Tuesday 23 July 2024

The Red Book

 A Journey Of Wonder!

It was an advert on one of the pages of Ian Armstrong's London Bus Routes pages that alerted fbb to the above publication.
What you get for your money (£6 in fbb's case) is not the book itself but a scan of its pages; which suits fbb as it is one less thing to clutter up fbb mansions.

When fbb was just a callow youth, you could buy a Central Area bus timetable for two shillings -  which was quite a chunk of the lad's meagre pocket money. But the idea of having hundreds of bus timetables in one little book was beyond the lad's imagination. (it was actually beyond the laws of physics as the book would perforce have been huger than huge!)

Neither volume contained complete red bus timetables. As we have come to expect, there is a state secrecy about London Transport timetables - but both the public (2/-) version and the staff "Red Book" contained each route shown as "first and last" buses with the intervening frequencies.

But the staff version provided much more and it is the volume for 1958 that fbb will examine in thie blog.

Friend Alan from Isle of Wight was a depot manager for LT and explains that engineers did not get a copy of the "Red Book" as they had no interest in where the buses went once they left the depot. Sometimes the engineers had to go out and find one that had broken down but mostly they simply welcomed them back after a busy day, fed and watered them and kept the gubbins in working order.

The book begins wth an index ...

... and then there followed huge amounts of detail which would enable staff to keep in contact with anyone and everyone involved in running the Central (red) bus routes. And not a mobile phone in sight!

First up, there are emergency numbers ...

... and area (divisional) management numbers.
Now some of these numbers may look a little strange. This is because London Transport had its own "private" telephone system with superior technology and availability to the GPO system on offer to  the ordinary folk of London town. 

So the list of bus garages shows both phone system numbers.
And everywhere you might find an inspectors box, you would have an internal (private) phone number. Here are just a few.
The book also contains numbers for London's Fire Stations ...
... and where to get a replacement for a failed bell punch ticket machine.
The book doesn't say how the machine would get itself to your stranded bus.

These Bell Punch machines were almost all gone by the year of fbb's Red Book (1958) replaced by the ubiquitous Gibson.
You can buy one of the Gibsons on eBay for a modest £595.

Then comes the index. The user is reminded that motor bus routes were numbered from 1 to 299 and trolley bus routes from 500 to 699.

If course! In 1958 the trolleybus was king on many London Streets.
Railway stations are shown in all capitals. The only letter of the alphabet without a place name is "X" ...
... with plenty of Ws, three Ys and a Z.

Here is trolley 667 ...
... which served Youngs Corner, wherever it was!

Routes 285 to 298 were motor buses but also included the 1958 version of Night Buses. More on these in due course.

fbb has ordered a hard copy of the Red Book for 1977 and, when it comes, a "contrast and compare" blog will follow (in due course?).

Which begs a troubling question ...


      fbb                        Biden

As yesterday's blog was tending towards the Bidenesque, critics and the media have been asking whether your noble and perceptive blogger is just getting too old for the job. Despite these negative concerns, fbb is keen to emphasise that he has no intention of withdrawing from the blogging race and will be good to serve his readers for many years yet! Any suggestions of incompetence, senility and crookedness are entirely politically motivated. fbb is fit to stand. (Maybe keener to sit!)

On a more serious note (?), fbb is grateful to several readers who have offered to help the old bloke with material which will enable him to do a better "contrast and compare" job for 2024 and times past - e.g 1960s - in the London Country area.

He has also ordered a hard copy of the 1967 Country Bus map ..

... plus a couple of timetable books ...
... one to match the map more closely.
That is fbb's pocket money for July all spent; so no more treats until August!

This largesse should mean your rejuvenated blogger will be able to put right the inadequacies of yesterday's posting, mainly caused by a poor quality on-line map.

 Next Red Book blog : Wednesday 24th July 

Monday 22 July 2024

Country v Commercial v Consistency

 1. St Alban's : A Blog Failure!

fbb has already explained that the London Country Bus map is a graphics object and does not scale up very well. The above it the best the old bloke can do with his clockwork computer system. Maybe something geographical might help! The bus map is undated but roughty mid to late sixties.

The geographical map is today!
Two other things to remember in this attempt at comparison from about 50 years distance.

The bus map shows bus destinations in CAPITALS and these may not match geographical locations in importance. Similarly, the Green Bus map does not attempt to show the minutiae of town services.

And St Albans was a London Country town..
And in 1986.
Of course there is no such thing as London Country buses today and St Albans reflects that change. To add to the possible confusion, there are TWO main bus assembly points in St Albans.

There is the City Centre St Peters Street where a variety of companies ply their trade. Uno routes are numbered in the 600s ...
... so no direct comparison with LT.

Arriva 321 ...
... has an LT look to its route number.

Metroline 305 ...
... is another possibility. 

Vale Travel, which nipped past without showing a route number ...
... was on route S8, a local service usually operated by Red Eagle. 

This bus operator also appears ...
... on S1 another local route. 

Meanwhile at City Station ...
... a further selection is evident, all of which also call at the city centre. There is one that looks like a London Country bus ...
... but that is Sullivan Buses off to Pottern Bar trying to look nostalgic!

So, obviously, there is no dominant operator and we must be utterly grateful that Hertfordshire County Council runs a very good on-line service under the brand "Intalink".

There is a good map of St Albans local buses ...
... which, for reasons stated above, is not within our purview. We need to use the County-wide map to compare then and now. Here is roughly the same area as on the Country Bus and the geographical maps above.
Well, there would appear to be loads more buses than under the noble leadership of London Transport. Of course this is (a) because very few town services appear on the LT map and (b) the towns were smaller and had far fewer bus services anyway.

St Albams to Harpenden
Back in the good old days it was route 321; and, as glimpsed in St Peters Street ...
... it still is running every 30 between Luton and Watford.
The 721 is a recent government funded addition which increased the frequency to every 15.
fbb has struggled unsuccessfully with the next road clockwise round the spider that sits centrally on its web in St Albans, but the modern route is the 357 (in black) and the more occasional 305 to Sandridge and 304 further north,
The 304 and 357 are each every hour whilst the 305 is less frequent.
Although the map is a bit too fuzzy, it is clear that the pattern of operation remains at least similar to that in the 1960s. The fact that the route numbers are still in the 3xx series suggests that things still have a strong taste of LT Green Bus.

But now it gets complicated!
The fuzzy map shows a route out of St Albans via Coopers Green and Lemsford. It was clearly infrequent.
Not only is there no service to these two villages today, but they do not appear on the Intalink map.

Then Hatfield is a problem. What tends to be called "Old" Hatfield, a quiet and unassuming market town (seen below as Fore Street) ...
... is totally "blown away" by "New" Hatfield. Suffice it to say that there are numerous buses providing a frequent service between St Albans, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City. Doubtless there were plenty doing much the same in the 1960s, at least between St Albans and Welwyn.
Fuzzy  Hatfield ("Old") is at the bottom centre of this fuzzy map. This is what you get today, so no comparison is possible!
For the record, "Old" Hatfield is the bit near the railway station ...
... where Fore Street (as pictured above) remains to remind us of long lost days!
The closest that buses get to Fore Street is the railway station where the 300 and 301 appear on Streetview.
The 300 is no more but a 301 and 302 provide a 15 minute frequency between St Albans and Hatfield extended at both ends.
On the old map, the route between these two is shown at 341. But at least today's route retains something of London Country's numerology,

Did "old" Hatfield get a bus every 15 minutes from St Albans in the 1960s? fbb very much doubts it!

Did you ever wish you had not started something?

Diu to the poor Country Bus map, and fbb's inability to fettle the file to make the original any better, this blog has been something of a failure!

Maybe it has, however, shown that things have moved on, mostly for the better, under the avuncular gaze of Hertfordshire County Council.

Maybe fbb will find a better way to investigate North Cottages, Tyttenhanger, Harperbury Hospital and Hill End. Harperbury Hospital doesn't look its best on line!

 Next Red Book blog : Tuesday 23td July 

Sunday 21 July 2024

Sunday Variety

Bus Model Number 3

Wikipedia tells fbb that it is an AEC Regal bought and equipped for Green Line services and introduced in 1938 when it would have been seen as a high luxury vehicle. The underbelly of the model confirms that it was from the EFE brand, now part of Bachmann.

Again it does have the intrusive body pillars, more intrusive because they are shiny chromium plate jobbies as seen here through the back window.
You can't see them from the front but side views still reveal the intrusion.
Like the other models, the lettering is exquisite although fbb's photographic skills are not!
As is obvious, Green Line routes were originally lettered and this bus carries Z for a route to Grays.
On the only lettered route map fbb could find, there is no Green Line to Grays, possibly because the route was in the hands of a potential competitor. On this map the Z runs to Windsor.
Several of these buses/coaches saw service in WW2 as ambulances.
The class was all withdrawn from passenger service by 1958.

In fbb's recently acquired scanned edition of a 1958 London "red book", Grays is served by route number 723 etc.
These extracts are printed on dull green paper but fbb has turned up the volume to aid legibility. Unlike the full timetable for route 711 as shown yesterday, the 723 complex just offers a first and last buses panel like central area (red) bus routes.
We are told that services run every 10 to 12 minutes and an "annexe" table shows which are 723 and which are 723B
723A details are not revealed!

The 723 still existed in 1980!

Three Little Trains From Kent
Because the tooling for Nellie, Connie and Polly had been discarded in an ill-advised Hornby (Triang) clear-out it was deemed uneconomic to recreate the models exactly.


But the next best thing was to use the current "toy" 0-4-0 for the nostalgic purpose ...
... and the locos do retain something of the quirkiness of the originals. Bearing in mind the fact the Nellie first appeared in 1960, you would have to be well over 65 years of age to comprehend the difference.
When the new versions were announced, fbb shed a little tear as he remembered his youth and Nellie the first!

But Sam Turner (of Sams Trains fame) was far from impressed. Our Sam seems to be top man at slagging off Hornby for any and multiple reasons. He has a right to his opinions, of course, but fbb thinks he should remember that Hornby is in the business of making money for its shareholders not 100% commited to keeping Sam Turner happy.

Sadly, at the moment, Hornby are not doing either!

So, to celebrate Margate's 70th, Sam decided to refurbish an original blue Connie. His model, as purchased, was not in the best condition ...
... and needed a new motor and new couplings even before the body refurb. Armed with 3D printer, spray gun and spray booth, CAD design software and a silver Sharpie, Sam did a pretty good job.
But the result was not a genuine Connie.
Blue wheels and white-walled tyres?  Red and SILVER nameplate? Polished brass buffers?

And new small tension lock couplings!

Maybe if you are willing to make all those changes, you should not be worried too much about Hornby's celebratory version - in YELLOW!

Another 70th loco is a version of the ubiquitous (very much full of ubiquity) Jinty.
The original Triang locomotive had crude couplings and solid wheels ...
... together with old-style BR lion and wheel logo accompanied by over scale grey and red lining. But is was "iconic" and it might have been more nostalgic to recreate the crudeness of the original rather than plaster the model with never used Rovex text and give it a "brass" dome.!

fbb's first Triang loco was the not quite so iconic 2-6-2 tank, again with solid wheels ...
... which fbb replaced with proper see through versions.

Scary Viaducts.
The skills of our ancestor railway engineers are legendary. But sometimes you do wonder.

Here is Belah Viaduct ...
The viaduct appears briefly in the BTC film "Snowdrift at Bleath Ghyll" ...
Stainmote Summit is easy to spot as it is simply a sign!
But the view below Belah, over the parapet and into the whitewashed depths, is harder to spot.
The viaduct is long gone with little sign today of it ever having been there. Only the abutments remain if you know where to look.
Equally spindly was Crumlin viaduct near Newport South Wales.
It ran across the valley that carries the A467 north of this small community.
The road layout and many of the buildings have changed but fbb does wonder whether this retaining wall ...
... might have supported one of those huge pylons?

Whatever, enjoy this little video!
fbb has spent too much time searching for remains c/o Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Viaducts (?) - but he has failed!

The Crumlin Viaduct was a railway viaduct located above the village of Crumlin in South Wales, originally built to carry the Taff Vale Extension of the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway across the Ebbw River.

Hailed as "one of the most significant examples of technological achievement during the Industrial Revolution", in its 107 years of service until being dismantled in 1965, it remained: the least expensive bridge for its size ever constructed; the tallest railway viaduct in the United Kingdom; the third tallest viaduct in the world, after the aqueduct at Spoleto, Italy, and the timber viaduct in Portage, New York state.

Wikipedia goes on to tell fbb that the stonework for the pier bases remains on the hillside. Well, fbb cannot find any!


P.S. 0-4-0 Loco
fbb is grateful to correspondent Ian who sent an article from a Collectors Magazine. This reminded fbb of a Triang 0-4-0 electric loco with Pantograph ...
... using the Nellie chassis.

The article revealed the even more delightful Katy.
This had a shorter body than Nellie, but never made it to full production. The article from Ian suggested that Katy might be an attempt (a poor one!) to create something like this LSWR 0-4-0.
What might have been! This was the Class C14 in BR livery.

 Next Country Bus today blog : Mon 22 July