Bus 301 - Now and Then
July 2017 Blackpool Transport Number 301 pauses at Poulton on its rural journey from Knott End to the harder streets of Blackpool. Number 301 will be sold on when the next tranche of ADL double deckers arrive. Evidence of this lies within the destination apertures which have not been upgraded to digital signage - denoting the bus will be on the shortlist of withdrawals. Arriving in 2002 and now fifteen years old 301 looks in remarkably good external condition and well maintained at Rigby Road. It was the first in a long series of similar styled vehicles which came to represent Blackpool's urban bus fleet - most being bodied by East Lancashire Coachbuilders in Blackburn. At the time they were welcomed representing a new era for the transport company and have served Blackpool well. It is pity that 301 cannot be set aside as a 'frozen in time' example of the past two decades of bus travel in Blackpool.
Sixty years ago another 301 arrived at Rigby Road to begin a further chapter in the town's transport history. This time the bus was locally built on Preston New Road by the coachbuilder, HV Burlingham. Its arrival (with four sister vehicles (301-305) marked the beginning of the open rear platform change from centre entrance bus bodywork. In fact the five Burlingham bodied buses were part of a joint order shared with MCW who delivered similar rear platform vehicles (306 - 310). MCW would go on to deliver successive tranches of similar double deck buses right up to 1968, whilst Burlingham's business name folded within the Duple company from 1962. I recall seeing the entry of the Burlingham types in service and chasing after one at Bispham on its first few days in service - how time flies. This and many other stories are featured in the forthcoming book on Blackpool Buses and Trams during the 1950s - 'Municipal Transport Heyday'.
A look at the 301 - 305 class of 1957 all those years ago. Sadly none made it into the ranks of preserved Blackpool buses, although quite a few of the later MCW examples are now frequently seen at rallies and in heritage collections; including two in Blackpool.
1957 Burlingham bodied Leyland PD2 304 loading on a very wet day at Cleveleys Bus Station - somewhat utilitarian shelters, on the 9A Service to Blackpool and the inevitable Talbot Road Bus Station. Image : John Woodman Archive