Blackpool's trams deservedly get much of the limelight for their longevity and now continuing role in heritage tour service (and seasonal peak appearances). However the Blackpool transport system, still thankfully in municipal ownership, also gained fame for similar stylish, if not unique, vehicle designs through successive decades from the 1930s. Resplendent in decidedly conservative cream and green livery, the bus fleet was an equally positive ambassador for the town, more particularly so in today's market dominated by a handful of corporate ownerships straddling Britain's towns and cities. Whilst Blackpool's operation has gone through a sequence of makeovers in the past twenty years - it continues to present a distinctive image for visitors and residents alike with the latest branding introduced in 2015 with ten imported Mercedes 'Citaro' single deckers in a 'Palladium' grey, silver and off yellow highlight.
Much coverage is given to the comings and goings of the tram fleet (both old and new) but far less on the much larger complement of buses which are familiar to many if not most residents on the Fylde coast. This was ever so.
It is reassuring to hear that retention and conservation of active examples of types which are now but memories (and some quite recent) now forms part of the Blackpool Transport Heritage set up - complementing the work being done to perpetuate the famed tramway history. The town's famous centre entrance buses which first appeared in 1933 went into the history books by the early 1970s after the last of the postwar series (201 - 300) finally were withdrawn. Number 254 in St Annes Square in the 1950s epitomises this classic design of which two examples fortunately exist in private ownership, albeit in need of extensive restoration. Their successors, the open platform equally classic double deckers from 1957 similarly passed through the pages of our transport history, but with a larger number of examples managing to secure a second life in preservation, some locally. Number 308 above being in the initial delivery in 1957 built of course by Metro Cammell Weymann in the Midlands. It is the turn of Blackpool's 'Trident' style buses in their later yellow and black fleet colours to begin to take a back seat with withdrawals now thinning their ranks such as the example below awaiting the scrapman's attention in Rigby Road this month. It is to be hoped that at least one example in this transient fleet livery will be retained as a 'souvenir' before all are gone the same way in the next two to three years. They equally deserve a permanent place in the town's bus operation history - alongside marques and types unfortunately no longer with us. One day the 'Palladium' brand will similarly become extinct through some subsequent rebranding or makeover and the current influx of very stylish vehicles themselves consigned to albums and enthusiast photographs. If the town is to emerge with a creditable transport museum then equal time and effort needs expending on our bus heritage, past and present.
Number 339 awaits its final journey from Blackpool, being stored in the tram depot along with condemned 'Solo' types just visible on the right hand side. A privately preserved 'AEC Swift' model of Blackpool Corporation Transport from the 1969 - 1976 period in all cream colour of that era is notable on the left - also we believe now assigned by its Owner to Blackpool's heritage transport operation. Well done. Images : John Woodman Archive