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News Archive 2005

Public Inquiry Concluded

The public inquiry into the 200m Gloucester Quays project was formally concluded on 20 December after a 10-day delay to allow developers Peel Holdings and Gloucestershire County Council to agree highways arrangements. 

Former Traffic Office Demolished
Contractors preparing the site for the new GLOSCAT building on Llanthony Quay have demolished the single storey building that once housed the British Waterways traffic office and dockers' mess room. (Photo) In recent years, the building served as a sanitary station for boaters, and a smaller substitute has been provided nearby.

Face-lift for Mariners Chapel
Specialist contractors have cleaned the external stonework of the Mariners Chapel in parallel with the ongoing work installing new paving and lighting in the surrounding area.

Housing Development at Monk Meadow
Work has started on clearing the ground for a major housing development beside the canal to the south of Monk Meadow Dock. Bloor Homes are due to build 131 houses, 90 flats and two blocks of offices/workshops. They will leave the existing trees beside the canal and create an open space and play area adjoining.

Tests on Homing Pigeons
The canal has been the venue for testing whether pigeons could find their loft after it had been moved while they were away. Once a group of pigeons had become used to returning to a loft on a pontoon near the High Level Bridge at Sharpness, the loft was towed up the canal to Purton for a time and later was taken down the channel to Steep Holm. The results of the tests will be reported in a TV documentary due to be shown on Channel 5 on 27 April 2006.

Hempsted Bridge Inspection
While most of the traffic across Hempsted Bridge was stopped by work on Gloucester's South West Bypass during much of December, British Waterways took the opportunity to do some inspection and maintenance work on the bridge.

Teddy Bears Culled
Most of the teddy bears that local workers placed in a tree to the south of Monk Meadow Quay have been removed. Before their condition deteriorated, they were of great interest to passengers on the regular cruises provided by Queen Boadicea II.

Opie Collection Finds New Home
Robert Opie's collection of packaging and advertising material that was on show in the Albert Warehouse for 17 years has been put on display again at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill, London. This new museum is a registered charity, supported by sponsorship from firms such as Kellogg's, Cadbury Trebor Basset and Twinings.

Gloucester Quays Public Inquiry
The public inquiry into the proposed Gloucester Quays development opened at the North Warehouse, Gloucester, on 29 November. British Waterways and Peel Developments are seeking planning permission for a 200m redevelopment of canal-side land at Bakers Quay, Llanthony and Monk Meadow.

Naked Man in the Water
On 24 November, a 20-year-old man stripped off and threw himself into the freezing water near Biddles and Shiptons warehouses at Gloucester docks. Nearby construction workers persuaded him to get out, and he was later detained by the police under the Mental Health Act. (Citizen 25 Nov 2005)

Talking Bridge
Pedestrians crossing the temporary pontoon bridge near the National Waterways Museum have started to hear voices in the air talking about working life in the docks in times past. Breaking a beam triggers a recording of a former worker recalling an activity such as driving a steam crane, working with the dredger or moving a loaded canal boat across the dock and locking down into the river.

Biddles and Shiptons Warehouses
Work started on 4 November on the conversion of Biddles and Shiptons Warehouses to provide 18 two-bed and 14 one-bed apartments with two commercial units on the ground floor of Biddles. The conversion is due to be completed late in 2006.

New Moorings at Monk Meadow Dock
The new mooring pontoons at Monk Meadow Dock officially came into use on 1 November, although some boats had arrived earlier. (Photo)

Llanthony Bridge Refurbishment
Llanthony Bridge was closed throughout November to allow a thorough overhaul to be carried out, including complete replacement of electrical and mechanical systems. No boat movements were possible and road traffic was stopped during much of each day. (Photo)

Canalside Bungalow For Sale
The Watershed bungalow near Sellars Bridge is on the market for 165,000. Built of timber, it has one bedroom, lounge, kitchen/breakroom, shower room and conservatory. (Michael Tuck web site)

Concrete Barge Returns to Museum
The concrete barge that was banished from the docks in April 2003 was towed back to the National Waterways Museum on 20 October so that it can be given an overhaul. (Photo)

Replacement of Lock Paddle Gear
Gloucester Lock was closed during the week beginning 24 October so that the upper ground paddles and connecting rods could be replaced.

Work Started on GLOSCAT Campus
Work on the new campus for the Gloucestershire College of Art & Technology at Llanthony began in earnest on 17 October when groundwork contractors Churngold Construction of Bristol started preparing the site.

Tall Ships Arrive for Filming
Kaskelot and Earl of Pembroke moored up beside Bakers Quay on 12 October ready for shooting scenes for a feature film. They were later joined by Phoenix and Johanna Lucretia, and filming took place on 29-31 October. The production company recreated part of the East India Docks in London circa 1780 for a film called Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce and the slave trade, starring Ioan Gruffudd and Albert Finney. (Photo)

Returned from Sweden
Narrow boat Witcombe returned to her mooring at Saul Junction on 11 October after an epic three-month trip to Sweden for the World Canals Conference. Clive and Jill Field travelled via the River Avon and the Grand Union Canal to London, down the tidal Thames to Tilbury, across the North Sea by ferry and on through Swedish waterways (with an excursion into Norway) to attend the conference at Trollhatten in central Sweden.

Awards for Docks Developers
Crest Nicholson's work at Gloucester Docks won the "Best Development Award" and the "Best Volume House Builder South West" at the Zurich Insurance Building Guarantee award ceremony in London.

Monk Meadow Moorings
Contractors started laying out pontoons in Monk Meadow Dock on 3 October in preparation for British Waterways to establish 37 mooring places for pleasure craft.

Cars Recovered From Canal
The British Waterways floating crane has recovered two cars and a van from the canal south of Llanthony Bridge. Their location was identified by the water-injection dredger that has been clearing mud from the area.

Wheelie Bin Stops Gloucester Lock
Traffic through Gloucester Lock was stopped on 30 September when one of the upper gate paddles could not be closed. Subsequent investigation by a diver revealed that a council wheelie bin had become jammed in the paddle aperture, and the British Waterways floating crane was used to recover it. (Photo)

West Quay Residents
The first residents moved into the new apartments on the West Quay at Gloucester in mid September.

Nautical But Nice
Twelve boat owners from Sharpness Marina have been photographed in the nude for a calendar being sold in aid of the Macmillan Cancer Relief Fund. Copies can be obtained from the Marina, the Post Office and the Dockers Club at Sharpness. (Citizen 28 Sep 2005)

Two Canal-side Plots Sold
Two small plots of land near to Sellars Bridge were sold at auction on 21 September. The plot to the south of the bungalow called Watershed went for 20,000 and the plot to the north for 15,500. (Morgan Beddoe web site)

GLOSCAT Contract Signed
Bovis Lendlease has been signed up as main contractor for the new Llanthony campus of the Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology. Work is expected to start on site in October, and the college is scheduled to be open in 2007. (Citizen 20 Sep 2005)

Work Started on Mariners Square
On 19 September, contractors Barnwood Construction began clearing the ground for the site of the new Mariners Square to the east of the Mariners Chapel. This will have a high quality surface, some seating and modern lighting.  

Gravel Barge Trial in Gloucester Lock
The Dutch motor barge Transient, which is due to carry gravel from Ryall to the Ready Mixed Concrete plant at Two Mile Bend, was tried in Gloucester Lock on 17 September. Although larger than any previous barge that has passed through the lock, it was found that with the road bridge raised she was able to fit in quite satisfactorily. (Photo)

Willow Trust Celebrates Carrying 100,000 Guests
At a gathering at Saul Junction on 17 September, the Willow Trust celebrated carrying the 100,000th disabled guest on their boats. Watched by volunteers, supporters and staff, Sian Jenkins from the National Star College at Ullenwood received a presentation from Patron of the Trust, Lady Apsley. (Photo)

Abundance Returning Home for a Party
After many years at Gloucester, the wooden tug Abundance went down the canal on 17 September to return briefly to Husbands Shipyard at Southampton, where she was built in the 1940s. (Photo) After attending a farewell gathering of the British Military Powerboat Trust at the recently closed shipyard, she will take her new owner to live in a warmer climate. 

New Plans for Gloucester Docks Public Realm
A planning application has been submitted for Phase 1b of the public realm in the docks. This shows proposals for paving, trees, benches and lighting for the open spaces around the buildings on the north and east sides of the Barge Arm. (Photo) The scheme for marking the line of the former Gloucester & Cheltenham tramroad is unacceptable and a new proposal is expected.

Thieves broke into an ambulance belonging to the Severn Area Rescue Association at Sharpness old dock during the early hours of 28 August and took a rapid response bag and a generator. At much the same time, some boats in the nearby marina were cast adrift.

Visiting Seal
A seal was trapped in Sharpness tidal basin after the morning tide on 25 August, and when the basin was leveled that evening for two ships to leave, it managed to escape up the dock. The following morning, the seal was sighted in the canal between Purton and Shepherds Patch, but luckily it found its way back to Sharpness where the lockgate men locked it back out into the river. (Photo: Mike Nash)

Balmoral in Dry Dock
The passenger ship Balmoral came to Sharpness dry dock for repairs after her hull was damaged at Swansea on 24 August. Temporary underwater repairs were carried out at Swansea before she could cross to Sharpness.

Bridge Resurfacing
Parkend Bridge was re-opened to road traffic on 22 August after work on resurfacing the deck was completed. Similar work on Sellars Bridge will be carried out in September.

Disabled Fishing Pegs
New platforms for disabled anglers have been installed by British Waterways on the canal bank at Monk Meadow. They were officially inaugurated on 19 August by members of the Gloucester Disabled Anglers Club and by a number of young people who were given expert coaching. (Photo)

Store Demolition
Work started on the demolition of a disused single storey storage shed adjoining Tommi Nielsen's yard on 15 August. As the building contained much asbestos, a frame was erected to support plastic sheeting so that the demolition could be done in a sealed enclosure.

Llanthony Bridge Testing
Llanthony Bridge was closed to road traffic on 15 August to allow tests to be carried out in preparation for a major overhaul in November.

Boat Sunk After Collision
A cabin cruiser moored to a pontoon in the Main Basin at Gloucester was hit by another boat that was trying to moor nearby on 8 August. The cruiser filled with water but did not sink completely as it was held up by its mooring ropes. The British Waterways floating crane raised the cruiser on 16 August. (Photo)

Gravel Barge at Sharpness
The Dutch motor barge Transient arrived at Sharpness to be prepared for moving gravel from Ripple to the Ready Mixed Concrete plant at Two Mile Bend. The barge is currently 55m long, and a section will be taken out of the middle to enable it to fit into Gloucester Lock.

GLOSCAT Campus Plans Approved
Revised plans for the new Llanthony Campus of the Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology were approved on 2 August, which means that construction of the project can start in October. The revised plans were needed to meet a firm budget constraint.

Antiques Centre Building for Sale
The freehold of the warehouse beside Gloucester Lock, currently used as an Antiques Centre, is for sale by informal tender. The company which operates the Centre has a lease continuing for almost four more years, but the selling agents do not rule out redevelopment for some other use in the longer term. (Citizen 2 Aug 2005)

Towpath Closure
The canal towpath between south of Hempsted Bridge and Sims Bridge has been closed until the completion of Gloucester's South West Bypass due in the spring of 2007.

Mission Building Demolished
The former Missions to Seamen building just outside the dock estate at Sharpness has been demolished to make way for another unit for a national warehousing company. Opened in 1952, the Mission provided a much needed haven where boys from the training ship Vindicatrix could relax for an hour or two away from the rigours of the ship's routine. (Photo: Mike Nash)

Mural for Recycling Warehouse
Two students from the University of Gloucestershire have designed and painted a mural on the inside wall of the Furniture Recycling Project near Llanthony Bridge. The colourful mural features activities connected with the work of the Project. (Citizen 22 Jul 2005)

Duck Flap
Pedestrians crossing the gates of the large dry dock at Gloucester on 20 July were concerned to hear a mother duck calling to her ducklings on the other side of the closed gates. Further investigation revealed that the duck had passed through a small hole in the planking, but the ducklings had not followed and then could not understand where she had disappeared to. The duck returned to collect her family, but she had many more failed attempts before she got them all out.

Thordis Collapse
The wheelhouse of the former steam yacht Thordis, apparently abandoned in the shipyard beside Sharpness Lock, has collapsed into the bilges.

Lock Operations Restricted
Due to the very low level of water in the River Severn, operation of the locks at Gloucester and Sharpness is being restricted in order to minimise the amount of water pumped from the river at Gloucester. Passing boaters may be asked to wait to allow another boat to share a lock.

Navy Patrol Vessels at Sharpness
The Mayor of Gloucester, Councilor Lise Noakes, was welcomed on board the Royal Navy fast patrol vessels Charger and Biter at Sharpness on 13 July for a trip along the canal to Gloucester (Photo). The vessels are used to give university students training in navigation, operations and seamanship.

Successful Canal Festival
Hundreds of boats and thousands of people attended the annual Canal Festival and Folk on the Water Weekend 1 to 3 July at Saul Junction. Visitors saw a variety of boats, browsed the trade and charity stands and enjoyed a wide range of musical and theatrical entertainment. The event raised thousands of pounds towards the restoration of the Stroudwater and Thames & Severn Canals. (Photos)

Work Starts on New Channel
Contractors have started excavating a new channel for the canal that will cut off Two Mile Bend (Photo). A bridge will be built over the new channel to carry the final section of Gloucester's South-west Bypass to a junction with the A38 Cole Avenue. The bypass is due to be completed in 2007.

Cruise Boat Returns to Service
Passenger boat Queen Boadicea II returned to service on 21 Jun after a major refurbishment lasting a year. Hull plates, decking and wheel-house were stripped and replaced by R W Davis at Saul, and the interior has been completely refitted by staff of the National Waterways Museum at Gloucester.

Mayor Attends Boat Naming Ceremony
The Mayor of Gloucester, Councilor Lise Noakes, visited Gloucester Rowing Club on 12 June for a boat-naming ceremony to honour four members who have made significant contributions to the success of the club over many years. Coxed fours were named after George Pobjoy, Roger Stephens and John Williams, and a coxless pair was named after A J Price.

Fire at Derelict Canal-side Offices
A major fire gutted the top floor of the former West Midlands Farmers' offices and store on Bakers Quay, Gloucester, on the night of 9/10 June. When the fire brigade arrived, flames were just breaking through the roof and were 20ft high at times. It is believed that the fire was started deliberately by intruders. The ruins of the building were subsequently demolished. (Citizen 10, 15 Jun 2005) (Photo)

Set Back for Gloucester Quays Plan
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced on 8 June that plans for the 200m Gloucester Quays development would be subject to further scrutiny at a public inquiry. The inquiry will consider whether the development is in accordance with Government policies on housing, transport, plans for town centres, the historic environment and archaeology, and whether any special conditions should be applied.  

Restored Longship Returns Home
After a major refurbishment at Tommi Nielsen's yard, the replica Viking longship Hugin left Gloucester on 8 June to return to Broadstairs on Thanet. There she will once again be on display, commemorating the landing of Hengest and Horsa over 1,500 years ago. (Photo)

Visitor-controlled Model Boats
Radio-controlled model boats were launched on the Barge Arm adjoining the National Waterways Museum on 3 June and quickly proved popular with visitors. (Photo)

Local Workboat to Join Historic Fleet
After more than 50 years on the G&S Canal on bank maintenance duties and later carrying fuel for the dredger, narrow boat Zodiac is due to be converted back to her original design as a long-distance carrying craft built by Yarwood's for the Grand Union Carrying Company in 1936. She will join the British Waterways Historic Working Boat Fleet and will be looked after by volunteers who will take her to events in the Midlands and South-west.

New Home for Docks Tourist Information Office
The Tourist Information Office, staffed by Gloucester Civic Trust volunteers, moved from the National Waterways Museum to a unit in Merchants Quay on 1 June.

HMS Pickle Departure
The Russian-built schooner Alevtina & Tuy left Gloucester on 20 May having been converted into a replica of HMS Pickle, the ship that brought the news of the victory at Trafalgar back to Britain. (Photo) During the summer, she will tour Britain's ports to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. Her sister ship Elena Maria Barbara will remain in Gloucester and be overhauled next winter.

Two Narrow Boats Launched
Two boats fitted out at the Big Fish Narrowboats yard beside Llanthony Bridge were craned into the canal at Monk Meadow Quay on 8 May (Photo). Husband and wife Paul and Leigh Symons are proud to be continuing the long tradition of boat building in Gloucester, and they took the boats to display at the Crick Boat Show on the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal at the end of May.

Llanthony Bridge
Following the emergency repairs to Llanthony Bridge in April, the bridge was closed to road traffic for the night of 3 May to allow British Waterways engineers to adjust the length of the vertical link rods. Lifts were limited to six a day, later increased to a maximum of ten, while further monitoring is carried out.

Gloucester Lock House
The former lock keeper's house at Gloucester has been sold by British Waterways to Brian Wright. He is currently renovating the interior with a view to letting the property.

Show Flat Open
One of the apartments in the West Quay development was opened on 22 April for viewing by potential buyers.

Boat Fire Near Saul Junction
Fire crews from Gloucester and Stroud dealt with an unexplained blaze on the narrow boat Aberystwyth near Saul Junction on 18 April. The boat was 80% burnt-out, but fortunately a gas cylinder on board did not explode and no one was injured. (Citizen 19 Apr 2005)

Canal Diversion and New Bridge Set to Go Ahead
Finance has been agreed for the construction of the final stage of the Gloucester South West Bypass which will involve a new bridge over a diverted length of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal at Two Mile Bend. The South West Regional Development Agency has agreed to loan up to 1.85m to the County Council to allow work on the road to start this summer. (Citizen 18 Apr 2005)

Llanthony Bridge Closure
British Waterways announced on 16 April that, due to mechanical failure, Llanthony Bridge would be closed to boat movements until further notice. During a routine lift that morning, the bridge opened too far and an oil pipe manifold failed, leaving the bridge in the raised position for several hours. Subsequent examination showed that the pin at the lower end of one of the hydraulic rams had sheared. The pins at each end of both rams were replaced, and the bridge was put back into service for the Bank Holiday weekend with a restricted schedule of lift times. Further work is planned.

Minister Turns the First Sod
Kim Howells, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, visited Gloucester on 4 April to turn the first sod in the construction of the new canal-side campus of the Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology. He was assisted by Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda and College Principal Greg Smith. (Photo)

Former Tarpaulin Works Demolished
The former tarpaulin factory in the Great Western Railway goods yard beside Llanthony Quay has been demolished to make way for the new Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology building. Built in 1891 for producing the tarpaulins used to cover goods in open railway wagons, it was later used as a printing works, a steel store and most recently as a tile warehouse.

New Marina Company
On 1 April, the responsibility for the boat moorings in the Victoria Dock transferred to British Waterways Marinas Ltd. This new company has been set up to manage former British Waterways marinas with the aim of putting them on the same financial footing as the independent marinas.

Ben is Knot Crazy
Ben Self has opened his floating workshop at Saul Junction where he will be making and selling useful and decorative items of rope work. Based in the 1935-built butty Lyra, the workshop will be open every Friday to Monday from Easter to October. (Photo)

Dr Fosters Joining New Partnership
Dr Fosters bar and restaurant in Kimberley Warehouse, Gloucester, is one of 30 sites leased from British Waterways that are being transferred to the new Waterside Pub Partnership. The Partnership is being set up by British Waterways and Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises (Management) Ltd to develop a nationwide pub business that will have over one hundred sites across the waterways network. (BW Monthly)

Start on New GLOSCAT Site
Work started on the Llanthony site for the new Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology on 21 March. Site clearance is being carried out by Smiths (Gloucester) Ltd.

A Tight Squeeze?
In response to the news that HMS Gloucester is due to be decommissioned, a letter to the Citizen newspaper suggested that Gloucester City Council should consider giving the destroyer a berth at the docks, where the writer thought it would become "a nice little earner"! (Citizen 19 Mar 2005)

National Award for the Willow Trust
The Willow Trust has received a special award for Excellence in Partnership which acknowledges the way the Trust works with voluntary, commercial and public sector organisations for the benefit of elderly and disabled people. This was one of nine Waterways Renaissance Awards for 2005, announced on 16 March, that recognise best practice in waterway regeneration throughout Great Britain.

Canal Spring Clean
Staff from the Gloucester office of British Waterways contributed to the National Canals Spring Clean Week by collecting litter along the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. On 14 March, volunteers spent a day out from the office picking up rubbish in the various canal-side car parks and along the nearby canal banks. (Photo)

Llanthony Bridge Back to Normal Operation
Following the successful replacement of the vertical link rods in February, the restricted opening times for Llanthony Bridge have been withdrawn, and the bridge returned to opening on demand on 10 March.

Abandoned Boat Mystery
Narrow boat Rambler B was brought into the Main Basin at Gloucester after the rescue services found her stuck on Llanthony Weir on 26 February with only the owner's cat on board. The body of the owner was recovered from the Severn at Epney on 27 March. (Citizen 7 Mar, 6 Apr 2005)

Llanthony Bridge Link Rods Replaced
Llanthony Bridge was closed to canal and road traffic over the weekend 26-27 February to allow replacement of the vertical link rods and associated bearings. Concern about the amount of wear in the existing bearings had led to restrictions in bridge opening times since August. (Photo)

West Quay Apartments Go On Sale
The marketing suite for the apartments under construction on the West Quay was launched on 26 February. Laing Homes are offering 50 one and two bedroom flats and duplexes, due for completion in August, at prices from 155,000 to 335,000.

Barge Arm Bridge Opened
A floating pontoon bridge across the Barge Arm was opened for public use on 21 February. This allowed contractors Cowlin Construction to close the access around the east end of the Barge Arm and so join together the two parts of their construction site. (Photo)  

New Bay for Coaches
As the former coach park at Gloucester docks has been taken over for the construction of a multi-storey car park, a new bay for two coaches has been created behind the Crest Nicholson marketing office just inside the Southgate Street entrance to the docks.

Cars Clamped in Docks Car Park
A car clamping company now patrols the public car parks at Gloucester docks, and drivers who leave their cars without a valid parking ticket on display risk having to pay a 65 release fee.

Residents Move Into Reynolds Warehouse
Contractors Barnwood Construction completed the conversion of Reynolds Warehouse in mid January, and residents are beginning to occupy their new apartments. The Crest Nicholson marketing office near the Southgate Street entrance to the docks is now selling apartments in the new Barge Arm development which is due to be completed in mid 2006.

Warehouse Fire
Three fire engines were called to the former West Midlands Farmers premises beside Bakers Quay on 31 January after smoke was seen rising from a warehouse. Firefighters needed to use breathing apparatus to make the building safe. (Citizen 31 Jan 2005)

Marina Plans
Stroud District Council has received an application to renew outline planning permission for a marina to the south of the boatyard at Saul Junction. The plans include an administration building and a boating supplies shop. (Citizen 29 Jan 2005)

Tug Addie For Sale
The former G&S Canal tug Addie, that was converted to a pleasure craft and later taken to Spain, is for sale for 39,950.

New Branch for Vindi Boys
The first meeting of a new branch of the Vindicatrix Association was held at the Pilot Inn, Hardwicke, on 18 January. The Association is open to former merchant seamen who received training on board the TS Vindicatrix moored at Sharpness, and those interested in attending future meetings can contact Keith Osbourn on 01452 380850.

New Canal Bridge a Step Nearer
Work is beginning on the Kings Way development at Quedgeley, which could allow a start on the Netheridge section of Gloucester's South West Bypass in the spring, including a new bridge over the canal at Two Mile Bend. The Kings Way developers are due to contribute six million pounds towards the cost of the bypass once they have completed 200 houses, and in the interim the County Council are negotiating to borrow that amount to allow work on the road to go ahead soon. (Citizen 15 Jan 2005)

Pontoons to Bridge the Barge Arm
Three pontoon sections were lifted into the Barge Arm on 13 January (Photo) and were fitted together to form a floating bridge. When completed, this will allow contractors Cowlin Construction to close off public access around the east end of the Barge Arm while they build a block of apartments and a multi-storey car park.

Tram Link to the Docks?
Staff of the South West Regional Development Agency are considering trams as a means of linking the historic city centre with the new developments in the docks. A possible tram route would be along Westgate Street and then down by the prison, but another option is to improve the cross-city bus service. (Citizen 4 Jan 2005)

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