it only provides a service between Toll Bar and Bentley as shown on the current PTE map above.
Bentley has its own 66 and 64 offering frequent buses into Doncaster. The 66 is every 12 mins ...
... and the 64/64A every hour.
In fact there is only the community of Toll Bar to be served by the diverted 51.
But, perhaps, fbb muses, something else happened to the 51 from October 2022, something off the top of the PTE map, possibly dramatic changes in Askern?

Upon investigation, it turns out that the most dramatic change is that Arriva took over the 51 service from First Bus!

So what fbb needs, as he pursues his investigation, is a full route map of the Arriva 51 from October 2022.  There ain't one! The standard travel South Yorkshire non-leaflet is mapless!

And, to help the public, there appears to have been no printed material even for the change, so more tough cheese for the confused passenger! And more frustration for fbb!

Arriva does have a map on its web site ...
... which doesn't work, in common with much of Arriva's awful web presence.

Moovit has an unhelpful set of wiggles which ...
... seem inadequate and incomplete.

Another information provider called Transitland (no neither had fbb) looks a bit better ...
... but it is certainly not an adequate map by fbb's definition. Add this squiggle to the current Attiva timetable for the 51 ...
..., and it all reveal that the service now diverts via Norbreck estate and Eden Drive (as did the 405 an 408/409) and runs to Norton which was, you remember (of course you do!!) also served by the 408/409.

But, oh for a proper ma

Then fbb had a jackpot idea. If, he guessed, Arrive did once have a map, published for the takeover, maybe it would still lie hidden in the cobweb strewn depths that is the interwebnet.

It did and it was!
Arriva's cunning plan does something (but not that much) to offset the loss of the 400s along the A19.  On the negative side, everyone who is "rescued" by the revised 51 will have a longer journey and many will inevitably abandon the bus as a result.

Maybe that is already happening, because what now pops up on line is ...

Arriva's New Cunning Plan ...
... complete with new high quality map. After only about 18 months of the Arriva 51, the company is proposing another major change for its hard-done-by few remaining passengers.

Enter the 44 and 45! There's a 45A evenings and Sundays!
Buses are hourly each way round.

Arriva tells us proudly how much better this will be than the half houry 51.


Here are the main points of Arriva-speak with comments by fbb.

Two journeys Monday to Friday in the peak direction replacing 3 or 4 journeys to./from Whitley on the old 51.

OK, faster than the 51 but slower than the 405 and 408/409

It is good to see that Councillors, not Arriva, now decide to reduce services from half hourly to hourly. Twaddle. The new service can only be hourly, Councillor or no Councillor. Bet his/her voters are really pleased.

Faster than the 51 but not faster than the 408/409.

An improvement, yippee. The southern part of Campsall was not served (was never served?) by bus!

Indeed, just like the former 408/409!

In general most 51 passengers are a little better off in tunning time but worse off in a halving of frequency. All former 408/409 passengers are still worse off in running time than they were with the original

And here is an extract from the new timetable which starts on April 7th.
Notes A and B merely tell you that buses continue round the loop, "A" from Askern to Norton and "B" from Askern to Sutton.

Askern, Burghwallis and Campsall solved - until the next time!

It never ceases to amaze fbb that bus companies can advertise a poorer service as an improvement.

It is Newspeak of the worst kind as in George Orwell's 1984.

Forget The Wagons
Eat The Scratchings
Another OO fake advertising model from Rails of Sheffield, including a small bag of porcine snacks.
Plus postage, of course!

But the big question is, are they "Barnsley" pigs, "Porkshire" pigs oir Yorkshire pigs?
fbb is already salivating at the thought of a bagful!
And only about 5 million calories a bag!

Tomorrow we go to a hotbed of the technical revolution,

 Next Dudley blog : Thursday 29th Feb 

Tuesday 27 February 2024

t's As Easy As A B C - NOT! (2)

 Road A19 : Transport Has-Been

It turns out that these services (excluding the Doncaster local 412) run to either Selby (405) or Pontefract (408 and 409) and were once in the hands of West Riding but now Arriva.
The hourly 405 runs pretty much straight along the A19 with a little wiggle north of Askern.

The timetable is straightforward.
From Askern, the 408 and 409 (two hourly each) cut across to Pontefract  serving various communities via some wiggly bits.
In the absence of a good map, fbb can only obtain his route knowledge from the timetabled point times for the 408 and 409.
The 408 goes via Thorpe Audlin and a stop for Wentbridge but on the A1 ...
... whilst the 409 operates via Kirk Smeaton and Womersley. Both routes come back together at Darrington. 

Note the village of Cridling Stubbs in the top right hand corner of the map. It was an obvious move to use that village name for two previous owners of fbb mansions, namely cats Cridling and Stubbs.


In passing there was a third bus route between Doncaster and Pontefract operated by the gorgeously independent South Yorkshire Road Transport Limited, also from North Bridge in Doncaster.  
It ran to or via Cutsyke ...
... which is a suburb of Castleford, due west of Pontefract. The route was given 410 in the South Yorkshire PTE numbering scheme and the above is one vehicle that actually showed it!

Also of note is that the 405 and 408/9 are timed at Eden Drive Askern having wiggled via the Norbreck Estate to the east of the village centre.
Having wiggled (and here is a 405 wigglin ...
... all thee routes terminated at Eden Drive, map below top right.
Here South Yorks PTE has given then a little bus shelter but no stop flag!
So Norbreck estate and Eden Drive had two buses an hour on the 405 and 408/9.

Then came October 2022 with massive Arriva cits.

405 : Selby – Askern – Doncaster
This service is withdrawn as we have been unable to secure enough funding to continue running the route. We would like to thank all our customers over the years who have travelled with us on this service.

Arriva says a courteous thank you, but, tough cheese, you'll have to walk!

408/409 : Pontefract – Askern – Doncaster
This service is substantially reduced as we have been unable to secure enough funding to continue running the route in its current form.

In this case a bit of the 408/409 is retained at the Pontefract end.
Basically this short 408/409 serves the same villages as before but only for links to Pontefract - so, again, tough cheese if you wanted to go to Doncaster!

But Arriva had a cunning plan.

It aimed to mitigate the loss of service along the A19 from Doncaster; to continue the Norbreck estate wiggle and to get folk to the pulsating hub of Yorkshire life called Norton ...
... which has TWO pubs and the locally renowned ...
... Baps and Apps plus Attic Antiques.

Arriva's stunning development will be revealed in tomorrow's blog with apologies for a slight change of plan.

But it is quite hard on your noble blogger's 28856 day old brain

OK the brain did work for a few months before fbb was "untimely ripped" at the Barratt Maternity hospital, Northampton - but we do not need to be too picky!

fbb Has Bought One
... and it should be arriving tomorrow.

Talking Of Lights On The Top ...
... the top oif Peterville tunnel!
The luxury Nissen Hut holiday let and the camping Routemaster are now "posed" with lights working in their future location, pending full landscaping and additional arboriculture. Peterville Castle has moved an imaginary mile or so to the north.
A better twilight view will materialise when the surrounding scenery is more complete. There's a log cabin and some low relief yurts to come!
Please Note
It didn't last. After a brief burst of efficiency the gremlins at blogger/Google are back on the loose. Prising pictures out of the depths of the Googlesphere is proving frustrating and slow - one reason why the rest of this? A B C blog is delayed.
 Next Easy A B C blog : Wednesday 28th Feb