Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What's These Buses Called "A", Eh? (1)

Kittrinyow Kernewek
Two years ago, fbb was exploring and offering some guarded opinions (?) on Cornwall's bus services operated by First Kernow. One particular concern was the complexity of services between Penzance and Lands End (click on map below to enlarge).
One worry, from a visitor's point of view, was the complexity of routes and route numbers between Penzance and Newlyn ...
... especially when school journeys are included. 
The grey dotted lines are the roads used when serving the schools.

One bugbear were the services to and via Paul. These were a combination of terminating journeys which performed a simple loop ...
... but buses continuing to Lamorna and, occasionally, to Lands End travelled in both directions via Paul.
So if Paul wanted to travel to or from Paul he could, potentially, be looking for a service 1, 1A, 1B or 1C.

Previous changes (last year?) have improved the situation by numbering the journeys via Paul as 5 ...
... and withdrawing all buses from the narrow lane to Lamorna, although buses never made it to the beach but turned at The Wink.
Yes, it is a very ancient pub about halfway down the lane.
The 1C variant still runs, but numbered unapologetically a suffix-less 5. 1 and 1A buses still ran via Paul in both directions at certain times. But one of the set of route numbers has gone.

This bank holiday weekend came the next change. Here is the map of the former 1 and 1A between Penzance, Lands End and Sennen Cove.
And here is the revised version that has just started for First Kernow's summer season.
Journeys that continued northwards from St Buryan to join the A30 ...
... and serve Crows-an-Wra have disappeared.
This community is hardly large but will be unserved under the new scheme.

The former 1A becomes the A1 (neat reversal of characters?) and will operate every hour seven days a week.
The DARKER PINK dot is for a journey which runs direct via the A30 to St Buryan, a trip which has been in the timetable for some time. The last two journeys from Penzance still run via Paul.
The diversion at these times shown by the PALER PINK and PALE GREEN dots ...
... but, surely, one combined note would do. But pretty Paul is now down to just TWO route numbers.

For the record, A1s and 5s are still shown on a combined table, but it is much less confusing than it was in its previous manifestation.
In this case, the dots are the schoolday variants and the green box is their Saturday replacement.

Back in the day (about ten years ago) the service to Paul was numbered ...
...5!

What goes around, comes around.

In 2011 (the date on Google Streetview) the only number on the flag at Paul was 504 ...
... a competitive service operated by Western Greyhound. First's number was a state secret.

Tomorrow we shall see why the new service to Lands End is numbered A1 and we can also see what has happened to services beyond Lands End via Sennen shown as A3.

 Next A1 blog - Wednesday 31t May 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday Oddments

Lynton and Barnstaple - Early Days
fbb is grateful to his Northampton correspondent for these two pictures. Taken in 2007 (in the rain!) they show diesel hauled departures with borrowed coaches. The train is seen at Woody Bay ...
... and at the temporary terminus of Killington Lane, still temporary ten years later.
fbb has purchased the Middleton Press book on the line, now out of print.
He did not spend £65.72 (sensibly), his copy cost £8 plus postage. Published in 1992, the book arrived from a time when any re-opening was a wild dream. Referring to the signalbox at Barnstaple Town station ...
... the book actually says this:-
Rebuilding a whole railway takes a long, long time.

Bus For Sale
It's amazing what you can buy on EBay! Sheffield correspondent Roy sent this offer to fbb.
The vehicle's history is given by a Bristol enthusiasts' site as below.

1938 In service with North Western at Stockport
1939 Converted to B29R
1945 Converted to B31R
1950-51 Rebodied with Burlington B35R
1950-51 Fleet number changed to 372
1961 Out of service with North Western
        F Cowley, Salford (dealer)
Nov 64 In service with Flather, Ellesmore Port
Sep 70 Out of service with Flather, Ellesmore Port
Apr 71 A Kershaw, Northwick
  Unidentified owner
        In service with Quantock Motors, Taunton
Sep 14 Out of service with Quantock
Sep 14 In service with Quantock


The vehicle no longer appears on Quantock's site and the present owner is asking for £30,000. Sadly there is insufficient room in the fbbs' allocated parking space adjacent to their pad. The money might also pleasee a problem!

Here is a picture of the same bus operating with "Saddleworth Vintage Bus Tours", pictured to accompany a press article from July 2013.

No Comment?
Our hearts bleed with those who suffered bereavement and trauma as a result of the Manchester horrors and the brainwashed extremism hurts something rotten. Clearly this posted on a Stagecoach bus passing through Seaton a few days ago predated the Manchester attack.
Mixed feelings?

Floating, Failing and Floundering?
Our senior Isle of Wight correspondent has reported on the new Cowes to East Cowes Floating Bridge.
It's progress so far has been, to say the least, fraught. It broke down twice in the first week of operation leading to the farcical video on-line of passengers removing shoes and socks and paddling the few feet to dry ground.
Oh deary me ...
... deary, deary me!

The ferry is currently suspended.
Yesterday afternoon, fbb took a look at the vessel via a local web cam. At 1709 the empty boat left the West Cowes slipway ...
... and chugged off towards East Cowes.
But short of the opposite terminal it stopped (at 1717).
A little launch bumbled around the back end as if trying to see what was wrong. At 1900 ...
... it remained, parked and very dead, just short of the East Cowes ramp. Whether the driver and his fireman were still aboard, stranded for the night, it not known for certain. But they may have been picked up by the launch.

Maybe they had to wade back?

The project has cost Isle of Wight residents £4.6 million. Opinions on value for money were not printable! The old ferry was withdrawn in January last.
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The B A Confuser Crisis ...
... seems to have spread to Seaton. The fbbs' laptop was behaving badly later on Saturday and all day on Sunday. The old man's email thingey has been declining to download pictures from the communications of our correspondents. The above blog took most of yesterday afternoon to create using lump hammer, pneumatic drill and a small tactical nuclear device.

Until the problem is resolved, blogs may be incomplete or fail to appear at all.
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 Next rebranding blog : Tuesday 30th May 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Look; It's Luke

The complexities of Crossways (yesterday's blog) proved more challenging than expected, so the subsequent blog is postponed.
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Yesterday (27th May) brought the arrival to Seaton of The Mendip Mule - a silly title having its genesis in an open top Bristol RE which became labelled as Shanklin's Pony.
The bus was bought by the affable and enthusiastic  Derek Gawn ...
... and for the last couple of years it, and its fellow double decker, had been operating various open top tours based in Seaton.
(click on map for an enlargement) This year, route 124 operates a simple service from Beer via Seaton and  Lyme Regis  to just beyond Charmouth. Buses turn at Newlands Holiday Park at Charmouth.
Apparently the "tun" at Newlands is quite exciting.

The service for the late May holiday week is every day and hourly.
So off trotted ffb yesterday to see the two vehicles on their way. The 0940 from Seaton to Beer was the former Pony, now liveried as the Mendip Mule.
The bus had a crew of two, Mike Rogers and his partner Bev,
Derek reported on his Facebook page that he was "running a bit late" with delivering leaflets to Tourist Information Centres etc., so there was nothing around at Seaton. The service has received some good publicity in the local press, but nothing speaks more than the vehicles themselves and a heap of leaflets in the hands of a good on-street salesman.

The day dawned grey and misty and offering poor picking for potential open toppers. 

But, surprisingly, three passengers turned up for the first, two of whom had obviously planned their ride and one who just happened to be in the right place as the bus chuntered happily at the Underfleet stop.

One such passenger was Luke ...
... here on the right, who proudly clutched an "all season free pass" for the open top operation. He had arrived, splendid enthusiast that he is, to ride on the first bus of the season. Driver Mike explained that Luke had been very helpful in setting up this years timetable and the lad was certainly very knowledgeable.

He was riding to Beer on the 0940 and back to Axmouth for 1018. There he would await the second bus on yesterdays schedule which fbb confidently expected to be Derek's second vehicle, the VR.
But it wasn't. Young Luke caught the 1034 from Axmouth and gave fbb a cheery wave as he arrived back in Seaton for the third time.

The bus was oddly adorned ...
... carrying the livery of its previous owners ...
... part of the consortium that runs buses, boats and trains between Paignton, Totnes, Kinswear and Dartmouth. The legal owner is now ...
... but it was driven by a gent (whose name fbb forgot to ask) who works for a coach company in Cornwall but used to be something fairly important at Eastern Counties. Before its reign on River links, the bus was with Stagecoach Devon.
Sadly, today at 0940, it Invincibly carried only one passenger, he of the free pass, namely the likely lad Luke. Upon arrival at Seaton, he nipped smartly upstairs and was equipped with back pack and, presumably, lunch, ready for a laborious day enjoying bus rides.

And the weather improved somewhat with bouts of glorious sunshine.

fbb wishes Derek well with his enterprise; once he gets his publicity right he deserves to do well.

fbb and Mrs have guests later in the week and so there should be a top deck foursome to swell the coffers; it's a tour, not a schedules bus service, so old crusty passes are not valid. Prices quoted are for a days "hop on, hops off" deal which compares very favourable with paying separate bus fares.
But not favourable if you possess a pretty pensioners pass!

After the hopefully successful and lucrative half term holiday week, Del-boy will be running a one bus service (every two hours) Monday to Thursday only.
This will operate until late June when the two bus schedule re-appears enhanced by even more trips in the peak school summer holidays.

If you are down this way, please sample Derek's wares; you will not be disappointed. The fares are good value by today's standards and you will get a jolly commentary to enhance your enjoyment (?).

By the way, before a nit-picking anonymous has a go, fbb has no financial interest in the Mendip Mule operation whatsoever, He is merely an enthusiastic supporter and occasional passengers.

A bit like Luke, really.

But fbb has to pay!

But it is good to meet a youngster who has interests beyond computer games and mobile phones.

 Next mixed bag bank holiday blog : Monday 29th May