Oliver Foreman writes (28 November 2010):
For those who have never heard of this strange sounding place, take a look at the Wikipedia entry on Clay Cross
Transpire member Nathan Cartwright was brought up in Clay Cross. He is currently a student in Preston so when he heard that his beloved town was
to have a bus station and that fellow Transpire member Neville Whitmore was to attempt to be the first passenger he somehow persuaded me to get
up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday with my camera to provide a photographic record of this momentous event.
When I agreed to this, little did I realise that the temperature in Clay Cross on that Sunday morning was to be minus 12 degrees Centigrade! Yes minus 12 degrees, and
that is no exaggeration!
Anyway, the deed is done and here is the evidence . . .
1. The first bus of the day was a 51 due at 0801. This is a unique journey in that it starts at Tibshelf and runs to Clay Cross via
Alfreton, after which it follows the normal 51 route to Chesterfield (except dropping off in new Beetwell Street as it then takes up running on a
different service). With the appalling road conditions, it was no wonder it was a few minutes late. Two men in yellow jackets were on duty in the bus station,
assisting passengers, putting down grit and clearing away the snow.
2. Neville was so determined to be the first passenger to use the new bus station that he asked a lady in the queue
(who had been waiting at the now unserved stop in Market Street until a man in yellow put her right) if he might board first. Still, I suppose
that is more polite than just shoving her out of the way. Here Neville achieves his aim.
3. So the very first bus pulls out of Clay Cross bus station, just as the gritting lorry does a run through the stops.
4. The next departure is the 0900 54 to Chesterfield via North Wingfield. This bus runs light to Clay Cross. By this time, a 'Not in
Service' Optare Solo is parked in the bus station. Its driver is putting up timetables in the five stands and in Market Street where
the 51 to Danesmoor continues to pick up, rather than the bus station.
5. Guess who is the first passenger on the 54! Yes, it's our Neville, upholding the reputation of Transpire. Note the new waiting room (yet to be opened) to the left of the picture.
6. The first 54 from Clay Cross bus station leaves on time.
7. Shortly afterwards the 51 from Danesmoor comes in. In the foreground is the Optare Solo on timetable display duties.
8. Behind the 51 (departing on time at 0901) are the new toilets, not yet open.
9. The first 54 to arrive at the new bus station pulls in on time at 0925. Who is that getting off??
10. Look carefully to see the Stagecoach timetables going up in the display boards. The Trentbarton Spira timetable is already in position.
11. Neville looks on as the 54 prepares for its 0930 departure. The driver said that on the previous day it had taken him 17 minutes to turn round in Clay Cross as,
until the bus station opened, the 54 had to queue to turn on to the busy A61 road just for a 100 metres or so before turning back into the town centre.
12. The bus station is part of a multi million pound development that includes a brand new Tesco Extra store, due to open on 6 December. On
this freezing Sunday morning, men were at work in the Tesco car park striving to meet the deadline.
13. The 54 sets off for Chesterfield with the new Tesco clearly visible in the background. Clay Cross now truly has a
working bus station!
I returned to Clay Cross Bus Station for an hour or so around lunchtime the following day, Monday 29 November 2010. This is
what I found . . .
14. To enter the Bus Station, vehicles on some routes have to take a sharp left out of Broadleys, going over to the other side of the road
to get round, creating delays at busy times, then immediately right through the Somerfield car park to the Bus Station.
15. The 51 to Danesmoor continues to use the Market Street stop. Note the now disused stop on the very left of the picture. The gentleman in
front of Ladbrokes, sensibly dressed for the weather, is a helpful Stagecoach employee directing confused passengers to the Bus Station
which is round the back of the shops, the buses coming out at the traffic lights behind the 51 bus. The Red Arrow
does not use the Bus Station in either direction, continuing straight along the A61, skirting the town centre.
16. There can be delays on the entrance road through the car park to the Bus Station if motorists are backing out of or
queuing for parking spaces.
17. The depot of G & J Holmes is a short distance from the Bus Station.
18. All the stands have signs listing in order the departures from that
stand and another list showing where to get on your bus in Clay Cross.
19. The Spira to Sutton uses the same stand as TM Travel 73 which has a 25 minute layover in the Bus Station. This caused a minor delay to the
Stagecoach on the stand behind.
20. The good news is that the Monday was 12 degrees warmer than Sunday (temperature climbed to 0 degrees!) but the bad news is it felt twice
as cold, probably because of a bitter wind. I look forward to the waiting room (if that is what it is!) and the toilets being open to
complement the comprehensive bus information that is already in place . . . and of course the enormous Tesco's opening early December
(though there are many good small shops in Clay Cross). Why not take a bus ride to see for yourself?