Monday, 20 November 2017

Variety Postponed

Saturday's visit to Bicton Park caused a bigger blog than expected so some of the Sunday Variety needed to be held over. To add to the blog-scheduling fun, some fascinating bits and pieces have flown gracefully through the ether and these are included as well.

Minute Half-Minute
Correspondent David, who edits the above learned periodical, e-mailed to inform fbb and our excited readership of some slick timing of Wolverhampton Trolleybi in the period between WW1 and WW2.
And here is the timetable extract.
This punctilious chronology had begun to disappear by the late '40s, becoming the more usual (e.g.) "and then every 7 and 8 minutes."

Drastic Frequency Cut!
A while back, fbb was exploring the improved Supertram service in Sheffield due at the end of January - improved, obviously, by reducing the frequency. Associated with this is the problem of the Supertram Link route to Stocksbridge which currently runs every twenty minutes alternately round the "estates" loop giving a combined bus every 10.

The "problem", you may recall, is that a 12 minutes service connecting with the "improved" tram doesn't really work memorably with a "alternate ways round" schedule.

Stagecoach have resolved this problem by introducing a revised service from 29th October and providing a very non-lavish leaflet.
The SL1/SL1A now runs "up to every 60 minutes"?!????

"Don't panic, dear; it's only a misprint," but rather a serious one. So what IS the change from the end of last month?
fbb has absolutely no idea; but probably no change at all. The Travel South Yorkshire timetables list shows nothing.

And on another point; one of the main reasons for having buses run alternate ways round the "estates" loop was to give a service to AND FROM Fox Valley Retail Park, the latest trendy shopping paradise designed to keep people out of Sheffield's "vibrant" (snigger snigger) city centre.
Find Fox Valley on the map! Find Stockbridge's traditional Co-op on the map. Find details of the evening service to Garden Village and Unsliven Bridge on the map!

Useless.

Ludicrously Late Leaflets
Still in Sheffield, here are three leaflets for changes from 3rd September. 

The blue versions are created by Stagecoach and refer to two out of three "partnership" joint services for which Stagecoach assumes their share of the publicity machine (machine illustrated below).
The leaflets appeared in mid October by which time that for the 83/83A was already wrong.

Both are littered with inaccuracies and confusion; errors which have been pointed out the First, to Stagecoach and to the PTE on several occasions since the non-Partnership began. 

The timetable implies that the 83 and 83A follow different routes.
They follow, in fact, exactly the same route between Hunters Bar and Ecclesfield Mill Road.

The 1/1A times are nonsense at Firth Park for the same reason as the 83s above ...
... and the map at Batemoor is a complete fiction.
You simply cannot get from Batemoor Road to Lowedges Road and no buses are scheduled to do so. Buses are shown as running to Batemoor both on the map and on the front page of the timetable. But no buses are shown as going there in the timetables themselves, they all terminate early at Dyche Road! Batemoor simply does not exist!
Utter nonsense all round!

The X1 folder is an exclusive First Bus product, also published just over 6 weeks after the timetable change.  Its map is equally potty.
It implies that only occasional journeys run to Salisbury Road. In fact half the service runs there. The Sheffield City Centre bit of the map is also wrong with Moorfoot shown in the wrong place..
The whole publicity thing in Sheffield is very, very poor and none of the Partners (snigger snigger) seem to have any desire to do anything about it.

And they wonder why passenger numbers are declining.

Baffling at Basel (1)
No 3 son is working in Switzerland, doing unfathomable stuff with confusers for a pharmaceutical company. He has started sending fbb little puzzles to solve. This one was easy; the question was "which station is it?"
The only meaningful fact that could be gleaned from the departure indicator was that it was on S-Bahn line 1 ...
... but without a comprehensive timetable that wasn't much help. But the office block was.
Thanks to the wonders of the interwebnet fbb could identify BUSS.
fbb is unsure exactly what BUSS AG "compounds" but they do it at Hohenrainstrasse in Pratteln. 
And there is BUSS on Google Maps next to Pratteln Station where trains connect with at least one bus services, in this case the 84 ...
... confirmed, as ever, by Google Maps.
Easy-peasy.

The next teaser was more of a puzzle.
It was a tramstop under a hole in a weird roof. But where? The tram was on route 2 ...
... and consisted of two powered cars (small trams) with a trailer sandwiched in between. Line 2 is the muddy brown one ...
... but where, Oh where on Line 2? Fortunately the interwebnet provides the clue. Look up Basel Trams Line 2 pictures on the Google World Domination site and similar pictures appear.

The tramstop is named Messeplatz, being the location of ...
"Messe" in German can mean just a mess (unhelpful) or a fair, i.e. a collection of stalls and or sideshows. One alternative meaning can be "exhibition".

Indeed Messe Basel is a huge complex of exhibition halls with a hole in the roof.
Looking from Clarastrasse (lower left) you can see what it is all about.
The road under the main "event hall", clad in some trendy "stuff", is just for pedestrians and trams and the hole provides daylight for the alighting and boarding passenger. The cladding is a super-giant version of expanded metal mesh ...
Our many customers all over the world use RMIG Expanded Metal for many different types of applications e.g for walkways, footbridges, footsteps, safety fences, reinforcing of concrete as well as for shielding in buildings and constructions. 

There have been Exhibition Halls on the site since the 1920s.
Two out of two wins for fbb, so far!

But the lad's third teaser is worthy of a blog all on its own.

 Next Baffling Basel blog : Tuesday 21st November 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bicton And Bazalgette ...

... Sun And Sewage!
Bicton House and Park was the ancestral home of the Rolle Family (as in the street in Exmouth) ...
... who sold the house to Devon Council where it became their Agricultural College.
Before that disposal, however, the ancestral family had developed the park as a tourist attraction and what better an attraction than a miniature railway.

A search for suitable stock coincided with the disposal of stuff  from the once extensive narrow gauge system that service the vast Woolwich Arsenal site.

A diesel loco, named Carnegie ...
... the last loco to be delivered to Woolwich, was acquired. More importantly a steam loco (also from Woolwich), languishing unloved and rusting in a yard at Brackley ...
... was rescued and restored. Track and other useful bits and pieces were also acquired. The two locos became the mainstay of the line with opened in 1963.
The original line also had working ex Southern Railway signals, now purely decorative.
Both locos eventually reached a crisis point where boiler repair (steam) and a new gearbox (diesel) would have proved prohibitively expensive for a line which had become a purely commercial operation within the privately owned Park.

But the railway still runs, although when the fbb's visited yesterday, the timetable was decidedly limited.
So, meet up with Family Fearnley, a quick bevvy in the caff; and off to join the 1145.
The 18" gauge line  trundles round the grounds in  large loop (click to enlarge the graphic below)  ...
... with the spur to the Hermitage station, upper right. Here the loco swaps ends ...
... and hauls you back to the start. Each passenger is given a guide card as demonstrated by young Miss F ...
... who was not grumpy (honest!) but merely exerting massive mental effort into spotting the large numbers beside the track which accompanied the guide. The young lady's literary skills were perhaps inadequate for reading out the "useful information" but spotting the numbers was fun! Assistance was provided by one older brother.
The autumnal colours were delightful, of course - enhanced by a sunny but chilly day.
Back at base, a chance to examine the modern motive power ...
... a rather boring diesel loco with cosmetic steam engine appurtenances; but much easier to manage than live steam!
Apart from lovekly scenery, there is a nice little museum, mainly filled with heritage agricultural stuff like this very early 1917 Fergy ...
... and a fine collection of Mamod steam powered models.
Then to lunch (splendid), gazing over the Sunken Italian Garden ...
... to the obelisk, erected in 1746.
But Sewage? Come with fbb to Crossness sewage works at Abbey Wood, stuck on thee eastern end of Thamesmead estate.
It is hard to believe that this glorious interior is ...
... a pumping house for human effluvium in very large quantities. It was created by Joseph Bazalgette ... 
... as part of his massive engineering project to rid London of the likes of the Great Stink of 1858.
But to get to this noble pile, you have to take a half mile walk alongside the modern sewage works. Wouldn't it be a spiffing idea to run a lovely little narrow gauge railway from gate to pumping station?

We are excited to announce that planning permission has been granted by the London Borough of Bexley for "the installation of a Narrow Gauge Railway and modifications to an existing building for use as depot facilities for the railway".

Ahead of us we have a major fundraising challenge to cover the purchase of track materials including 1400 metres of rail, 600 timber sleepers, drive screws, fishplates, and the track bed preparation and ballast, before the track laying can commence.

We need to recruit able volunteers for the exciting and challenging task of constructing a new build 18 inch narrow gauge railway, so close to the track of the iconic Royal Arsenal Railway.

And the locos? Well, now; here's one of them ...
... arriving for Crossness, Kent via a slightly circuitous route from Bicton Park in Devon! Carnegie (the diesel) is currently at the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey.
Here, also, an 18" gauge railway is being re-created.

Once upon a time, Bicton Woodland Railway was the only 18" gauge railway operating in UK. Soon there will be two more, all linked with the historic lines that traversed the Woolwich Arsenal yard.
As it turned out, just one of today's bits and pieces blog became a fully-fledged production - so there is some "stuff" to postpone until tomorrow.

 Postponed variety blog : Monday 20th November