2004 Bus Tour weekend:   
30 April - 2 May 2004

A fuller range of pictures to those included in this report appears on Paul Hollinghurst's own website - click here.

   Friday 30 April 2004

An excellent visit to the Merseyrail Integrated Electronic Control Centre at Sandhills by 16 participants.   The visit was hosted by Dave McLaughlin, Control Centre Manager.   The plan was for a visit lasting about an hour; the enthusiasm of Dave and  his colleagues, and the question-asking by the members of our party, meant that we overran by 45 minutes.   We were shown both sides of the operation - the train control side (the responsibility of staff working for Merseyrail (a Serco/NedRailways company) and the network and power supply side (the responsibility of staff working for Network Rail).   

All level crossings on the system are controlled from Sandhills and we saw the process in action.   The approach of a train triggers a video picture of each crossing to appear.   The barriers come down and, once the crossing is clear, the signaller (politically correct terminology) sets the signals.   The intellect of pupils from Claremount School in Leasowe was there for all to see.   Barrier down, red lights showing, train approaching - they still pushed their way under the barriers and ran across.

Six of the party then walked into the city centre via the Dock Road.   Tugs, Stanley Dock, a few odd bits of the Overhead Railway and the alignment of the line coming out of Riverside Station were observed en route.   A few drinks quickly followed at the Pig and Whistle.

Trainspotting the easy way - video images of the entire Merseyrail network at the Sandhills IECC. (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

Stanley Dock and Tobacco Warehouse pictured during the walk back into the city centre. (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

(Photo: Dave Parker)

Friday caption competition

  • Drab's brewery of Grotley launch their recently defurbished Scousely acquisition in time for City of Culture 2008.*

    • TPK, Barton, Preston

  • Is this the sort of place where we could recreate the 1960 Allan Clayton Glasgow B&B incident?  

    • BP, Heswall

* This requires a working knowledge of Rupert Periwinkle's column in the Manchester CAMRA newsletter What's Doing: Drab's = Joseph Holt, Grotley= Salford etc etc)

  Saturday 1 May 2004

MIDLANDER-2: a chip off the old block

47 people (including three who joined us part way round) aboard Liverpool Motor Services' ex-Northumbria Olympian 309 (F309JTY) with David Unwin at the wheel.   

First stop was the Chasewater Railway in Brownhills.   We arrived on site at 10:40 for the train at 11:00, operated by a Derby 2-car dmu.   There was a certain amount of confusion on arrival.   The duty controller was expecting us, but wasn't expecting the simultaneous arrival of a cattle truck and brake van.   The 11:00 train was delayed a bit, but eventually departed a bit late for the two mile trap to Chasetown (Church Street) and back.   Back at Brownhills West, some gentle persuasion eventually allowed us permission to look round some of the other stock in the yard, ranging from some long-term restoration industrial steam locos to a Parry people mover.   The railway also loaned us an adjustable spanner which The Bus Doctor was able to apply to the bus's heater system to switch it off.   We also managed to transport some of Chasewater Lake's collection of flies out of the area for them.

Second stop was the Midland Air Museum at Baginton.   The decision to have the group photograph - with tour vehicle and Vulcan bomber in the background - was an excellent one as we were plagued by rain for the majority of the rest of the day.    The Museum had laid on three excellent tour guides to show people round the site and take those who wanted inside some of the exhibits.   Tour participants' major complaint was that the hour and a half we spent there wasn't anywhere near long enough.

We had made several attempts to contact the adjacent Coventry Railway Centre but our letter and emails went unanswered.   We were not impressed by what we saw on the day, and a report to that effect was originally posted here.   We subsequently received an email from a member of the Suburban Electric Railway Association, custodians of many of the items of rolling stock stored on the site - of most interest to us being the three cars of the Class 503 Wirral and Mersey Electric set (one car of which is pictured below).   The poor condition of this unit has a long story behind it - please refer to the SERA website for details.

In the rain to Wythall and The Transport Museum.   About an hour on site viewing their collection of 90 or so buses and about 20 electric vehicles.   The bus tours of 1982 and 1985 also visited Wythall.   The place has come on tremendously since then and must now be one of the best museums of its type.   They'd laid on ex-Midland Red D9 5399 (BHA399C) for a trip into Birmingham - this took us past the new Bullring (met with a mixed response from the passengers) and the restored Moor Street station (met with universal acclaim).   The D9 dropped us off at the start of the A34 and we swapped back onto the tour bus to the bemusement of the locals waiting for a bus to Perry Barr.

Then up to Cannock.   Chips were the problem in 1982 - a participant complained "There's no flipping chips in Cannock" (words changed slightly for the sensitive ones) in an incident which has gone down in LUPTS folklore, and which was re-enacted for posterity.   Chips were a bit of a problem this time round as well - their late running meant that we were about 25 minutes behind schedule by this stage, although no one seemed too fussed.

A clear run northwards (with a DIY refuelling stop Keele) had us back into Liverpool at about 21:00 and the traditional post-bus tour drink in the Pig and Whistle's upstairs room.   No vase smashing this year, as far as can be ascertained.

The delights of Chasetown (Church Road) station on the Chasewater Railway.   (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst


101 uses for a Parry People Mover, no 1: support for spider's web catching a very small proportion of the Chasewater Railway's flies.  (It's more successful at that than it is at carrying people apparently.)   (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

101 uses for a Parry People Mover, no 2: moving the Parry people.   In spite of the LUPTS headboard, there was no sign of the vehicle moving anybody that day.   (Photo: Online Transport Archive)

The obligatory group photograph - the first time we've had a Vulcan bomber lurking in the background of the shot.   (Photo: David Richards.   Yes, I know he's in the photograph - he's got a time delay on his camera and he can run fast.)


One of the cars of the class 503 emu at the Coventry Railway Centre. (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

Log onto the Suburban Electric Railway Society's website for more details.


Some transport relics at Wythall, and Jonathan.   (That one was a bit too obvious for the caption competition.)   (Photo: Clare and/or Katy Marsh)


One for the milkfloat spotters at Wythall.   (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)


Confusing the locals in Birmingham (not difficult) by turning up at their bus stop in a D9.   (Photo: Online Transport Archive


The new Selfridge's at the Bullring.   Like it or not, the one thing you can say is it's better than the old Bullring.   (Photo: David Richards)


The webmaster delves into his wallet to put enough fuel in the bus to get us home, and has the receipt to prove it.   (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)


(Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

Saturday caption competition

  • #Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, Goes together like a 108 Carriage.#

    • DFGR, Crosby

  • "Follow this, and you're dead meat."

    • IP, Heswall

The entry from TPK of Preston has been disallowed.   As a medical man, he can probably attest to the fact that his suggestion is physically possible, but uncomfortable at least.

POSTSCRIPT: JC had been concerned he might get a parking ticket for leaving his car in Oxford Street.   He didn't, but two participants got snotty notes from the management committee at the webmaster's residence.   It's here for the record.   The webmaster will point out the inexcatitude in punctuation at the appropriate moment.

   Sunday 2 May 2004

Sunday lunch at Briars Hall Hotel in Lathom.   An hour or so at the West Lancs Railway to finish off an excellent weekend.

Good food and good chat at Briars Hall.   (Photo: Dave Parker)

The third round trip on the West Lancs.   Laura Parry looks forward to her fourth, fifth ...   (Photo: Paul Hollinghurst)

(Photo: Dave Parker)

Sunday caption competition

  • Our esteemed organiser - and webmaster - caught moonlighting as a conductor guard for First North Western. The photograph also shows the first prototype of new rolling stock for the 'less than mainline standard' community railway - as proposed in the recent Strategic Rail Authority document - Community Rail development - a consultation paper. 

    • RGC, Stockport

  • Rover unveil their long awaited replacement for the Babe Magnet Metro.*

    • CCR, Upton

* This entry has been referred to the Plagiarism Investigation Panel - see here.

A selection of very late entries was received from AC of Mossley Hill:

  • The "Roberts for President 2004" campaign gets off to a slow start

  • PC Roberts on point duty?

  • Charles indicates to the auto-windscreen fitter where the glass used to be

  • Now students, this what we call a branch line

  • Charles regales everyone with his hilarious award winning entry for the City of Culture's 'Piss Poor Mime - in an Urban / Rural Setting'


A team of volunteers seems to have stepped forward for 2005's event which might eliminate some of the arm twisting which characterises most years.   [Update February 2005: The 'team of volunteers' dissolved into the ether at some stage; we're stuck with JC again.]

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Last updated: 18 February 2005

Charles Roberts/LUPTS 2004/2005