Thursday, 31 May 2012

Halfie Delays the Outer Circle!

Halfie's "Jubilee"
My planned tour of Birmingham's "Outer Circle" bus route ("the biggest bus route in Europe") was delayed today, but for a very good reason - a visit from Halfie, and Ben, who had brought Jubilee into Brum for the day from their temporary mooring outside Yardley Wood Bus Garage! (aka: Bridge 5, Stratford Canal). Despite following each other's blogs for quite a while we'd never actually met and we had a lot to talk about over coffee aboard Starcross before moving on to Jubilee for more chat and more coffee!
This took up most of the morning but then I was further delayed by a phone call from the boss of a small Herefordshire bus company I do some consultancy work for who had a small, but urgent, job that needed doing NOW
By the time I'd done that and emailed it off it was lunch time and then by the time I'd walked up to Broad Street and got a bus to Bearwood (the Outer Circle, by definition, doesn't come anywhere near the city centre) it was  14.30 before I actually got aboard the number 11A ("A" for anti-clockwise - the clockwise version is the 11C, but strangely I never contemplated doing it that way round!)
There's lots of stuff I could tell you about the Outer Circle, but if you are interested you can read its own Wikipedia page. To me, the highlights were:
Bourneville Village:
High-quality housing provided by George Cadbury for his chocolate factoryworkers
as part of a planned village with every amenity for the staff - except a pub!

Sarehole Mill
Sarehole Valley was the childhood playground of JRR Tolkein and supposedly the inspiration for the locations in Lord of the Rings. This has given Birmingham City Council's Parks Department the idea for some pretty desperate marketing!
Acocks Green
Acocks Green Garage provides the buses for the Outer Circle. It takes over 50 vehicles to provide the service: as many as I had to run the entire network of subsidised routes throughout Herefordshire.
The banner to the left reads "Home of the Outer Circle. The biggest bus route in Europe!
Where the number 11 used to rattle the glass in the door of Ray of No Direction's childhood home.(but of which I didn't get a photo)

A touch of the orient in deepest Brum
Winson Green Prison: (of which I though it would be most unwise to take a photo)

Canals, of course, are crossed throughout the route and I saw the Worcester & Birmingham, the Grand Union, the Birmingham & Fazeley, the Tame Valley, the BCN New Main Line and the Soho Loop. If you're going on any of these keep your eyes peeled for the number 11!

On a good day, the 26 mile route can be completed in under three hours but with the stopovers and the rush-hour traffic it was 18.30 by the time I alighted back in Bearwood, but at least I have now seen the real Brum.

Birmingham also has an Inner Circle; but I'll spare you that!


Halfie said...

I'm sorry we delayed you today, Jim, but it was good to meet in person. I'm glad you managed your Outer Circle eventually, even if in only one direction(!)

After saying goodbye to you we did the loops as we said - but I didn't see a number 11 bus at Winson Green. Mind you, I didn't know I had to look out for one!

Anonymous said...

Good grief! You didn't think I'd be going both ways round. That would be eccentric!
Good to meet you too.