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All aboard the last bus to Norwich...

PUBLISHED: 14:00 21 January 2011

Reedham resident Barbara Stone getting on the last direct bus from the village to Norwich.

Reedham resident Barbara Stone getting on the last direct bus from the village to Norwich.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

THEY gathered along the road, having come together on a grey Friday morning for what they feared would be the last time.

One huddle in Reedham totalled seven in number. Mostly aged over 60, many of them had made the journey to Norwich on the TR1 bus for more than a decade.

But following the announcement that the direct service – the only of its kind in the area – would be pulled, anxious voices discussed what the future held.

Lucie Lucas has been in the village for 17 years and used the bus for nearly as long as that.

“We’ve got a nice little village here and it’s a blow for the community, I can tell you,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it when we found out.”

Lucie, who heads into Norwich to see friends, especially so since her husband James died, also uses the opportunity to do any shopping.

And like many waiting in the driveway opposite the village’s primary school, and many in the numerous other villages the bus stops at, she was entitled to a pass that allowed her to travel free.

Mother and daughter Joan and Jean often travel together.

“I try to get down once a week, I guess it will have to be once a month now” said Joan, “we will have to get the connecting bus to Acle or get the train, which is half an hour’s walk from here and very expensive.”

Labelling themselves a “little community”, those waiting talked of regulars not present for the TR1’s send-off, like 99-year-old Jack and an elderly lady in Cantley who only gets out and about when she uses the bus.

Further down the road, and also waiting to be picked up so she can go shopping, was Barbara Stone, 79.

She was pleased to hear that county councillor Brian Iles was in talks with the county council over a solution but was nonetheless concerned about her travelling prospects.

She said: “We’re trying to figure out if we could get a private company if we put a bit of money together, but I’m annoyed and upset about it.”

Finally, at 9.41am, the cream-coloured coach arrived to pick them up. Bag in hand, Barbara got on, and joined her fellow passengers, uncertain if she will make the trip again.

As well as running through Reedham, the once-a-week TR1 stopped off at places including Cantley, Freethorpe, Halvergate, Reedham and Beighton. Swift Taxis took over the service a year ago, but have cancelled it following a review because it was not deemed financially viable.

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