Thursday, 3 December 2009

The End of the Atlantean - out for 50.

364's Indian summer appears over after 25 years of service. Here it deputises for a minibus on Line 2 to Poulton earlier this year.
Monday 30 November saw the withdrawal of Atlantean 364 after a school duty, bringing the curtain down on 32 years of Atlantean operation which started back in July 1977. Blackpool's association with the Atlantean dates back even further with the type achieving 50 years service in the town. Ribble bought its first in November 1959, several were allocated to Preston and would have operated into Blackpool on trunk routes. Some of the early ones were also allocated to Blackpool Talbot Road depot. The February 1960 allocation included 1618, 1622 and 1624 from December 1959.
Scout Motor Services who operated from Blackpool to Preston on the 154/155/158 on a joint basis with Ribble acquired one ex demonstrator and four new Atlanteans in 1960/1 shortly before Ribble bought the business. Lytham St. Annes had previously operated one of these demonstrators on the 11. Standerwick - also part of the Ribble family - operated the 'Gay Hostess' Atlantean coaches on long distance express services into the town while less well appointed Atlantean 'White Lady' coaches operated regional express services.
Lytham became the first municipal to introduce regular Atlantean operation on the Fylde Coast with 75-77 of 1970. Its successor Fylde built up a fleet of 18 more between 1975 and 1984. Blackpool finally endorsed the Atlantean in 1977 with the first ten out of a fleet of 64 built up over seven years.
Occasionally Atlanteans from East Lancashire operators put in appearances on the Fylde Coast as express duplicates and after deregulation both Preston and Lancaster operated Atlanteans on regular services into Blackpool. Ribble's operations on the Fylde Coast began to contract and under Stagecoach ownership Atlantean appearances were reduced as it invested in new Olympians. Fylde's fleet expanded with several second hand purchases whilst Blackpool sold many of its early examples at quite young ages. In 1994 when Blackpool bought Fylde, the 41 surviving East Lancs Atlanteans were joined by 52 examples from the Fylde fleet including four rebodies as single deckers. The total of 93 had reduced to 83 by the start of 1997 by when Blackpool had absorbed Fylde. By 2002 54 were left and just 23 at the start of 2004. The last ex Fylde examples ran in 2004 - by which time the oldest (475) was 28 years old. 13 were left two years later and during the summer most were laid up. October 2006 saw a 'farewell event' with active 363 and 364 joined by reinstated 358, 360-362 for two days operation. Remarkably 353/358 returned to service in the new year and lasted until July 2008 when 363 was also withdrawn. 364 outlasted the pair, until its final withdrawal in November 2009.
More mundanely Metrorider 512 has finally been withdrawn after a two month stay and is now in store at Jackson's Marton with 506, 511, 513 and 593. Line 15 bus 513 has been delicensed since October, a withdrawal not previously noted here. This leaves just three Metroriders in use, 515 and 517 on Line 15 and 518 on Line 10 - a remarkable change considering 16 were still in use back in May.