Thursday, 18 January 2018

Water Football with Water, Biscuits (1)

Ashbourne is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales, England. It has a population of 7,112. It contains many historical buildings and many independent shops. Due to its proximity to the southern edge of the Peak District and being the closest town to the popular area of Dovedale, the town is known as both the 'Gateway to Dovedale' and the 'Gateway to the Peak District'.

To his shame fbb has passed through only twice; once as a teenager with parents and once in the early days of married life en route to from Derby to Sheffield "the pretty way". His memory from both visits is an advertising sign which spans the main street ...
Entering the town from the south along the A515 from Lichfield, you pass a very railway-like building.
It is all that remains of the town's station infrastructure, being a rather splendid London and North Western Railway (LNWR) goods shed. But, more than that, it is built roughly on the site of Ashbourne's first railway station, a terminus on the line owned by the North Staffordshire Railway NSR). This opened in 1852.

The LNWR desperately wanted a line into Buxton to compete with their arch-rivals the Midland Railway (MR). Thus it was that the LNWR bought the Cromford and High Peak Railway and used its northern section as the start of a line south to Ashbourne.
The exit from Buxton LNWR station involved a sharp curve and a long and substantial viaduct ...
... which still dominates this rather unattractive part of town.
The competitive rail companies operated from matching stations, both with magnificent fan windows at the buffer stop end.
The town council insisted that the stations should match the architectural quality of the town's prominent buildings and the great Joseph Paxton, of Crystal Palace fame, delivered fine buildings each with an overall roof.

The MR station is long gone but the fan window of the LNWR building is, at least. preserved.
The new line approached Ashbourne via a splendid tunnel seen here under construction in about 1879.
A new and bigger station was opened in 1899 slightly nearer the town on the curve that led from the tunnel mouth to the site of the old terminus. Oddly, some maps (dating from the 1930s) show both stations at in operation.
On the opposite side of the road from the station entrance we can see the imposing building of the Station Hotel.
This hostelry still stands ...
... on a station-less Station Road. The platforms and other appurtenances were last used for regular service in 1954, but the line remained in use for excursions for another ten years. Typically it is now a car park ...
... with the Station Hotel to give us its location. At the far end of the car park is the start of the Tissington Trail which uses the tunnel ...
... and continues along the very curvaceous track bed.

Water Football?
One of the dotty delights of Ashbourne's calendar of events is the Shrove Tuesday "Football" match. The "game" moves along (and in!) the Henmore Brook.
A particpant was once asked about the event. "Does it have rules or is it a free-for-all?" he was asked.

"Yes!" came the helpful reply.

Of course, one of the many "spring" waters on which people waste their money in the mistaken impression that it is better for you than the stuff from the tap is/was mined there.
Does it still exist? Its future was dodgy in 2006.
But Biscuits?

 Next Ashbourne blog : Friday 19th January 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Playing Catch-Up (4)

The Revolution Revolution
Not all fbb's readers have any interest in model railways; but developments in the industry have been remarkable over the last few years. One of the more interesting business styles that is growing nowadays is the concept of the crowd-funded model. Here is how it works:-
This is how one company in particular works.
Their latest product is a model of the West Coast Main Line Pendolino.
The next picture is of the model ...
... which, if the overhead gantries were not quite to bulky and over-tall, might be barely indistinguishable from the real thing. This is an "N" scale model running on a track gauge of 9mm or just over ⅓ inch.

The current (February) edition of the Railway Modeller has a review of this model, plus an interview with the Revolution Trains team of Ben Ando and Mike Hale.
The article is a fascinating insight into how this business model works, so buy the Railway Modeller and be educated. fbb was. We may recognise Ben Ando from his work as a BBC corresepondent?
But you will forgive fbb for a further indulgence in the wonder of detail; with working lights at the first class tables ...
... and legible Virgin logos on the windows in each door.
And the price of a nine car train? Don't ask - it's too frightening.

Something Old, Something New
The Pendolino is "manufactured" (in China) by Rapido Trains (from Canada), a company which we have met before as the producers of the Birmingham "New Look" double deck bus. The same gang is creating an OO model of the famous Stirling Single for the National Railway Museum.
The Great Northern Railway (GNR) No. 1 class Stirling Single is a class of steam locomotive designed for express passenger work. Designed by Patrick Stirling, they are characterised by a single pair of large driving wheels which led to the nickname "eight-footer". Originally the locomotive was designed to haul up to 26 passenger carriages at an average speed of 47 miles per hour (76 km/h).

At the moment Rapido is displaying CAD versions, but they already look good.
But if you go back to 1959 you could have had a non-powered version from Kitmaster.
Of course, if you are not  too fussy about detail or correct scale (or clever enough to fettle it up!), you can get a much cheaper one from Bachmann.; on sale from Amazon at about £80.
The face gives it all away. Emily is one of the many ferroequinological residents of the Island of Sodor where the Fat Controller (played, in his fervid imagination, by your author) and Thomas rule supreme.
At first glance the tender looks taller than the book picture and taller than the Kitmaster model, but compared with the real photo (monochrome above) it looks spot on.  It would appear that the real thing ran with different tenders at different stages of its existence.

Did the real thing ever run with a face?

Sheffield Snow Skid
A bit of bother with the white stuff in Sheffield yesterday.
What the article fails to state is that the bus is the one liveried (by First Bus) as for Sheffield Tramways and Motors, a vehicle which commemorated in 2013 the 100th Anniversary of the first motorbus route in the city. Historically it ran from the bottom of Manchester Road to Lodge Moor Hospital. In doing so it ran along Sandygate Road ...
... the location of the embarrassing slide.

OK, back then the houses weren't there.
For those who weren't reading this blog over four years ago, young Archie Fearnley, son of you-know-who and great grandson of A R Fearnley the General Manager in 1913, rode on the commemorative journey. So did fbb, but he is not so famous.


Tomorrow we visit a town, like Kembleford, where a bus station would be an unlikely facility.

White Winter Woodseats Weather
Just received (2130 yesterday evening) a delightful picture from Roy in Sheffield of some weather at Woodseats. First Bus 75 and 24 en route from the southern uplands.

 Next Derbyshire blog : Thursday 18th January 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Playing Catch-Up (3)

A Sad Reflection on our Broken Society
Alan goes on ...
The £6 million investment is not quite "the whole truth and nothing but the truth". In 2015 First made a spirited announcement ...
... about a £5 million (sic!) boost to service X78, Sheffield - Rotherham - Doncaster. The vehicles came with seat back branding ...
... but never acquired the appropriate X78 lettering.
But then along came the X1. This was originally planned a a "super bus" link between Sheffield and Rotherham, replacing the traditional service 69 but diverted via the Meadowhall shopping centre. It was due to be fast (it isn't), with good real time information at comfortable "tram-style" stops (there isn't and they aren't).

From Rotherham the service takes over the former service 1 and 2 to Maltby - a very "ordinary" service indeed.

In fact the X1 is a really normal bus route throughout, but missing out a few stops in Attercliffe. The X78's Streetdecks were rebranded and duly labelled for the X1 where, up to now, they have operated happily.
Note the exciting (?) grey surround to the destination blind! fbb does not know whether the seat backs have ever been "corrected".

fbb has been informed that the X1 has generated significant extra business from the Maltby destinations to Meadowhell; well done First Bus!

So these attractive vehicles are to be "pulled" - sad, but perhaps a wise move until the purpetrators have been caught. The unhelpful likelihood is the they will start appearing on some of Sheffield's unbranded routes thus devaluing the X1 brand.

Will this reduce passenger numbers?

As a sign of the times, here is an X1 branded bus ...
... on the X78!

A Sound Investment?
Many years ago, you could buy a Hornby model railway loco With realistic chuffing sound"; James May re-assembled one for a TV programme.
fbb thinks the chuff came from a plastic gear and crank rubbing on a piece of sandpaper. Modern Models have DCC (Digital Command Control) which is super smashing and clever ...

... and expensive! In simple terms your feed the electric to the track in one steady lump and then send little digital signals to a confuser chip in the loco which controls speed, forward and reverse etc. But with a more advanced chip and a loudspeaker in the tender you can now tell th loco to emit reliaric sounds. It can chuff, hiss, clank. whistle. squeal on sharp corners with the bonus (?)) of asperity from the train crew.
A loco so-equipped with cost well over £200. Each one to his own, but it is a finaincial and relism step too far for fbb.

A while ago, fbb reported on the offer of a Water Tower (from Dapol) complete with digital sound effects.
It was £50 and it wasn't April 1st.

To add to the fun, Hornby have announced a wagon, also with clever DCC sound ...
... represented, curiously, by the light blue feathery graphic. At first fbb though that this was to hold you loco's sound, useful (?) for small tank engines with insufficient room for chip and loudspeaker. But no; it emits wagon sounds!

Equip your layout with a full train length of these and Hornby (so it has been suggested) will give you a free set of ear protectors so you can't hear the irritating racket.

A sandpaper "chuff" was a lot cheaper!

Milton Keynes; All Is Forgiven
The current (February) edition of Buses magazine has a fascinating article about a new network in Barcelona. The two cites have something in common.
Both cities have their road network as a grid pattern.
But there is another, albeit tenuous connection. Main roads in MK are numbered in two series, H for "horizontal" grid line and V for "vertical. Here is the junction of the H6 and V7 near the city centre shopping "mall" (upper left) ...
... and here is a road sign on the V7, showing the H6 Childs Way east and west from the junction.
The early phase of the new bus network is arranged on a simple (?) grid pattern matching the road network.
Excitingly the bus route numbers are either "H" for horizontal (BLUE) ...
... or "V" for vertical (GREEN). Early publicity for the changes saw buses bedecked in a grid pattern livery.
There is one diagonal route (so far) seen on the lower left of the route map above. Of course this is a "diagonal" service D1 (PURPLE).

At last; Milton Keynes' genius is recognised?

Maybe not.

 Next Emily blog (at last) : Wednesday 17th January