Bus Boss Celebrates 40th Year in the Industry

Stagecoach Manchester chief marks four decade tenure

Leyland Atlantean, Christopher Bowles and Enviro400H.
Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean 7001, an Enviro400H and Christopher Bowles, with the numerical indicator denoting his length of service. (Photograph © 2014 Tangerine PR Ltd) 

Greater Manchester, 1974: a truly different place to the conurbation we see today. Firstly, our buses were orange and white. Manchester United was playing Second Division football; the Hulme Crescents, over a year after completion saw rats and cockroaches. Stalybridge Celtic was members of the Cheshire County League whilst Mossley played in the Northern Premier League – then the highest division after Football League Division Four. Continue reading Bus Boss Celebrates 40th Year in the Industry

£350 to Zagreb? The Real Scandal’s £321 from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston

Never mind the rail fare to Croatia, look at our standard fares!

I’m with Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales for shunning the £90 flight in favour of the train option. Besides the obvious ecological advantages, the plane doesn’t give you enough space to catch up on work. Even on the shortest of routes, the view from a train window is infinitely superior. Continue reading £350 to Zagreb? The Real Scandal’s £321 from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston

Official: M25′s No Longer The Road To Hell

And it certainly isn’t the A666 either!

Regular drivers may be far from surprised as to where the UK’s real Road To Hell lies. The M6 between Cheshire and Staffordshire can be troublesome at times, and the M62 seems to have had road cones and a 50mph speed limit, between Ainley Top and the M1/M62 interchange since the start of this decade. The M25′s tropes are well publicised and form a metaphorical beltway between London and the rest of the United Kingdom. Continue reading Official: M25′s No Longer The Road To Hell

Bad Robots: Redefining Candid Camera for the 21st Century

E4′s dystopian answer to Allen Funt’s programme

  • Featuring: Sir Michael Gambon (voiceover);
  • Episodes: 6 x 24 minute episodes;
  • Time: 2100 hours, Tuesdays (repeated on Sundays, 2330 hours);
  • Channels: E4 and E4+1;
  • Producer: Objective Productions for Channel Four Corporation.

The Luddites had a point. Not only for the amount of job losses caused by automation but also for the controlling nature in the pursuit of profit. William Morris, pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement bemoaned the rise of machines and how they undermined craftsmanship. J.G. Ballard recognised how modern life would lead to a dystopian vision of the future. Continue reading Bad Robots: Redefining Candid Camera for the 21st Century

In Defence of ENCTS: Why Concessionary Travel is a Social Good

How reduced rate travel connects people with places, and does so very well

First Greater Manchester YJ51 RAU, Ashton Bus Station
YJ51 RAU a Volvo B7TL seen on the 389 service at Ashton-under-Lyne bus station to Hyde via Ridge Hill and Yew Tree estates.


This week saw mixed messages for passengers on the national concessionary travel scheme. To start with, a 36 year old disabled man won £5,500 damages after it was stated his local bus operator breached the 2010 Equality Act. He was denied access to a Leeds bound bus as a woman with a pushchair refused to budge. Continue reading In Defence of ENCTS: Why Concessionary Travel is a Social Good

It’s Time to Brew! Hyde’s First Brewery Since 1929 Ready for Christmas

Tweed Brewing Company sets up home in Newton

Just off the 346 bus route (along the part hitherto SHMD’s 15 service), Hydonians can drink to the town’s first brewery since 1929. The Tweed Brewing Company have set up a microbrewery on Newton Business Park. Owned by father and son Dave and Sam Ward, this began life as a conversation over a few beers. Continue reading It’s Time to Brew! Hyde’s First Brewery Since 1929 Ready for Christmas

The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show ’14: Autumnal Gold

This autumn’s collection of elderly buses in the Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside areas.

In the last quarter, the step entrance double decker seems to be dwindling in numbers. Older low floor equivalents seem to have been cascaded. Most notably in Bury and Rochdale where Mercedes Citaros ply their trade. This summer saw the departure of Greater Manchester’s only Dennis Arrow with 34088, a First Greater Manchester Volvo Olympian set to follow her. Continue reading The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show ’14: Autumnal Gold

Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside: November 2014

More changes to the borough’s retail offerings

Ashton Christmas Market, opening day crowds
Only a month to go: St. Andrew’s Day sees the opening of this year’s Ashton Christmas Market. Seen above is an image from last year’s opening day.
  • New KFC opening in Hyde;
  • Five Guys set for Ashton Moss début;
  • Stalybridge comings and goings;
  • Long established electronics shop closes.

Shortly after last month’s despatches, the Tameside retail scene has been rather busy. So much so we were out by several weeks on one development. The imminent opening of Hyde’s KFC. Continue reading Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside: November 2014

Costa or The Caledonia? Are Thirty-Somethings Opting For The Former

A look at as to why people under 35 years old are drinking less than their parents.

I like a good coffee now and again. Sometimes it may be from Costabucks Nero or the local supermarket café. I am also a connoisseur of fairtrade brands, not only coffee but also tea. For me, substandard tea or coffee is anathema to productivity and workplace relations. In a ideal world, I would like to see Taylor’s of Harrogate’s finest beverages in almost every office throughout the UK, or another reasonable fairtrade brand. Continue reading Costa or The Caledonia? Are Thirty-Somethings Opting For The Former

ITV Startup Music Through The Ages: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten great pieces of television startup music used by ITV franchises

Once upon, quite so long ago, there was a time before 24 hour television. Television channels used to start at around 9am or a little later, and finish at about the same time when most adults went to bed.

Then came breakfast television. Yorkshire Television pioneered UK breakfast television from 1976 to 1978 with Good Morning Calendar. BBC set the trend with a national service, with BBC Breakfast Time commencing on the 18 January 1983. In February, TV-am would begin proceedings at 6am with its (much superior to the present day predecessor’s equivalent) Daybreak programme headed by Robert Kee. This would be followed by the (much superior to today’s version of) Good Morning Britain.

In ITV-land, its constituents would commence broadcasting at 9.15am (later 9.25am since Good Morning Britain introduced its After Nine slot). After the egg cups appeared, a trade test transmission or IBA’s Engineering Announcements, cue the dulcet tones of Christopher Gunning’s Yorkshire Theme. Or Keith Mansfield’s New Station Theme for Granada Television. Or Johnny Hawkesworth’s Salute To Thames. What was our first set of programmes? Likely to be the Schools’ programmes prior to their September 1987 move to Channel Four.

As well as establishing the identity of each ITV franchise, the changeover gave viewers a sense of balance. Whilst its transmitters shifted from TV-am to our franchisee, it gave us a chance to put the kettle on between Nick Owen and How We Used To Live.

These halcyon days have inspired this month’s Not So Perfect Ten. Here are the following:

  1. Yorkshire Theme, Christopher Gunning (Yorkshire Television);
  2. A Well Swung Fanfare, Don Jackson (London Weekend Television);
  3. Salute to Thames, Johnny Hawkesworth (Thames Television);
  4. Scotlandia, Geraldo (Scottish Television);
  5. Southern Rhapsody, Richard Addinsell (Southern Television);
  6. Odyssey, Stephanie de Sykes and Rain (Associated Television);
  7. Chi Chi/The Bingola/Keltic Prelude March, Keith Papworth/Vivian Ellis/L.E. de Francesco (Border Television);
  8. The Three Rivers Fantasy, Arthur Wilkinson (Tyne-Tees Television);
  9. An English Overture, Paul Lewis (Westward Television);
  10. New Station March, Keith Mansfield (Granada Television).

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1. Yorkshire Television: Yorkshire Theme (Christopher Gunning)

Before 1982, Yorkshire Television’s startup theme was the excellent Yorkshire Television March which had a nod of 633 Squadron about it (both pieces were written by Ron Goodwin). Its successor by Christopher Gunning didn’t disappoint; thriftiness prevailed as Mr. Gunning’s theme was also used, in truncated form for its Calendar bulletins. The piece sound like it comes from the cold and gave the viewer a great sense of anticipation.

2. London Weekend Television: A Well Swung Fanfare (Don Jackson)

If you were up on Saturday mornings in London and parts of South East England, this tune meant one thing: either Sesame Street, TISWAS or The Saturday Starship was on its way. Don Jackson’s A Well Swung Fanfare was jovial; it could have been peeing down in Putney or snowing in Streatham, and never fail to light the face of any viewer. It screams ‘a weekend of entertainment is approaching’. Not quite in the same way as the Friday changeover did with the emergence of the Aquafresh style ident, though equally good.

3. Thames Television: Salute to Thames (Johnny Hawkesworth)

Johnny Hawkesworth’s is one of two themes which made up the Thames Television startup routine. It follows the Michael Roberts piece Perpetuum Mobile, which was used by LWT’s weekend predecessor,  ABC Television. Thames Television was formed after a merger of ABC’s London operations and the capital’s weekday contractor, Rediffusion. The second theme (often with the dulcet tones of Philip Elsmore reminding us of the ITV franchise) is an elongated version of the ident theme with its horns and timpani leading us to the joys of Stop, Look, Listen or the like. Brilliant it is too.

4. Scottish Television: Scotlandia (Geraldo)

Scottish Television’s startup music, used in the above recreation of a 1970s startup is a medley of eight pieces:

  1. The Campbells Are Comin’;
  2. Bonnie Charlie;
  3. Loch Lomond;
  4. Bonnie Dundee;
  5. Coming Through the Rye;
  6. Charlie is My Darling;
  7. Caller Herring;
  8. A Hundred Pipers.

It is a glorious patchwork quilt of feel-good themes whilst respecting the southern half of the country’s traditions.

5. Southern Television: Southern Rhapsody (Richard Addinsell)

Southern Television’s startup theme was in use since the beginning of its franchise term. Though they replaced this with Ivor Slaney’s Step Lively for a short period, viewers objected; Richard Addinsell’s theme was back in use, till its rather acrimonious end on New Year’s Eve 1981. The above clip is a reproduction of their 1950s and 1960s startup. Among the landmarks detailed in the clip are:

  • Bournemouth Pier, Hampshire;
  • Corfe Castle, Dorset;
  • Fawley Oil Refinery, Southampton, Hampshire;
  • Southampton Ferry Terminal;
  • The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent;
  • Brighton Pavilion, East Sussex;
  • A Kentish oasthouse;
  • Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

6. Associated Television: Odyssey (Stephanie de Sykes and Rain)

For many people, ATV means New Faces, CrossroadsThe Golden Shot and TISWAS. Seen on the show presented by Derek Hobson and the popular soap opera set in a Birmingham hotel was Stephanie de Sykes. Her vocal talents were used for ATV’s 1973 startup. It was one that exuded optimism, much needed given the political climate of the time. The startup film seen above shows a host of Midlands landmarks. Included are:

  • The Malvern Hills (leading up to Worcestershire Beacon);
  • The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon;
  • British Steel Dudley, West Midlands;
  • Spaghetti Junction, Gravelly Hill, West Midlands;
  • Birmingham city centre (including the ATV’s Broad Street Studios and Birmingham New Street railway station);
  • Kingsway Telephone Tower, Birmingham;
  • Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire;
  • Coventry Cathedral, West Midlands.

Unfortunately, this was one of ATV’s shortest lived startup themes as the IBA forbade the use of vocalists. This would be replaced by Richard Hill’s Five by Five then Johnny Pearson’s Midlands Parade.

7. Border Television: Chi Chi/The Bingola/Keltic Prelude March (Keith Papworth/Vivian Ellis/L.E. de Francesco)

Border Television, along with Granada Television and Tyne-Tees Television, never lost their franchise. They were ultimately gobbled up by the mighty colossus of a single ITV, after being taken over by Ulster Television. Their 1980s startup is redolent of strong cuppas in a rain-lashed Keswick or elevenses in Galashiels. It  exudes a cosiness lost in today’s presentation.

8. Tyne-Tees Television: The Three Rivers Fantasy (Arthur Wilkinson)

The Three Rivers Fantasy is actually a medley of famous songs associated with the North East of England. The montage of songs, in chronological order are:

  • Bobby Shaftoe;
  • Keel Row;
  • Water of Tyne;
  • The Sailor’s Hornpipe;
  • Blaydon Races.

What a fantastic set of tunes to wake up to!

9. Westward Television: An English Overture (Paul Lewis)

Before Television South West took Gus Honeybun with them, Westward Television, the joys of South West England are resplendent in Paul Lewis’ composition. Key parts of the 1970s startup film include:

  • A car ferry from Plymouth;
  • Views of Plymouth, Brixham and Weymouth harbours;
  • Durdle Door;
  • A tin mine shaft;
  • An open-cast China clay pit;
  • A preserved railway (South Devon or Paignton and Dartmouth? Answers please);
  • Cornish fishing villages.

As well as being an uplifting way to start a day’s viewing, it was a good little brochure for the resorts along Westward’s transmission area.

10. Granada Television: New Station Theme (Keith Mansfield)

How else do we finish this Not So Perfect Ten? Well, with a theme that was used for its startups and closedowns. Granada Television had two startup themes before then. The first was by Tony Lowry, The Granada March; its second came from Oldham born composer William Walton, Prelude for Orchestra. Its third, introduced in 1978, also wrote the most recent theme tune to Grandstand. There was a slightly different version used for its closedown, which omits the high pitched introduction (reminiscent of Grieg’s Peer Gynt – used at around that time for Vale Royal Borough Council’s advertisements).

For me, obviously being a fully-paid-up citizen of Granadaland, one of my favourite startup theme tunes. It had a good run (ten years, prior to the launch of its 24 hour service) with its gentle start and crescendo near the end a theme which gets me lying back and thinking of Jim Pope, Colin Weston or Sue Robbie (or rather, as to when Sesame Street‘s on yet).

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Well, it is time for me to say goodbye on this post, so feel free to add to the list, or reminisce over the existing ten. Oh, and please remember to switch off your set…

S.V., 04 November 2014.