Saturday, 31 August 2013

‘Scene’ in Somerset (or should it be Zummerzet). Part 1 of 3

I recently had a short break in the ‘Cider’ county where as usual, I had a look at the local transport scene.


Based in the town of Street which lies just off the A 39 about two miles from Glastonbury of pop concert fame. Street has no bus station as such but there are several bus stands near the library in the town centre.


Our transport was this immaculately kept DAF SB3000 with Van Hool’s Alize bodywork belonging to long established operator Albert Wilde Coaches who are based in Heage, Derbyshire. Registration K120 SLR.


For most of the time we shared the hotel with a holiday group from Denmark who were ferried around in this Plaxton bodied Volvo registration ODF 561 operated by 'Pulhams Travel' of Bourton in the Water. This a ‘cherished’ registration and has appeared on previous Pulham owned vehicles in the past.



The major operator in town is ‘First Somerset and Avon’ who’s main service starts at Taunton and runs on to Bristol via Glastonbury and Wells. Running the full length of the route is WX59 BYM a Wright bodied Volvo B7RLE.



P262 PAE a Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart SLF on its way to Wells on a short working. This now elderly bus started its career with Badgerline who were amongst the early operators in the ‘First’ group.



Another Dennis Dart this time with East Lancs ‘Spryte’ body V834 DYD.


‘First’ are not the only operator on this route with ‘Webberbus’ who operate widely in the Bridgewater, Taunton and Minehead areas providing serious competition. 


Indeed, conversations with passengers on and off the buses showed that ‘Webberbus’ was the operator most people favoured.


YJ58 CEK and YJ62 FBC were two of a number of Optare Versa’s in use.




 Another service from Street to Wincanton is provided by ‘nippybus’. Based in the Yeovil area, ‘nippybus’ provide a range of demand responsive services as well as normal scheduled routes in the area.

 Y868 PWT an Optare Solo at one time worked on Park and Ride services in Coventry.


 A further Optare Solo MX09 HHT provides a similar link to Shepton Mallet whilst working for ‘Frome Minibuses.’



Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Midland Railway-Butterley (MR-B), Vintage Train (VT) event

From time to time the MR-B takes its VT out of the Matthew Kirtley museum building where it normally lives and gives it an airing. August Bank Holiday weekend 2013 was its most recent appearance.


This is not just having a train to look at but it is run in normal revenue service. 


I think that this a brave thing to do because the coaches have been beautifully restored and must be worth a considerable amount of money. 


The possibility that they may get damaged, (feet on seats, spilt drinks etc.) would make me think twice about it but as I said, a brave decision.


As befits a vintage train, a vintage loco is required.


This turned out to be a ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T loco currently painted in the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway livery of Prussian Blue and numbered 23. The reason for this colour scheme is that it was agreed between the MR-B and Bachmann who are to produce an ‘OO’ scale model of it.


Formerly numbered 47327 by British Railways, This Midland Railway designed machine was built in 1926 by The North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow.



There are six vehicles that make up the train. Four of them are passenger coaches whilst at either end is a vehicle that would be expected to run as coaching stock. One being a Horsebox and the other a Motor Car Van.


The horsebox, No. 42608 was built in 1948 by British Railways to an LMS design which itself was derived from a Midland Railway (MR) design of 1904. Their use was primarily for the transport of racehorses who were often accompanied by a groom who travelled in an additional compartment. He/she had access to the horse(s) so that they could be fed and watered.



The Motor Car Van, built in 1916 by the MR at Derby as its No. 26481. 


One of its known uses was the carriage of Rolls-Royce car chassis to the various coach builders who were going to build on them. 


This van has its main doors in the ends to allow straight in and out loading.




It was withdrawn from service in 1960.




 This coach was built for The Lancashire Derbyshire & East Coast Railway by ‘Ashbury’s of Manchester’ in 1896 at a cost of £495. 


It was originally numbered 6 but carries 26 at the moment. However it will revert to 6 at its next repaint.


Withdrawn from passenger service in 1938, it was converted into a tool van. 


The only surviving item of rolling stock from the LD&ECR.




No. 78 is the oldest coach in the collection dating from 1866 and probably built at Derby.


Withdrawn in 1890 it then became part of a bungalow at East Bridgford in Nottinghamshire.


It is interesting to note the wooden buffer heads and the luggage on the ‘roofrack’. This being a carry over from stagecoach days. It was rescued in 1983.


Of similar appearance to No. 6/26, this brake third coach was built in 1884 in Derby as No. 253. It was originally turned out as a 5 compartment coach but was converted into a brake sometime later.


Withdrawn in 1910, it was further converted into a service vehicle. It was rescued in 1974 from Shotton steelworks where it had become a duck shooters hut. 


Restoration was completed in 1990.




The only bogie coach in the train is this 1912 built clerestory roofed vehicle which again was built in Derby. 

It was built for King George the 5th and numbered 1910 to commemorate the date of his coronation. 


Not often used, it became a special saloon. Withdrawn in 1958 and rescued for the museum, it was restored in the 1980’s


To provide additional interest on the day, a ‘freight’ train hauled by ‘Whitehead’ was in use.

'Whitehead' is an 0-4-0 Saddle Tank was built by Peckett and Sons  of Bristol in 1908.


Below, it is seen with its train laying over at Butterley waiting for its next trip.




Friday, 23 August 2013

Can You Remember ????? When this was the New Bus For London.

Starting out in the mid 1970’s, the Leyland B15 or Titan as it was called was the NBFL of its time.


Intended to be mass produced as had been Leyland’s National single decker, operators at that time were  more drawn to its simpler relative the Leyland Olympian.


Although a few were produced for Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Reading and one for China Motor Bus the rest of those buses produced went to London Transport.


There they soldiered on until withdrawal beckoned in the early years of this century.


I was fortunate this week whilst on a very brief visit to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset to find two survivors working for Longleat Enterprises carrying passengers along the gorge.


A860 SUL was on of those built for London Transport and still retains its second door.



While RMO 74Y originated with Reading Transport.

Never the resounding success that was hoped it would be, it nevertheless lead the way to the world beating Olympian. 

Now getting on for 30 years old, it is pleasing to see that they can still earn a living. 


Sunday, 18 August 2013

'scene' in a sunny Edinburgh 2013 part 3

Like many other major operator’s, ‘LB’ are trying to reduce both their costs and carbon footprint by using vehicles with propulsion systems that offer alternatives to diesels. 



is an Alexander Dennis 400 Hybrid which is described as a “diesel-electric parallel hybrid”. 


The use of white in the livery is replaced with what is described as a light silver/gold and the vehicles carry ecoLothian fleetnames.



Single deck hybrids also have their place in the fleet.  


This bus first appeared in a livery where the ‘weinrot’ was replaced by a bright green as if to underline its green credentials but it was rapidly replaced to bring it in line with the rest of the fleet.



As is quite common in other fleets, route branding is used. this Volvo 9TL with Wright’s Gemini body serves Clerwood through Seton Sands to Tranent.




Another Wright Gemini bodied Volvo 9TL carries ‘22 connect’ branding which serves Gyle Centre through to the Ocean terminal at Leith where as its advertising panel shows it meets up with the former Royal Yacht Britannia.


Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Steeple Grange Light Railway

An evening visit to

The Steeple Grange Light Railway (SGLR)



I was fortunate recently to be able to attend a ‘Transpire’ (The Chesterfield Bus Society) 
visit organized by Shayne Howarth to the SGLR.


The railway is located on the outskirts of Wirksworth in Derbyshire and alongside the High Peak Trail to which there is direct access.


Living locally, I decided to forego going to Chesterfield for the bus ride there. I immediately regretted my decision when I saw the groups choice of transport.


This turned out to be FJC 736F. One of only two Dennis Pax buses specially built for Llandudno UDC in 1968 and I think the only one to survive. They were for services up the Great Orme and to St. Tudno’s church. 


They replaced two Fodens with Metalcraft bodies built in 1951 



I apologise for the poor quality of this image but I had a choice between this and getting run over !!!

I have perhaps gone overboard with the images of the bus but I have done so because of its rarity.


It also brings back memories of riding on it in Llandudno in 1968 or ’69 when it the had a cream top half to go with the blue lower half.






The SGLR is built to a gauge of 1 foot 6 inches and runs on the trackbed of what was a standard gauge line running from the Steeple House Junction on The Cromford and High Peak Railway up what is known as the ‘Killers’ branch. The name derives from the brothers who owned it and not to anything more sinister.


The C&HPR line dates from 1830 when horses provided the traction whilst the SGLR dates from 1985.


A lot of the loco’s and rolling stock come from an industrial background, most having worked in quarries, mines and factories etc.



The ‘centre’ of operations is this sturdily built stone engine house which provides cover and accomodation for some of the loco’s and their crews.



To the rear is a paved area with a heavy duty hoist and access to the right of the image to a two track traverser which allows loco’s to be securely stored in a modern container in what appropriately were old standard gauge railway vans.



 There were two trains in service.


The first of which took the members assembled up the branch in the direction of Middleton to its current end at a little over half a mile distant.


This comprised this Ruston and Hornsby built 4 wheel diesel loco dating from 1957 coupled to two former NCB ‘manriders; which came from Bevercotes colliery in Nottinghamshire. The ‘manriders’ were originally built to a gauge of 2 feet 3 inches so they both needed to be re-gauged.


 The Ruston, named ‘Horwich’ was built for and named after the British Railways works in Lancashire where it worked. It then resided in a museum at Blaenau Ffestiniog from where it was purchased in 1997. 


The second which runs to the Steeple house quarry was comprised of two four seat ‘manriders’ hauled by ‘Greenbat’.

The manriders came from the Ladywash Mine at Eyam in Derbyshire.


 Greenbat was built in 1960 by Greenwood and Batley and is a 5 H.P. battery electric that spent most of its earlier working life in factories.


 Here we can see ‘Greenbat about to take the branch off to the left to Steeple house quarry. The quarry has been designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the fossils dating back millions of years that can be seen.



 The track as it wends its way through the woods in typically delightful narrow gauge style.



 The end of the line in the quarry. If the first barrier fails to stop you, the second one certainly will.




As the main line ascends towards its present terminus on the way to Middleton, it passes what is known as Dark quarry where the railway has built a shed which accomodates various items of rolling stock.



And finally, a footnote (sorry about that). 


Is this the shortest temporary platform on any UK railway ??


Conclusions then. 


A excellent outing made even better by the very obliging and welcoming ‘crew’ at the SGLR. 

Combined with perhaps a visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway and/or the nearby National Stone Centre it would make a good day out for those who have to travel further than I did.

Further images of the SGLR are here  Flickr 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

'Scene' in a sunny Edinburgh 2013 part 2

By 2010, the whole fleet was ‘low floor’ so the need for a distinguishing livery was no longer needed.


SN08 BWY another Volvo B9TL with Wright Gemini body and SK52 OJL a Dennis Dart with Plaxton ‘Super Pointer’ body show off the ‘new’ livery which uses ‘wein rot’ (which translates from the German as red wine) instead of madder and white with the addition of gold. The ‘Super Pointer’ is super insofar as it is built to a length of 11.3 metres whereas the ‘standard’ Dart is 10.7 metres long


A very attractive livery in my view in which the style of the application of the colour dates back to an earlier age. Anyone who can remember Kingston upon Hull’s ‘streamlined’ livery will know what I mean.



Other buses appearing in current fleet livery were SK52 OJH another Super Pointer Dart


SN04 AAK a Transbus Trident with Plaxton President Bodywork



Sunday, 11 August 2013

'Scene' in a sunny Edinburgh 2013 Part 1


My son Andrew and his wife Joy recently had a short holiday in Edinburgh. Knowing of my weakness for buses they kindly brought me back a variety of images. Joy quite got into it. Nipping in and out of the traffic whilst Andrew was more laid back settling himself on Princess Street with a couple of cans of I’rn Bru. Their combined efforts are pictured herewith, the words are mine.


The main operator in Edinburgh is Lothian Buses plc (LB). LB has its origins in the Edinburgh Street Tramways Company of 1871. Edinburgh City Council took over the operation in1919 becoming Edinburgh Corporation Tramways Department (ECTD). The first buses joined the fleet in 1919 and the things continued much as before until the tramway was finally abandoned in 1956 when ECTD became Edinburgh Corporation Transport (ECT). 


In 1975, following local government re-organization in Scotland. The ownership of ECT passed to Lothian Regional Council Department of Public Transport and so Lothian Regional Transport came into being (LRT).


In 1996 the Lothian Council was abolished and after some political manoeuvring LRT became LB in January 2000. 


For as long as I can remember, the fleet livery has been based on Madder (a deep red)

and White applied traditionally in bands of block colours. I have also seen this described as Plum and Spilt Milk but as is the case these days nothing stays the same for long.


In 1999, LB introduced the ’Harlequin’ livery which still used Madder and white. This was to advise intending passengers that  buses so painted were low floor and could accept mobility limited passengers. An earlier version that used smaller diamonds was replaced with this simplified version.




A Transbus Trident with Plaxton’s President bodywork threads its way through roadworks which are part of the building work taking place to provide Edinburgh with a tramway system.



Another Trident/Plaxton President combination shows the offside livery to good effect.




A Volvo B9TL carries Wright’s Gemini bodywork in the same livery. This combination of chassis and body has been LB’s ‘standard’ choice since 2007.