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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Back to the future on Blackpool Prom

Driving along the promenade today was a nostalgic experience. Not only was I trailing behind a rear platform Blackpool Corporation bus from the 1960s in public service - but coming in the opposite direction was one of the regurgitated Balloon cars with a full load heading to the Pleasure Beach.

Whilst the bus (Catch22 Services) was in Blackpool's traditional cream plus green relief style of the 1960s - the Balloon car was naturally in the dark plum and white style of Blackpool Council (official Council colours). As my car was crawling northward past Central Pier I had chance to see an almost full load of passengers favouring the Balloon car as it swept past towards Manchester Square stop. Seeing these 'traditional' trams in regular service is quite a different from the tours favoured by enthusiasts - whose appetite for riding is helping the coffers of Blackpool Heritage Tours/Trams and rightly so.

Hopefully more use will be made of the handful of modified Balloon cars over the next two months and through peak Illuminations weeks - as regular service cars; in between clattering Flexities whose wheel sets seem to now make far more noise than the English Electric trucks from the 1930s.

The PD3 on the 12 Service to Cleveleys intermittently dropped off passengers on its way northward and I was never able to quite catch up - but when I swung around passing Gynn Square I did eventually just get a hurried 'snap' on its way to Bispham and seemingly empty. Blackpool's buses are rarely if ever, favoured with enthusiast attention of the level accorded to the trams. Nowadays this is very understandable, given lack of any distinction between vehicles operating up and down the country (with the exception of the fleet livery of course). Being able to 'hop on and off' a rear platform double deck bus in regular service is a rare treat accorded only to a few buses operating on certain London West End routes - to add to the capital's tourism offer. And of course in Blackpool thanks to Catch22 Services and their eclectic fleet which appears each summer.

A classic bus in service on Blackpool promenade July 2015 - PD3 529 setting a fast pace (and empty load) on the Catch22 Service 12 to Cleveleys. Blackpool Transport are also now operating their own Service 12 but fortunately not on a similar route.

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