Sunday, 30 September 2012

Swift Nostalgia? [2]

Happy memories?

Part two of our nostalgia weekend, prompted by the gift of an old "Swift" book from a dear pal at Church.
The book, published (for children, thus ideal for fbb!) in 1960 contains some real memorabilia of the road transport industry. See also yesterdays Part 1 blog (read again).
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The happy halcyon days of long distance coach travel by, for example, Royal Blue.
The caption locates this shot at Broadclyst in Devon and some devious detective work from fbb identifies the spot exactly. The coach is parked outside the Red Lion inn, near the church.
Picnic tables have replaced coach parking but, otherwise, "plus ├ža change". Delightfully, a similar vehicle is preserved today ...
... but today's refreshment stops are, somehow, less appealling.
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Ironically, there has been much in the news about floods "oop north" with York being badly hit once more.
Sadly, it was ever thus. But somehow the older vehicles managed to keep going.
The bus dates from 1948, seen here in happier and less soggy times ...
...and was rebuilt as a towing wagon in 1963, surviving until about 1971.
More details (here). As a regular visitor to York fbb is frustrated because he cannot place the picture at all. The chubby one cannot remember a very low bridge in the City. Perhaps a blog reader can help?
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At one point, Clifford Makins, the author of the book, introduces its readers to one man buses, with this picture of  a typical example in Wortwell, Suffolk.
fbb has been unable to discover the exact location of this picture, but this is the most likely candidate with outbuildings removed for road widening.
But here is the bus's modern equivalent, also a one man bus, operated by Anglian (aka Go-ahead) on service 580.
Little did Swift's writers and readers realise that all buses (well, nearly all) would be one man (person!) operated in the coming 50 years.
It's a bit late for Clifford Makins to issue a correction, but Wortwell in is Norfolk, not Suffolk.
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fbb needs help with this one. Barton Transport ran a regular scheduled bus from Corby To Warsaw, but London to Moscow? The little book titles this as "a very modern coach that runs all the way from London to Moscow". More information would be of interest! And it's NOT the Moscow in Scotland!!
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And, finally, not a public transport item, but still fascinating. Have you ever heard of the Paravan?
It was designed by and built for Essex Carriers Ltd by Dennis vehicles.
The aim was to save time (and thus money) on parcels delivery; time that was "wasted" by clambering out of a traditional lorry cab, going round to the back doors, climbing in and finding the parcel to be delivered. With this motor, you just walked in from the front. The bodywork idea didn't catch on and the odd design faded from transport history. More of the story is told on a web site (here).

The only thing left of "Essex Carriers" is a cricket team!
Founded in 1954 by the employees of Essex Carriers, a now defunct local haulage firm, we play a mixture of League and competitive yet friendly cricket against sides across Essex.
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Just a selection from a 52-year-old book written for children (boys only, in those far-ff sexist days; little fbb always wanted a dolls' house but, apparently only girls were allowed such delights). With a bit of annotation, the fascination is still there.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 1st October 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Swift Nostalgia? [1]

In recognition of Modern Railways' 50th anniversary issue (October 2012) ...
... fbb takes a look at a publication that is slightly older.

Anybody remember Swift?

Swift was a weekly comic published in the UK as a junior companion to the Eagle. It was founded by the Rev. Marcus Morris and launched by Hulton Press in 1954. After Hultons were sold to Odhams Press in 1959, Swift was merged into the Eagle in 1961.

Kathy is a good friend of fbb's, a member of his church congregation and a volunteer in a charity shop. She kindly buys old transport-related books as presents for the portly perpetrator of these prettily penned pieces. One of these treats was:-
Clifford Makins, one of the prolific authors on the Eagle and Swift team, wrote this volume and it was published in 1960. So for a blog or two of pure nostalgia, fbb had extracted some of the pictures and attempted to bring the items up to date. The illustrations are of very poor quality, printed on something like blotting paper, but for a 1960s young lad, the book would have been an educational revelation.
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Take this, for example:-
This is a 1909 "gearless" bus built by Daimler. It had a petrol engine which drove a generator which powered an electric motor; or so Makins wrote. fbb has not found any other reference to this very early hybrid! So this sort of vehicle ...
... isn't as new as we might think.
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A snap of a Midland Red coach on the very first day of the new M1 is highly revealing. Where is the traffic? Where are the central barriers? And look at the short exit lanes.
The vehicle was iconic and latterly available as a diecast model.
Things have moved on since 1960 and here is Sir Brian launching his Sleeper Coach.
Sleep tight Bri!
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The sharp corners, low bridge and steep hill between Bargoed and Aberbargoed (Wales) required special vehicles in 1960.
The railway over the low bridge (just glimpsed behind the lorry behind the bus) closed in 1966 and was subsequently lifted; the corner was smoothed out and the Travellers Rest is now a private house.
And the bus doesn't go that way any more. [an fbb intelligent guess; Traveline Wales is quite tricky to use!]
The "steep hill" road actually lies between "blue"service 2 and "green" service 3 on this rather crude Stagecoach diagram.
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Sheffield Transport had bought some of the revolutionary new Atlanteans to replace trams between Wadsley bridge, Neepsend, City and Woodseats. One was exhibited to Department staff and is shown here parked in Barkers Pool opposite Sheffield's City Hall. The STD offices are just out of shot on the left.
Clifford Makins' description sounds hilarious to today's readers; but in 1960 the look of the bus would indeed have turned a few heads! This text panel was printed to the right of the picture, hence the italicised "Left" on the left.
Barkers Pool is now a pedestrian precinct but the City Hall still hosts major concerts and events. In 1866, (it seems like that) fbb was presented with his degree within its hallowed portals.
The Atlantean was parked where the shopper is sitting on the granite plinth. The shop that the shopper has just shopped at is a branch of the John Lewis Partnership, formerly Cole Brothers, which opened on this site in 1963. It's former store at the junction of Fargate and Church Street ...
...was a memorable Sheffield landmark for generations. "Us'll sithee at Co-ulls Corner, luv, then us'll get a car up Manner. Unless its sighlin' dahn, then us'll be just intside doo-ers" [see Google Translate if help is needed]

50 plus years of progress but ...
... First still runs the 53 between Wadsley Bridge, Neepsend, City and Woodseats although the outer extremities have changed.
More to follow ...
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ADDENDUM
The mysteries of the blogosphere.
Thursday's blog attracted a record number of reads with pageviews continuing at a high level yesterday. It would be really nice to think there were record numbers of people interested in changes to bus services in Portsmouth (read again); but Blogger's statistics show a substantial interest in a blog written in July 2010, relatively early in fbb's illustrious blogging career.

And what piece of earth-shattering transport news has produced this retrospective enthusiasm?
A brief, nay minimalistic, blog about a road name in Sheffield (read again)! What is even weirder is that most of this burgeoning interest emanates from ...
... the United States of America. This is USA page view totals at 1540hrs yesterday. The mind most certainly boggles.

Sadly fbb's international fame appears to have been short-lived; possible 'all expenses paid' speaking engagements across the pond have not materialised and blog reads seem to have settled down to 'normal' from today (Saturday).
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 Next Nostalgic Blog : Sunday 30th September 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Enigma Variations [1]

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Interesting Ivybridge Information : an update
Results from the previous blog (read again).
 Plymouth Citybus 
The service 88 leaflet arrived by snail mail yesterday.
 First Devon & Cornwall 
An apologetic e-mail received mid afternoon on Wednesday from Natacha.
Dear Mr White,
I am sorry to hear that you experienced inconsistent information from our customer service department. 
We have just centralised the department in order to provide longer opening hours and as a result of that process, we have recruited more staff. The staff, whilst very keen to help our customers, are still getting to grips with all the ticket and timetable information in the area. We believe this lead to the problems you faced.
Please find attached the pdf documents of the new timetable
for service 88 from Plymouth to Ivybridge. If you would like me to post you a copy, please let me know.
 fbb comments  For the third time, I didn't ask for a timetable; I wanted the leaflet!
More information can be found at our Travel Shop in the Bretonside bus station in Plymouth. The shop is open Monday - Friday from 09:00 to 17:30 and Saturday from 09:00 to 14:00.
 fbb comments   It's a long, long way from the Island; and, yes, they did have my home address!
Thank you for getting in touch with us.

A blog comparing the new Ivybridge services and their publicity will appear next week. It was a desire to contrast and compare the publicity that caused me to ask for a leaflet. Of course one did appear on-line and has been dowloaded to provide the source of  fbb's first First investigations. But a hard copy is so much easier to cope with.
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Snd now for something completely different?
On Safari to Paradise.
On the Saturday of fbb and Mrs fbb's visit to stay with No. 3 son at Watford, the threesome had a spiffing day out here ...
... although it's changed a bit since this pic was taken in 1961! The specific visit was to look at this ...
... and these:-
On the way back, fbb donned his pith helmet, assembled a team of native porters and set off for Paradise as, retorspectively, illustrated at the top of this blog.

As everyone knows, (?), Paradise is a district of Hemel Hempstead; and the centre of Paradise is marked by a piece of  road transport history of inestimable importance, namely this:-
One of one once-proud nation's two remaining "ring junctions"; a huge roundabout consisting of a ring of small roundabouts thus allowing you to go round the wrong way or the long way if you so desire. What fun, especially at peak times.

Just up the road from Paradise is the faded paradise of Hemel Hempstead bus station.
C'est magnifique - NOT!

But what did fbb espy on arrival? Yippee, a Travel Office ...
... where the chubby one could collect a set of Arriva leaflets as the excellent Hertfordhire timetable books are no longer produced; in case people start using the buses. But, as a positive step forward in the drive to give Hearts folk the heart for bus travel, they don't produce books any more and ...
... Arriva can't be bothered to help anyone on a Saturday either. The bus station was, euphemistically, "tired" with very basic facilities, namely a few shelters, clean toilets and the aforementioned closed office. In an equally "tired" piazza (?) behind the bus station, fbb was able to obtain a bottle of Irn Bru and a dark chocolate Kit-Kat to sustain himself for his chosen journey into the Hertforshire bushlands (of which more anon).
For those less familiar with day excursion possibilities from Watford, the fbbs went to Bletchley (as in the City of Milton Keynes complete with little-used rail flyover) ...
... visiting Bletchley Park ...
... including the under-publicised and truly magnificent ...
... hence the "teaser" illustrations above.

So, tomorrow, we complete our brief omnibological expedition to Paradise with a bus ride from Hemel to Watford. The building in the first picture on this blog, located in Pardise, of course, was the UK Headquarters of Kodak. Following the demise of that internationally famous film and camera company, the block has been tastefully refurbished ...
... reclad and reborn as yuppie flats with a significant cinematographic sculpture "thing" attached. It was to this building, a huge number of years ago, that the Mrs fbb to be came for an interview.

And whilst on a story of exploratory and nostaligic introduction to Hemel Hermpstead, this a picture of vintage buses on a recent "running day", grazing peacefully in the autumn sun at the beautiful bus station.
Those were the days?

"Enigma Variations" continues later next week.

 Next Bus Blog : Saturday 29th September