Sunday, October 16, 2016

Visiting Elvis in Burtersett

I always look forward to visiting the Yorkshire Dales. Last week took me once again to Hawes, where my old friend Brian Alderman currently has his first solo art exhibition, 'Above the Snowline', in Calvert's restaurant at the Wensleydale Creamery.

Here's Brian with my favourite of the paintings on show, 'Footsteps in the snow'. The others can be viewed here.

Wooden sculptures in the garden of the Wensleydale Creamery.

And the real thing!

Brian's studio and gallery are in the village of Burtersett, not far from Hawes.

Brian's home used to be at the centre of village life!

The gallery is open Thursdays - Sundays, and visitors are always warmly welcomed.

Lots to see in the gallery.

Meet Elvis, who rules the back garden with his 'ladies'!

Feeding time at Burtersett!

Brian's website is here if you want to make contact with him. Perhaps you might have a commission for him?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, October 14, 2016

Buses everywhere

I have to confess that I don't find old buses quite as exciting as trams, trolleybuses and steam locomotives. Nevertheless, the opportunity to visit the Bridgeton Bus Garage, the home of the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust, on their Open Weekend recently, was not to be missed.

Colourful scenes inside ...

... especially the iconic Glasgow Corporation colours of years past.

My earliest bus memories are of travelling on a single decker, along Mosspark Drive, in the early 1950s. The terminus was at the shops at the Cardonald end of Mosspark Drive, just beside where I lived, and the bus ran into the city centre, stopping beside Inglis' shop, at the junction of Hope Street and Argyle Street, near to the Hielanman's Umbrella. For the life of me, I cannot remember the route number, although I want to say it was 45, but that service number had been applied to a different route by 1963, see here. The service along Mosspark Drive must have been stopped later in the 1950s.

I thought when I saw this in the distance that it was the single decker that I remember from my childhood. But all is not what it seems, from this front view. The vehicle is a cut down double decker, latterly used as a recovery vehicle. Read its history here.

This 45 route I do remember well enough. The history of SGD 500 is here.

At the Open Weekend there were lots of stalls to browse, whatever one's interest.

I remember the 'red buses' (as I used to call them) which ran from the characterful Waterloo Street bus station along Paisley Road West to Paisley.

This one though provided sevice with Central SMT, and is a Leyland Titan PD2/10 dating from 1954, details here.

I remember her well!

I have to include a photo of an Alexander bus. It's a Leyland Lion LT5B dating from 1934, history here. Notice the starting handle!

The collection includes an iconic London bus - this AEC Routemaster 5RM from 1965, see here.

Although the collection is heavily focussed on buses, there are other vehicles to be admired. I rather liked this Dennis F8 fire engine from 1958, see here.

There was opportunity to ride on some of the vehicles around the city!

The GVVT was established in 2002. Its website is here.

Pics © Skip Cottage. Thanks go to Robin Shand who let me know about the GVVT Open Weekend. The dates went into my diary and the result was an interesting 'away day', with lots of nostalgia!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Tracklesses and frogs at Sandtoft

This photo may well bring back some memories for those who grew up in Glasgow in the 1950s and 60s! A Glasgow trolleybus in action  - yesterday, at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft.

I recall Glasgow trolleybuses as being called the 'silent death', as those more used to rattling trams and growling motor buses were inclined just to step into the road without looking, if they didn't hear anything coming!

A visit to the Trolleybus Museum has been at the top of my 'to do' list for more than a year. It is only open on certain weekends, and it is a longish drive from Skip, situated as it is in Lincolnshire, just off the M180 between Doncaster and Scunthorpe. The weather forecast yesterday was set fair, so I made an early start, to enjoy the drive over the A66 to Scotch Corner and down the new, almost completed A1(M), in light traffic.

It turned into one of my best ever 'away days'!

Three 'tracklesses' (as trolleybuses were called in some places) were in action round the loop within the museum grounds. This is Nottingham 493, built in 1943, and retired from service in 1965.

London 1348, is one of two London trolleybuses in the collection, survivors of a total of 1891 vehicles that were used in the city between 1931 to 1962. This K2, with Leyland body and chassis, was new to the fleet in 1939, and was withdrawn from service in 1961. It has six wheels, ie, three axles.

I was really pleased to see a Glasgow vehicle, in the colours I remember so well from my younger days. TB78 dates from 1958, and is a British United Traction 9613T vehicle with Crossley bodywork. The last day of trolleybus operation in Glasgow was May 27, 1967, and went largely ignored, in contrast to the day in September 1962 when some quarter of a million people turned out to see the end of the trams! Trolleybuses never captured the affection of the Glasgow public, as much as the trams had done. But, looking back, they kindle many good memories for me.

It's my platform, but 'Welcome Aboard'!

My day ticket to the museum allowed multiple rides, and it was great fun taking advantage of this. This time I'm on the upper deck, this happily in 2016 smoke free, compared with back in the 1960s.

Glasgow's coat of arms on the bus side.

ERL Fitzpayne was general manager from 1943 until 1969. He's mentioned in this article as 'a man of vision and radical ideas, not all of which were acceptable to his political masters'. The article has lots of fascinating information about Glasgow's buses and trolleybuses.

The museum has more than 50 trolleybuses in its collection, in a variety of states of preservation. It was great to be able to explore the storage sheds and find examples from all round the country! Peaking out is Bradford 746.

Three deep in places!

There is a cinema too, and I spent an hour, or more, watching footage of trolleybuses being driven around various cities.

The collection contains trolleybus examples from further afield. This is Aachen 22, from Germany. It was built in 1956. It has a Henschel 562E chassis, a Ludewig body and Siemens electrical equipment (as I learned!) 

Also on the site is this wonderful post-war prefab. In my early teens I had a friend who stayed in a prefab in Fleurs Avenue in Glasgow. Back then I was completely naive about the deficiences of these buildings, I was just impressed he lived in a detached house!

I felt right at home in this 1950s living room!

This was in the bathroom. I am pretty sure that 'Izal Medicated Toilet Tissue' was a government April fool's joke that ran and ran. In the days before labrador puppies, life was not always 'comfortable'!

Throughout the day, I kept hearing references to 'frogs'.

Turns out that a 'frog' is trackless speak for the 'points' on the overhead wires, as here. The things you learn!

It is the job of the conductor to change the frog, here on the turning circle, and signal to the driver that all is in order to proceed.

This shop window contained photographic equipment from days past. Remembering most of what was on display, made me appreciate my new digital camera!

Included in the museum ticket was a 30 minute bus tour of the local area, with commentary from guide Andy. Fascinating. And I learned that No 1357, a regular motor bus, is 'a Leyland Atlantean PDR 1/1 with a 9.8 litre Leyland 0.600 engine driving through a four-speed semi-automatic epicyclic gearbox and 77-seat Weymann bodywork'. (Yes, I bought the Museum Fleet Handbook, but there's a lot of information about all the vehicles in the collection on the museum's website here.)

This is Nottingham 802, a tower wagon, converted from a double decker bus.

Now, this is a wonderful story. It is what remains of a Hastings trolleybus from the 1920s, converted into a home by a former POW after WW2. Hopefully one day it will be restored to its former glory, and its past life remembered.

What really makes visits to places like the Trolleybus Museum so much fun is the friendliness and enthusiasm of the volunteers. Richard, a driver, and Mike, on conductor duties, went out of their way to ensure I had a good time.

Later in the day, when it was quieter, they insisted I sit in the cab of Glasgow TB78. Made my day! No, I wasn't driving it, except in my mind's eye. But what a great experience. Full marks, Sandtoft!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, September 26, 2016

Off the rails in Blackpool

When I was a wee boy, the highlight of family holidays at the seaside was always a donkey ride on the beach! But this was not what took me to Blackpool yesterday.

I made an early start and was in Blackpool by 09.00 to be part of the second day of the Anniversary Weekend, celebrating 131 years of the Blackpool Tramway. And what a 'Tram Fest' it was.

On the right is Open Boat No 600, see here, which was to play a starring role later in my day! No 685 is part of a 'twin', being powered by No 675 behind, see here.

Balloon car 717 running south towards Starr Gate. This tram's story is here.

Most trips started out from the Pleasure Beach loop, with trams running to Little Bispham, and occasionally further to Fleetwood. Here Open Boat 227 heads out of the loop to run north along the promenade. Read about this tram here.

Full marks to all the hardworking volunteer drivers and conductors on the day.

By far the most comfortable ride of my day was on modernised balloon No 711. This tram supplements the new Flexity trams as part of the 'B' fleet.

I enjoyed this article which shows how trams can be moved across the country, when 711 was loaned recently to the National Tramway Museum at Crich.

Here it gets a new eye!

No 711's colour scheme matches that of the new Flexity trams.

My next ride arrives at North Pier, flat fronted Balloon 718, here nicknamed the 'Ghost Tram'.

It was simply remarkable how many of the heritage trams were running yesterday. No 40's history is here.

Bolton 66, on the left, joins the loop, awaiting its turn. Having missed a ride on this tram on my last visit to Blackpool in July, see here, I was determined to make sure of the experience yesterday. It dates from 1901, see here.

On the right is Balloon 701, see here.

Here's the view from the top deck of No 66 as we head towards the Golden Mile. Are the wooden seats comfortable? Not so much! But a wonderful experience.

And here's No 66 passing Blackpool's Wedding Chapel.

I am sure this is even more spectacular in 'illumination mode'. Story here.

No 736, HMS Blackpool, see here.

But what's this? I arrived back at the Peasure Beach loop mid-afternoon in anticipation of yet another trip along the prom, only to find nothing moving, and a crowd around No 600.

As it pulled out of the loop onto the main line, the rear bogie had jumped the tracks. The driver must have been on the ball to have stopped the car so quickly. However, that was the line blocked, and my enjoyment of the day riding up and down the promenade prematurely ended.

The men with the big spanners were on site quickly, and after a period of recording distances and taking photos, making phone calls, the 'man in charge' (on the right) gave the OK for the tram to be put back on the track. This was accomplished efficiently, which makes me think that this was not a unique occurrence. In any case No 600 was driven off back to the depot, and normal service was resumed.

My day at the seaside was over though, and it was time to head back home. I had really enjoyed being part of the celebrations.

Photos © Skip Cottage