Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nothing to do with Mothers Day

Or Mothering Sunday?
Correct; Ecclesiastically, today is not Mothers Day, it is Mothering Sunday. In times gone by it was customary for believer to visit their "Mother Church" on this particular day. For fbb at Seaton that might have been Exeter Cathedral ... .
... or the Minster Church on the Ax.
But the practice had all but died out by the start of the 20th Century. In 1912, an American, Anna Jarvis, ...
... actually trade-marked "Mothers Day" and "Second Sunday in May" to begin the newer version. Back at Coddington (Notts), the delightfully named Constance Adelaide Penswick Smith picked up the idea and wrote an improving book encouraging the re-establishment of a "Festival for All The Family",
And slowly but surely the Church celebration took root.

Breezer Breezes By Bembridge
Southern Vectis has had a love-hate relationship with open top bus services for many, many years. the problem is very simple; in good weather they rake in the money in sackfuls but when the rains fall, takings are almost non-existent.
In the mid eighties and new OT route began from Ryde, via Robin Hill, "over the downs" and back to Ryde. It fizzled out. But a brave new operator, Westbrook Travel, owned by you esteemed blogger, started a replacements.
This time, after a sale to new owners, the company fizzled out and Southern Vectis was back on the route.
It ran every half an hour for a short summer season and struggled to gain enough patronage. By now it charged a premium fare (£10, as part of a day rover) and so it was a bit easier to cover costs. 

This season the company is having a go at something  bit different. Instead of getting to Sandown and nipping smartly back to Ryde, the Breezer will run right round the coast via Bembridge.
Oddly, it misses out a charming piece of sea side running via Seaview Duver. 
It's twice as long but half as frequent.
Hope it does well, but ...

Is It Really Thirty Years ...
It was 1987, in the heady days of deregulation, that some oddly liveried buses appeared in the yard outside Ryde depot. 

They wee destined for Southmpton to compete with Southampton's City Bus operation. They wore black on red blinds (this illegible) and operated out of the back of a van in a car park near Ocean Village. It was all very amateurish.
A deal with Brian Souter to take over the Southampton and Eastleigh operations of Hampshire Bus brought an end to competition with the City incumbent. Opinion "on the street" suggests that Blue Line would not have survived the start-up had the expansion not happened. Be that as it may, eventually a sale to GoAhead and a re-brand to BlueStar both led to the company we know today.

It is 30 years old.
A big knees-up is planned for June ...
Our (senior!) Isle of Wight correspondent was dispatched from the Island to oversee the engineering side of the developing business, so it was he who uttered our headline. And, yes, it really was thirty years ago,

Trauma at Tanygrisiau
John's Coaches runs the little local service in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Service 37 (Blaenau Clipa) has been run by John for 18 years.
Blaenau Ffestiniog residents have hit out at a decision to strip a popular bus service contract from a much-loved local company.
The 37 Clipa service between Blaenau town centre and Tanygrisiau, run by John’s Coaches for the past 18 years, is to be taken over by Penygroes bus firm Express Motors from 1 April after the contract went out to tender.

But residents have hit out at the decision not to award the contract to John’s Coaches, with an online petition gaining more than 300 signatures in two weeks and customers sharing tales of the driver, Mr Edwards’ son Gareth, “going above and beyond” for the often-vulnerable passengers.
Here is John's bus in Blaenau.
It's raining; but it usually is in Blaenau! The bus, of course, is ex East Yorkshire.
Incidentally, Travelien Cymru have posted the new timetable (from 1st April) in advance. The current timetable is not available. It might be unchanged, but, who knows?

Tomorrow, to celebrate this week's formal farewell to Europe starter, we return to France.

 Next Lyon tram blog : Monday 27th March 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men ...

Gang aft agley
This homespun philsophy comes from Robert Burns in a poem "To a Mouse". The verse continues:-

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

How true.

Long before fbb settled in sunny Seaton and long before he actually started building his minimalist model railway in the back yard, he had an idea. Always a source of potential grief!

Instead of aspiring to a fully operational model, why not build a cameo of, say, a transport museum with a collection of buses, commercial vehicles and even a train or two but on static display. And, as if they heard his thoughts out loud, the computers in a far of sales and marketing department chose that very moment to send the gullible old man a mailing/
An RTW for only £1.99.  Now your ancient blogger knew the deal; get hooked by the first bus on offer and then shell out £14 each for the series. Cleverly At;as Editions did not tell their customer how many buses would pop through his letter box. Would it be ten or a hundred. Comforted by the knowledge that he "could cancel at any time", he let them roll in.

At 1:76 scale (equivalent o an OO train) they were just right for his "museum" project and the mix was eclectic enough to make an interesting display.
But there they still are, all untouched in their boxes and on a shelf in the loft/third bedroom/office/junk hole in fbb mansions.

The model railway has become a much bigger project and there isn't room for the bus museum bit. A modified idea is to display some of them on a removable base as part of a model heritage weekend at the Peterville Quarry Railway but realistically the whole shebang was a waste of money.

Atlas Edition have a bast range of these schemes. From Eddie Stobart lorries (1:76, i.e. OO gauge) ...
... via classic tractors (1:32) ...
... to repro Dinky Toys of various sizes and scales.

You can also get aircraft, ships and delightful statuettes of our fluffy feathered fiends.
How sweet. Or is "yuk" a better response.

Because fbb succumbed to the hook of the RTW, he now received regular offers from the company, but now by emails. This one was of academic interest.
Frank Hornby first used the "Dinky" name for accessories for his "O" gauge tinplate model trains and then branched out into model cars and other non-railway products.
Here is a 1930s model ...
... of the record-breaking "Speed of the Wind" car. As a model it was crude and inaccurate ...
... but the cachet of the craze for world speed attempts made it a popular "must-have".

It was post WW2 that the range developed into the desirable toys that we all remember. Competition from the dreaded (and better modelled) Corgi combined with the decline in the toy market generally brought about the demise of the marque in 1971.

So what of Atlas Models toy number 197?

Originally produced in cream ...
... and later in green, the model lasted from 1961 until closure in 1971.
Latterly a version in dayglo green was also available; but bear in mind that dayglo paints do not photograph well.
Some on-line authorities also record a version in dayglo pink.

The Atlas Editions version is an accurate copy of the ordinary green original and is made (guess!) in China. Frank Hornby will be turning in his grave! Also be warned; Atlas has also produced blue and red versions, never part of the original Hornby oeuvre.
Of course there are Dinky collectors and, as you would expect, some of these demand the very best versions of their models in perfect boxes. Just for his amusement, you author took a look on EBay (etc.) to see what was on offer and at what price.

It was frightening. 

You could buy an Atlas repro for £25 ...
... plus £3.95 post and packing - OR - exactly the same model ...
... for £9.99 and free postage and packing.

Caveat emptor! But the fun really starts when you are looking for original models.
These are from specialist auctioneers "Vectis", 
Lot 3413 The Powys Collection - July 29th, 2008 Dinky No.197 Morris Mini Traveller - dark green body, pale yellow interior, spun hubs - Excellent Plus in Good Plus box. Very hard to find colour. Estimate: £200-£250 Bidding is now closed on this item. Price Realised: £240.
Lot 1502 Dinky Toys - February 13th, 2007 Dinky - No.197 Morris Mini Traveller - scarce colour variation is cream, with yellow interior - Mint in Good card box (tape mark to one end flap). Estimate: £200-£300 Bidding is now closed on this item. Price Realised: £280.

Ouch!

But, of course, you could get one for £1.99 from Atlas Editions and then immediately cancel your order. But you didn't read that idea here. fbb doesn't want to be the first offer in a "Models of Beaten Up Old Men" collection.

Amazingly, you can buy a pre-war racing car as above for much less than you think.
At the other end of the "ouch" scale is this:-
Or in extremely good condition:-
Out pours the oft recorded wail ...

"If only I had kept mine, never played with them and never opened the boxes I would be a very wealthy man." Actually not. Whilst fbb does have a few dilapidated Dinkies in the toy box, NONE of them is of any significant value.

Shame.

 Next weekend blog : Sunday 26th March 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Some Tiddly Bits

But first, an apology.
The planned blog for today has been postponed. It turns out that resolving the "mystery" is more complex and more interesting than was, at first, apparent. Hopefully fbb will complete the research over the weekend.

And Talking of Research.
GoAhead, you may remember, bought Thamesdown Transport (Swindon Corporation as was) and the trade press announced that it would be part of Go South Coast. fbb wondered, idly, what differences would be seen on the new-look GoAhead web site.

Here is the panel on the group site covering Go South Coast.
And here is what you get if you click on "Visit the Go South Coast website.
Nothing more than more.

The Thamesdown site ...
... seems unchanged with only a passing note as to the new ownership.
Fair enough; GoAhead likes to maintain company identity, but you would hope that there is a bit more than more under the wing of Go South Coast!

Northampton Nastiness
Northampton County Council have had a great idea. Instead of having lots of offices for different departments spread across the town, let's bring everybody together in a swish new building.

Project Angel is the exciting new public sector headquarters situated in the middle of Northampton town centre just behind County Hall. This modern building will be able to house up to 2,000 professional workers and bring a minimum £12 million additional spend into the town centre economy. It will provide a modern vibrant office environment, whilst improving the aesthetics and function of an underused brownfield area.

And we are going to call it "1 Angel Square". Here is a picture of the development.
Erm, hang on a sec. the above is a picture of 1 Angel Square in Manchester. It's clever of the Northampton County Council to choose a non-ambiguous name!

Here is the Northampton edifice.
And it will look very pretty inside, too.
The internal design will continue to be developed over the next six months.

Well, perhaps?

And here is the block as currently viewed by Google Streetview. Here is the north side ...
... the east side, and ...
... the south side.
They are all what used to be called "back streets". So where will staff park their cars?

Pardon?

Car parking? A few of the 2000 might (just might?) want to come by car.

Cumming plan : agree a deal with the Borough council for reserved bits of various ton centre car parks. OK?

Can't agree so we aren't doing that.

Jackpot idea. Park and Ride.

O.K. Where?

St James, round the back of Franklins Gardens, an extension, as it were, of the current rugby ground parking site.
So people from the north and east of the town will have to drive through the town centre, along the already clogged St James Road or Spencer Bridge Road, to get to their car park.

And catch a direct bus to the new offices, a journey of just 12 minutes.

Through peak hour traffic jams? Really? And how many extra cars are expected in St James?

(mumbles)

Speak up man, how many extra daily car movements?

cough 900 cough

Sounds like the planner have done a great job, then. No surprise there. For the record, this is John Dryden House, one of the sites which, presumably, will be moving to 1 Angel Square (in Northampton).
Plenty of car parking, nice country aspect; even, perhaps, room for expansion.

Travel South Yorkshire - Go By Bus
Our chums at TSY love the county so much they want us all ...
... to explore more. One of the places in the current on-line promotion is Kelham Island.
The factory as illustrated is not on Kelham Island!

The Island is, however, a splendid place, an industrial museum complete with Bessemer Blaster (non working!).
It is well worth a visit.

There is just one snag for the PR people who dreamed up this "promotion".

There is no bus service. Here is the TSY/Traveline journey planner offering ...
... a one minute bus ride and a seven minute walk. In view of the road network, it is just as easy to walk from any City centre bus stop.
And a lot cheaper! 1 Kelham Island is an office block and unlikely to be of interest to Sheffield explorers.

It is unfortunate that the potential customer is obliged to obtain his route from a journey planner. Maps and, where appropriate, timetables would make planning  lot less risky.

fbb is indebted to blog reader Lynford for forwarding this little chestnut!

 Next weekend blog : Saturday 25th March