2009 Bus Tour weekend:   
1-3 May 2009   


Reports on the events of 1-3 May 2009, and the customary caption competition for your entertainment.

As is the custom these days, more pictures are available on Paul Hollinghurst’s website - click here.

   Friday 1 May 2009

This event took place on the above date.   Tony Kletz undertook to produce a report which he did … taking exactly 360 days to do so.   Here it is.


U-boat U534 and River Explorer Cruise

About a dozen LUPTS stalwarts gathered at 1300 at the Pier Head, by the almost-completed new £10.5 million Pier Head Ferry Terminal building, located immediately in front of the Three Graces, for a trip on the Mersey River Explorer.  Many disagreed with the Merseytravel view of the new building as ‘an exciting new addition to the spectacular regeneration of Liverpool’s waterfront.’   Despite heavy cloud, there were some excellent views of the Pier Head and of the Liverpool skyline.  The cruise proceeded downstream, and then turned, stopped off at Seacombe before proceeding to Woodside.  The party disembarked, and some sampled the new café at Woodside, but were generally disappointed with the ‘American Diner influenced breakfast and brunch experience!’

The main attraction was a visit to the ‘U-Boat Story’, a new £5 million exhibit.  Here, U-Boat U-534, recently acquired by Merseytravel, has, in the name of preservation, been sliced into four sections and is exhibited to the public.    With a number of school parties present, many opted not to take in the guided tour but made their own way round the exhibits, audiovisual shows and the Interpretation Centre.   U-534 was used for training and weather reporting during the war. She did not sink any other vessels.  On May 5th, 1945 U534 was underway in the Kattegat, north-west of Helsingor, Denmark, and although all U-boats had been ordered to surrender as from 0800 May 5th, for some unknown reason U-534 refused to do so. U534 was heading north towards Norway, when it was attacked by RAF aircraft, took heavy damage and began to sink by the stern. Forty-nine of the fifty-two crew members survived including five who escaped via a torpedo hatch as she lay on the sea bed.   In August 1993 the wreckage was raised from the seabed in the hope of finding hidden treasure on board. Nothing was found. However the mystery of why U-534 refused to surrender remains to this day.

Returning on the Mersey ferry to Liverpool a couple of hours later, we then examined the new £22 million Leeds-Liverpool canal link, which extends the canal along the waterfront. We followed the newly-built link from Princes Dock (where a new lock has been installed), past the re-landscaped Pier Head and, via a further set of locks, into Albert Dock.  With considerable expenditure on various new buildings, landscaping and water developments, it is interesting to see how different the Pier Head looks to only a few years ago.   All in all the afternoon went down well, as indeed had U534 some decades previously!


Rob Marsh adds:

“After arriving back at the Pier Head a small group had a look around the partially reopened Pier Head. What a change from when buses used terminate there. Across the Pier Head there is now a canal. This is known as the Liverpool Link and connects the Central Docks from Stanley Dock to Princes Dock with the South Docks by way of a link into Canning Dock and then on into the Canning Half tide and Albert Dock.

The LUPTS party at Princes Dock.    Photo: Tony Kletz

The U-534, the world’s only complete U-boat - until Merseytravel cut it into four so it could go on display at Woodside.  Photo: John Phillips

The dent was there before the LUPTS visit, wasn’t it Tony?  Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader


“The canal link had been officially opened only a few weeks earlier. The group were able to see the new lock which had been built into Princes Dock to enable the water level to be reduced enough to pass under Princes Parade and pass in front of the Three Graces without spoiling the view of them (Shame the same can’t be said of the view of the Three Graces following the building of the new Mersey Ferries terminal building!).   From here we were able to walk south across the Pier Head and see where the canal passed through three short tunnels into Canning Dock, passing the nearly complete (externally, at least) building for the new Museum of Liverpool.”

  Saturday 2 May 2009

A report by Jonathan Cadwallader

At the outset, the Webmaster would like to distance himself (he just uploads what he’s given) from the unnecessarily large number of references to a TV series which was quite ground-breaking in the 1960s but is now rather a shadow of its former self.   Or is this an appropriate metaphor for LUPTS?

For many years we rang the changes with operators and types of vehicle for the Bus Tour, but it has become more difficult in recent times with double deckers rather thin on the ground and the demise of several local operators such as Chester City Transport, Crosville and Dave Forrest in his various guises. Many that do have vehicles of interest, usually used on school services, are unwilling to let them out of the area for fear of breakdown far from their home base.  However, following a recommendation from Bill Barlow, tour organiser for the Merseyside Bus Club, I was able to contract Hiltons Travel of Newton-le-Willows to provide a bus, G100 PES, an Alexander bodied Volvo B10M-50, new to Tayside Regional Council.

Tour bus picks up in Tithebarn Street, Liverpool.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR39885)

The day of the tour was bright and sunny, always a good start for the organiser as it’s the one element of the day over which he has no control. I joined about a dozen participants at Abercromby Square, our first pick-up point, and received several telephone calls whilst waiting, including one from Graham Hilton and another from our driver, Nigel, advising that the bus was delayed. It transpired that just before leaving the garage the Volvo’s doors declined to shut, necessitating some tweaking which resulted in our leaving Tithebarn Street some 15 minutes late, having collected the rest of our Liverpool contingent.

Thinking that a stop at Old Roan, just before joining the motorway, would prove popular with a few, I was surprised to find that it became our most popular pick-up point. A number of passengers from further north had driven to Old Roan, whilst others had alighted at the adjacent railway station. We were tailed (or should that be stalked?) from this point to Wigan by Wendy Telfer in her shiny new Citroen, accompanied by three month old daughter Eleanor, who was to be the youngest participant in a LUPTS tour in my memory, albeit just for an hour or so. I had deliberately designed an easy schedule but the fact that G100 PES proved to be a flying machine was of great assistance in recovering most of our lateness. A misdirection on my part led to Nigel parking the bus in the wrong lay-by when we arrived at Wigan Pier, which led to some careful manoeuvring being required to extricate it on our departure.

Kittywake’ departs from Wigan Pier with part of the LUPTS group aboard.   Photo: Chris Poole

LUPTS: the next generation.   Eleanor Telfer with dad.   Photo: Rob Marsh   [It’s worse than I though - this habit of making Star Trek references must be catching (like swine flu).] 

In the intervening period we enjoyed a cruise of just over an hour on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on board the trip boat Kittywake’, negotiating two locks and passing the imposing Trencherfield Mill. We did so with some assistance from various members of the party who walked the towpath in one direction or the other, helping to operate the paddles and gates. I had checked such hands on involvement out in advance with ‘Kittywake’ Cruises, knowing that our group was likely to slightly exceed the boat’s capacity, but confident that a sufficient number would be keen to reacquaint themselves with some canal hardware. Whilst on board I was made aware that Alan Willey, a supporter of our tours over several years, was approaching his 94th birthday, making him the oldest passenger that Kittywake Cruises had carried and probably the oldest participant in a LUPTS tour. There’s a target if your name is Atkinson!

People tend to split naturally into workers ....   Photos: Chris Poole/Rob McCaffrey

... and shirkers.   Photos: Chris Poole

Incidentally, the name of the tour was born from an allegedly typical Lancashire and Yorkshire saying, combined with references to two of our attractions. Apparently I unintentionally evoked recollections of the famous STAR TREK episode, The Trouble with Tribbles. This was purely accidental Jim. To have made STAR TREK allusions deliberately would have violated the prime directive and been most illogical. 

[You were warned - and there’s plenty more of this stuff to come. Webmaster]


Photo: trekmovie.com [No, I can’t believe there’s such a thing - Webmaster]

Despite the need to depart Wigan Pier slowly and carefully using only impulse power, we managed to shake off Mrs. Telfer, who was standing in for the Romulans after they failed a late fitness test, and laid in a course for Bolton. The Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust, whose supporting Group, the RVPG, has myself amongst its members, is commemorating 90 years since Ribble Motor Services was founded. Buses and coaches drawn from the collection of the Trust and from private owners are being displayed at events throughout North West England this summer. 

Our tour date coincided with the RVPT taking over the square in front of Bolton Town Hall for the day and our party was able to view examples of Leyland Lion, Titan, Leopard, Tiger Cub and Atlantean buses that were once part of the Ribble fleet. There was also a Bristol RESL and the Trust’s Leyland National Exhibition Bus, in addition to a pair of former Bolton Corporation buses and a Dennis Trident from the current Stagecoach fleet. Our presence, along with that of G100 PES, has been recorded on the RVPT website http://www.rvpt.org/

Display of Ribble vehicles in Bolton.   As you can see, the local population was overcome with excitement.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR39920)

I had drawn the attention of our passengers to the location of toilets inside the Tourist Information Centre, so, with needs satisfied we set off from the rear of the Town Hall. Nigel drove us to the location of the former Bolton Corporation Tram Depot, now in the middle of the local red light district. Charles Roberts alighted briefly to take a photograph as he has an interest in such things. (That sounds ambiguous enough!)   We continued via the M62, our Volvo treating the gradients as if they hardly existed and improving considerably on the timing I had allowed for this stretch. Clearly the dilithium crystals were in good shape. We were thus able to have an additional toilet stop at Hartshead Moor Service Station before continuing to the Middleton Railway on the south side of Leeds. Mr. Sulu, or Nigel to his friends, achieved a low orbit in the yard and we were greeted by Andrew Gill, the Chairman.  We were sufficiently early that some of our group were able to travel on the 13.40 train rather than wait for the 14.20 departure, both hauled by the 1932 0-4-0 Hudswell diesel ‘Mary’. See http://www.middletonrailway.org.uk/index.htm for more details of the line and the stock. 

The Middleton Railway’s 0-4-0 diesel shunter which operated two round trips of the line during our visit.   Graham Unwin looks unimpressed - not enough plastic, too many wheels.   Photo: Rob McCaffrey

View inside the main exhibition hall at the Middleton.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR39940)

Some weak-willed members of the party were distracted by the thought of alcohol.   Photo: Chris Poole

Either journey allowed ample time to enjoy the audio visual programme, small exhibits and the locos on display in the Engine House, many of which had been built in Leeds. Beaming in for a special guest appearance was David Armstrong, fully armed with his umbrella. A few inquisitive souls explored the mothballed Balm Road branch that we had traversed on our 1986 tour. Strong advice that everyone should use the toilets before we left the Middleton was not because their facilities were particularly remarkable, but to avoid if at all possible the need to sample those at our final venue.

To reach the Keighley Bus Museum I had arranged for one of their operational fleet to collect us from the Middleton.  So it was that Bradford 220, a 1964 MCW bodied AEC Regent V appeared at the gate, resplendent in its blue and cream livery.  The Volvo followed behind whilst we were treated to an aural experience as the Regent progressed through the western suburbs of Leeds to Pudsey. A brief stop to photograph the former tram and trolleybus works at Thornbury, then we skirted the edge of Bradford city centre before unleashing David Armstrong upon the unsuspecting residents of Frizinghall as we passed the station. (I’m told that he’s not still there.) 220’s gearbox and transmission continued to entertain as we climbed the hills around Shipley, Saltaire and Bingley before turning down Dalton Lane in Keighley to reach the museum. 

Our two tour buses pose for photographs outside the former Bradford Corporation Tramway Works in Thornbury.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR39959)


A pleasant hour was spent exploring the extent of the old foundry building that is the second temporary home in Dalton Lane for the Keighley Bus Museum Trust. The majority of the buses are from local fleets, a notable exception being a pre-production Leyland National new to Crosville. The star is perhaps Keighley number 5, a 1924 Straker-Clough vehicle believed to be the world’s oldest surviving double deck trolleybus. See http://www.kbmt.org.uk/page4.html for details of the collection. 

Some of the exhibits inside the Keighley Bus Museum.   And Keith Nason’s head.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR40002)

The 1924 trolleybus described in the text.   Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

Carry on at your Convenience.   Or perhaps not.   Photo: Chris Poole

The Trust suffered a major setback in its quest for a permanent home a few years ago and it is to be hoped that new premises can be found soon that will enable them to show off their work in clean, bright conditions. In the meantime, those who sampled their self-confessed “ghastly” toilets will have seen that I was not exaggerating! Nothing that a photon torpedo couldn’t have sorted out.  I will resist the temptation to mention the Klingons at this point.

The location of toilet facilities is always a factor to be borne in mind when organising a Bus Tour and it has to be said that, as our average age increases, it becomes more and more important an issue, particularly given the generally dire provision by local authorities. I had more trouble locating an open chip shop near to some toilets than with any other aspect of the tour. Searching the centres of Colne and Nelson proved fruitless and it was with some relief (no pun intended,) that I discovered that Burnley Bus Station had toilets, just around the corner from Frydays fish and chip shop. However, both closed at 18.00, so I was a bit anxious that we would reach them in time. A call to the chip shop from our bus assured them that we were en route and they stayed open, as they had promised when I had called there a couple of weeks before the tour. So, both fed and relieved in more than one sense, we were able to have a group photo in front of G100 PES, parked at an excursion stand that I had commandeered at the back of the bus station. Despite leaving Burnley a bit later than I had planned, the warp engines under the floor of the bus were well up to the task and we arrived in Dale Street, Liverpool at 19.59, one minute early.

The obligatory group photograph, on this occasion in Burnley.   Photo: Chris Poole

The tour bus back in Liverpool, being passed by one of Arriva’s new Enviro 400s for Cross-River services.   Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR40023)

Approximately 20 of the passengers adjourned to the newly re-opened Vernon Arms, where, curiously enough, although the main part of the pub has had a quick lick of paint, the Gents are presented in what might be described as the Keighley style. Back in the bar, Charles Roberts seemed to attract the company of a rather strange man with a camera who seemed to be suffering from Compulsive Focussing Disorder, whilst Keith Nason proved a hit with a well oiled local blonde trollop.

Thanks are due to Graham Hilton and to our driver, Nigel, for helping to make the day a success.

Jonathan Cadwallader

  Sunday 3 May 2009

How many LUPTS members does it take to look at a miniature steam loco? Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

Sunday lunch at the Cottage Loaf in Frankby, followed by a visit to the miniature railway in Royden Park.   Basically ‘Groundhog Day’ for 2001.

  Caption competition

2009’s prize goes to … the only two people who could be bothered entering.

Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

“Does he know that it's connected to the Town Hall clock?” (JC, Crosby)

“Is this a wind up or what?” (CCR, Upton)

Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

“Delivery for Kane and Hollinghurst!” (JC, Crosby)

Photo: Paul Hollinghurst

JC’s bladder control problem caught him out in a most unfortunate location. (CCR, Upton)

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