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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Ghosts of the Gondolas

Blackpool's buses were once as distinguished as the town's trams. Not only did the tram system get a total makeover during the 1930s - but its buses probably even more so. A streamlined design emerged in parallel to the new rail coach and double deckers built at Preston. The same designers produced a prototype double deck bus with innovative styling, complete with centre entrance and dual staircases. In 1936 this bus (numbered 120) broke new ground in design stakes - and became the basis of successive deliveries to Blackpool totally eventually 95 double deckers by 1940 (together with single deck versions numbered 1 - 18).

In parallel to the summer season open 'boat car' design - Blackpool also wanted a similar modern stylish open bus. It got its wishes filled in 1935 with delivery of six glamorous single deck vehicles 113 - 118. Reflecting the 'boat cars' with their central entrance and canopy - these new buses came with the same features. A slight dome on the roof of the canopy gave the design an even more exotic flavour - and led to their nickname the 'Gondolas'. They provided a totally different way of visiting Stanley Park from the town centre - replacing earlier staid toastrack style buses. Regrettably despite efforts to save the last example (118) - none of these quite amazing buses has survived. Two further classes of open buses supplemented the 'Gondolas' during this busy period of Blackpool's history.

A unique one-off model to 1/18th scale has been reserved for Rigby Road Publications. Commissioned from an independent model maker as birthday gift for its original owner - this 'ghost' from the long extinct motorbus equivalent of Blackpool 'boat' cars will soon be coming home. It is hoped that it can be put on display as part of an exhibition of artifacts and material reflecting the resort's history as Britain's most popular seaside resort.

The 'Gondola' model is shown in its display case during brief

discussions with its Owner

last week.

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