Volvo Olympian Swansong
In a nice nod to heritage (on the bus side of things) BTS management saw to it that the final examples of this class of bus delivered in the previous century were given a last public airing before withdrawal this weekend. The stylish vehicles delivered in 1994 were built by Northern Counties (a now extinct company with a famous history itself) and delivered to Blackpool Transport numbered 374 to 379 in the company's then standard green and cream livery.
Rigby Road Bus Garage and some unfamiliar vehicles in a BTS final version of the traditional cream and green fleet livery with a (new) Olympian to the fore.
Later the class were 'rebranded' into the then voguish 'Metro Coastline' 'Line 11' and 'pool' colours before morphing into the yellow and black (with swoop) styling in their later years. Relegated to school and special duties (swimming classes) the handful of survivors were reminders of a pre low floor era. With the arrival of the ten Alexander Dennis double deckers this week, in yet another rebranding style for BTS - the days of the Olympians were abruptly foreshortened even for school duties. In any event schools broke up for summer holidays this week.
So it was in a nostalgic touch the survivors in this class were given one final outing in regular service on the Promenade service 1 between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Freeport on an exceptionally busy weekend. A ride on these buses reminded passengers of the split step and lack of low floor access. The bright green handrails and seat belt fittings (and signs) were a definite difference to norms of today on the Number 1 Service. The obtrusive buckles for the seat belts made uncomfortable riding for larger passengers as opposed to today's youth.
Number 375 at Fleetwood Freeport terminus and the start of its eleven mile journey to Starr Gate (top). Loading on the promenade with visitors oblivious to Blackpool's transport history passing them by (lower) :
Two examples were seen (and ridden) on this final outing for which BTS are to be complimented on an action which drew a large number of camera wielding bus enthusiasts to the promenade (and Fleetwood). Its a pity at least one example of this final BTS double deck order of the previous century could not be placed in store pending a heritage takeover a la the company's last Atlantean now getting its repaint at Rigby Road. Any chances of this happening for another classic British bus design built in the northwest?
Coachwork by Northern Counties Wigan Lancashire - Northern Powerhouse ?
Making a brave sight at Starr Gate eleven miles later with loading for another trip north. Note the green lining to demarcate queuing area adjoining the tram lines.
All images copyright John Woodman