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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Renewing Blackpool's Buses

An important milestone will be achieved within three months when Blackpool Transport Services take delivery of twenty five double deck buses from their manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. Joining the first ten examples delivered in 2016 this year's tranche will establish the template for Blackpool's bus fleet well into the next decade.

Notable for the Palladium livery adopted in 2015 with delivery of ten Citaro single deck vehicles manufactured by Mercedes - this sizeable contract will impact on the image of BTS to a significant extent once they 'hit the streets'. The ADL vehicles will edge out the yellow and black 'Trident' design which represents the former management era as well as its 'Metro Coastlines' predecessor.

This large influx of buses with new colours is nothing new. In 1936 the Corporation Transport Department took delivery of twenty five centre entrance double deck buses to a streamline design then in vogue. Built by local firm HV Burlingham on Leyland Titan (TD4) chassis the new fleet came in cream and green colours recently adopted by the Department in 1933 under new management. The design was further entrenched with two further tranches of twenty five each thus giving Blackpool an iconic bus design which lasted well into the 1960s. Postwar replacement of the 1930s deliveries came in two batches of fifty in 1949 and 1951 - they didn't do things by halves in those days. All being built in Blackpool and all on Leyland chassis. Above : Burlingham bodied 254 heads south from Revoe LIbrary bus stop on Service 24 to Halfway House and Airport. Unique to Blackpool these buses provided a high quality interior and comfortable seating - even if the centre entrance layout limited capacity to a maximum of 54 seated. Photo : John Woodman Archive

A subsequent generation of rear platform buses again transforming the bus fleet in the 1960s saw a total of one hundred and forty examples replacing the former centre entrance examples. All except five of this sizeable class were bodied by Metro Cammell - again on Leyland chassis. Further generational change took place in the 1970s with a move to single deck front entrance one man operated buses, this time on AEC chassis (a first for Blackpool) with Willowbrook bodywork (another first). Another management change in 1976 saw the affair with single deck buses end and a series of Leyland Atlantean deliveries with neat bodywork by East Lancashire Coachbuilders and a reintroduction of green and cream livery styling - welcomed by all as a break with the all-cream penchant of the previous Manager - Mr JC Franklin. Below : the next generation. Also heading to Halfway House at Rigby Road stop on the 22A Service recently delivered Number 340 is lightly loaded in 1959. Photo : John Woodman Archive

Below : the last day of permissible operation in service of non DDA compliant buses. Thanks to Catch22bus and Philip Higgs a finale output of amazing vehicles were placed in service on the company's routes. Blackpool Corporation PD3 529 looking immaculate departs from Victoria Square, Cleveleys on the 21 Service for St Annes in December 2016. The Author gives a thumbs up for his last trip 'on the platform' - definitely not conforming to EU ordained directives. Photo : John Lodge

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