Amid all the furore about perceived need to save every last tram from the pre -light rail era in Blackpool, spare if you will, a thought for the bus preservation movement and what little has been retained from the once iconic municipal bus fleet. Very little is the answer. It was not until the end was in sight for Blackpool's open rear platform Leylands that a sudden rush to acquire an example saw several of these classic British buses achieve museum status.
Up until then successive generations of corporation green and cream vehicles made a one way journey to scrapyards near and far. All of the pre-war double deck fleet are now simply historical references - while of the single deck classes
only one example survives and that is in the final shape of a truncated works vehicle. More by luck than design two of the postwar centre entrance double deck fleet - built in Blackpool - have clung on tenaciously to a twilight existence courtesy of a private collection in Huddersfield, and the LTT in Blackpool. Both need far more than tender loving care to again achieve a display status and both are deserving of this. Possibly the emergence of a Blackpool heritage transport venue now under discussion could provide a mechanism for one or both to secure substantial funds for full restoration.
A brand new Blackpool Leyland Titan TD4 on the tram replacement 11A service in 1937 with an obviously anxious crowd of mostly female passengers waiting to board at the same point and on the same day as the image below. Such a pity one of these individualistic vehicles did not find a home in preservation circles. The last examples of this 75 strong class were withdrawn in 1958.
Ironically the neighbouring municipal operator in St Annes with its comparatively small bus fleet over the years - has many examples in a state of preservation. Private collectors have ensured that both pre-war and postwar examples are in preservation hands, with several the result of the LTT's work. Two excellent restorations at the RVPG premises at Freckleton have been privately funded. They involve a pre-war TD4c full front double deck example which was a contemporary of Walter Luff's 1936 streamline Titans - and a Leyland single deck demonstrator referenced in an previous blog this year. The LTT is guardian to the Leyland Lion inherited from Fylde Borough / Blue Bus when BTS acquired that operation in the 1990s. In fact Lytham St Annes Corporation's older buses are comparable to Blackpool Transport's heritage tram fleet, in terms of diversity and representation. Below : Its 1937 and Lytham St Annes trams are no more - only the tracks and overhead wires remain as two replacement buses are standing by the St Annes Square stop on Clifton Drive. Both types are now well represented by preserved examples in 2015. Both Images Courtesy BCVM Leyland