2012 Bus Tour weekend:   
4-6 May 2012   

 

2012’s Bus Tour weekend has been and gone. If you have any pictures you’d like to submit, email them to webmaster@lupts.org.uk

Paul Hollinghurst’s pictures are available here.

Friday 4 May 2012

Albert Dock: Two Old Pubs and Two New Exhibitions

 

Report and pictures awaited.

 

Saturday 5 May 2012

The 36th LUPTS Bus Tour: Saturday 5 May 2012

 

 

The 2012 Bus Tour, The Off-Peak Day Return, was the result of an idea that had come to me a couple of years ago, which is why I had volunteered to organise this year’s event so far in advance. Sometime in the mid-1990s I looked down from a bridge at Wirksworth to see a disused and overgrown railway yard. At the time the quarry traffic that had kept the branch alive had ceased, but there were no budding preservationists yet in sight. I remember thinking that this could be an excellent prospect for a preserved railway, a complete branch that traversed pleasant if unspectacular scenery, linking two towns rather than running between a pair of fields. I was pleased to have been able to take our 2005 tour to Wirksworth, when we rode to Gorsey Bank on the short length of line that had been restored to use. Progress from that time was rapid, such that the whole branch was re-opened as the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in April 2011 and thus formed the centrepiece of my planning for our tour.

 

I had heard of the Steeple Grange Light Railway, knew that it was close to Wirksworth and was built to the unusual gauge of 18” but that was the extent of my knowledge. Its proximity to the Ecclesbourne Valley operation made investigation a sensible thing to do, so a visit was incorporated into the planning trip that Rob Marsh and I undertook in March. I had already ascertained that a change in our bus provider was likely to be necessary. The bridge next to the Steeple Grange site that had once carried the Cromford and High Peak Railway over the road to Wirksworth only had 14’ 6” clearance, not enough for the Volvo Citybuses that we had hired from Hiltons Travel for the previous three tours. There was no reasonable alternative route. A search through the fleets of local operators led me to Howards Travel of Runcorn. Once contact was made and a price agreed I chose to use a Volvo Olympian with Alexander Royale bodywork, new to East Yorkshire Motor Services. Being 13’ 9” high and with a good top speed it proved to be just what was wanted.

 

Just before 08.00 on Saturday 5th May, the bus, registered K4 HOW, rolled up in Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, displaying LUPTS TOUR on its newly installed electronic destination display, the first time that we have had use of such technology. Setting off spot on time we collected the rest of our party of 39 at Abercromby Square and Broad Green before taking the M62 towards Manchester. Officials at the Museum of Transport at Boyle Street had agreed to open rather earlier than usual at 09.00 to accommodate our tour, which had last visited the premises in 2001.

 

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Stockport and Manchester Crossleys with a Bolton Leyland in the main hall. All photographs: Jonathan Cadwallader

The replica Manager’s office in which I wrote out the cheque to cover our donation.

 

We were made welcome by members of the Greater Manchester Transport Society who run the museum. Some members of our party opted to follow the guide provided whilst others wandered through the two display halls on their own to look at the comprehensive collection of buses and associated artefacts. It really is an excellent selection of vehicles, the only regret is that lack of room prevents a more spacious presentation and the acquisition of further buses. The shop and cafe were patronised by some before we made our way back to the bus for a 10.15 departure.

 

My main concern on the day was the amount of time that the bus would take to cover the next section of our journey, to Buxton for a relief stop. The current limited service of just 3 return trips per day on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway meant calculating timings backwards from their 14.20 departure. Giving enough time to visit the Transport Museum plus Steeple Grange and for the bus to travel between the venues meant that there was no slack in the schedule. Congestion on the A6 through to Stockport and beyond meant that we were 15 minutes late into Buxton, but our driver, Gaz, managed to pull back 5 minutes by the time we attained Steeple Grange. There we met up with Dave Cope and family, who had been unable to take part in the whole tour but were joining us for the two railways.

 

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Our vehicle at Steeple Grange, complete with bus and train on the display, as participants walk down to the line.

The Steeple Grange “Manrider” departs fully loaded, propelled by the former Horwich Works Ruston & Hornsby shunter.

 

I don’t think that any of our participants had visited this railway before. Built on the track bed of a standard gauge mineral line known as the Killers Branch, the main operation employed a former coalminers’ “Manrider” vehicle with capacity for just 15 plus Guard, tightly packed together in groups of 4. There was much banter amongst the party with which I travelled, legs interlocked as we trundled up the line, comments such as “I’ll never be the same again” and “We’ll need a tin opener to get out of this” passing back and forth.Unfortunately the railway’s second “Manrider” was out of service which meant that not everyone had time to sample the experience together with a run on a short secondary line that was also in use.

 

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The secondary line stock accommodated just 8 in rather more comfort

Metro-Cammell 2-car at Wirksworth

 

We left Steeple Grange minus an initially unknown number of passengers who had decided to walk the mile or so into Wirksworth, taking in a pub en route. The problem for me was not knowing with any certainty how many had done this, so I was unable to determine if everyone who wanted to travel on the bus was on board at departure time. A dash back to the railway to double check matters resulted in a slightly late departure for our short trip to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Station.

 

As noted above, the line is now fully open, but there is still much to do. The original passenger service ceased as long ago as 1947 and the station building did not survive. In time a Midland Railway style replica will be constructed but in the meantime portable buildings must suffice. Most services on the railway are run with DMUs and the line’s 2-car Metro-Cammell unit was ready with the 14.20 departure on which we travelled to Duffield. It was in very good, clean condition internally, something which cannot be said of DMUs on some other preserved lines. The platform at Duffield has been totally rebuilt and is adjacent to the Network Rail station, though the track connection has been severed. The line can currently only accommodate one train at a time, though a passing loop is under construction at Shottle which will enable the railway to increase train frequency.

 

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Some of the party on board the Metro-Cammell DMU

M79900 at Ravenstor.

 

Visitors to Wirksworth can also take a trip on the short, former mineral only branch up a 1 in 27 gradient to Ravenstor. On the day of our visit the train on that line was due to have been steam powered, but a fault led to an interesting substitute being employed. This was none other than car M79900, the Derby Lightweight single unit that later became Test Car “Iris” at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby. Now fully restored as a passenger carrying vehicle, this was a rare treat. The shot above, at Ravenstor, also shows how narrow gauge tipper wagons were used to transfer limestone to the standard gauge line.

 

Our visit over, we set off at 16.30. Buxton has been something of a magnet for LUPTS Tours over the years, so by way of a change we headed south for a few miles, parallel to the EVR, before turning west to arrive in Ashbourne for a chip shop stop. Well fed, we said goodbye to the Cope party and continued towards Leek, pausing in a lay-by at a place called Dirty Gutter for a group photograph.

 

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The Dirty Gutter Gang

 

Passing through Congleton we then joined the M6 and after a brief stop at Knutsford Services arrived back in Liverpool slightly earlier than planned at 20.05. Some members of the party then adjourned to The Vernon Arms on Dale Street to attempt to continue conversation in a very crowded and noisy bar. The organiser retired after one drink as he had a Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust event to attend in Morecambe early the following day, but others are known to have proceeded to The Railway in Tithebarn Street to continue socialising.

 

Thanks are due to Rob Marsh for assistance in planning and on the day.

 

Jonathan Cadwallader

Sunday 6 May 2012

LUPTS Sunday event: Southport – 'England’s Classic Resort'

 

Report and pictures awaited.

 

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Last updated: 10 November 2014


Charles Roberts/LUPTS 2012