Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bank Holiday Weekend Quiz Part One

"Updates" originally planned for today will be published later in the week. fbb has commissioned some piccies to illustrate one of the updated items!
Which community has the shortest place name on the GB mainland and is served by a Monday to Saturday bus service.

Which municipality ran buses to Tea House

Operator's name?

How are these buses branded?

Often mis-spelled and confused with one in Staffordshire

What was "coming soon"?


Named after a river; more of a a brook..

Which village has a regular but very infrequent bus service?

Stagecoach Highland might pick up one of these in this village.

A "Great" street for a bus depot?

European City?

It used to have a bus station

Part Two tomorrow

Answers on Sunday 7th May; so, PLEASE don't give answers as a comment!
Big Developments at Seaton
Although not directly a Public Transport story, work has started on the new Premier Inn situated almost next door to fbb mansions.
The last "proper" hotel in Seaton closed in the 1990s and we only have a pub and a couple of top range guest houses that call themselves "hotels". The building, which will come in the form of a full sized Bayko set on the back of several lorries, will take 33 weeks to complete.
Weird. Either the Bayko house was from a special super-sized set or the children were miniature people from the planet Zog. Bayko consisted of a base plate and metal rods into which were slid the walls, windows etc.
To get some idea of scale, note that the small holes in the base are ⅜inch apart. The Premier Inn  will be somewhat bigger.
 Next Quiz blog : Monday 1st May 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Funchal Funicular Fill-out (2)

It is worth remembering that, when the little railway from Funchal to Monte opened, it ran through largely undeveloped open country as this picture from the early 1900s shows.
The line is a streak through virgin territory with the Church of Our Lady of Monte just about "spottable" near the upper terminus.
Which brings us to a problem. The last station on the line as built was at "Monte" ...
... located lower left on the map extract above. Note the road name "Largo da Fonte". Here is the terminus ...
... with the Church higher up to the left, extracted from the same postcard view.
Next we have a view of the train approaching the "shed" cum station ...
... in the early days when the "shed" was just a shed. It was later improved and prettified.
This is the station building shown in the coloured postcard view. In the list of stations, this stop appears to be called Atalhinho (Monte); so far, so good.

But in 1912 the line was extended. It crossed part of the estate that developed in to the Monte Tropical Gardens on a splendid viaduct ...
... which remains as a road with fine views of the luxurious tropicality.
Then comes the next station.
The was a substantial building with a metal shelter, later de-roofed just leaving the frame as glimpsed above the gaggle of eager passengers here..
Confusingly this station appears to have been called Largo da Fonte, the same name as the road leading to the original terminal one stop back along the line. Closer inspection of the road outside the station building reveals that is is ALSO called ...
... Largo da Fonte! This leads some articles to call the station "Monte" and to assert that this was the terminus. Can anybody "out there" resolve this? The building, with its balcony boarded in, still remains but was in poor condition.
It has been proposed to turn this into a community building. Indeed there was a proposal to rebuilt the line from Monte to its summit; but this seems to have fizzled out. The line of route can still be followed with name "Railway Road" until it reaches a dead end further up the hill.
But careful examination of aerial views shows the track curving round and higher still.
The 1912 terminus was at a hotel and restaurant named Terreiro da Luta. It still exists, although much rebuilt.
There is, just about, a line of shadow in the trees running from bottom left in the shot above to below the modern hotel patio.

And here, from a distance, is the train standing at the terminus and showing that a considerable amount of earthwork was necessary to get it there and get passengers to he train.
In its early days the views and the restaurant were very popular with the more wealthy tourists; the video extract below showing crowds walking down the slope from the hotel ...
... and the arriving trainload setting off uphill to enjoy the views and some refreshment.

The present Terreiro da Luta building is decorated with some memorable blue and white glazed tile reproductions of Funchal and, specifically, the railway itself.
As comment write Andrew mentioned yesterday, the line began to lose popularity and the decline of tourism business as a result of World War 2 led to the line's closure in 1943.

In case you wondered, it only ever had one locomotive and one carriage! But we can make a reasonable effort to recreate a map showing route and stations; and a visitor to Funchal can still trace the lines remnants nearly 75 years after closure.
It would have been really fantastic to see even a short section of the railway re-created but that now looks very unlikely. Half-closed eyes and a bit of imagination are the only tools available to rebuild the intriguing little train service.

 Next QUIZ blog : Sunday 30th April  

Friday, 28 April 2017

Funchal Funicular Fill-out (1)

As fbb searched web sites for more information, it was apparent that there is plenty about the exceptional little rack and pinion railway at Funchal on the Island of Madeira.
The line (dated around 1900) can be seen in the inset (top right above) ...
... and just about spotted below the inset as well.

But there is no single authoritative source; so your nosey blogger has attempted to put together as detailed review of the line as possible.
We could, according to some authorities, start our ascent at the old pier by taking a horse tram. fbb can find no photographic evidence for this facility, but horse drawn "sleighs" ...
... were a feature of the sea front in the good old days.

The railway's lower terminal was at Rua do Pombal , an uphill stroll from the old pier, and appears to have been a substantial building ...
... but, not surprisingly, nothing remains today, all obliterated by the modern town.
The route is now a proper road, much wider than the single track railway.

Again there is evidence of some kind of traverser here, presumably to provide access to the underside of the loco or carriage for maintenance.
The rails (and the modern road) run almost dead straight to the first stop at Levada de Santa Luzia, a road which crosses at right angles.
The modern bridge up ahead takes the route under an inner "bypass" road.

Livramento comes next ...
... where the Estrada (street)  de Livramento crosses the line of route on a modern bridge.

Quinta Sant’Ana likewise takes its name from the Rampa (steep hill?) Quinta Santana ...
 ... at the point at which the railway road becomes little more than the width of the original trackbed.

Flamengo is, nowadays, a small foorpath ... 
... presumably a more ancient track that predates the road network and the railway.

Things now become a little more interesting. Soon after Flamengo, the line joined and ran alongside the route of the death defying wicker toboggan run reviewed in an earlier blog (read again).

Here is the stop called Confeitaria named after a nearly hidden side road.
You can just see the mirror which any driver making an exit would need to see round the high retraining wall.
Back in the day, the toboggan ride road surface looks very bumpy; there will be many numb bums after a terrifying slide! Interestingly, comparing the two photos above, and, indeed, looking at most on line pictures of trains and their passengers, there seems to be very little sign of infrastructure at any of the intermediate stops that we have discovered so far! The presence of a low level step on the single carriage reinforces the conclusion that you just clambered up from the side of the track!
No disability provision back then.

The next two stations cause some confusion, so fbb will take a breather and complete the journey to the summit station tomorrow; when there is also a video of the line to enjoy!

Considering he fact that the line was closed nearly 75 years ago, and the tracks rapidly ripped up and sold for scrap (war effort?) it is remarkable that so much can be identified.

 Next Monte blog : Saturday 29th April