A peek inside the restored interior of LSTA Lion 34 - with its reupholstered seating reflecting the original lighter blue colours of this operator in the 1930s. Image Courtesy of CatchBus22 Ltd and Lancastrian Transport Trust.
One of the missing liveries on Blackpool (and Fylde) roads is that of the former Lytham St Annes (later Fylde) transport undertaking. Subsumed into Blackpool Transport its dark blue and white colours were a continuing reminder of the distinctions between the conservative ethos of the south fylde coast and the boistrous qualities associated with Blackpool. Now long gone into heritage annals nonetheless quite a number of former Lytham St Annes Corporation vehicles now survive on the Fylde coast (along with the remains of one of its equally distinctive tramcars).
Tucked away on Brinwell Road among the independent fleet of Catch22Bus are several vintage buses, many waiting patiently for their turn to become the object of restoration projects. Just one former Blackpool Corporation bus stands amid a mini fleet of Lytham St Annes Corporation survivors. These cover a span of over thirty years with Leyland Lion single decker 34 from the 1930s gaining mechanical attention after its recent paint job in original styling. According to the conservers of the heritage collection in ownership of the LTT - Number 34 may well emerge this summer on limited service which would be a marvellous achievement.
Two more of the familiar dark blue and white buses quietly resting in Brinwell Road Garage. Image courtesy of Catch22Bus Ltd.
Along with Nottingham bodywork styled Atlantean 77, and front entrance half cab 70 the trio are further strengthened with 1940s rear platform Leyland bodied 19 which is frequently in demand for private parties and weddings. While the tram side of Blackpool's heritage attracts inordinate attention, and rightly so, the Fylde coast's vintage buses are less visible except on enthusiast rallies. Not far away in Freckleton - the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group host a considerable collection of buses and coaches of varying era. These include privately owned Lytham St Annes Corporation buses from the 1930s - some of which have been immaculately restored through the effort of their sponsors. It is remarkable that this small undertaking which never had more than fifty vehicles at any one time - is kept alive through several preservation initiatives; whilst Blackpool Corporation buses are rare survivors indeed (other than the final rear entrance PD3 delivery which marked the end of Britain's typical double deck open platform bus design in 1969).
Only one pre-war Blackpool bus is kept in preservation and just two out of the nearly two hundred centre entrance examples which typified the town's buses from 1933 up to the 1960s. Both of these are in need of considerable restoration but are at least in private care for the time being. Hopefully at least one will emerge in similar fashion to Lytham St Annes 34 to woo the public on Blackpool promenade.
Conversely only one Lytham St Annes Corporation tram has survived (only just). Balcony car 41 is being miraculously returned to its original 1920s condition through the initiative of a dedicated restorer. The lower saloon has been structurally completed and the rest of the bodywork (with running gear, controllers etc) will form one of the several projects being undertaken at Rigby Road Works under the aegis of the BHT and supporters. The emergence of this impressive project will complete the representation of the three Fylde coast tram operators whose very different tram types ran in Blackpool up to 1919; and thereafter Blackpool Corporation and Lytham St Annes tramways. No doubt more of this quite encouraging development will be written up in the medium term.