Down in the dumps

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Made up me mind yesterday to have a ride over to Sunderland today by bus. Not because I have any great love for Sunderland but because the bus takes over two hours to get there and it's a nice ride for part of the way.

Left the house and caught the 9:30 bus [638] with the landlord and settled at the back for the trip. For once all the windows and the top vent were wide open [the bus we had yesterday into town had the heaters on] and a nice cool breeze was evident while in motion. Now the 638 is a strange mixture of a bus route in that it passes mostly through scallylands with occasional parts of decent areas. The first place we come to where low-life abounds is Winlaton which is as bad if not worse than a lot of the nasty parts of London. It's not totally bad as some good folk live among all the scum but maybe they do so from choice.

Onward we go and descend Shibdon Bank which is a low-gear-all-the-way effort and reach the bottom safely. Along Shibdon Road to Swalwell where we turn right to ascend Swalwell bank. This bank is 12% and steeper in places [as is Shibdon Bank] and I see a real treat turn the corner ahead of us. An old Atlantean bus which was possibly a former Busways vehicle started it's long slow grind up the hill in front of us and you Diesel loco guys would have loved it.

The clag [why is it called clag? we used to call exhaust emissions Fug. Clag is sticky mud or clay] that came out of that bus was nobody's business. Great clouds of thick blue smoke and that beautiful 'Atlantean Roar' as it struggled up the hill was a sight to behold and hear. This grand old chariot eventually got to the top after an epic grind of about 7 minutes at about 10 MPH. At the top it turned right and left us but I would not have missed seeing it for the world. Our bus carries on through Whickham which is quite nice part of Gateshead and past Teams and into Bensham. This is another part of run down Town but further along Saltwell Road near the Crematorium its quite nice. The cemetery is not a bad place to live either. Turning left we go up another steep bank [Belle Vue] to Low Fell and then along the Durham Road to Harlow Green which is close to the Northern Angel then left again and up more hills to Wreckenton. Wreckenton too has seen better days but it's not too bad I hear.

Further on Springwell is reached which I have always found a pleasant place to pass through but looks can't tell what it is actually like. I don't know so onwards we pass. Next up is Washington, the chav capital of the north east. The houses look decent enough but the folk who live in them are far from it. As if to prove the point a bunch of loud mouth scally girls get in. These are the type of girls I call 'badly baked cakes' I.E. they started off as maids of honour and finished up as tarts. Fortunatly we don't have to suffer them for long. Onwards into Sunderland proper which lives up to it's reputation. It's the biggest city in the north east and also it's biggest crap heap. For all the tarting up and rebuilding of the city centre and the 'Bridges' shopping malls Sunderland cannot shake off the 'cheap and nasty' feel it has always had which is exacerbated by it's populous. Girls that look like painted dummies, lads that look like adverts for prisons and drugs. I could go on but I won't.

After a quick lunch in Burger King [no decent eateries in Sunderland mate] we decide to take the Metro back to Newcastle. The metro also goes through some rough places too. Pelaw, Heworth, Felling, Stadium. All places where folk should be paid to live and not t'other way round. To be fair though some streets in Felling are decent. While on the Metro we have hoards of shell suited baseball capped Burberry clad denizens get on board nattering and chattering nine to the dozen which makes us glad to get out at Haymarket.

A quick bit of shopping in Marks & Sparks with a bus ride home rounds off a mixed day. Followed that with the normal afternoon nap and now I am setting out this little report. Living in the northeast is nice but like everywhere else in depends on which part you live.
 
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Tom B

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HR2 said:
These are the type of girls I call 'badly baked cakes' I.E. they started off as maids of honour and finished up as tarts.

:D :D :D :D :D!

Excellent!
 

Craig

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HR2 said:
Our bus carries on through Whickham which is quite nice part of Gateshead and past Teams and into Bensham. This is another part of run down Town but further along Saltwell Road near the Crematorium its quite nice.
The bit of Bensham where I live is alright! You're right about the bit along Saltwell Road though :roll:
 
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Craig said:
The bit of Bensham where I live is alright! You're right about the bit along Saltwell Road though :roll:


Yes Craig. There are some nice new houses on the left near the railway bridge. The bit that seems grotty is round the corner in Saltwell road where some of the shops are permanently shuttered and barred wether open or not. Near the post office to be precise.
 

eezypeazy

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This record of your journey is quite timely. As I'm sure Bob knows, this bus route (the longest in Tyne and Wear) is about to be cut back. From next week, it only runs Crawcrook - Washington.

The strange thing is, I can't for the life of me recall how the route came about. It was definitely running in its current Crawcrook-Washington form before 1980, when I worked for Tyne and Wear PTE. On the face of it, it looks very much like some sort of "political animal" of a route - stretching from the extremes of the county boundary to the coast, via at least one hospital. Eric Hutchinson was in charge of buses at the PTE in those days - so much a busman, he was reputed to have diesel in his veins - nice bloke as well! But he did have a penchant for unusual workings. It wasn't unknown for him to do a driving duty on the Saturday 74 to Kirkheaton!

Anyway, it's goodbye to the Crawcrook-Sunderland 638... which I've only ever done end-to-end once...

eezypeazy
 

Max

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Since this is a nice little story, I've moved it to the story forum :)
 
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eezypeazy said:
. Anyway, it's goodbye to the Crawcrook-Sunderland 638... which I've only ever done end-to-end once...eezypeazy


What an odd descision! it's only eastern end of the 638 that picks up many passengers. This end gets fat old fellas and wind! It would be more use if it went up Kells Lane instaed of Harlow green. That way it would pass QE Hosptial and give us westerners a direct link instead of having to change twice.

One thing we do need is a restoration of the direct link to Gateshead interchange. The 10c goes withing spitting distance but does not call there. You have to change at Metrocentre. These planning guys know all the tricks. 2 buse's 2 fares! Just get a few more pennies out of the public.
 
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eezypeazy said:
(cough)senior citizen's free travel?(cough)

eezypeazy

I don't mean ME Tom...I mean the poor saps who have to pay lad! :wave:

EDIT: I have dug out and old Tyne/Wear PTE timetable book from 1976 and the 638 was running Ryton Village Washington only at that time. Ran on sundays too to Swalwell. In those day Ryton was served by 481, 492, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 609, 610, 638
 

Craig

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HR2 said:
Yes Craig. There are some nice new houses on the left near the railway bridge.
That's where I live, so that's ok ;)

HR2 said:
What an odd descision! it's only eastern end of the 638 that picks up many passengers.
I had to get a bus from Heworth into Washington (Donwell) yesterday. It seems as though some (or all?) of the busses in Washington are being renumbered at the end of the month. Apparently the 638 will run from Concord to Sunderland with an M number. I'm not sure if it's the same bus or whether you'd need to change though.
 
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There's a good few changes to the buses next week. 10 routes are being axed altogether and otheres reduced. This all because they have given doddery old sods like me free travel. Don't blame me I did not ask for it it was thrown at us. :glasses2:
 

Tom B

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Funny how free travel worked in the 1970's without any service cuts. Ah yes, I forget, buses were run for the service then not the profit.

"Sorry we cut your bus service back to three a day weekdays only, but we have to make a profit on the route. Yes, yes I know this is the most profitable region in the country for us but that doesn't mean we want to deduct from that by running a proper service. If you walk down the road, left, walk half a mile, left, then left again there are buses every 8 minutes* into town!"

* First Group definition of "8 minutes":
"Buses will come every 8 minutes, subject to the following conditions
- The driver can be bothered
- The driver has finished his cigarette
- The driver has finished counting up the money in the cash tray to decide which is the company's and which is his that he's stolen off the company by not printing tickets
- There are enough buses to go around, remember if one breaks down we don't put spares out anymore, you have to make do
- Moir Lockhead is in a good mood
- Anyway, it doesn't matter, you don't have a choice but to use our services.

Please remember to have your fare (and if nescesarry any mortgage documents) ready when boarding the bus. Exact fare makes it much easier for the driver to pocket."


As for the chap doing a driving duty - good on him! This happens with one of the companies around here, ever so often one of the bosses will go out and take over a shift (or to cover for an absent/sacked employee).
 

Ben

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Tom B,

You forget one Condition - The Driver having a Clue where he/she is Going. ;)
 

eezypeazy

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HR2 said:
EDIT: I have dug out and old Tyne/Wear PTE timetable book from 1976 and the 638 was running Ryton Village Washington only at that time. Ran on sundays too to Swalwell. In those day Ryton was served by 481, 492, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 609, 610, 638

There's a story behind that, too.. Eric Hutchinson believed in separate route numbers for every variation of a route. So, for example, the bus stop plate just round the corner from you, on the road to Wylam, had, in the early eighties, 605, 606, X42 (if I recall correctly), plus a few others ... on a road (almost) going nowhere! In practice, one route operated every two hours between Coalburns, Greenside and Wylam, and the others provided a half-hourly service to Clara Vale.

If you go back to the late 'sixties, United and Venture were the two main operators. United provided a half-hourly service from Hexham, another half-hourly from Branch End (Stocksfield), another frequent service from Prudhoe, and an hourly service from Apperley Dene (now down to two trips a day)... that was about seven buses an hour, plus the Clara Vale service, and they ran a High Spen to Newcastle service, and Saturday extras from Stargate to Newcastle... add in Venture, and it's an intensity of service we're unlilkely to see again...

If anyone ever wants to do some serious research, I've got an (almost) complete set of United Northumberland area timetables from about 1966 to the mid 1980's, plus Newcastle Corporation and Tyneside /Tyne and Wear PTE timetables for a similar period.... sad, isn't it?!?

eezypeazy
 
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