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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

202 Redesign - Consequences 1949 - 1969

John Woodman

A rarity among the one hundred strong postwar class of Burlingham bodied buses was number 202. It featured in press reports at the time of its delivery as the new look bus in 1949 - with its cab panelling very much in the approved standardised pattern for the first fifty strong 201 - 250 tranche. However Manager Walter Luff found it necessary to send 202 back to Burlingham's factory on Preston New Road for a redesign. It would reappear with downswept side cab windows, rounded top to the driver's door and vertical opening side cab windows. Additionally the side panel trim was amended from its original (and standardised) version.

Bus 202 seen here near South Pier with adjusted cab side windows and body trim clearly evident. The chrome trim intersecting with the headlamps in this case. Photo : John Woodman Archive.

None of these changes would find favour in the second delivery of 251 - 300 in 1951all of which came with the same standard treatment to the cab bodywork layout. One other tweak made by the Manager was insisting on hopper type opening vents fitted to the front top deck windows on number 204. Features which it retained until withdrawal and unique in the 100 strong class. The time and cost of amending 202's cab would become part of a singularly fraught court case between Blackpool Corporation and the HV Burlingham company during the 1950s. This resulted from invoice billing by the coach builder for additional costs incurred in bodywork changes and disputed by the Transport Department.

Below : Number 253 of the second tranche delivered in 1951 seen here in later years with its amended cream frontage introduced by Joe Franklin as an incremental economy in the Paint Shop. The driver's cab front and side treatment was standard for 201 - 300 - other than 202.

The additional charges notably involved bodywork carried out on 202 following on its delivery to the Department among other charges not covered in the original contract agreement. The case was covered in the local newspaper on a blow by blow basis in which the Corporation was found to be liable. In fact by this time Walter Luff had retired from the position of Transport General Manager and Joe Franklin had taken his place on appointment from Rochdale Corporation Transport. It is worth mentioning that Franklin was familiar with Burlingham having approved purchase of several front entrance single deck buses by Rochdale to the popular 1950s styling of that company. Lytham St Annes likewise ordered similar vehicles.

In any event no attempt was made to further engage Burlingham in bodywork modifications thereafter and the sole contract beyond the 1951 delivery involved a final tender for five sample double deck buses to open rear platform specifications (and full fronts). These were delivered in 1957 as intended replacements for the pre-war Titans still in operation - all of which were withdrawn in 1958. Metro Cammell Weyman similarly gained their contract for five open rear platform double deck buses, jointly with the Burlingham contract - as a means of cost and operating comparison by the Transport Department. In the end it was the MCW tender which proved most economic, resulting in an ongoing series of contracts for similar buses up to and including 1968. They would prove to be the nemesis for Walter Luff's favoured centre entrance bus fleet which saw withdrawals begin in tandem with deliveries of the Metro Cammell 'Orion' style bodied buses through much of the 1960s.

Ironically Blackpool's policy of crew operated rear platform double deck buses was counter productive during a decade when one man driver operated vehicles became the norm - calling for front entrance designs throughout the industry. Blackpool had to switch over rapidly to single deck buses from 1969 - all built to a forgettable utilitarian style by Marshall on AEC 'Swift' chassis. Only the eventual retirement of Joe Franklin and arrival of his replacement in the 1970s would see a further about face change with withdrawal of the 'Swifts' and replacement by East Lancashire Coachbuilder bodied Leyland Atlanteans (together with a return of green and cream livery).



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