Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Tram.I.Am; but not Well Known [2]

Continuing our journey by tram from Camborne to Redruth ...
... our tram would pass two branches, of which more later, before the passing loop at "I.H.Hotel" aka Illogan Highway Hotel, alas defunct and demolished. On Sunday last fbb was bewailing the problem of place names in this area, and this picture had the chubby one well and truly stumped.
The card is entitled "Illogan, Redruth" which is daft because trams never ran to Illogan!
The trams ran along the "magenta" road, via Pool. Some authorities label a similar picture as Illogan Highway, which is also misleading.
Presumably, Illogan Highway was the highway leading to Illogan? The next loop is Barncoose, but careful Streetviewing and logical thought latches on to the trees and driveway on the left. These are the grounds  and driveway of the old workhouse and thus the loop so-called on the tram map.

A picture of the road today is surprisingly matchable.
The Redruth Union workhouse was built in 1838 at Barncoose near Redruth. It was designed by George Gilbert Scott and his partner William Bonython Moffatt. Intended to accommodate 450 inmates, the Poor Law Commissioners authorised the sum of £6,000 on its construction. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1906 map below.
The entrance building still stands ...
... and a subsequent addition is now part of the Camborne and Redruth District Hospital, fromerly known as Barncoose Hospital.
Our virtual historic tram trundles onwards to its terminus at West End Redruth.
The building on the far right was home to the company offices and staff awaiting their turn of duty are joining in with the photographic experience at the doorway. The scene is recogniseable today with our comparison somewhat impeded by a B & Q delivery lorry blocking our view of what was a gabled shop front.
But, unusually, the company carried freight; hence that teaser picture from yesterday's blog.
On 13th May 1903 the company signed an Agreement with the East Pool and Agar United Mines Adventurers to carry their tinstuff on the tramway at 6d/ton over the weighbridge, to provide 24 hours storage of 200 tons; the mines providing the labour for loading and unloading. Two open locomotives were purchased based on the same Milnes bogey, with 14 wagons; eight 2½ ton and six 3 ton.
The "locomotives" were later fully enclosed.
The "tinstuff" was carried from the two mines to a processing plant at Tolvaddon; with apologies for the poor quality of the map extract.
The tramway replaced a "telpher" powered by electricty but highly unreliable. [telpher from the greek "tel" = distant and "pher" meaning transport.] fbb remembers watching his father construct a "telpher span" from his young son's newly acquired Meccano set. Nowadays we would call it a cable car.
But bad news was soon to follow for the passenger business.

In 1919 the Directors had considered proposals for the establishment of Bus Services to protect the Tramway, but the outlay required. £5,750, was not available. The post-war depression reflected on the takings and, following the grant of an increase to Drivers by the Tramway Court, an application was made to the Board of Trade to increase the fares by 100% July 1920. The service was reduced by running every half-hour on week-day evenings, the last car going at 10.30p.m. The losses continued and the position was worsened in 1926 when the Cornwall Motor Transport Co, started running a pair of single-deck buses, with starting times a few minutes before each tram.

Such are still the joys of a privatised deregulated transport system!

The Tramway was offered to the Council, who declined to take it over. The trams and the track were by now worn out and re-equipment was essential if it was to continue. The Directors gave notice of intent to close it on 29th September 1927, and that the 10.30p.m. from each end would be the last to run.
The Mineral Line was closed seven years later in August, 1934, after 30 years mining and had carried 1,300.000 tons of tinstuff. It was replaced by an aerial ropeway.

fbb is unable to explain the difference between a "telpher" and its later replacement. The Cornwall Motor Transport Company was eventually swallowed up by Western National whose successors, First Bus, still ply the Camborne Redruth road.

Although there is plenty of information on-line, fbb can thoroughly recommend this little book.
Paddy Bradley had assembled a magnificent collection of photographs, many of them unavailable elsewhere. He has added a potted history and a poem from 1909. This is the concluding stanza from this 23-verse epic.

We're movin' with tha Coming Power,
Electric cars fower times an hour,
Along tha new "Tramway".
From Tallywarren to West End,
Three miles and haaf. Tes good. You spend
Jus' "Tuppence" all the way.

"Tuppence" (2d. or less than 1p) would have inflated to roughly 90p today. Cheaper than First Bus!

Copies of the book are available on-line which is how fbb got his!

 Next bus blog : Thursday 21st August 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Tram.I.Am; but not Well Known [1]

William Adams (born March 15, 1975), known by his stage name as (pronounced Will I Am), is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, voice actor, actor, DJ, record producer, and philanthropist, best known as one of the founding members of the hip hop/pop band, The Black Eyed Peas.

fbb thought a little "pop" culture might attract the youff to his growing readership! No, you're right, it won't.

It was a firm called the Urban Electric Supply Company, a subsidiary of Edmunson's Electricity Corporation, that proposed and subsequently opened an electric tramway from Camborne to Redruth.
The members of the Camborne and the Redruth Councils were taken for rides on the trams on the 1st October 1902, and the Board of Trade Inspector made his formal inspection on 25.10.02; passing the whole tramway for use. On 7th November, 1902, 200 local dignitaries were invited, with Mrs. Wigham, wife of an Edmundson's Director, the guest-of-honour.

After lunch, they were all taken for a trip and then the cars went into normal service.
The line started at Camborne's Trelowarren Street ...
... a location that can be matched today by the three gables behind the trolley pole. Sadly (?) the Commercial Hotel is no more having been demolished way back in 1940.
The little pedestrianised bit on the right is "Commercial Square" formerly part of Chapel Street, once open to the clop of roaring traffic as in the historic version above..

Trams ran half-hourly with 4 cars from 5.30am to 8.00am, then quarter-hourly with 6 cars. On Fridays the service was every 7 minutes, 2.00pm to 7.00 pm and to 9.00pm on Saturdays. The last through tram from each end went at 11.05pm and then back to the Depot. The time for the full journey was 23 minutes and the fare initially 2d.

For comparison, the present service 14/18 bus service runs every ten minutes Mondays to Fridays ...
... every 15 on Saturdays and half hourly or hourly on Sundays.

The line was single track throughout ...
... with numerous passing loops. On leaving Camborne, you pass the distinctive Centenary Weslyan (Methoodist) Church ...
... a stop that is clearly recognisable today.
Other buildings may have changed, but the buses still call at the site of the tram stop!

Pressing on, our tram would pass the depot and generating station, usually referred to as "Carn Brea" although we know from Sunday's blog (sing again!) that this particular settlement is miles away!
This splendid edifice, situated at the end of Tolvaddon Road has suffered the ultimate indignity of being replaced by a MacDonalds "restaurant"!
We continue our theoretical tram ride to Pool where another version of Methodism (there were many!) had its chapel, seen here with passing passenger tram.
What follows the tram, and the rest of this intriguing system, will be in tomorrows "continued" blog. Meanwhile Streetview shows us that much of the infrastructure remains today. The chapel is obvious, the buildings "next door" have been substantially modified ...
... but the cottages in the distance are, subject to a coat of paint, relatively unchanged.

For the tramologist, the trams were obtained from G.F. Milnes & Co. in 1902 and 1903, and comprised 6 open top double deck cars (48 seaters), 2 single deck cars (34 seaters).

George Starbuck established the first tramcar manufacturing business in Britain at 227 Cleveland Street, Birkenhead. In 1878 George Frederick Milnes of Fallowfield, Manchester, became Company Secretary and in 1886 purchased the factory and assets following the winding-up of the Company.

On 10 September 1898 the business was registered as a limited company, and the following year the site for a new and larger works (Castle Car Works) ...

... was purchased at Hadley, Shropshire, and the works in Birkenhead closed in 1902. There were around 700 employees and 701 tramcars were built in 1901. The business benefitted from the rush of orders when horse and steam tramway systems were converted to electric traction, but the market had begun to contract by the beginning of 1903. The Company went into receivership in that September and, after some complex manoeuvering, became part of the United Electric Car Company Ltd. in June 1905.

 Next tram blog : Wednesday 20th August 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Simple Simon Struggles to Stonehenge

Simple Simon?
Simon Calder is the son of the late science writer Nigel Calder and the grandson of the late Lord Ritchie-Calder. He is the nephew of the late Scottish writer and critic, Angus Calder and educationalist Isla Calder (1946-2000). Calder became travel editor for The Independent in 1994.

He is often credited as being a "much respected travel expert."

On Saturday last he penned a piece for the "i" newspaper; a sort of expurgated version of the Independent for those who cannot be bothered reading a proper newspaper. fbb buys it routinely because it's only 30p and he enjoys doing the quick crossword.

Foreign tourists trying to reach Stonehenge
by public transport must put up with Stone Age
speeds, and a journey of four hours.

Britain’s “peculiar” transport system makes access from London to some leading tourist attractions exasperating. The journey to Wiltshire’s ancient stone circle begins with South West Trains from London Waterloo to Salisbury. Next, tourists must take a six-minute walk towards the city centre, followed by a half-hour bus ride to Shrewton. “Here, a wait of up to an hour can occur, until a Connect2Wiltshire bus continues on a 20-minute journey to Stonehenge,” say the researchers.

Certainly, if the researchers tried the poor quality of Traveline, they would get this result for a journey on a typical Monday.
All the features of Calder's article are there, including the unhelpful journey via Shrewton by Salisbury Red route 2 ...
... with a 58 minute wait for the TL7. What Calder does not tell us is that the TL7 is a pre-book service.
The 9.5-mile segment from Salisbury station to Stonehenge can take two hours, averaging below 5mph. The report calls it: “Public transport at its most fragmented and unhelpful."

Quite right Simple Simon. For daytime departures the Traveline route is slow, tedious and completely unnecessary! It even recommends an interchange here, at Fleming Farm ...
... in the middle of nowhere in particular.

No sane person would advise such a journey and "the researchers" referred to in the article clearly have no idea of travel opportunities in the UK. For a start they have believed Traveline!

And the journey is not four hours long, but a modest (?) 3 hours and 27 minutes!

Let non-resepcted travel non-expert, the fat bus bloke, put Simon Calder, the incompetent researchers and the readership of the "i" on the right track, on the right ley line indeed, from London to Salisbury.

A half hour frequency by Southwest Trains from London Waterloo is pretty good compared with the so-called good old days of steam. The journey will take you either 1 hour 22 minutes or 1 hour 30 minutes according to stopping pattern.
Eschew the unwise "i"s advice to tramp to the town centre; and walk all the way to the outside of the station.
There turn left (right as we view the exit) an you will see a bus stop a bit like this one ...
... possibly with a big black and red bus waiting (but see below).
That silhouette on stop and bus is a bit of a clue!

Reference to the Salisbury Reds web site reveals ...
... no buses to Stonehenge! Perhaps it is a tourist route?
No, they are routes run by a Salisbuty Red/Wilts and Dorset clone, namely ...
... Tourist Coaches; operating some rural services in the Salisbury area.
Silly name, if you are a tourist!

But if you are persistent and click on "Things to Do" ...
... and then "where our open top tours go" ... 
... you may chance upon "Stonehenge Tours", which isn't open top, hence the web page link!
And, at last, there is the timetable.
A bus every 30 minutes. And the bus is now orange and brown, not red and black; but the Stonehenge silhouette remains as telling evidence of the purpose of the service!
So a typical example of  a travel schedule from London is revealed as:-

That's two hours and 13 minutes, not 3 hours and 27 minutes; and certainly NOT four hours!

Simon Calder, is, of course, reporting on research done by a third party, research which is profoundly and utterly WRONG and he should always check his facts before putting fingers to keyboard and deceiving his loyal readership, BUT ...

... in one sense he is right. Why does this half hour frequency not appear on Traveline?

Answer, because it's not a bus service! It's a "tour". Unlike a typical bus service which runs, say, every half and hour, this "tour" only runs every half an hour. Unlike a bus service where you can turn up and pay the driver, on this tour you can always turn up and pay the driver. Unlike a bus service where you don't book a seat, on this tour you don't need to book a seat. But it's not a bus service, it's a tour; hence the difference.

Thus, details are hard to find on the bus (and tour?) company web site and non-existent on Traveline.
See, all there is to help you is the dreaded and useless TL7!

Yes, Simon, the public transport network in the UK is diffuse, unco-ordinated and much of it is a closely guarded secret. However, with Sherlock Holmsian determination, unsurpassed intellect and low cunning it is just possible to find out how to get to Stonehenge; and you, much respected travel expert, should know about Stonehenge Tours anyway. Then you could have given the right answer in your newspaper, not a ludicrously wrong one.

Must try harder, 0/10. 

 Next tram blog : Tuesday 19th August