Saturday, 15 March 2008

Part 3: Seaburn-Sunderland-Gateshead-Newcastle-Carlisle-Manchester-Stockport


Please click on any photo for a larger version

With plenty of time to travel to Newcastle, I made my way to the carriage for breakfast. I was wary of the fact that this may be the very last time I would enjoy this facility as the carriages have been sold. The owner initially placed them on ebay, but after not reaching the reserve price, they were (according to staff) sold privately. They will be removed and the place will be redeveloped into a larger hotel. With this in mind I took one last photo with Stagecoach Volvo B10M-55/Alexander 20135 (P135 SCN) passing on an E2 to South Shields.

I took the E1 service to Sunderland at 1010 on 21002 (M902 DRG). Unlike the previous day of bright sunshine, it was rather overcast and the drizzle was starting to annoy me, so I opted to take the next available service, the Go North East X2 "Red Arrow", to Newcastle at 1045. On this was Mercedes Citaro 5275 (NK07 KPG). Unfortunately, I did not get chance to obtain an external photograph, but did get one of sister vehicle 5276 at Sunderland the previous day.
Although I did manage to get an interior shot of the Citaro.

I cannot say this is one of the most scenic runs I have ever been on - indeed, Washington was by far the most depressing looking place I have ever seen! Road works at Gateshead meant my arrival was 5 minutes late. I then took the opportunity to get a few photos at Gateshead Interchange, one of which being of Fo North East DAF/Wright 8245 (NA52 BVB) route branded "The Crusader".
As with Sunderland, Gateshead had vehicles in a wide variety of colour schemes, although I still maintain my reservations about buses in pink!
My trip then took a rather unusual turn (as per plan). I spent the next 20 minutes photographing the multi-storey car park at Gateshead. The reason for this is its claim to fame as being featured in the 1971 film Get Carter with Michael Caine in the lead role of Jack Carter.
The connection with this film has made this building an icon and many refer to it as "the Get Carter Car Park". It dominates the area and is due for demolition during April 2008. Whilst photographing the building, a Parking Attendant gave me a lot of information. He also mentioned that as well as Get Carter, it was a location for an episode of The Bill.

It's pending demise was one of the main reasons for my visit. Interestingly, the normal option of demolition using explosives has been ruled out due to the Metro passing beneath, so it will be taken down in stages.

I set about doing a few comparison shots. In one scene, Carter confronts Cliff Brumby (played by Bryan Mosley) at the top of the car park which Brumby is converting into a restaurant. Ironically that was the original intention in real life although this never transpired. The screen grab on the left is inside the restaurant, which I photographed the exterior of from ground level.
Two other comparison shots from the film on the left, and my present views on the right

For more information and comparison shots, please visit the Get Carter Tour.

I decided to walk to Newcastle as this would give me more opportunity for photos. Luckily this was the correct choice as I managed to get one of Go North East bendi-bus NK51 OLU.
Also seen was "Fab 56" route-branded NK54 NVD.
Trying to get photographs on the Tyne Bridge proved to be rather a challenge, mainly down to fast flowing traffic in the foreground. Luckily, after a few failed attemts with a 4x4 and a few articulated lorries in front of the pictures, I managed to get one of Arriva's DAF/Plaxton S705 KFT.
Also seen was Go North East Scania NK56 KHM.
Looking in the opposite direction, Go North East Mercedes Citaro NK07 KPO heads into Newcastle on an X2 from Sunderland.
The bridge also gives a fine vantage point of the Tyne and two of the other bridges. In the foreground is the Swing Bridge and in the distance the High Level Bridge. This carries the East Coast Main Line and a road on the lower level.

It was also one of the locations used in the film Get Carter.

Proceeding into Newcastle, I made my way to the railway station. Opposite this is the O'Neill's pub which was also used as a location in Get Carter. At this time it was named the Vic & Comet (nicknamed the "Spit & Vomit")!
At the railway station I noticed a gathering of enthusiasts at the end of the platform. This is usually a sign that something interesting is likely to appear. I opted to visit the toilet first, this turned out to be a mistake as I found a charter train stood in the platform when I returned! It was Pathfinder Tours "Choppington Changer" railtour from King's Cross to York using a variety of motive power. I was in time to see Fast Line 56303 haul it out.
I also managed to get a few minutes of video footage (sorry about the shakes!)

Leaving the station, I slowly made my way to Eldon Square. Amongst the vehicles seen on the way was Go North East Dennis Trident/Plaxton President 3890 (NK51 UCT) on a service 327 to the DFDS Ferry Terminal. In the background is the 134ft tall Grey's Monument.
At Blackett Street was Stagecoach ADL Enviro 400, 19157 (NK07 HAX).
At the same location, was Go North East 3804 (V804 EBR) with "Coaster" route branding.
Proceeding to Haymarket Bus Station, Arriva Scania/East Lancs B15103 (N283 NCN) departed on an X3 to Blyth.
Just a year old, the Eldon Square Bus Station opened on 18 March 2007. I had some difficulty finding the pedestrian access to this initially, but once located was rather impressed at this modern building.
Seen arriving at Eldon Square Bus Station was Go North East Dennis SPD/Plaxton 8223 (X223 FBB), the yellow route branding looking very bright and a reminder of the good old days of the Tyne & Wear PTE yellow livery!
It was soon time to progress, and I boarded the 1445 service 685 for the trans-England trip to Carlisle. This is jointly operated by Stagecoach and Arriva, the full trip taking just over two hours. A scheduled break of a few minutes at Hexham Bus Station enabled me to take a photograph on the vehicle I was using, Volvo B10M-55/Alexander 20474 (R474 MCW), new to Burnley & Pendle in 1997. It was an enjoyable run across England even if not quite as scenic as I had hoped. At Carlisle I was greeted with rain and light was failing, so made photography rather challenging. A variety of Stagecoach vehocles were parked up at the bus station.
Arriva use route branded coaches on the 685 route.
Also noted was Selwyn's DAF/Van Hool YJ54 CFD on the 533 National Express service from Glasgow to Wrexham.
After checking at the National Express office that my service was on time, the toilets there were out of action, so meant a walk to the nearby shopping centre in the rain.

On return, I did not have long to wait for the 538 National Express service from Aberdeen to Manchester Airport to appear, on which was Trathens Neopolan LSK 815. I took my seat upstairs and with a lighter than expected load of passengers had little difficulty in finding somewhere to sit. We departed exactly on time and then progressed down the M6 in the pouring rain, and had a 20 minute stop at Tebay services which gave me a good opportunity to get a photograph of the coach. Internally, the ride was very comfortable but unfortunately the temperature was very warm. The driver had switched the heater off at Tebay at the request of the passengers, but the blowers remained switched off throughout the trip making it akin to travelling in a sauna!

I was quite relieved to reach Manchester Airport 10 minutes early and get some fresh air. Checking the Trent 199 "Skyline" timetable, the next service was due to depart at 2045. In the event, Optare Excel 264 (Y264 DRC) departed 10 minutes late.

Alighting at Stockport, I walked from the bus station to Wellington Road to catch one of the frequent service 192's which would drop me off outside the hotel. At least it would have done had I not have missed the stop and ended up two miles further down the route! Thankfully a helpful local and a driver made sure I got off at the right stop when I ended up travelling back!

After a hot bath, I adjourned to the hotel bar meeting up with co-Editor Graham who had travelled up from London by train. Having retired to our respective rooms after some much needed liquid refreshment, I was a little put out by noise coming from the room above. Creaking floorboards, loud voices and something dropped which made my floor shake), I had no alternative but to confront the manager. Happily I was relocated in a quiet room on the floor above, so meant doing a flit in the early hours. A much better room, although the tap water came out looking like milk!


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