Well Done BTS and Blackpool Bus Supporters
Despite overcast skies and ominous grey clouds the commemorative events organised by Blackpool Transport Services and supporting involvement of the Fylde Transport Trust provided a distinctive celebration of the town's bus operations in their Centenary year - over the weekend beginning on July 2nd. Competing with onerous Covid restrictions and the eminent success at Wembley of England's victory over Germany in the final rounds of the European Cup (on the telly) it was an impressive number of transport enthusiasts persuaded to make the journey to the Fylde coast for the three days of special bus events here. The writer managed to tackle today's part of the programme with a walk around the bus display on the Tower Headland, and a singular journey to Gynn Square on preserved Atlantean 364 in its original fleet livery.
A service of mixed bus types operated on the Promenade as far as the Gynn roundabout providing a moving show of Blackpool's buses over the past six decades whilst the heritage trams added their own period flavour. Given the uncertainty over the weather with rain predicted but fortunately not so far delivered, it was quite remarkable the number of enthusiasts turned up from all parts of the country. Blackpool Transport did their best to publicise the Bus Centenary in difficult times and their efforts must be applauded in the end results achieved. A sales stand amid the bus display gained plenty of sales and attention - with a freebie bus brochure handout for everyone. The writer's Centenary of Blackpool Buses was not on display nor available to add further grist to this particular mill - but be assured it is being worked on and will appear during 2022.
Further events involving the town's buses are scheduled for Sunday 4th July (Independence Day in the USA). Sadly the two extant examples of Blackpool's unique centre entrance fleet from the immediate postwar era are very much projects in need of restorative attention by their respective owners. Given the dearth of examples from the town's pre-1960s buses it is to be hoped that events this weekend may give stimulate financial and practical support to the owners of Burlingham bodied 246 of 1949 and 300 of 1951 - the former owned by Mr Hinchcliffe and the latter by the FTT. An embryonic heritage bus collection has been launched by Blackpool Transport Services managing to retain later vehicle types from the 1960s onwards, as well as the Fylde Transport Trust with its longtime stalwarts Eric Berry and Philip Higgs (with others). Some scenes from today's events. Below : two generations of Blackpool buses pass on the promenade.
Admirers of the bus display and memories from 1969 when Blackpool's fixation with rear platform double deck buses gave way to pragmatic no frills one man operated single deckers - Marshall bodied AEC Swifts on the tram replacement Route 12 on Lytham Road.
Below : Three examples of the dominant MCW bodied Leyland double deck buses which phased out former centre entrance types in the late 1950s and 1960s. In varied livery styles. The nearest being in the green and cream style brought in by Manager Derek Hyde. The middle example in its special 1985 Tramway Centenary colours of the transport operation prior to 1933. The far left hand bus in the all cream paint job which did nothing for the fleet or operator's image when applied in the 1970s. PS with similar application on the successive delivery of AEC models such as 554.
Below : Contrasting bus types operated in the town since the 1970s - nicely lined up. All being the result of different Transport Managers and their policies over the decades - up to the present with the 'Palladium' branded ADL.
All Images : John Woodman taken today