Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lost Termini: 1 South Pier

The traditional Marton terminus of South Pier is now disused and unserved having been virtually continuously used since 1895

Another product of the July bus service changes is the end of South Pier as a bus terminus. This was one of Blackpool's longest established termini - with a history traceable back the Lytham Road tram route which took trams down Station Road to what was then Victoria Pier from 1897. The end is somewhat confusing as the actual terminus had for some time moved to Bond Street - the former stop at Station Road/Promenade used as a 'through' stop. Nevertheless Saturday 24 July was the final day it was used and the following day saw the last bus terminate at Bond Street.

The first motor bus service is understood to date from 1933 - the former William Smith service to Midgeland Road (Blackpool's service 10) was diverted there from "Waterloo Road West" terminus in 1933 running via Station Road and Bond St to reach Waterloo Road. It carried on, virtually unchanged until it was unceremoniously axed in 1961. 1936 saw a summer version (10A) which ran to Highfield Hotel via Clifton Drive and Highfield Road. In 1951 this was extended north to Great Marton and ran along Bond St rather than service the former terminus at South Pier. For its final year in 1961 the 10A ended up as a Grange Park to South Pier service.

October 1936 saw the replacement of the Layton and Central Drive tram routes with two new linked bus routes the 22 and 23 which ran from Layton to Waterloo Hotel with the 22 running to Marton Depot and the 23 to South Pier bringing the brand new streamlined centre entrance Leyland Titans to the terminus, contrasting strongly with the outdated Standards on the Marton tram route which shared the terminus every summer until 1961. 1961 also saw some journeys on the 23 extend to Highfield Hotel (and later Midgeland Road) leaving the short journeys to South Pier to show 23A - a scenario which lasted until deregulation. Extra summer journeys from South Pier to Layton (the 23/23A now running to Victoria Hospital) typically showed service 24.

1961 saw new service 19 link South Pier with Mereside estate via Waterloo Road and Watson Road. This helped replace the 10 - though the two did run together for a while. The Marton trams survived until October 1962 - though the closure of the Lytham Road route in 1961 deprived them of their summer extension from Royal Oak to South Pier. The replacement bus service 26 had no where to turn at Royal Oak so continued down Waterloo Road and onto the Promenade to reach South Pier terminus and return via Station Road and Lytham Road.  This differed from the other bus routes. The 19 and 23A returning via Station Road, Bond St and Waterloo Road - all three did run via the Promenade to reach the terminus - as did the 23 on its way to Midgeland Road - it ran straight along Bond St on the way back.

The above picture illustrates the curiously busy nature of this terminus. The brand new National 2 is on a test run, but Atlantean 359 has squeezed in between the two Swifts on service 26 to Talbot Square. By the time of this shot (July 1984), the 26 ran every 12 minutes. The 19 ran every 60 minutes to Mereside and the 23/23A every 15 minutes to the Hospital, with 3 per hour terminating at South Pier. One of these turned into a 19 and another sat for a most generous 19 minutes. Normally the 23A would load at a second stop at the junction with Bond Street. It seems likely that this is the changeover between the 19 and 23A - a 19 would arrive at xx39 and leave at xx49 as a 23A - the incoming 23A  arrived at xx45 and departed on the 19 xx50. The Atlantean would be on the 26 that arrived at xx46 and left at xx52. By now all buses ran up Station Road and along Lytham Road to the Royal Oak - the section of Bond Street between Waterloo Road and Station Road was now only used during the Illuminations diversion period with a temporary bus terminus outside Holy Trinity Church.

Deregulation was the next significant change - the 19, 23 and 23A were replaced by services 23, 24 and 25 - the 23 still served Station Road but only between Lytham Road and Bond St. A new 23A was provided by Fylde under contract to Lancashire County Council and operating during the evening and on Sunday. It ran to Mereside via Highfield Road and Midgeland Road. Blackpool took it over in March 1994. Evening and Sunday journeys on service 25 used South Pier as a terminus from June to September 1988. November 1994 saw revisions to the 23-25 group with Evening and  Sunday services now running as 23 Hospital to Mereside and 23A Hospital to South Pier - a situation which continued until the Metro network started in April 2001.

The 26 meanwhile continued largely unchanged - route wise. Its frequency slipped to every 15 minutes at deregulation but September 1987 saw it increased to every 5 minutes and converted to minibuses. This coninced with a brief spell of competition from Fylde which ran every 30 minutes using Atlanteans but soon gave up. Evening buses on the 26 approached South Pier from the South, unusually, from August 1988 to October 1992 as the 26 was diverted via Watson Road to serve the Ice Drome at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This is the only known occasion the tunnel under the Pleasure Beach has been used by service buses.
Bond Street Holy Trinity Church - formerly used for Illuminations Diversions but a permanent terminus from 2002 to 2010

Single deckers took over from minibuses in August 1996 (with minibuses moving onto the 23/24/25) but new Metroriders enabled a reconversion from December 1998. At Metro Line 26 gained a light green and yellow identity running every eight minutes. In April 2002 it was replaced by an extended Line 2 running from Poulton to South Pier. The traditional terminus was replaced by the use of Bond Street with the Illuminations Diversion terminus made permanent - probably the only such occurrence. The stop was still served during the summer as Line 20 served Station Road on its way from the Town Centre to Marton Mere - a rare example of a westbound service operating the full length of Station Road. This operated from 2000 to 2006. Meanwhile Line 2 experienced various projections across the Fylde and from January 2003 one such extension took it to Lytham serving the old South Pier terminus stop once again.

This is how things stayed until the July service changes when the 2 was curtailed and Line 16 replaced its South Shore to Blackpool via Marton route. It still serves Bond Street (on Cleveleys journeys) and Station Road from Bond St to Lytham Road on journeys to Blackpool. However other than a few months in winter 2002/3 South Pier terminus is no longer served after 113 years.