Saturday, 5 June 2010

Happy Birthday Line 11 - 75 years young

Bought for new route 11 in 1935 this ex demonstrator Lion (Lytham 24 TJ6760) is now privately preserved and nearing the completion of its restoration

On Friday 7 June 1935 at 0800 a Lytham St. Annes bus - probably Leyland Lion 24 - set off from Dicconson Terrace, Lytham on the first scheduled municipal bus service to Blackpool, having started at Halfway House at 0742. A Blackpool single decker - probably also a Lion - departed Central Station at 0800 with the first working from there to Lytham.

The new service 11 was born. A fast journey time of 29 minutes was offered with just one minute layover time at each end. Buses ran along Central Drive and St. Annes Road to the Halfway House and over the boundary into Lytham St Annes along Blackpool Road, Headroomgate Road, Church Road, Worsley Road, Commonside, Church Road, Seafield Road and West Beach to Lytham Dicconson Terrace. A half hourly service ran with one bus from each operator. Duplication was soon required and by the autumn a 15 minute afternoon and evening service was running.
Surviving Gearless Lion 34

Lytham's trams provided a more frequent service between the two towns via Clifton Drive - and also served St. Annes. These closed in two stages - St. Annes to Lytham in December 1936 and St. Annes to Blackpool in April 1937. The replacement bus service was the 11A which initially ran from Lytham to St. Annes but from the closure of the tramway ran every 12 minutes from Lytham Meadow Lane via Lytham Square, Fairhaven Hotel, St. Annes Square, Airport, Lytham Road, Bloomfield Road and Central Drive to Central Station. Unlike the trams, Blackpool ran certain workings on the service with the annual route mileage split in proportion to the length of route in each borough.

At the same time a short lived summer 11B from St. Annes to Blackpool started while in 1939 the 11C was used for shorts on the 11 as far as Lindsay Avenue. February 1940 saw a serious snow storm cut off Blackpool Road and saw plans to commandeer the road for airfield expansion brought forward. The 11 was diverted to run via Squires Gate Lane, Clifton Drive, St. Annes Square to rejoin its established route at Victoria Hotel - with an extension to Meadow Lane. Blackpool to Lytham was now done in around 40-45 minutes. The 11C suffered several war time diversions before becoming a stand-alone service in its own right using Ansdell Road and Hawes Side Lane in Blackpool and entering St. Annes via Division Lane and later Queensway. Today this route is largely covered by Line 14.

As the war progressed the 11/11A settled into a co-ordinated ten minute service - 20 minutes on each - though only the section from Blackpool to Bloomfield Road, Squires Gate to St. Annes and along Church Road in Lytham were common. This pattern lasted until 1976 when the frequency reduced to every 15 minutes (30 each). There was much duplication - the 11B used to denote extra shorts on the 11A, the 11X tended to be used for extras on the 11 route. During the summer local route 1 (Lytham Square to St Annes) would be extended to Blackpool to provide an extra three buses per hour. This complicated the mileage allocation and although more often than not there were 9 Lytham to 2 Blackpool buses used (plus four Blackpool ones on the 11C) sometimes Blackpool had to take on an extra working to balance out the summer duplication by Lytham. Revenue split was initially quite simple yet awkward at the same time. Blackpool kept the revenue taken in Blackpool, Lytham St. Annes did likewise in their area - those who travelled across the boundary paid twice - having to be re-booked as they crossed the boundary! In 1958 this was replaced by an allocation of the pooled revenue in proportion to the mileage.
Preserved Lytham Titans 10, 19 and 70 were all bought new for the trunk 11/11A routes

Lytham initially used now preserved Leyland Lion 24, soon joined by the Gearless Lions and then double deck Gearless Titans when the 11A started. Blackpool generally used its newest centre entrance buses - single deckers initially on the 11 - almost always Titans on the 11A. Post war with the reduced frequencies both operators standardised on Leyland Titans until 1970 when Lytham's first three Leyland Atlanteans took to the roads - albeit still with conductors

The 1970s saw some structural changes to the routes - particularly in the Lytham area - most took place after Lytham St. Annes Corporation morphed into Fylde Borough Council in 1974. These were quite complex but can be summarised as:

1973 - one journey per our on each 11 and 11A diverted to Saltcotes Road as 31/31A rather than Meadow Lane either via Mythop Road or Preston Road
1975 - 41/41A variants introduced also to Saltcotes Road. 11A/31A/41A now operated by OMO Atlanteans (Fylde only), 11/31/41 remains crew operated
1976 - reduced to half hourly on each route, combined 15 minutes. Daytime service terminates at Lytham Square every 30 minutes and Saltcotes Road every 30 minutes. Virtually all Fylde workings now OMO
1977 - Blackpool Atlanteans start to appear alongside Titans.
1980 - Meadow Lane no longer used as a terminus - buses to Saltcotes Road instead
1982 - all Saltcotes Road journeys now use Preston Road both ways. Route numbers 31/31A and 41/41A dropped.
1983 - daytime 11 withdrawn and replace by extended 22A. 11A runs half hourly using four buses (all from Fylde). 11 and 11A run hourly in the evenings and on Sundays - both now using Lytham Road.

Blackpool's Atlantean 310 overtakes Fylde 77 (on local route 1) and Ribble 1425 on the occasional 172 route in Lytham Square in 1982 during a short-lived one-way system round the town centre
Fylde 79 showing its short lived stripy livery operating the 41 variant from Saltcotes to Blackpool

October 1986 saw Fylde run an hourly 11 and 11A every day, supplemented by daytime only limited stop variants 21 and 31. From January 1987 the limited stop routes ended and the 11 was increased to half hourly with a new 22B running via St. Annes Road between Blackpool and the Airport - but otherwise as the 11A. In 1988 the 11 was extended to Cleveleys, incorporating a short lived service 8 (Cleveleys to Lytham) and the 11A/22B were later similarly extended. By the 1992 the routes had evolved to the following pattern:

11 Cleveleys to Lytham Square via College, Bispham, Gynn, Blackpool, Lytham Rd, Airport, St. Annes and Ansdell every 30 minutes using 5 buses
11A Cleveleys to Lytham Square via College, Layton, Blackpool, Lytham Rd, Airport, St. Annes and Fairhaven every 30 minutes using 5 buses
In the evening and on Sundays an hourly service ran on each from Blackpool to Lytham with the 11A carrying onto Wesham.
Fylde 72 - one of six refurbished with modern front ends between 1991 and 1993 (Keith West)

A mixture of refurbished Atlanteans and Fylde's three Deltas of 1991 were regular perfomers - as for a while was the batch of four single deck Atlanteans - though these proved to be too small. When Blackpool took-over Fylde in 1994 the timetable was co-ordinated with Blackpool's 12 (Cleveleys to St. Annes via the 11A route) and initially used double deckers though Deltas were subsituted on 8 out of 10 workings from 1999.

The Metro network of April 2001 saw the 11, 11A, 12, 22 and 22A swept away by a new Line 11 which ran Cleveleys to Lytham Saltcotes Road via College, Bispham, Layton, Blackpool, Lytham Rd, Airport, St. Annes, Ansdell, South Park and Lytham Square with a 7/8 minute service to St. Annes and 15 minute service to Lytham. 21 buses (later 22) were used with a mix of Deltas, Olympians and Atlanteans allocted. 2003 and 2006 saw Dennis Tridents replace the older double deckers and today they (322-332) remain allocated along with one Olympian (379) and 10 Deltas (115/6/8/9, 122/5-7, 132/3). During the Metro era no less than 40 buses (and Twin car 673+683) have carried Line 11 livery of turquoise and yellow

Deltas: 115-119, 122, 125-133 (15)
Tridents: 322-332 (11)
Leyland Olympians: 368-373, 401, 406 (8)
Volvo Olympians: 374-379 (6)
Deltas 101-103 and Olympians 402-405, 407-410 carried small Line 11 stickers during 2001 but were transfered to other duties before they could be repainted.

Delta 115 loads at Cleveleys Bus Station in the dedicated Line 11 livery

July 2010 sees major service changes and Line 11 will enter a new era reduced to a 15 minute frequency between Lytham Square and Blackpool before heading to Layton and Grange Park. Optare Excels are likely to be the main vehicle type allocated with the Tridents cascaded onto new Line 9 - replacing the Blackpool to Cleveleys section.

Trident 331- from the latest batch of double deckers bought for the 11