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  • John Woodman

The Old Order Changeth

The increasing frequency of Blackpool's latest generation of buses with their unique 'Palladium' livery is inexorably edging out the equally distinctive yellow and black of former management years. Its quite a radical change; particularly when most of the principal services requiring double deck capacity, is now being given over to the Alexander Dennis model. Whilst there have been successive 'makeovers' of bus types through the nearly one hundred year history of Blackpool's municipal system - only one previous occasion was equally radical in its impact, when both vehicle design and style and Blackpool's bus (and tram) livery were totally transformed.

We need to go back to the mid 1930s and the management changes wrought by a certain Walter Luff, determined to stamp his preferences on what was up to 1933 a fairly conservative transport operation. Red, white and teak trams co-mingled with a disparate mix of bus types - all with common colours. From 1933 all this changed with the introduction of new centre entrance designed buses in a dark green and pale cream 'branding'. The same year saw a modernistic centre entrance single deck tram gain centre stage at a transport conference - also in newly introduced green and cream fleet colours of the Transport Department. This would be quickly followed by an order for twenty four similar trams delivered for 1934 and successive orders both double deck and single (trams) throughout that decade up to 1939.

One of Blackpool's streamline buses from the 1930s parked outside the BCT Canteen at Rigby Road. (See earlier Blog this week). Photo : John Woodman

Blackpool's buses gained a parallel makeover in 1936 with the appearance of an equally modernistic streamlined double deck bus, with air operated centre entrance sliding doors and a vastly improved interior level of comfort and design. Eighty seven more double deckers (all built locally) followed to transform the town's bus services out of all recognition. Now eighty years on Blackpool's bus scene is set to undergo a similar radical makeover following arrival of twenty five more of the vastly improved buses from ADL's Falkirk factory. Further orders to complete this transformation by 2020 are forecast. For those of us who pay a modicum of attention to the comings and goings of our Council-owned bus system - this is very much a watershed period.

A smart looking Blackpool bus destined for the history books (both bus and livery) in the next few years. Obviously 353 is fresh out of the Rigby Road Paint Shop as it stands outside Victoria Hospital's new car park. Photo : John Woodman Archive

The New Order on display in St John's Precinct - for a staff recruiting drive.

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