Like many Websites, Six Bells Junction basically started out as one thing...but ended up as another - I did not start out with a plan to record every railtour/charter through all time, complete with a review, timings and photo(s) for the same etc...but, having taken over the railtour part of SBJ's predecessor "Railtours and Stuff" which already listed tours, traction, routes and reviews it seemed only natural to carry on in the same vein. Soon The Railtour Files section of the Website hit 500, then 1,000 pages and continues to grow, now exceeding 7,000 Pages - the majority of the information having been contributed by an ever growing band of people who have found the Website over time. A recent debate with one colleague who assists me in creating Webpages from the gen received (there are now several, all of whom have my thanks publicly as well as privately) left us thinking SBJ is still probably only a fraction of the way to recording all the specials, railtours, charters etc that have run in the UK, let alone other countries (worldwide). The Website now averages between 700 & 1,000 "unique" hits a week so the Site must be doing something right!
E-mails received to date suggest SBJ has;
(a) got some lapsed cranks back into the hobby
(b) helped numerous people add to their incomplete/innacurate records
(c) helped many who had lost complete records through numerous reasons (wife thrown them away, lost in the attic, nicked from the car, lost when the pc crashed are just some I recall)
(d) brought some friends back together after losing touch years ago
(e) given some people a damn good laugh remembering/re-living tours of old
Regrettably, I can make no promises as to the accuracy of the information contained - I'd love to say it is the dogs dangly-bits and 100% accurate at all times but it relies on information from many people and goes back over 150 years, so sometimes memories and records become a bit vague. If there is a disagreement about events (traction, route etc) then I always try and upload the various versions in the hope a third (or fourth, or fifth) party will come in and provide the missing gen/corrections/verification to make the particular railtour Page a more accurate record to the days events. As and when queries/discrepancies are resolved I try to close it out in a way which still records the alternatives suggested, so that it may help others who have inaccuracies in their own records. Slowly, but surely, the information contained becomes more and more accurate thanks to the many contributors who take the time to let me know the information.
Having been created over several years now, I have tried to standardise on the same format throughout, but changes over time have occurred and these are being revised as and when time permits. Some of the basic terminology/abbreviations used throughout is hopefully very obvious but is shown below too to assist those who are unsure;
Jn = junction
01/23 = passing time
01.23a ~ 01.24d = arrival time ~ departure time
01c23 = crew change
01w23 = watering stop (steam - but occasionally diesels too!)
01*23 ~ pathing stop
01p23 ~ photo-stop (remember them?)
FL/SL = Fast Line/Slow Line
UGL/DPL = Up Goods Loop/Down Passenger Loop etc
Back in the early days of the Website and when I used to travel on around 30 railtours per year I was the primary reviewer of the trips I travelled on - my reviews were/are simply an attempt to record the trip through the eyes of a passenger, be it funny, critical or whatever. In recent times other draws on my availability (and lack of tours travelled on) has meant I am far more reliant on others to provide the reviews to "bring to life" some of the tour Pages. In accepting tour reviews from others I try and stick with one of the basic rules of good 'Netiquette i.e. to accept the review as written, whatever the the ability of the reviewer with regards to language, grammar etc. I went to comprehensive school, failed my English 'O' Level first time round - and now (successfully, I believe) manage the marketing needs of part of a multi-billion pound (and growing) engineering business - 'nuff said I think! I also prefer not to exercise any form of censorship or editing of reviews received (though on odd occasions, and usually by agreement, minor changes may be made - you never know who may be surfing by...). I guess the tour Pages written by others should maybe carry a "the views expressed in this tour review are not necessarily that of the Webmaster" type statement...but then again that seems pretty obvious if I didn't write it, doesn't it?
The Website has a lot of crank-speak on its Pages - I make no apologies for that, it's created by an enthusiast for enthusiasts, using material provided by other enthusiasts. If I ever get the time (or someone else wants to volunteer to do it) then a dictionary Page could be added - in the mean time there are other enthusiast Websites with such Pages available.
Some more technical guff for those so interested;
SBJ now resides on hosted Webspace. It costs me personally £100/year which I pay out of my own pocket. The benefits of hosted Webspace over using the free Webspace provided by an ISP makes the expense worthwhile in my opinion.
Of 500Mb Webspace available to me, SBJ uses some 140Mb. so plenty of space still for more tour info, reviews, photos etc.
October 2004 stats showed an average of 205 "unique" visitors per day on average, that was nearly 6,500 in the month.
On an average month the Website "consumes" between 1.8 & 2Gb bandwidth (i.e. 1.8 - 2Gb-worth of data is accessed).
In one typical month SBJ has had visits from the following countries (in order of popularity): Great Britain (makes sense really), USA, European Union, Spain, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Finland, Hungary, Hong Kong, Slovenia, Norway, Croatia, South Korea, Portugal, New Zealand, China, Romania, Italy, Peru, Russian Federation, Estonia, Israel, Brazil, Singapore, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates...and last, but not least (for the time being), Poland.
The most popular hours each day for visitors are;
around lunchtime (surfing at work no doubt!)
between 7pm & 9pm
Sunday & Monday are the most popular days for visitors to the Website.
Thanks to everyone who contributes, in whatever way!
Back to "The Railtour Files"