scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Bradshaw - Brad Sure?

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the last issue (no 1521) of Bradshaw's Guide and Hotel Directory. The 1st May until 11th June 1961 issue ran to 1225 pages and there was a Late Alterations pink insert of another 32 pages. This manages to spell Murthly incorrectly with an "e" but gives us some vital information correcting pages 1211 and 1212 as follows

6.40am Inverness to Wick and 4.35 pm Inverness to Helmsdale stop additionally Rogart Halt 9.11 am and 7.9pm respectively.

7.0am Helmsdale to Inverness and 3.35pm Wick to Inverness stop additionally at Rogart Halt 7P43am and 6P26 pm respectively.

In table SC42 note P gives the usual instructions for a conditional stop. One wonders if the northbound services were mandatory stops or whether Bradshaw had missed out the "P"? Rogart station had been reopened on 6 March that year. There is a manuscript note beneath the table to say that "Bunchrew, Lentran...Rogart, The Mound... and Bilbster [are] served by road services operated by Messrs Highland Omnibuses Ltd."

Sadly, underneath all this is Table SC43 The Mound and Dornoch, with the information "The Passenger Train Service between The Mound and Dornoch has been withdrawn. Omnibus services operated by Messrs Highland Omnibuses Ltd are available." As we know, this closure took place from 13 June 1960.

Note K against the Helmsdale arrival at 7.51pm of the 4.35pm from Inverness informs that "Passengers holding inward portions of return tickets (except special day returns) issued at Wick and any ticket to Wick from stations south of Inverness may exchange their rail ticket on arrival at Helmsdale station for a bus ticket to Wick without extra payment. Bus due Wick 10pm. Passengers may also surrender similar tickets to Thurso and travel by bus to Wick without additional cost but they must find their own way from Wick to Thurso." Presumably the bus company was not willing to make this facility available to passengers travelling from Inverness or Dingwall. Connections to and from the Highlands in 1961 used Glasgow's Buchanan Street railway station.

Services from Inverness to Aberdeen at this time had a choice of routes between Elgin and Huntly and similarly Aviemore could also be reached via Forres and Grantown. Local stations were still open on these lines. The Scottish pages also showed the Kyle to Kyleakin and North and South Queensferry car ferries and the Clyde and Western Isles steamer sailings. Table 49 tersely states that there is a steamer "From Scrabster (Thurso) to STROMNESS (Orkney) - Daily except Sundays."

The hotel section of the guide does not advertise any hotels in the north although some of the British Transport Hotels elsewhere are advertised. Sleeper berths may be had for 40s (£2), 22/6 (£1.12½p) or 14s (70p) for one, two, or four berth compartments. The four berth provided only a pillow and a rug. Within Scotland these fares were £30, £20 and £12 respectively. All seat reservations cost two shillings.

The alternatives to Bradshaw were the shilling timetables produced by each of the six BR regions. Bradshaw cost twelve shillings and six pence approximately monthly. Bradshaw's demise was much lamented as it had been a national institution. It features in many forms of literature from ditties to Sherlock Holmes.

Richard Ardern