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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Cordoba to Buenos Aires From Preston New Road via Squires Gate

John Woodman

In the aftermath of the Second World War Britain's exchequer was in dire straits with the country having had to fund the costs of confronting Nazi Germany since September 1939 and the Axis Powers from 1941 when Japan attacked the US. In addition to the constraints of domestic austerity British companies were encouraged to optimise foreign income from export orders.

Generous subsidies and export guarantees underpinned the sale of manufactured goods from the UK to overseas markets. In similar fashion to the sale of new trams built in Preston to Polish systems in the aftermath of the Great War, Blackpool's coachbuilder HV Burlinghan together with sister company, Duple in Hendon and Leyland Motors, garnered a major contract from a consortium of Argentine transport operators. Interruption of shipping and deliveries at the onset of the war in 1939 meant Argentine companies needed to replenish their long distance bus fleets with new rolling stock,

Longstanding relations between Argentine business and the UK included invaluable provision of food stocks to British importers, as well as earlier delivery of Preston built electric trams to fast expanding systems throughout Argentina and other South American countries. A single contract for over fifty coaches was received in Blackpool by Burlingham in 1950, at the time struggling to meet the pent up postwar demand for replacement buses in the domestic market.

Underpinning the financing of the contract was the UK Treasury against receipt of hard currency payment from Buenos Aires. The full fronted bodywork was a straightened version of the company's then postwar British styling with less ornate (and comfortable) interior features. Delivery of the contract from the UK was delayed until payment had cleared from the customer and as an interim measure the already finished vehicles were placed in storage in Squires Gate's aircraft assembly hangars. The sight of glistening new coaches parked alongside Squires Gate Lane with Spanish language destination screens and vehicle signage must have been a glimpse of foreign locales for residents in South Shore. A record of this unique chapter in the history of Burlingham and the Squires Gate aircraft factory below : John Woodman's Archive :

Line up of the Argentine export order against the grim backdrop of the former Vickers Wellington Bomber assembly plant on Squires Gate Lane. Both : John Woodman Archive

Profusion of opening coachwork windows indicative of somewhat differing climatic conditions to be found by travellers long distance routes to Buenos Aires. The chrome trim was typical of this postwar era - to be similarly found on Burlingham's new double deck 'White Lady' coaches for Ribble Motors - all built in Blackpool. A further export order on a far more modest scale - this time to a Gibraltar operator serving neighbouring towns in Spain. John Woodman Archive


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