Monday, 25 September 2017

Critical Cymric Contrasts (1)

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IN MEMORIAM
We mark the sad passing of David Shepherd, artist and conservationist.
Although rightly admired for his wildlife paintings; his celebrated "A Very Wise Old Elephant" herewith ...
... David was a superb recorder of the equally massive and powerful steam engine. His pictures are particularly evocative of the years of steam's decline.
The Guardian obituary concluded:-

Richard David Shepherd, born 25th April 1931, died 19th September 2017.
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Conwy - Cautious Confidence?
Conwy is a Unitary Authority in North Wales.
It contains the major settlements of Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Llanrwst, Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan, and has a total population of 115,000, the vast majority of which lives along the coast.

The River Conwy, after which the county borough is named, lies wholly within the area: rising in Snowdonia and flowing through Llanrwst and Trefriw en route to the Irish Sea by Conwy. The river here marks the border between the historic counties of Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire.

One third of the land area of the county borough lies in the Snowdonia national park, and the council appoint three of the 18 members of the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Its total area is 1,130 square km, making it slightly larger than Hong Kong.

Conway has, for many years produced an excellent timetable book.
For regular readers the "what's changed" page is helpful ...
... and there is a long list of "Places to Visit" There are details of "rover" tickets ...
... and a wondrous selection of maps. A diagram of main routes ...
... plus a geographical version with more detail. A particular joy is the profusion of town maps which cover all the built up areas in the Borough. Here is a chunk of Colwyn Bay ...
... visited by your elderly author, then aged four. Despite the effluxion of time, fbb can still remember walking from Mrs Williams digs (the family had no car and travelled by train) via the Dingle ...
... to the beach. Indeed fbb has a picture of self engaged in a long-term pebble re-arranging project observed by a doting mother. It is far to yuk-making to publish!

And, of course, the Conwy book is packed with excellently presented timetables
In all a wonderful production.

Most of the buses are operated by German State Railways in the cunning guise of Arriva.
Furthermore, if we arrive by train at Llandudno Junction station, we will most likely come on a train also operated by Arriva.
Yet again, if we leave the station and wander around a bit, we will come to a bus stop ...
... whence we could travel by one of those blue Arriva buses. And fbb does know that Arrivs no longer runs the 19; it is now in the hands of Llew Jones.
fbb is not sure, but thinks all that shelterage used to be for buses; but cycle parking is now more important than passenger sheltering. And look, dear reader, the bus stop is labelled 5 - that is "Platform 5" for buses. There are four platforms in the station proper.

That alone should convince us that here is a location where integrated transport rules O.K. Apparently, all the buses stop here ...
... sorry, not quite all. 13, 25 and 27 can't quite manage to pull in, so they just make it to "across the road" stop U.
Not too bad as long as thee flag is clearly labelled "U".
Oh dear; it isn't. Neither is the flag at Platform 5 adorned by an obvious letter "S".
Never mind eh? This is an Arriva Station with Arriva buses stopping outside and there is an excellent bus timetable produced by the county, so all our correspondent Alan had to do was pop over the footbridge to the ticket office ...
... and pick up a full set of bus information.

Only there isn't any. Diddly squat. Not a single word or time given in the station for the buses that stop outside - ALTHOUGH THEY ARE RUN BY THE SAME COMPANY!

Historic Note : Arriva's bus depot was just around the corner.
It closed in 2013. Has it yet been sold and/or demolished?

Despite the shiny label, there are now no signs to "Platform 5" from the station and the name does not appear in any bus timetable. Indeed, the provision of buses at the station is not quite what it seems. The map shows service 5 as calling at stop "S". Well it does ...
... but not on Saturdays and only rarely on Mondays to Fridays.
You can interchange with rail from Service 5 southbound to and from Conwy station ...
... but northbound the stop is in Castle Street.
But if you miss your bus, you can enjoy refreshment in Costa Lot, opposite.

It appears that, back at Llandudno Junction, "Platform 5" is an jolly good idea that has faded completely due to lack of enthusiasm and/or commitment by the parties involved. There seems to be no heart for integration despite the infrastructure, the opportunities and the common ownership of many of the participants. An opportunity faded and an opportunity missed.

 Next North Wales blog : Tuesday 26th September 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Fragmentary Weekend Blog (2)

Siarad Am Orsafoedd Newydd
O.K., here's a clue. Newydd = "new"; Orsafoedd is derived from the simpler "Gorsaf".

Globe-trotting Northampton newshound, Alan, has recently trotted to North Wales. fbb thanks him for some Welsh bits and pieces for today and tomorrow.

Here is the Caernarfon terminus of the magnificent Welsh Highland Railway that runs south all the way to Porthmadog.
Its locos may be spectacular ex South African railway monsters ...
... its trains may be long and the scenery breath-taking ...
... but its northern base is a bit of a dump. So a new station is currently under construction. It will be here, on this car parking area ...
... and it will look like this:-
Like Seaton's new tram station, it seems inappropriate for a heritage line with quaint stock and a vintage "look" everywhere else. Here is work in progress as snapped by Alan.
Looking from ground level, you can see a significant gap between proto-building and the retaining wall.
This is to allow for a possible future extension northwards to Bangor. Super big snag ...
... the former rail tunnel is now a road. Will there be street running through the tunnel? Alan also adds that Morrisons cafe will need to be demolished ...
... and and there are a few other things in the way. So it won't be happening any time in the near future.

"Siarad Am Orsafoedd Newydd" means "talking about new stations".

It Used To Be So Simple
When Hornby Dublo shocked the model railway world by introducing a "Castle Locomotive", you could (if you had indulgent parents) have one for your train set. It was "Bristol Castle". That was the only Castle you could buy.
The above ad is for the Bristolian set, introduced in 1957, which included two coaches and cost £7 7s and 6d (today, £165 with inflation added).
Hattons had been trading for 11 years when Dublo introduced their Great Western finest, but roll forward to today and Hattons is now producing its own locomotives. (More honestly, they are getting the lads and lasses in China to make them.) Their publicity has just appeared for a South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) Class P. It is a very small tank locomotive.
And they are offering TWELVE versions!
The most delightful paint scheme is that used on the Bluebell Railway, not authentic for the SECR, but glorious all the same.
Yet another Christmas present idea or Mrs fbb - Hint hint! And only £99. (Only!)

Six Of The Best In Sheffield
Readers with a working set of "leedle grey cells" may remember that Bright Bus, a supplier of school bus services, closed at the end of the Summer Term. South Yorkshire PTE announced that they would be providing replacement services "but some pupils may not have a direct journey."

Hmmm?

After a few weeks of term, problems are emerging with vociferous complaints in the press and a promise from the PTE to sort it out.
First bus have announce a batch of changes from tomorrow. the note appeared on-line towards the end of last week.
Well, that's OK then.

Some journeys are cut short, some are withdrawn, one runs half an hour later on schooldays etc. etc. - huge inconvenience and confusion for anyone choosing to travel at the critical times. There is no warning on First's web site, so the only way to find out is to look at the "three lines" menu on your phone.
Then, on the menu ...
... click on "News and service updates". This brings up ...
... another menu with another "News and service updates" upon which to click or tap. Scroll down through loads of stuff and, if you are persistent, you will come to the details of the changes.

Phew, it's hard work.

How many people will be surprised/angry/confused tomorrow?

First's on-line timetables have been updated, as they have on one other well-known system.

Traveline? Travel South Yorkshire? No chance.
From tomorrow, for example, the 1520 from Crystal Peaks is cancelled on schooldays.

It's All Chinese to Me!
Or, maybe:-

Back to North Wales tomorrow.

 Next Information blog : Monday 25th September