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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool Transport Takes To The Skies

One of the lighter moments during the war years involvied Blackpool's Corporation Transport Department and the Royal Air Force. In 1942 a national appeal for public contributions aimed at raising funds for new Spitfires saw towns up and down the country encouraging people to subscribe to the purchase of a new fighter. Both Lytham St Annes and Blackpool sent contributions, with Blackpool's subscriptions covering the cost of two new Spitfires.

Part of the Appeal involved the RAF adding the name or coat of arms of the donor to the assigned plane under the cockpit. A formal request for suitable coat of arms material was received at Blackpool Town Hall and then forwarded on to the Transport Department at Rigby Road whose use of the corporation coat of arms and 'Progess' on every tram and bus was all too familiar. No doubt with the approval of the General Manager, Walter Luff, an instruction to the Paint Shop and Stores released copies of the Department crest for despatch.

Consequently the RAF received four sets of 'vinyls' from Blackpool; (two for each fighter) which were promptly affixed to the town's 'Spitfires' before flying into combat as part of RAF Squadrons under command of Douglas Bader. Since the Transport Department's version of the town's impressive coat of arms included the Department's name in their roundel - it became widely known that the Blackpool Corporation Transport had expanded its operations well beyond the Fylde. This was a cause of not inconsiderable embarassment at the Town Hall as news of the Corporation Transport Spitfires caught wide attention.

A search for crests without the Department's name was quickly launched and replacements despatched, no doubt with profuse apologies, to the RAF Fighter Command. Photos duly appeared in the Gazette of 'Progress !' to assuage Council concerns and local pride. The Transport Department seemingly had no comment - at least officially. Whilst the corrected crests received photographic scrutiny, pictures of a Spitfire airborne or otherwise, bearing 'Blackpool Corporation Transport Department' on its fuselage have yet to be published.

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