Friday, 22 January 2010

Blackpool's Nationals - The afterlife

Part one of the Leyland National story covered their time in Blackpool. Four National 2s were bought new and 15 mark ones second hand to replace AEC Swifts. All 19 were sold between May 1990 and May 1991 and, coincidentally, through take-overs examples ended up in each of the 'big three' bus groups of First, Stagecoach and Arriva!
First to leave were the four examples from Crosville 145-148 (CFM345/7S, KMA399T, LMA413T), withdrawn in March 1990. 145/6/8, together with five Atlanteans, passed to Norfolk's of Nayland in a wholesale fleet renewal. Norfolk's was a long established family firm that operated into Colchester but in 1991 they were bought by Hedingham Omnibuses - a more recent independent that still operates today.

Nationals 146 (l) and 148 (r) frame Atlantean 309 shortly after the take-over of Norfolk's by Hedingham
Hedingham took the ex Blackpool buses into their fleet and painted them into their red and cream livery. The Nationals survived there for five more years, passing to Northern Bus of Sheffield in May 1996. Northern was a post deregulation era independent operator and was evolving from Bristol REs (including Fylde's five) to Leyland Nationals for its single deck fleet. It was taken-over by Mainline - the former South Yorkshire PTE operation and by now part of First Group in 1998 - all three Nationals passing into group ownership but seeing little use. 145 and 148 are understood to have gone for scrap, 146 resurfaced with Appleby's in Lincolnshire in 1999 and Alpha of Hull in 2001 as LJI8027. By 2004 it was in Lowestoft and was still there in 2008. Today it is listed on the DVLA website as having a valid SORN declaration until March 2010. Is is still there and who owns it?

The odd one out was 147 (KMA399T) which went to Doherty of Irvine - part of the famous A1 Service consortium in Ayrshire. This unusual arrangement of small businesses under a co-operative arrangement sold out to Stagecoach in early 1995 and 147 became part of the Western Scottish operation, lasting until May 2000 when accident damage saw the vehicle written off and scrapped.

The next to go were the 11 ex Strathclyde PTE buses 156/8, 161/2/4-7, 170/2/4 (GGE156Tetc) which came off between December 1990 and Feburary 1991 and went on mass to Southend Transport in February. Southend was embroiled in a bus war with Thamesway and expanded greatly with Nationals at the time. The batch had mixed fates. 164 lasted just a year, withdrawn for spares in 1992 and then passed briefly to a Welsh owner in stripped condition before being scrapped in 1994. Southend became part of the British Bus Group and 165 moved within the group to London & Country in 1993 lasting until 1998 under Arriva ownership, it was briefly with a dealer before being scrapped. 166, 172 and 174 came off in 1995 for scrap, 158 was an accident victim in 1996, 156, 161/2/7 came off in 1997 with 161 running for Border of Burnley until 1999 and 162 for McKindless of Wishaw until 2000. 156 went to London & Country and its associated fleet as as driver trainer and later to a private training school before being preserved back in Glasgow for restoration as Strathclyde LN1. The exception was 170 which was refurbished by Southend in 1992 with a DAF engine and became PJI3745. It lasted into 1998 as the last survivor and passed to an independent operator in Hadleigh until 2002.

National 2 142 at Esh Winning operating for Arriva North East in 1999

The National 2s 141-4 (A541-4PCW) were bought by Caldaire North East - owners of United (Durham) and Tees & District (Teesside) in May 1991. Two met unfortunate ends, 141 suffering accident damage in spring 1994 which caused its withdrawal and it was scrapped later that summer, 144 suffering a similar end in October 1995.  142/3 ended up at Durham depot with Caldaire now part of the Arriva group - though neither bus received Arriva livery. When withdrawn in autumn 1999, 143 was exported to Ireland running for O's Coaches of Hospital, Limerick - more recently it has been purchased with the remains of their fleet by Kells Bus Museum. 142 passed to Cleveland Police and later Safe in Tees Valley as an exhibition vehicle until it was retired in autumn 2009. It has now been donated to the Lancastrian Transport Trust and returned to Blackpool on 21 January.

The interior of 542 in 1999 with Atlantean style moquette
542/142 A542PCW - Lancastrian Transport Trust, Blackpool Preserved 1/10
543/143 A543PCW - Kells Transport Museum, ROI, preserved 2009
546/146 CFM347S - possibly in Lowestoft
156 GGE156T - preserved Beith Transport Museum.