The ever impressive double deck 'Balloons' from the 1930s have been a hallmark of the promenade and seafront line. Above at Little Bispham's equally classic tram shelter (now badly in need of some repair in 2016): and below at the former Ash Street tram stop with green painted traction pole and fledgling trees. The shelter was a product of Lancashire and or Wyre Council. Both Images: John Woodman
A current spate of letters to the local newspaper shows an appreciable number of people living in Blackpool with long memories are of the view that the town's transport system would be better off reviving the former Corporation Transport green and cream fleet colours. The current Company operation has morphed from its inherited green and cream livery in 1986 through to yellow and black (Handibus) to a veritable painting school of various colours denoting different services and into the black and yellow with a giant silver 'swoop' from 2009 : now the latest corporate grey black and silver 'Palladium' styling complete with a pale yellow relief. An absolutely marvellous sequence of changes for enthusiasts intent on capturing every little detail - but hardly enduring (or appealing) for the public.
In fact Blackpool's buses first started out in 1921 in the red and white colours of the Corporation Tramway, changing in 1933 when a certain Walter Luff set about trans- forming the recently named Transport Department into a municipal operation the envy of towns and cities throughout Britain. A green and cream livery was quickly introduced that year to provide distinction and a touch of 'class' to what had been a traditional municipal transport system. All of this changed over five years, particularly with introduction of modern styling and a high level of passenger comfort in the shoals of new trams and buses. Most were built locally either in Preston or Blackpool. One batch of particularly luxurious new trams however came from Loughborough - some survivors lasting until the early part of the new century.
Not a European tram in sight.
Slightly different shades of green but Blackpool's buses were outstanding in the
traditional fleet colours associated with the town over seventy years.
Both Images : John Woodman Archive
Not only were the buses and trams styled in a certain green and cream with flourishes that added even more distinction overall - but bus and tram shelters, stop signs and service vehicles of all kinds, tram poles and the like - were as one corporation brand. Vestiges of the green and cream brand still linger on with now rundown bus shelters peppered around town plus the restored 'heritage' tram operation for visitors. A handful of Blackpool Transport buses have been transformed from their official fleet colours through a retro makeover into the old green and cream livery. They stand out all the better for this. Previous Blogs here have noted these most recent developments involving both a single deck and double deck bus with resulting positive comments from the public.
I personally have no problem with the most recent corporate branding of BTS (on its new buses). When set against the sharp contrasting style of yellow and black - the latest grey and black is certainly more calming and indeed unique in the UK. However whenever one of those green and cream buses (or trams) appear they show up the qualities of 'then' against the prevailing wisdom of 'now'. What I detest is the depressing Council fixation on dark purple, black and white for the trams - and the total lack of care in ensuring lineside fixtures, poles, stops, shelters are kept in a creditable condition (and appearance). Traction poles are either unpainted; or north of the Cabin - left to the elements to weather and worse. The shelters - the less said about them the better - with minimalistic seating that brings no credit whatsoever to the town or the operator. The only consideration of any importance as far as the shelters are concerned is the level of revenue they bring in from the in your face advertising panels - themselves totally disfiguring blemishes. And where does this revenue go ? and who does it benefit ? and where is the accounting of any return to the Council itself?
It seems the colour of Blackpool's buses and trams - mismatched by accident or design - is going to be a subject that will run and run until the obviously perennial favourite green and cream returns to the Fylde coast. One writer even went so far as to propose a referendum on the issue - the results being a foregone conclusion.
So Council heirarchy beware - populism takes many forms these days!