Thursday, 29 July 2010

Line 17's Family Tree - pt 2 - the St. Annes Roamer

38 climbs Highbury Road bridge with Old Links Golf Course in the background.
The southern leg of Line 17 runs from St. Annes to Lytham via Heyhouses. Arguably it is descended from Lytham St. Annes service 4 which ran via St. Annes Road East and Heyhouses Lane until 1986, though its direct ancestor is the St. Annes Roamer of 1978. Incidentally the 4 developed by chance in much the same way as service 11C for the Church Road route was diverted via Heyhouses Lane for three years in the 1920s due to the parlous state of Church Road. When the road reopened only the St. Annes Road East bid of the diversion was kept but pressure was brought to reinstate the whole route - and for bad measure it was linked to the equally unremunerative Lytham Green Drive section. From 1930 to 1986 service 4 operated at a loss even though Heyhouses eventually developed as a residential area, the 4 served the more affluent leaving the working class properties closer to the main high frequency Church Road services.

As the residential area developed it was decided to fill some of the gaps in the bus network with two new off peak services under the twee title of the "Community Roamer" from January 1978. Numbered 8A and 8B the former ran via Chatsworth Avenue, Highbury Road, St. Leonards Road and Grange Road in North St. Annes and the latter via Church Road, St. Thomas Road and St. Andrews Road South. Each ran hourly using one bus Monday to Friday shopping hours only. 1979 saw an extension of the routes. Both now ran out of St. Annes up St. Annes Road East to the Hospital with the 8A turning left onto Crosland Road North, Folkestone Road, St.Leonards Rd, St. Davids Road North, Highbury Rd, Chatsworth Road and Caryl Road. The 8B turned onto Crosland Road South and served Shepherd Road, Pilling Ave, Grassington Road, Waddington Rd, Whalley Place, Moorland Road, St.Thomas Road, Clifton Drive. Single deckers were used including Seddons, Panthers, Bristol REs and Leyland Leopard Coaches.
Unusually double deckers appear on Saturday workings on the 8B in 1982

1981 saw four Saturday journeys added on the 8B interworked with service 1 - and thus sometimes using Atlanteans - but the weekday journeys were renumbered 8C and extended to South Hey and Edwinstowe Road with some peak hour journeys introduced to replace those lost by changes to route 4 which became off peak only. The 8C once again reverted to the 8B route in 1982 and in 1983 the 8A gained a Saturday service.
This October 1988 route map shows the 1979 to 1989 route of the 8A (or 9 as shown here) and the 8B in its later form (via Heyhouses Lane not Crosland Road North). The 8C was used for two afternoon peak journeys

Deregulation (October 1986) saw the 8A continue, but the 8B was merged with the 4 which now ran over the 8B route to Whalley Place then via Smithy Lane, Ansdell and South Park to Lytham Square. This only lasted until 1987 when the old 8B route was reinstated and the 4 finally killed off. From late 1987 the 8A was renumbered 9 to release the number for a Lytham to Cleveleys route. REs and Leopards continued to be the mainstays.
Coaches made regular appearances - much to the dismay of the elderly clientele - Fylde briefly ran this ex Ribble Leopard still in NBC local coach livery.

February 1989 saw a the replacement of the Roamer with a new tendered bus service from Cleveleys to Lytham using four buses! This lengthy route took in Norbreck, Warbreck Hill, Blackpool Centre, Stanley Park, Victoria Hospital, Great Marton, Mereside, and Hawes Side Lane picking up the Roamer route at Crosand Road North to follow the 8A to St. Annes, then much of the 8B route to Whalley Place and onto South Park, Lytham Square and Saltcotes Road. Numbered 4 this ran hourly Monday to Friday off peak. The Saturday service was numbered 4A and ran from Spring Gardens to the Cemetery only using one bus. The 4B was a school day journey from St. Annes to Whalley Place and the 4C to afternoon peak short workings from St. Annes to Smithy Lane.
In October 1989 the 4 was revised to run Cleveleys to St. Annes via Victoria Hospital and new route 8 replaced the St. Annes Roamer sections effectively adopting the Saturday route from Kilnhouse Lane/Crosland Road North to the Cemetery. The 8 was renumbered the 3 in March 1990 and then the 77 in November 1990 (in Fylde's quirky minibus series of 33, 44, 55 etc) each change seeing a minor route revision.

A Renault minibus was now used with a regular driver so that the bus working included a lunch break! Other than some minor tweaks this pattern survived well into Blackpool Transport ownership. 1997 saw the last Renaults replaced by City Pacers 559 and 567 at Squires Gate Depot for the 77 - but Metroriders took over in February 1999. The regular driver had a lengthy duty - on school days the bus would start with a school run from Hornby Road to St Georges School at Mereside then work the 77 from 0858 to 1718 and be back at depot for 1730. School days also saw an afternoon school run from Lytham St. Annes RC Primary to Spring Gardens. Later the bus was used to duplicate the 0759 service 33 from Mereside as far as Greenlands School.
The November 1990 Route Map for service 77, broadly valid until 2003.

Once Blackpool Transport had absorbed Fylde it took until April 1999 for Squires Gate Depot to be closed and that September saw the full integration of all the staff with the 77 now in the general roster and crewed by three drivers each day - yet still with a lunch break in the timetable! Fylde had been operating the service commercially since the early 1990s and Blackpool Transport decided to withdraw the service in August 2000.

Local independent Phoenix North West won a replacement contract service but this passed to Blackpool Transport in April 2001 shortly before Phoenix ceased trading. 4 January 2003 proved to be the last day of operation as the route was replaced by an extended Line 2 operating half hourly - (the highest frequency ever!) - and running from Poulton via Hospital, Blackpool, Marton and South Pier and taking in a revised Roamer route form Highbury Road to South Hey and then extending into Lytham. The service was still partially supported by Lancashire County Council.
Short lived service 72 fruitlessly served the luxuries Cypress Point development in Ansdell. 591 fails to catch the attention of the ducks in November 2006. 

The Roamer made a very brief comeback in October 2006 when Blackpool re-routed the 2 away from Crosland Road North and Folkestone Road. A new service 72 was started from St. Annes Sq and took in Folkestone Road, Crosland Road North and South, Barle Road then via Shepherd Road to Whalley Place then Heyhouses Lane, Cypress Point, Rgegent Avenue (Cemetery), Blackpool Road, Broadwood Way, Forest Drive, Moorfield Drive and Ballam Road to Lytham Square. 5 journeys were operated each way using a Metrorider and this lasted until 30 March 2007 when Redline buses took-over until the service ended completely in July 2007 when the 2 was re-routed again.
Metroriders looked quite at home on the Roamer

The 2 ended on 24 June with new service 17 starting on 26th bringing big buses back on a regular basis to Heyhouses.
Excel 222 swings into Folkestone Road on new route 17 on 27 July 2010 following in the footsteps of...

.....Bristol RE 37 in May 1987