Number 300 Edges Towards Restored Completion
Thanks to the perserverance of John Hinchcliffe at least one of Walter Luff's classic streamline buses is now in the final phases of complete restoration to its 1950s condition, complete with the Luff livery treatment. Seen here in profile in an official photograph taken for the Transport Department - Number 300 was the final vehicle in a total order of 100 examples all built naturally at HV Burlingham's Preston New Road factory on Leyland chassis.
The bus represented the culmination of Walter Luff's transformation of the bus operations alongside the delivery of 25 new single deck trams from 1952 to 1954. All of the deliveries featuring centre entrance platforms which originated in west Yorkshire where Walter Luff worked in the early 1930s for West Riding Tramways. The company was then in the final phase of converting its last tram routes to bus operation with new centre entrance buses bodied by Leeds coachbuilder Charles Roe.
Blackpool would go on to acquire a total of 188 streamline full front models all on Leyland chassis the last of which were withdrawn during the 1960s. Sadly just two examples survive. Number 300 was purchased by Geoff who initially brought the bus to Blackpool in 1985 to contribute to both the new Fleetwood 'Tram Sunday' event as well as the Tramway Centenary celebrations in September that year. Since then it has been stored locally in Huddersfield area but latterly brought to a workshop restoration site where it is methodically being returned to its 'as new' appearance in 1951/2.
The bus was saved through its further role as a Permanent Way vehicle for the track gang crew - providing both transport, messing facilities and general storage of material and tools. Based inside Rigby Road tram depot along with sister bus 298 - the two survivors were given all over green works livery and renumbered for their new duties. Number 298 went on to become a remarkable well travelled BCT bus being purchased by two students to provide transport and living accommodation for an overland trip as far as Pakistan. The bus survived the journey returning safely to England but sadly ending up being scrapped. A third example from this postwar delivery of 1949 is Number 246 now safely in the hands of the Fylde Transport Trust and kept at their Brinwell Road premises, albeit in need of extensive work to return it to a condition approaching that now evident on 300. It would be a marvellous achievement to eventually see 246 and 300 together at a future vehicle display in the town.
The Author retains fond personal memories of these buses from his school days in Blackpool when they were familiar sights on Bispham Road on the 9A, 15A and 22 services travelling to and from the town centre. He even caught one being 'topped up' with water from a garage on Red Bank Road just before its terminus a very short distance away outside Bispham Tram Depot on the 15A service which served Victoria Hospital.
Image : John Woodman Archive