2007 Bus Tour weekend:   
4-6 May 2007   


   Friday 4 May 2007

Chester City Transport was always a favourite Wednesday afternoon trip in 'real' LUPTS days and a repeat got the 2007 Bus Tour weekend off to a good start.   No Clarkie or DA these days, and no secretary to slam down the mugs on the table to show her disgust at being asked to being asked to make coffee for a bunch of students.   Not much had changed with the depot though.   Probably a last chance to pay a visit.   Whether the depot, or the whole company, goes in the near future remains to be seen.

[Postscript: in June 2007, it was confirmed that Chester City Transport was to be sold to FirstGroup.]

The LUPTS group gets a conducted tour of the yard.   Parked in 'strategic reserve corner' are an ex-Tayside/Brighton Dominator and an ex-Highland Olympian.   Photo: Richard Pearson

Friday evening's visit took us to the Merseyside Model Railway Society on Brassey Street, Birkenhead.   Located in a former school, it was commented that this was a far better use for such a building than filling it full of pupils.

Picture awaited.

  Saturday 5 May 2007

Report below, in Pooley's inimitable style.   There are plenty of pictures of the tour on Paul Hollinghurst's website - click here - and on Richard Pearson's Fotopic site - click here.

Bluetooth technology is a wonderful thing.  Apart from one being made to look like a crew member from the Starship Enterprise, one can now be moaned at, safely, by Dr Roberts even while one is still driving to Liverpool for the start of one’s Bus Tour.  Evidently the bus’s arrival at The Swan was nearly a minute late, potentially putting the proceedings for the rest of the day in terminal jeopardy.  No matter.  The bus arrived at Exchange, having duly collected its panic stricken passengers from the Wirral, and away we went.

For those too lazy to make their way from Wirral to Liverpool, the tour began at Swan Hill, Prenton.   John Cherry's ex-Nottingham Leyland Lion F389GVO pulls in to pick up its first complement of passengers. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33064)


Thankfully Mr Telfer was on hand in Oldham to remedy the day’s first navigational error, and arrival at Marsden was, as scheduled, at exactly 0945.  After the short walk (yes, Jonathan, half a mile is a short walk) to the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre it was all aboard the glass roofed boat which would take us around 500 yards into the canal tunnel.  Helpfully we were told that, if anyone really couldn’t cope with the enclosed space (or with having digits removed by their coming together with the boat and the tunnel wall), staff would endeavour to get the afflicted passenger out as quickly as possible, although from where I was sitting it rather looked as if that would entail at least as much trauma as the journey had already provided.  Perhaps there was more to those ventilation shafts than met the eye.  As if to emphasise what she meant our ever helpful guide waited until we were as far into the tunnel as possible to turn out the lights.

The tour party is seen here walking down the towpath from the car park to the centre itself ...   Photo: Paul Hollinghurst


  ... and aboard the boat for the 30 minute ride into the tunnel and out again.  Photo: Chris Poole


  Viewed from the excellent tea shop, the first group make their way into the tunnel.  Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33067)

Your organiser ambled back to Marsden station to photograph some class 185s.  There he found the tour’s drivers waiting for, of all things, a green class 142.  Personally, were anyone to set up a class 142 preservation society, I would be at the head of the queue to get going with an oxyacetylene torch but these guys were photographing anything that moved, whether it was under or on the bridge.  142066 arrived and duly had its photograph taken.  The sun was out by now and the results were, as it happened, reasonably pleasing.  A class 47 would have been nice though (wouldn’t it, Charles).   [Yes it would.   I wholeheartedly commend the Visitors' Centre for not encasing their display pictures in plastic or glass.   Thanks to the 'Perspective Correction' and other tools within PaintShopPro, image CCR33071 is an excellent shot of a Class 47 emerging from the tunnel in the late 1970s.   Ed.]


The journey through Huddersfield, as expected, varied between slow and stop, but generous timetabling enabled us to reach Elsecar slightly ahead of schedule.  Any talk of schedules at Elsecar is largely superfluous.  The Elsecar Railway Preservation Society is justifiably proud of being one of the friendliest groups of railway people, in the world, ever.  There was a sort of timetable on the go but not one that made much sense.  The ‘Mardy Monster’ (said to be the most powerful steam shunter running in preservation in Britain) and a couple of Mk 1 coaches were waiting to take us the 1.2 miles to Hemingfield.  There can be few railway platforms that would have moved in a previous existence but this one still sported buffers.  Whether or not it also had wheels remained a mystery, as we jostled on it for position to photograph the ‘Monster’, and each other, before returning to Rockingham.

Return to Elsecar gave passengers (or are they ‘customers’ in the modern parlance?) the opportunity to view the Newcomen Beam Engine and part of the collection of fire appliances belonging to the Heritage Fire Service.  I was not surprised, however, to be approached by Malcolm as I left the train.  I had met Malcolm during April, when his hospitality ran to a footplate pass.  Today it ran to two.  Being a basically selfish person (sorry) I availed myself of one of these, offering the other to Rob Marsh (whose fault it was that we were there in the first place).  In April the footplate was that of the Drewry diesel shunter.  Today, of course, it was the ‘Mardy Monster’, and on the evidence of that short but undulating ride, rarely can a locomotive have been so appositely named!  Thank you Malcolm!

The tour organiser aboard 'Mardy Monster'  Photo: Paul Hollinghurst



The rather rudimentary platform arrangements at Hemingfield. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33090)



The Newcomen Beam Engine dates from 1795 and worked until 1953, when someone bent it.   Photo: Tom Kane


Tour bus viewed from the footplate of 'Mardy Monster' Photo: Chris Poole (one of only two people who could have taken this picture on bus tour day, in case you missed it)


That we left Elsecar late had something to do with Mr and Mrs Telfer and a doggy bag.  Not wanting to make a scene, still basking, as I was, in the warm glow of an enormous sense of well being and, in any case, being scared of Mrs Telfer, I decided to telephone our next hosts, at the Kirklees Light Railway and warn them that we were running behind time.  That we arrived even later than I had feared owed something to my making this telephone call just as the driver (who consequently did not have my full attention) missed a crucial right turn.  Thanks to the Ordnance Survey the diversion was no more than five miles in length, stopping just short of a bridge some twelve inches lower than our Leyland Lion.  Arrival at Kirklees was a rather tardy 1615.

"... and the prize for the smuggest expression of the day goes to ...."   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33093)


Owl was turned out for the (now late running) 1600 departure.  The Kirklees Light Railway now runs for four miles to Shelley, through the longest tunnel on a narrow gauge railway in Britain.  More striking than its 500 yard length is the contrast in proportions between the tunnel that once carried two standard gauge tracks, and the single 15 inch track that passes through it today.  By the time we were taking photographs at Shelley I had got my breath back just long enough to explain our navigational shortcomings to the usual suspects.  A few more photographs (of ‘Owl’, ‘Fox’, and the traditional group photograph) before departure from Clayton West, which was hastened by there being nothing else there at all to compete with the lure of fish and chips or (sorry Rob, I mean ‘and’) beer in Holmfirth.  Personally I can recommend the bitter at the Nook Inn.

The Bus Tour organiser was forced to sit outside for the return journey to Clayton West to make amends for his earlier navigational error.   Photo: Paul Hollinghurst

Messrs Unwin and Forrester admire the loco on the Kirklees Light Railway, having just heard the Liverpool result.   Photo: Tom Kane

Tour participants inspect the loco as it's turned for the return journey.   Photo: Tom Kane

At Clayton West, the traditional group photograph.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33112)

That the return from Holmfirth to Liverpool didn’t, as advertised, pass through Oldham but Manchester, mattered little.  The traditional analysis of the day’s football results (Wrexham stayed in the League for another season by beating Boston United, Tranmere’s win over Brentford was largely irrelevant, but Liverpool losing at Fulham made me chuckle a little) and a loo stop (Burtonwood Services, I think) punctuated a journey that got us back to Liverpool at 2030.

Personal thanks must go to our drivers, the staff at all three of our destinations (although a special mention in dispatches must go to Malcolm and Co at Elsecar), Rob Marsh (whose idea it largely all was) and everyone who came, took part, and left me with a lot of happy memories of a day very well spent.

Chris Poole.


Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR33118)

The news that "Tie" was at the bar spread quickly.
RM, Crosby

To the request for a cheaper quote, John Cherry suggested a walking bus.
CCR, Upton


Sunday 6 May 2007

JC fails again with modern technology and ends up with 30 seconds of footage of his nose..   Photo: Richard Pearson

Sunday lunch was at the Bottle and Glass in Rainford.

Then to the St Helens Bus Museum, recently reopened after many years.   Several vehicles there with a LUPTS connection.   Of particular interest was Widnes 39 (ATD683) which was bought by a group of LUPTS members, led by Geoff Thorne, Brian Faragher, Alan Murray-Rust and Mick Uden.   1968 AGM minutes make reference to the vehicle - "It is hoped that the vehicle would in time be used for LUPTS activities".   Still not quite ready yet.

The Sunday party poses alongside Widnes 39 (ATD683) in the St Helens Bus Museum.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR30190)

Photo: Paul Hollinghurst

And finally.   A barbecue in a secret location in the Birkdale area.   There were actually more people there than Mark, it was just the everyone else was sheltering inside because of the rain.

For more pictures of Sunday's events, visit Paul Hollinghurst's website - click here.

2008's bus tour weekend will be over the weekend of 2-4 May 2008.  

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Last updated: 09 March 2008

© Charles Roberts/LUPTS 2007