John Woodhouse: Why not name Hanley's new bus station after Bruno or Anthea?
A NEW chapter begins in the history of Hanley next week. And I don't mean Liberty is opening a franchise in Wilkinsons.
The town's new bus station is finally unveiled to the public – an alternative attraction for those who've tired of the Staffordshire Hoard.
I'm as excited about the opening of the facility as the next person. Bus station openings are few and far between and it's something any sane person would want to tell their grandkids about.
It's one of those 'where were you?' moments. Like the assassination of JFK, or when George Galloway licked Rula Lenska while dressed as a cat on Celebrity Big Brother.
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I might even take my On The Buses boxset along to be signed by the station manager.
But while I'm pleased the council has swerved referring to the terminus in clichéd jargon terms such as 'transport hub', 'passenger plaza', or 'wayfarer Valhalla', I can't help feeling they've missed a trick when it comes to the name. The fad in recent times has been to christen a transport facility after a famous local. That's why, for instance, Liverpool has John Lennon Airport, and the Kent terminus of Eurostar is branded simply Pop Larkin International.
Anyone would have to admit that, by comparison, 'Hanley bus station' is a little plain. Especially when it could have been called the Bruno Brookes Potteries Pilgrim Kernel.
Alternatives range from the Anthea Turner Nomad Nucleus to the Captain Smith Voyager Portal (Sponsored By Iceland). Although attaching Captain Smith's name to any transport orientated venture is, in all probability, a very bad idea.
That's why, admittedly a little late in the day, I'd urge the local authority to throw the matter open to a public competition. I've yet to check with the station management but I'm sure they'd be more than happy to paint the winner's face on the back end of a bus.
The old station, meanwhile, must sit abandoned and morose, like a teddy bear in a skip, until redevelopment takes place. But again, in the meantime, could this area not be given a little imaginative thought?
For instance, might it not make a good film set? I hear next year MGM are doing a remake of Stalag 17. And I've never been down there past 10pm without being reminded of the opening 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
Eventually, of course, memories of the old Hanley bus station will slip away, recalled only in sepia-tinged books of photos, such as the one in which Gladys, from Bentilee, slips in a puddle of sick by bay 13. And the one in which Maureen, from Trent Vale, became fossilised while waiting for the National Express to Nuneaton.
All of us have, of course, spent many an hour on that old bus station, as time passed, and the bus failed to appear. But it was a great place for people watching. Finding out later in The Sentinel what they'd been charged with. And there was always a great community spirit down there. Well I suppose there had to be. Like penguins, if you strayed from the huddle you might die of hypothermia.
Of course, to all those used to the old bus station, the new one will seem like abject luxury. There will be, we are told, an information office, touch-screen journey planners, a convenience store, even – get this – 'waiting facilities', although I'm thinking that's probably another expression for 'the floor'.
All in all, I'm expecting a positive reaction.
Although I'm expecting a few to change their opinion when they realise they have to slide down the roof into that new fleet of open-topped double deckers.