I was an alien in the ‘City Centre’ this morning. Trying out the public transport from the Staffordshire Moorlands to Burslem for the first time.
Fortunately I live on a main bus route to Hanley that gets me to a destination known on arrival as ‘City Centre’.
Once there I asked four members of staff of First Transport “Can you please tell me how I can catch the bus to Burslem”. The first told me that I could catch one next to the Potteries Centre but she wasn’t sure which stand it would be. No problem I thought, surely I can find this out. However, unlike the bus stops that are in Burslem which are informative as to the buses that stop, their destination as well as the ETA of the next one, out of four bus stops not one of them had a bus time table on it let alone a digital countdown! Buses were coming but none where indicated destination Burslem all said ‘City Centre’.
I asked two more drivers “Can you please tell me how I can catch the bus to Burslem”, the first even shook his head as though he hadn’t even heard of Burslem. As I was fearful of being late for work and short of a pen I didn’t think it was the time or the place to explain to him about Burslem ‘The Mother Town’ steeped in history and heritage, the creative epicentre of Stoke-on-Trent with magnificent architecture. The second driver grunted and pointed that I needed to “stand at the second stop along on the road that leads out of Hanley duck”, before he turned and departed on yet another bus marked ‘City Centre’.
Following the finger I walked towards ‘the road out of Hanley’ which would have confused any Tom Tom, I walked towards the second bus stop I came across and asked a bus driver once more “Can you please tell me how I can catch the bus to Burslem?” he knew where Burslem but could not advise which bus or stop would get me there. He told me to head down to the bus station and look it up on the boards… ‘how high tech’ I thought! The bus station would have been my last resort as last time I was there the scenes, smells and language were not suitable before or after the watershed!
As I turned from the bus a woman stopped me and said “Are you wanted to get to Burslem duck?”
“Yes I am”
“Well, see past that building there…” as she pointed to Webberley’s the only building I had walked past in the City Centre that is a patch on anything in Burslem (thinking of the Ceramica, The Queens Theatre, The Wedgwood Institute and the School of Art) “can you see that white building on the corner, well duck, just up from there you can see a games shop, sell them models that they decorate and have battles with, well just in front of there, stand at that bus stop and the bus will take you to straight into Burslem duck.”.
This kind lady was so keen to help me navigate my way to Burslem she had let go of here pushchair which careered into a shop window, but that is by the by! I couldn’t thank her enough and she had such a warm charm about her I felt I like I just got off the bus with her after sharing a long journey, nattering all the way.
I went straight to the bus stop that I found no problem at all thanks to her illustrative directions, stood for five minutes and found myself on a bus that took me straight into Burslem. Pulling up in Market place between the Queens Theatre and Ceramica – and what a welcome relief it was! The Barewall Gallery was open and ready for custom by 9.30am.
The moral of the story is, when transport officials, notice boards and the lack of tourist information in the City Centre, let you down, the people, especially those connected to Burslem, don’t. If the new bus station development will improve transportation links to satellite destinations such as Burslem then this can only be a good thing, because after a 30 minute walk around the City Centre I was never so happy to pull up in Burslem.