Sunday, 18 January 2015

Beeston's 'Flying Dutchman Bus' and embracing the Creative Corner

Before I begin the journey I made on Friday, a footnote of sorts to last week's post. My new driving licence arrived on Thursday, so I went into Broxtowe Borough Council offices during my travels to prove that I am me. Hopefully, I will get a letter soon confirming that I now am a registered voter.

I have asked the Borough's Electoral Office for information about registered voters in the four Beeston wards by streets and the number of households, together with the same data for 2011. This will enable me to compare voter nos. by Beeston streets. I will tell you my findings in a few weeks, assuming I am given the data I have requested.

Now back to Friday, when I took myself off on a bus journey around Beeston, Toton, Stapleford and Sandiacre before reaching Long Eaton. The bus in question was a no.17 and not a single person I have asked knows about it and I have asked a good few over the past few weeks, so what am I talking about?

Well, it's this old fella…

This is the 17 arriving at my bus stop on Wollaton Road on Friday morning just after 10.20am — right on time, having started its journey in Beeston Fields (Dennis Avenue).

It was empty as my photograph shows apart from me and the driver and this is how it stayed all the way to Chilwell Retail Park, where to two other oldies joined me. The bus stopped just twelve times whilst seven other passengers got on and off between Toton and Sandiacre. For the run into Long Eaton I again had the bus to myself. I picked up a timetable on the bus:

This map is inside it (to enlarge, just click on the map):

At my bus-stop on Wollaton Road towards Beeston there was a timetable, but the route no.17 does not appear on the bus-stop itself, and this is the case for most of the route. At a good few stops no timetable is displayed. Taken together all these explain why this little red bus has been winging its way around Beeston empty most of the time like a Flying Dutchman Bus, although I have seen a few passengers on board coming up the hill out of Beeston towards Dennis Avenue, 

The 17 is a commercial bus route operated since 2 December 2014 by Nottingham Coaches, but their website contains no easy to access information about the service — which operates from 9.20am–2.20pm Monday–Friday hourly (start times from Dennis Avenue and Long Eaton Asda). The timetable leaflet says that 'When the new tram routes start running in 2015, our buses will pull into the new tra stop park & ride site to provide (passengers) with fast access to Nottingham City Centre'.

Premiere Buses, who folded a year or so ago, operated a no.17 bus route along part of the same route, so I suspect that the fact that Nottingham Coach chose to number their route '17' is no coincidence.

Given how little publicity there has been and the restricted service I just hope the 17 is still running come mid-summer when The Tram is due to start. The bus was old, noisy and rattled. Given the high quality buses of the local rival bus companies, they will have to up their game if their 17 bus route is to survive. I wish them well. I also suspect that Trent-Barton will be introducing their own Tram feeder bus routes when The Tram finally starts running.

Having said all this, it was an interesting journey 'around the houses' so to speak. Most of the other passengers knew one another and it had all the makings of a route like Nottingham City Council's Linkbus service L10, which I have become a regular user of after years of travelling of the 36, Y36 and Indigo.

The L10 really is a friendly bus and also goes 'around the houses' and I love the little section from Beeston along Derby Road, when it is heading to towards the Victoria Centre in the direction of Derby! I grew up in Wembley using bus routes like this (namely the 16, 46 and 55) and wrote about the 28 in Birmingham back in the early-1970s (the 28 used to head south out of Birmingham City Centre before turning east, then heading north to Kingstanding on the northern edge of the city).

I photographed this L10 in Beeston Bus Station at the beginning of its journey to the Victoria Centre. The bus has seen better days and will, I believe, be replaced by new electric buses before too long, when Nottingham City Council start operating the service instead of Nottingham City Transport (hence the signs about EasyRider tickets no longer being valid on Linkbus routes from 1 March 2015).

My fascination with buses began as a child and as a local historian of sorts I have long been interested in the role buses (and trams) have played in the development of our towns and cities over the last one hundred years and more.

As often is the case, I digress, so it's back to my Friday day out. When I got off the 17 at Long Eaton I caught a Indigo back towards Chilwell with a view to visiting the Mish Mash Gallery. I had a vague idea of where it was, having passed it many times over recent years, but on my many walks around Beeston I never got further than Park Road to visit friends.

Seeing the time, an account of my eventful visit will have to wait until Wednesday, so please come back and learn more about Chilwell's 'Creative Corner'. I have done one thing already: updated my Beeston Pubs & Cafes Map to include its location. See the Pages section in the column to the right of this post.

Much more than it looks… a Tardis of the Arts.
To learn more return Thursday…

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