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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool Buses Next

Talking of books - the new Rigby Road Publishing title 'Tilling Stevens to Alexander Dennis - Blackpool's Buses in Transition 1921 - 2018' is somewhat delayed in publication date due to the new edition of 'Tribute to Marton Trams 1901 - 1962' which will be available late April.

A photographic survey of the varied types of municipal vehicles serving Blackpool will cover principal marques and designs which have been familiar on the Fylde coast over the years - leading up to the new 'standard' Blackpool double decker built by Alexander Dennis Ltd. When rail replacement services finally end and the BTS vehicle assignment is completed - the once common yellow and black styling of Trident examples still on Service 7 will also fade away into the history books. Below : one of the first tranche of Tridents introduced in 2003 - still in service in 2018 this time on Service 2C

The colourful and definitely distinctive bus fleet has always played second fiddle in coverage compared to their tramcar cousins. Whilst Blackpool still operated street tram services up into the early 1960s (over fifty years ago), the Corporation maintained a settled balance between trams and buses with around 150 vehicles each. However the replacement programme over three years which did away with tram services to Marton, Squires Gate and along Dickson Road up to 1963 quickly diminished the numbers of cars overall; along with depots and workshop resources required to maintain the surviving fleet. Today a core fleet of eighteen articulated units together with eight modified double deck trams represents the entire tram fleet, other than three illuminated trams and the retained heritage collection at Rigby Road Depot.

Blackpool Transport's buses meanwhile continue to number well over a hundred vehicles both double and single deck. The shorter shelf life of buses means more frequent turnover compared to their railed counterparts. Rigby Road remains the operating base for the bus fleet, but plans are advancing for relocation of the Council controlled operation to a new purpose built facility expected to be on the Squires Gate Enterprise Zone - although no formal or final decision has been taken to date. In the meantime the daily comings and goings of Blackpool's buses into a long familiar entry point off Rigby Road with its 1930s now classic office building and 1920s bus garage (extended from the original structure naturally) carries on towards a century of operation on this site. Hopefully this will be marked formally by BTS and Council.

The new title will pay tribute to continually evolving council owned bus services under successive managers from 1921 : Mr Charles Furness 1921 - 1932 : Mr Walter Luff 1933 - 1954 : Mr JC Franklin 1954 - 1974 : Mr Derek Hyde 1974 - 1986 and Deregulation of public transport by the Government : Mr Tony Depledge first MD of Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. (BTS) 1986 - 1999 : Mr Steve Burd, MD 2000 - 2009 : Mr Trevor Roberts MD 2009 - 2012 : Ms Jane Cole MD 2013 >

Further details of the new book will be made available during the summer with expected publication October/November 2018 and orders being taken from September.

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