Long before the internet, digital cameras and mobiles - when bus (and tram) preservation was very much considered an eccentric pastime with a modest number of dedicated followers, Blackpool was fortunate in having a local garage owner with practical means for pursuing his 'hobby'. David Ellor's father had created a successful business on Whitegate Drive in the early 1930s - the Bellevue Garage - facing immediately an incessant passage of trams running towards both the Royal Oak and Talbot Square. On his father's death David acquired the business. While he had the sad task of towing a great many of Blackpool's famous centre entrance (Blackpool built) Corporation buses to scrapyards in West Yorkshire, he took time out as it were, to initiate 'rescues' of a diversity of pre-war buses in the Fifties and early Sixties.
Among his many purchases was a Southdown coach, former Barrow single deck bus which had been converted to a mobile library in postwar years; the last Blackpool 'Gondola' bus following its sale by a later cafe operator on South Shore Coach Park, two surviving Blackpool single deck buses which had escaped scrapping through conversion to snowploughs (above on purchase); a Ribble coach of the 1930s, and three Lytham St Annes Corporation buses : the 1934 Leyland Demonstrator (featured in a previous Blog); a single deck vehicle and a double deck Gearless Titan converted to open top condition in its final years.
Several of these veterans could be seen lurking around the Garage workshop whilst one of the Blackpool single deck buses was put to work as a tow vehicle - removing other Corporation buses for their final journey to Yorkshire. Well before the bus preservation movement gained strength, and with only isolated private collections, David's efforts would succeed in ensuring long term survival of several examples, albeit in collections away from the Fylde coast. In the interim they found temporary shelter both at the Bellevue Garage and in the driveway of David's home near Layton. Below : the ex-Travelling Library, a Lytham St Annes open top Titan; and former Blackpool 7 a 1937 Leyland TS7 (at David's home).
Ill health and family circumstances in later years meant the curtailment of his involvement with bus preservation; and eventually sale of his family business. The bus preservation movement is beneficiary of these solitary endeavours. David's efforts and generosity are to be applauded whenever the vehicles he saved appear at events and displays around the country. Amazing how one man's efforts can achieve so much - and how little consideration is extended to the dedicated work of preservation pioneers such as David Ellor.