Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Part 5: Stockport-Manchester-Birmingham-Wragby-Skegness

STOCKPORT - MANCHESTER - BIRMINGHAM - WRAGBY - SKEGNESS

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Following breakfast, we left the hotel and made our way to Stockport by way of the 192. En-route we saw Trent/Barton Optare Excel 262 (Y262 DRC) working the 1015 Skyline 199 service from Manchester Airport to Buxton.

My Co-Editor was catching the train back and I had plenty of time to spare so had a walk with him to the railway station at Stockport. This was one of two stations in Stockport, previously known as Edgeley. The other, Tiviot Dale closed as long ago a 2 January 1967. Despite much redevelopment, fragments survive as does a tunnel beneath Lancashire Hill, from where the line continued beneath the present massive viaduct carrying the Stockport - Manchester main line. There was at one time talk of extending the Manchester Metrolink by way of this trackbed, but sadly the tunnel was made unstable by the building of a nearby motorway even if the scheme had gone ahead. An excellent archive shot of a train emerging from the tunnel approaching Tiviot Dale station can be seen here.

Sadly, time did not permit the walk to see the remains of the railway, so instead I took a few photographs of vehicles at Stockport. First seen was Stagecoach Meredes Benz Vario / Plaxton Beaver 42569 (R446 YNF) on a service 309.


Next seen was MAN / Alexander 22228 (X228 BNE) on a 192.

Also on a 192 was Enviro 19014 (MX06 XAO).

I took a 192 to Manchester and alighted near to Piccadilly station, mainly to take a look at the former Mayfield Railway Station. Whilst there, noted was 18033 (MX53 FLN), a Transbus Trident 2 with Plaxton President body, on a service 219 to Ashton.

Manchester Mayfield Station was closed to passengers on 23 August 1960. Since then it has seen use as a parcels depot, and a film location, notably for The Last Train. Unfortunately the building also suffered due to arsonists in 2005. It is still connected to the main line near Piccadilly Station, albeit the rails have long since been lifted. There has been talk of reopening it to provide additional capacity (for more information, please see here).

One remarkable surviving artefact is in one of the windows where "MAYFIELD STATION" can just be made out (I've enhanced the photo to hopefully make this clearer).

Leaving Mayfield, I made my way back to London Road, here seeing Stagecoach MAN / Alexander 22156 (S156 TRJ). In the background is the bridge which carries the railway line between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road.

Further along London Road, Metrolink Tram 1005 approaches Piccadilly Station.

Also noted on London Road was this gem, in particular the sign which reads "ENQUIRY DELIVERY SHIPPING CARTAGE & GOODS AGENTS OFFICE" - a remarkable survivor and, I suspect, links back to when the original London Road (now Piccadilly) railway station once handled goods. I particularly like the finger pointing to define the entry! The picture is a little deceptive as only the front of the building is in tact - see here for another perspective!

Taking a less than direct route to Chorlton Street, I passed Piccadilly Gardens and noted First Manchester's Volvo B9TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 37307 (MX07 BVC) on an X34 service to Leigh, route branded "The Spinning Jenny".

After an inadvertent albeit interesting foray into the China Town district, I found my way back to Portland Street where I coincidentally managed to photograph Magic Bus tri-axle Leyland Olympian / Alexander RH 13653 (J925 FPS). This was new to Hong Kong Buses, then registered EW 9357 and subsequently appears to have gone to Stagecoach Bluebird in Aberdeen.

With 30 minutes or so to kill at Chorlton Street, I set about photographing anything that looked to be of interest. Firstly was Rossendale Transport's Volvo B7RLE / Wright Gemini Eclipse 153 (PO53 0BP) on an X46 to Rochdale. Rossendales website (click here) is also worth a look as a section for enthusiasts includes a fleet list.

Another interesting vehicle was Lancashire United (Transdev) Volvo B7TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 2765 (PO55 PYP), route branded for "The Lancashire Way" on an X41 to Accrington.

Also seen was Megabus Neoplan 50129 (SV54 ELO), which was new to Stagecoach Bluebird in 2005.

Also seen arriving was East Yorkshire's Levante 61 (YX07 HJC) on the 0830 service 390 from Hull DOcks to Manchester.

I boarded my coach, the National Express service 325 to Birmingham and we departed exactly on time at 1250. The vehicle was Veolia's YR52 VFB, a Scania with Van Hool Alizee body - sadly not the Scania PB I was hoping for. I chose my seat towards the front of the lightly loaded coach to avoid a screaming baby towards the rear - not that it made much difference as it was that loud! The driver announced the toilet was out of action having been damaged by passengers on the inward route - happily I didn't need to use it.

First calling point was Manchester Airport (retracing my steps from two days earlier). Here was Stagecoach 17655 (V155 OFT), a Dennis Trident 2 with Alexander ALX400 body on a service 105 to Manchester.

Hayton's Scania / Berkhof YN06 TFY was also noted on the 1115 National Express service 325 from Birmingham to Manchester.

The following stop was at Stoke-on-Trent - unfortunately I wasn't ideally positioned to get a photograph, so did one of some vehicles parked up through the opposite window.

The lack of the toilet meant a 10 minute unscheduled stop at the Stafford services, happily allowing me time to get a photograph of the coach.

Even with the brief delay of the toilet stop, we managed to arrive a few minutes early at the Coach Station in Birmingham. This was my first visit to the temporary premises which replace the now demolished Digbeth Coach Station, closed in November 2007.

The interior of the Waiting Area in Birmingham Coach Station. A new coach station will open in 2010.

Amongst the vehicles there was Go Northern's 7081 (Y781 MFT), a Volvo B10M-62 / Plaxton Paragon, which was working the 1000 National Express service 531 from Plymouth to Newcastle.
Also seen was East Yorkshire Motor Services Levante 66 (YX07 HJJ) on the 1125 National Express service 322 from Swansea to Hull.

I joined the 339 on its long cross-country journey from Westward Ho! to Grimsby on which was First Devon & Cornwall Volvo B2M / Plaxton Panther WK52 SVV. As per usual, we left with every seat taken.

One thing that did surprise me was the route taken from the Coach Station which went past the former Curzon Street Railway Station, the very first station to open in Birmingham.

At Leicester, the majority of passengers alighted leaving the rest of us to spread out and enjoy the refreshment break, also allowing me time to get a quick photo of the coach.

Wragby was reached in good time, and I had a well earnt pint, then returned home to Skegness - coincedentally back on Stagecoach 16940, the very first vehicle I had set out on five days earlier!

(PW)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Part 4: Stockport-Manchester-Stockport

STOCKPORT - MANCHESTER - STOCKPORT

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A nice leisurely start to the day, suitably refreshed after a sleep and sustained courtesy of a "Full English", the LEYTR Editor's made their way to Manchester by way of the frequent Stagecoach service 192 between Stepping Hill Hospital and Manchester. Good views could be gained from the front seat of the top deck, and amongst the vehicles observed at Stockport was Enviro 19020 (MX06 XAZV) heading in the opposite direction.

After enjoying the scenic delights of the McVities biscuit factory and Longsight, on arrival at Manchester , we loitered in the centre of Manchester on this rather cold morning photographing anything of interest. Firstly, Mayne's Scania N113/Northern Counties G115 SBA. Mayne's was the remaining oldest company in the city having been established in the 1920's, and was purchased by Stagecoach in 2007. Consequently, we were glad to get a photo of a vehicle still in the original operating livery.

Also seen was a First Manchester Bendibus 12006 (YN05 GYD), a Scania N94UA with Scania AB58D body.

Making our way to Victoria Railway Station, we passed the Shudehill Interchange where First's Optare Solo 40331 (ML02 OGA) was working the circular service from Victoria Station to Oxford Road Station.

Manchester Victoria dates from 1844 and the imposing fa├žade, built by William Dawes in 1909, still lists the many places served by the respective railway companies, as diverse as Scotland and Ireland, to the more local Bury (now served by Metrolink) and Fleetwood (closed to passengers on 18 April 1966).


Having established where the free Vintage Bus Service departed from, we had a short wait. In the meantime, Arriva's DAF/Ikarus Y37 KNB passed on an M10 from Brookhouse.

Our vintage service was operated by Leyland Titan PD3/4 / East Lancs. TTD 386H, a vehicle new to SELNEC in November 1969 wearing Bolton Corporation livery. It is seen below after arrival at the Museum, a journey which only took around 15 minutes.

There was a special event taking place at the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport, namely the Spring Transport Festival taking place over the weekend. This meant a number of vehicles could be seen at the front. Amongst these was ex-SELNEC 1700 (YDB 453L), a Seddon Pennine IV with Seddon DP20F body, new in October 1972. I recall such vehicles many years ago operating the free service between Manchester and Piccadilly Railway Stations!

Another vehicle of interest was TRN 481V an immaculately preserved ex-Ribble Leyland Atlantean / ECW, dating from 1980.

A general view of the vehicles on display at the front of the Museum.

The publicity poster advertised over 150 stalls selling transport ephemera, and we certainly were not disappointed by what we found! My co-Editor added to his extensive tie and book collection and I purchased a couple of photographs from another stall of Lincolnshire Road Car vehicles!

Ironically, I found one stall selling various transport signs amongst them being this one with a local connection to me!

Photographing the internal exhibits proved to be rather challenging, particularly as they were so closely parked together. Amongst them was DB5070, a Tilling-Stevens TS6 dating from 1925.

Also of interest was Manchester TNA 520, a Leyland PD2 with Burlingham body dating from 1958.

Not only buses are displayed, but also an extensive collection of transport ephemera including this assortment of bus stop signs.

Another item of interest was this Yelloway sign.

Also on display, a large collection of models in North Western Road Car livery.

And also an authentic North Western poster, interestingly featuring an Alexander Y type bodied vehicle.

Return to Manchester was on ex-Wigan Corporation HEK 705, a Leyland PD3A/2 with Massey body dating from 1961. Some video footage of it working an earlier departure can be seen below.



Having returned to Manchester, we called at the impressively dome refreshment room at Victoria Station, and thence briefly called into a nearby Lloyds bar for some refreshment. Must admit to being rather disconcerted by seeing doormen working on a Sunday afternoon!

After a brief tram ride, We then used what remaining daylight was left to photograph anything of interest, initially Metrolink tram 1004 at Piccadilly Gardens on its way to Bury.
At Mosley Street we saw Magic Bus (also owned by Stagecoach) 15183 (M683 TDB), a tri-axle Dennis Dragon transferred from Stagecoach Kenya in 1998.

At St Peter's Square, amongst vehicles noted was Arriva's M217 AKB, an East Lancs-bodied Dennis Dart which had worked a service 99 from Sale. In the background is the Library Theatre built in 1934.

Making our way to Chorlton Street, we encountered one of the vehicles which had been attending the event at the Museum, very much within its former territory. Ex-Greater Manchester PTE 8551 (ANA 551Y), a Leyland Atlantean with Northern Counties body dating from 1982.

Also seen at Portland Street was Finglands Volvo / Alexander 1743 (N743 VBA).

We eventually reached the site of the former Chorlton Street Coach Station, much rebuilt and on Monday 25 March 2002 it reopened as Manchester Central Coach Station, a vast improvement on the former dark and dismal place. I took a quick photograph below, the nearest vehicle being Go Northern's 7084 (Y784 MFT), a Volvo B10M-62 with Plaxton Paragon body working the 1530 service 380 from Liverpool to Newcastle-upon-Tyne (rather ironic as I'd travelled from there the day before!).
In the interests of saving a walk, we noticed the Transpeak service was due at 1700, which meant just a few minutes wait. Unfortunately, it was running around 10 minutes late and eventually we boarded Volvo B10M/Plaxton 60 (R960 RAU) and enjoyed the unusual luxury of a table on the short trip to Stockport! We also faced a slight diversion due to a gun being fired at a car in Longsight closing the main route (which is what delayed the service on its inward journey).

At Stockport bus station, there was just enough light to photograph a group of Stagecoach vehicles beneath the impressive viaduct which carries the main railway line between Manchester and Stockport. Opened in 1842, it has 27 arches, is 111 feet high, and was built using eleven million bricks.


Having had a good day and now somewhat tired, we adjourned to find the Wetherspoons. It was further from the bus station than I thought (possibly due to us taking a less than direct route). I was less impressed to find that where we needed to be involved climbing three flights of stairs! Luckily, my colleague being younger and fitter took it in his stride as can be seen below!

Suitably watered, we called for a pizza, then returned to the hotel by way of the 192. A brief rest at the hotel bar before retiring to our respective rooms to get some sleep before the return trip home the next day.

(PW)