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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

332 Then and Now

Retro branded Trident 332 hurries past the author along St Annes Road this week on 'Line' 7 to Cleveleys. A smart looking bus especially without the advertising.

It seems like only last year when Blackpool Transport took delivery of the latest tranche of new Trident buses from East Lancashire Coachworks. Resplendent in light blue and yellow 'Line 11' branding they added to the previous order for similar vehicles which were (most of them) in dark green and yellow 'Line 14' colours under the then Metro Coastlines branding of BTS. How time flies.

Since then, and after a whole potpourri of 'Line' branding colours applied in the Metro Coastlines era (foreshortened by the departure of Steve Burd for a new management position in the Midlands) a sequence of fleet livery changes brings us a full circle. The brief but eventful tenure of Trevor Roberts saw the Metro Coastlines chapter brought to a summary halt replaced by a dramatic yellow and black styling. In turn with arrival of Jane Cole as Managing Director the company set out for a more calming approach to replace the drama of the previous regime. Grey, black and silver, with a lime yellow highlight is now the hallmark of Blackpool's bus fleet starting with the delivery of ten Mercedes 'Citaro' single deck buses in 2015. The subsequent arrival of ten new double deck vehicles built by Alexander Dennis in the new BTS fleet 'Palladium' brand brought an equally dramatic change to the town's bus services. Quite a series of radical transport liveries in such a short space of time given that Blackpool Corporation Tramways original livery of red and white (with teak panels) ran from 1908 to 1933. Thereafter a certain Walter Luff immediately did away with his predecessor's colours when he arrived that year. Green and 'ivory' was ordained instead. As a consequence Blackpool's municipal trams and buses thenceforward were uniquely recognisable (in the UK).

A brand new bus for Blackpool and 'Line 11' first week in service. A somewhat despondent Atlantean behind, in the final version of green and cream adopted by BTS for its bus fleet. Corporation Street, Blackpool All Images : John Woodman

The affectation for 'Metro Coastlines' branding did away with green and cream from 2001 although Blackpool's trams (or most of them) kept faith with Mr Luff's styling until 2011. The influx of foreign trams for the light rail operation came in Blackpool Council's corporate colours with a depressing rendition of black and purple (or is it plum?) with white side panels and weird embellishments at each end. Fortunately the heritage operation maintains faith with the 1930s' cream and green version in all its several variants over eighty years.

Left : The 'rear' of a Blackpool tram - not much to celebrate about this styling. Particularly depressing for a 'resort' and especially for Blackpool.

Such is public affection and recognition of these traditional transport colours that it is quite remarkable at the attention given to the recent retro paint job given to Trident 332 and one of the single deck bus fleet. Hopefully both buses will end up as part of the Company's heritage vehicle collection in due course. In the meantime they serve to remind us all of the everlasting livery for which Blackpool's buses and trams were associated over successive decades.

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