Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Happy new year to all readers and its time to thank those who have made contributions through the year, particularly my father Brian Turner for the supply of current and archive photos. If you have news or photos of interest, please drop me a line by email.

Over the last few days a Facebook page has been set up to allow those who wish to follow updates through Facebook to do so (providing I remember the notifications!) I have also modified the site settings and turned on a mobile version which should improve the blog's viewability on smartphones.

Today's news is that the second Manx Trident is nearing completion with what is believed to be former 50 (and BTS 344) outshopped in base fleet livery at Bus and Coach World with sisters 48 and 51 alongside awaiting a workshop slot. Solo 297 brought 2011 to an end as the final bus to return to depot off the 2C, Trident 318 was the final big bus.

Friday, 30 December 2011

The Return of the 9


After 18 years, the 9 rejoined the Blackpool network in July 2010. Here 377 approaches Corporation Street terminus on the first day.
Today's service 9 has origins that date back to 1920, though the original service via Devonshire Road was replaced in 1959 and a new 9 involved into the developing Ingthorpe area until this ceased in 1992. 

In June 1920 William Smith Motor Services introduced a bus service from Layton Cemetery Tram Terminus via Bispham Road to Bispham Village. It wasn't particularly frequent - in 1922 a two hourly service was advertised - but in 1923 it was extended via the tram route along Talbot Road to Talbot Mews - the predecessor to Talbot Road Bus Station.

The route was later extended to Carr Road via All Hallows Road. The Corporation took over in 1926 and briefly merged the service with the Adelaide Place to Layton service (via Caunce Street) and extended the route to Norbreck. This took service number 9 but was quickly cut back to run from Talbot Mews to Carr Road. In 1927 a short extension along Fleetwood Road took the 9 to Mossom Lane and then in 1930 it was extended to Cleveleys Beach via Fleetwood Road, Bispham Road and Victoria Road. Two buses provided a half hourly service. From 1934 double deckers were used. 

PD3 507 in 1930s livery heads along Devonshire Road while operating service 22 over the section which replaced route 9 in 1959.
1937 saw a controversial summer extension to Fleetwood which provoked legal challenge from Ribble. Blackpool ran via Rossall Road, Broadway, Queens Hotel, Poulton Road and Lord St to Queens Terrace every 20 minutes with the year round service to Cleveleys now showing service 9A. In 1938 the route was split with the Fleetwood workings (9) serving Bispham Village and the Cleveleys workings (9A) serving Devonshire Road. In Winter the Bispham Village workings showed 9B and terminated at Cleveleys! The Fleetwood extension was suspended for the war, but never resumed, leaving the 9A/9B as year round services. A combined 15 minute service was provided form 1939, dropping to 20 minutes in 1942 due to war time economies - this needed 3 buses. 1951 saw a diversion in Anchorsholme via Valeway Avenue, North Drive and Anchorsholme Lane and the service frequency  grew to a combined 10 minutes with six buses allocated.

October 1959 saw a major network recast in the North of the town. Route 22  (Halfway House to Bispham) absorbed the Bispham to Cleveleys sections of the 9A and 9B (the latter as 22A) - this route had duplicated the 9A/B form Blackpool to Bispham and this rationalisation seemed sensible. However at peak times a higher frequency was desired so a 10 minute shuttle service from North Station to Bispham Clinic was provided - showing number 9 operating from 7am to 9am and 12noon to 7pm using 3 buses.  By summer 1960 the 9 was running all day but in October it was revised once again into the 9A and 9B!

The new 9A provided a daily 20 minute service from North Station to Ingthorpe Estate (Ashfield Road near Briarwood Drive) running from Bispham Clinic via Ingthorpe Avenue and Ashfield Road. It was supplemented by the 9B at peak times (same hours as the 9 in 1959) which ran along Devonshire Road to Russell Avenue - it was later extended to Norbreck.

In 1963 the routes were rationalised into a single service 9 again - prior to reaching Bispham the buses diverting at Moor Park via Bristol Avenue onto Ashfield Road, then as the inbound 9A route along Ingthorpe Avenue to Bispham then the 9B route via Devonshire Road, Guildford Road, Norbreck Road, Fleetwood Road to terminate near the borough boundary at Anchorsholme Lane junction. The 9 now ran into the Bus Station, rather than from the Railway Station across the road. 3 buses allowed a 20 minute frequency to be provided. The development of the Ingthorpe estates saw frequent changes. Route 8 via Dickson Road and Warbreck Drive took over the Norbreck section in summer 1965 and the 9 terminated at Bispham Village with only 2 buses now needed. By the Autumn, the 9 had been diverted away from Bispham Village and carried on along Ashfield Road to Fairfax Avenue.

In 1970 the route was converted to one man operation using AEC Swifts and was extended to the College of Technology further along the developing Ashfield Road. The extra running time saw a 24 minute service provided to retain the requirement for two buses. 1973 saw the completion of Ashfield Road and the 9 now served the Sevenoakes Estate -terminating on estate roads at Grassington Place - a third Swift was allocated to allow a 20 minute frequency to be provided.  Meanwhile route 7C (Blackpool to Anchorsholme via Warbreck Drive and Bispham) had been diverted through Ingthorpe Estate and was extended to Cleveleys in 1967.

1975 saw the 7C and 9 rationalised with the 7C terminating at "Whiteholme" - once known as "Haddle House Estate", but really Anchorsholme and only just round the corner from Sevenoakes - the terminus being the junction of Anchorsholme Lane and Luton Road. From 1982 this became route 8 and Fylde took it over at deregulation. Route 9 was now extended from Grassington Place to Cleveleys and once again split into the 9A and 9B! The 9A which ran daily used Sevenoakes Drive and Anchorsholme Lane in full, the 9B (weekdays only) used Warren Drive, North Drive, Luton Road and Anchorsholme Lane. Both ran every 40 minutes and four vehicles were now required.

Atlantean 324 in the customary pose at Cleveleys Bus Station during the period when buses faced outwards - OK for PD3s with their rear door but a somewhat less user friendly when Atlanteans appeared.
Atlanteans took over most workings from 1977 and in 1982 the route was simplified with all journeys running via Sevenoakes Drive. Route 9 was reintroduced, the 9B dropped but the 9A was now used to signify journeys that ran via North Drive and Victoria Road instead of the full length of Anchorsholme Lane. 
1987 and the 9 had returned to crew operation - though usually still with Atlanteans such as 307 (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)
At deregulation this pattern continued - 4 Atlanteans provided the daytime service with a combined 20 minute headway. In the evening a half hourly service was provided - interworked with the 22/22A at Cleveleys whilst on Sundays a 40 minute frequency ran. Amazingly, though, in January 1987 crew operation was reinstated after 17 years! The running time was cut from 31 to 26 minutes allowing a 15 minute service to be provided. PD3s and occasionally Routemasters joined the established Atlanteans on the route.

Fylde Renault 125 loads in Cleveleys Bus Station on competing service 66A which largely followed the 9 to Blackpool but did penetrate some of the local housing areas en route (Dave Hatcher)
 Fylde was starting to stretch its muscles having won the tender for route 8 to Whiteholme and soon extended it to Cleveleys and double the frequency to every 30 minutes. By 1988 it was running through to Lytham. Also in November 1987 Fylde started a minibus route (66) along the 9 route to Sevenoakes, but diverting down many of the estate roads. In April this was extended to Cleveleys giving Fylde six buses per hour from Ashfield Road to Cleveleys compared to Blackpool's four! Blackpool introduced the 9C (Bus Station to College at peak times and lunch times) as part response.
City Pacers ruled the roost on route 9 from August 1988 to its merger with the 12 in March 1992. Here 551 heads to Corporation Street - terminus for the route in 1989 (Dave Hatcher)
Not one to take the attack lying down, Blackpool converted the 9 to Handybus minibus operation from August 1988 and standardised the route omitting Moor Park Avenue (using Bispham Road and Bristol Road) and Victoria Road West (all buses ran via Anchorsholme Lane). 8 City Pacers provided a 7/8 minute service during the day and a 15 minute service at night with all departures extended to Corporation St in Blackpool Town Centre. The 22A was also diverted via Ashfield Road between Bispham and Cleveleys to reinforce the 9s.

Delta 115 awaits time on route 12, which had replaced the 9 in March 1992 (Dave Hatcher)
In 1990 the Corporation St section was withdrawn and in March 1992 the 9 was replaced by an extended 12 using Optare Delta single deckers on a 15 minute St. Annes to Cleveleys service. Fylde cut its minibus service to half hourly in April but extended route 11A to Cleveleys via the 12 route. When the two companies merged in 1994 the 12 was cut to half hourly - the 11/11A/12 making a combined 10 minute service between St. Annes and Cleveleys, albeit two per hour serving Warbreck Drive as service 11 - all three routes used double deckers again. The 22/22A continued every 15 minutes too. Briefly in 1998/9 the 12 was extended to Fleetwood once per hour - shades of the 9 in the 1930s. The service switched back to single deckers again in 1999 
Line 11 was a haunt of Deltas for all its nine year life under the Metro banner

The Metro network change in April 2001 saw the 11, 11A, 12 and parts of the 22/22A merged into a single service "Line 11" from Lytham to Cleveleys. This ran via Talbot Road, Layton, Benson Road, Bispham Road to Bispham Library, then Ingthorpe Avenue, Ashfield Road, Sevenoakes Drive, Anchorsholme Lane, North Drive and Victoria Road West to Cleveleys. Today it is operated a mix of Deltas and low floor Tridetns with help from Olympians and the odd Excel and Solo with a bus every 7/8 minutes. Line 3 replaced the 11 route via Warbreck Drive and the ex Fylde minibus route (by then the 33), while Line 7 replaced the 22/22A north of Bispham. Line 11 continued largely unchanged on its northern end - other than the odd tweak of the running time and evening/Sunday frequency change until the post Metro network change of July 2010.

26 July 2010 saw the 11 split with the Blackpool to Cleveleys section replaced by new service 9 which operated every 10 minutes on weekday days, every 20 on Sunday days and every 30 each evening using 9 buses (3 evenings, 4 Sundays). It initially started from Corporation Street but the Town Centre terminus moved to Clifton Street on 30 August. Since then it has received minor timetable changes with a reduction of the Sunday evening service to hourly in May 2011 and a reduced evening running time of 29 minutes from June. The route is normally operated by Dennis Tridents, though single deckers tend to take over at weekends as the Tridents are required for Promenade service 1. Step entrance Olympians are quite common too. Route 9 has settled back into the network - almost as if it had never been replaced in the first place.


First day of new route 9 saw 310 in service

Fleet Review 2011


Olympians 368 and 369 are the oldest buses to receive the new fleet livery - both were painted in 2011.
During 2011, the Blackpool Transport fleet has continued to contract. At the start of the year 156 buses were in the active fleet comprising:
  • 67 double deckers (40 Tridents and 27 Olympians)
  • 31 single deckers (17 Excels and 14 Volvo B7s)
  • 58 minibuses (57 Solos and 1 Metrorider) 
The year ended with 149 active vehicles with a net reduction of seven, comprising one Olympian, six Solos and the sole Metrorider, offset by Trident 343. The open top fleet also shrunk by one with 4 used in 2010 (with a fifth in store) but only 3 in 2011 (and a fourth in store).
518 was the final Metrorider to operate in service with Blackpool Transport, finishing its active life on service 15 on 27 January and was later sold for scrap
Disposals
In January 2011 BT also owned 16 stored buses: Deltas 101/2, 119, 122/3/5/6, 132/3, Atlantean 364, Olympians 365-367, 401 and 403 plus open topper 813.  Of these 364 has been available for events but not used commercially. 365 and 403 returned to use in September 2011 while the remainder were disposed of. Additionally Solos 261-266 were withdrawn between February and May, Metrorider 518 in January and Olympians 404 and 409 in January and 406 in November. Most were sold leaving just 364, 366, 406 in store, along with the open toppers.
Dates of sale were:
  • March 2011 - Deltas 101 and 133 (preserved)
  • April 2011 - Open Top 813 (Padarn Bus)
  • May 2011 - 261/2/4 (Centrebus), 263/5/6 (Holmeswood Coaches)
  • June 2011 - Delta 132, Olympian 367 and 404, Metrorider 518 (scrap)
  • July 2011 - Delta 126 (scrap)
  • September 2011 - Delta 123/5 (scrap)
  • October 2011 - Deltas 102, 119, 122 and Olympian 409 (scrap)
Excel 226 is currently away at Cummins in Stockton to receive a new engine
Refurbishments
Excel refurbishments continued. 224 started the year at Cummins after repaint and refurbishment in Blackpool. It returned in January and was back in use at the end of February. The third ex Go North East example to be treated was 221 which left for Cummins on 20 January and returned in late June and returned to use on 10 September. October saw body refurbishment commence and it it was repainted during December and returned to service around 17th.

221 was replaced by 222 at Cummins and returned on 14 October prior to repaint and return to use on 2 December. 226 went in exchange and remains away. 223 and 225 are the only two to retain the original specification engine.
Trident 343 arrived in Blackpool at the start of December having been refurbished by Bus and Coach World. It is the first of eleven expected from Bus Vannin on the Isle of Man
No new vehicles have been purchased, however the first of 11 Dennis Tridents from Bus Vannin on the Isle of Man arrived in early December and entered service on 30th. It was imported in July and was refurbished with a new front at Bus and Coach World, Blackburn. Originally 53 EMN53Y it is now Blackpool 343 and is registered H1FBT using the registration from former Delta 131. Sister bus 50 EMN50Y was delivered to Blackburn in early November following withdrawal with roof damage on the Island. December saw 48 and 51 (EMN48/51Y) arrive at Blackburn - 48 having been out of use for most of 2011 but 51 is a more recent withdrawal from Bus Vannin.

Also visiting Bus and Coach World were Olympians 375-379 which have been fitted with seat belts to operate primary school baths contracts to Palatine and Moor Park swimming pools. All five were repainted, but sister 374 has not been treated either to the new livery or fitted with seatbelts. It is normally the only one to appear on local services now.
285 is one of 12 Solos to receive the new fleet livery during 2011
Repaints
No less than 34 buses have been repainted during 2011 - plus 343 at Bus and Coach World
January - Trident 329, 336
February - Trident 327/8
March - Solo 255, Trident 325
April - Trident 324, 326, Olympian 369
May - Solo 284/5
June - Solo 250, 286, Olympian 368
July - Solo 287, 291 Trident 322/3, Olympian 379
August - Trident 338
September - Solo 251, 292, Tridents 310, 339
October - Olympians 375-378
November - Excel 222, Solo 252/3 (plus Trident 343)
December - Excel 210, 221, Solo 254
322 was the final vehicle to operate in Line 11 colours and is seen here at the end of June shortly before entering the paint shop.
 
These repaints saw off Line 11 livery with 322 the last bus to operate so attired on 5 July and Line 16 with 292 last used in September. Line 10 livery was eradicated by 518s withdrawal on 27th January.
Elderly Leyland Olympians saw regular service on seasonal route 20 including the hitherto little seen on service work 411-417. 411 leaves Blackpool Zoo

Livery Summary
New Livery: Excels 210/1, 214, 221/2/4, Solos 250-255, 284-293, Trident 310, 322-343, Olympians 368/9, 375-379, Volvo 520-533 (66)
Old Pool Livery: Excels 218-220/3, Solos 273-283, Tridents 317-9, Olympians 370-374 (23)

Line 1 Orange/Yellow: Olympians 365, 402/3, 405, 407/8 410-17 (14)
Line 2 Green/Yellow: Solos 240-247, 249, 294 (10)
Line 3 Blue/Yellow: Solos 258-260, 295-7 (6)
Line 4 Cadbury Blue/Yellow: Solos 267-269, 271/2 (5)
Line 5 Red/Yellow: Solos 248, 256/257 (3)
Line 7 Purple/Yellow: Excels 212/3/5-7, 225/6 (7)
Line 14 Dark Green/Yellow: Tridents 301-309/311-316 (15)
City Sightseeing: Olympians 818, 857, 873 (3)

See the Blog Page on the right hand menu bar for the current fleet list.

Snow Condition for a Bus Service

14 December 1981 and PD3 523 is trying to maintain a service on otherwise Swift operated route 12, but has become stuck at the Airport terminus
30 years ago, Blackpool witnessed one of its most severe periods of winter weather. Tram enthusiasts will be familiar with the period as it involved the memorable sight of three coupled Balloons charging snow drifts on the tramway. Snow started falling on Sunday 13th December and by midnight was around a foot deep in places.
The Swifts were confined to the depot on the 14th as their rear engine layout gave them poorer weight distribution than the PD3s. Here the Diamond T tow wagon poses with 569 549 and 594.
On Monday 14th December the town was a white out, pretty much deserted save for the odd intrepid bus and tram photographer. It was not possible to run the morning bus service but from 1000 a handful of PD3s emerged to provide a tram replacement service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, service 12 along Lytham Road and part of the 22 between Blackpool and Halfway House. Later it was possible to run routes 7/7A and 26, albeit the former didn't serve Dickson Road but used the Prom. Only PD3s emerged with the Swifts and Atlanteans confined to the depot as it was felt the front engined buses were a safer bet for grip in the challenging conditions.
PD3 508 heads through the slush and snow near the Metropole on the tram replacement service. Sisters 515 and 518 were also seen in use on 14th.
Tuesday saw further routes added with Swifts and Atlanteans returned to service. Several routes had diversions to avoid estate roads where they were still blocked, either by snow or abandoned cars. Wednesday saw services reinstated to routes 14 and 16 and by Thursday things were returning to normal on the bus front. The trams had resumed between North Pier and Ash Street on Tuesday afternoon, but buses were required to cover on the southern section for a few more days.

Conditions had improved enough to reinstate more routes, and the Swifts, on the Tuesday. Here is 550 back in action on route 26 on Clifton Street.

343 Hits the Road

343 is in service for the first time today - seen in poor weather at Layton Square on the 1415 Grange Park to Lytham service 11 working.
The first of the ex Bus Vannin Tridents 343 (H1FBT) entered service this morning on route 11 (Lytham to Grange Park). It was withdrawn from service on the Island as 53 (EMN53Y) in July and since then has been refurbished and refronted by Bus and Coach World at Blackburn. 343 was allocated to service 14 this morning but developed a fault on its positioning run and returned to depot, but was passed fit to enter service on route 11 at around 9am, presumably as a change over to work the 0922 Rigby Road to Lytham journey.
Sisters 48, 50 and 51 are currently on site at Blackburn.

343 alongside one of the 1990s Blackpool Transport shelters, many of which have now been replaced
A number of unusual workings today have seen Olympians 368, 370-3 allocated to service 7 and four Excels operate service 17 including 211 and 219. Yesterday saw Excel 210 return to service on the 2/2C for the first time after repaint.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Blackpool and the Atlantean

305 - one of the first batch of Atlanteans showing off the original livery at Borough Boundary
Blackpool’s affair with the Leyland Atlantean began in 1975 when orders were placed for two batches of twelve East Lancs bodied buses. This was later modified to three batches of ten each but it was not until July 1977 that the first arrived with 301-304 licensed on 5 July (as BFR301-4R) followed by 305-310 as CBV305-10S, licensed at the beginning of August. Unusually they were long wheelbase examples at 33ft (3ft longer than a PD3 but shorter than a Swift) and seated 86 with 50 accommodated upstairs.

Manager Derek Hyde told the Gazette in November 1976 that the all-over cream livery would be “too much of a good thing” on the double deckers and was planning a new livery based on green and cream. The eventual scheme of cream with green roof, top deck windows, narrow band above the lower windows and a broad band on the lower panels was influenced by Southampton Corporation.

The initial batch were deployed in OPO format on routes 7/7A (Bispham Circular) and crew form alongside PD3s on their varied duties including the 5/5A, 6, 11/11A, 11C, 14 and 22/22A.

Brand new 329 in Rigby Road Depot in September 1979. Behind is a Preston Corporation Panther on loan due to vehicle shortages
The second batch – 311-320 (JFV311-20S) entered service in July 1978 with batch three 321-330 (URN321-30V) following in September 1979. Further batches were ordered with 331-340 (AHG331-40V) entering service in June 1980 and 341-350 (GHG341-50W) arriving between 8 May (344/8) and w/e 20 June (341/2) all entering service between 25 May and 22 June. 
362 - the last bus seated Atlantean competes for attention with the mayoral car when still nearly new in December 1983
The delivery first 50 Atlanteans coincided with a reduction of the overall fleet from 143 in 1976 to 117 in 1981. They mainly replaced PD3s with 61 leaving the fleet but the period also saw disposal of the first Swifts. Another 14 Atlanteans joined the fleet in 1982-1984. 351-354 (UHG351-4Y) arrived in July 1982 and entered service in early August. They seated 85 with a single seat omitted behind the staircase. 355-362 (A355-62HHG) arrived in mid August 1983 and entered service soon after. They also seated 85 but featured two leaf rather than four leaf doors.

Finally 363/4 (B363/4UBV) arrived and entered service week ending 22nd September 1984 – only Fylde 75 (B75URN) entered service later than this pair on 1st October as one of only four B-reg Atlanteans (Merseyside 1070 being the other). Unusually for the Blackpool fleet they featured high back semi coach seats which reduced the number of seats which could be accommodated. The total capacity was 74, with 45 upstairs and 29 downstairs as the rear facing seats over the rear wheelarches were omitted in favour of luggage pens. The body design featured a single piece upper deck front window and dropped leading edge to the first side window. The livery was modified with cream with green roof and skirt with two lime green bands as illustrated.

The two coach seated Atlanteans 363/4 arrived in this unusual livery. Note the revised front. When not used on private hires they were often used on route 12
With all 64 in service out of a fleet of 109 the Atlantean accounted for over half the fleet with just 11 PD3s, 26 Swifts, 4 Lancets and 4 National 2s making up the numbers.
The Atlanteans were widely used. Prior to deregulation they were commonly found on routes 5/5A, 6, 7/7A, 9/9A, 10, 11/A, 11C, 12, 14, 21, 22/22A and 26 with buses used in crew form on the 5/A, 14 and 22/22A, plus the 6 to 1980 and 11C to 1983. Additionally they ran on school services and special work such as a free bus to Blackpool Pleasure Beach which occupied 302 with promotional lettering during June/July 1982. Occasional mishaps beset the buses – most notably 303 which was driven under Rigby Road bridge on February 21 1981 and lost its roof. This low bridge next to the depot was out of bounds to double deckers, but all buses were then banned until the bridge was raised in 1985.

An unusual exchange in 1985 saw 351 and 352 operate with West Yorkshire PTE for a few weeks in exchange for their 6299/300 (PUA299/300W). This was part of the Tramway Centenary events as they carried commemorative liveries for Huddersfield Transport buses and trams respectively. Blackpool numbered them 366/7 and 352 was swapped for 366 at an event at Crich on 9 June and returned on 1st August. 351 and 367 were exchanged between 16 June and 31 July. [Flickr link: 352 in Huddersfield]

Withdrawals and Disposals Part 1
Three Atlanteans were destined for a short life with Blackpool for on 1st October 1986 a fire started in the depot yard on 310 and spread to 335 and 342 with sisters 340 and 362 receiving minor damage as they were shunted out of the way before the fire spread. The disfigured remains were kept in store until they were removed for scrap in June 1987.


Fire damaged Atlanteans 342, 310 and 335 (left to right) stored in the depot prior to disposal
Routine withdrawals commenced in April/May 1989 when 301-307 were laid up replaced by new Olympians. Only 305 saw further use – standing in for fire damaged 350 between November 1989 and March 1990. 308/9, 311/2/4 were also withdrawn in March 1990 following the introduction of Deltas to the 23-25. 305-309 were the first to leave – to Norfolk’s Nayland in May 1990. 301/2/4 then went to Liverline, Liverpool in June with 303 going to Toxteth Community Council joining PD3s 511/38.

Also 314 was reinstated, 311/2 did not run for Blackpool again but lasted in store until sale in August 1991 to North Devon Red Bus. 313 was withdrawn in October 1990 with 314 again in May 1991 – both passing to Blue Bus, Horwich in August 1991.

315-317 came off in October 1991 but were reinstated in December to release Routemasters from route 12. February 1993 saw 315-323/5/6 withdrawn but they were reinstated in June 1993 for a few weeks. Several also ran in April for a shuttle bus contract for a Rotary International conference. 316, 317, 321-323, 325 and 326 returned to use in September while advertising liveried 324 was withdrawn. All but 326 were withdrawn once again in November. 315/6 went to Eastbourne Buses in January while 317-321 were sold to North Birmingham Busways a month later. 323/4 later returned to use but by November 1994 322-327 had moved to Fylde, joined by 328-330 in March 1995. [Flickr link 316 at Eastbourne]

The Fylde Inheritance
Fylde was purchased by Blackpool in May 1994 and at the time operated 52 Atlanteans including four rebodied as single deckers. 18 were Northern Counties example new to Fylde between 1975 and 1984 plus the sole survivor of three new to Lytham in 1970; 18 were Roe bodied dating from 1970-1973 and acquired by Fylde from Kingston-upon-Hull City Transport between 1986 and 1993; 9 were 1976/7 vintage Northern Counties bodied buses new to Greater Manchester and the last two were a 1965 built Metro Cammell open topper new to Salford and a 1978 built Northern Counties bus new to AA of Ayr. By this time Blackpool had sold 23 of its 64 buses, but attention now turned to replacing the Fylde examples as only six of Fylde’s were younger than Blackpool’s oldest.
With Fylde taken over, Blackpool adopted the Fylde livery layout but with a cream base relived by green for Blackpool buses and cream for Fylde buses. Here is former Fylde 69 in February 1997 in the Fylde version, but after Blackpool had fully absorbed its subsidiary, hence the Blackpool series fleet number 469.
Blackpool transferred 322-327 and 364 to Fylde in November 1994 which replaced four of the ex Manchester and two of the ex Hull buses. Also transferred in were 328-330 in March 1995 and 331/4 in April 1996 to cover additional contract work. Blackpool absorbed Fylde in July 1996 and inherited the 46 surviving Atlanteans – and reclaimed the 12 transferred in. The new fleet comprised:
  • Single deckers 134-137 (TKU462/5/6/9K)
  • Northern Counties coach seated 441-445 (HIL5341/2/5943, NJI5504/5) Northern Counties bus seated 450 (HRN100N), 458 (ATD281J), 465-9 (ONF660/9/73R, SRJ756/7R), 470 (TSD571S), 471-4 (OJI4371-4), 475 (SIB8405), 478/9/81-3 (HRN98/9,101-3N), 495 (RHG95T), 496 (XHG96V) – 465-9 being the new to Manchester buses, 470 was new to AA and 458 to Lytham
  • Roe bodied closed toppers 449 (ARH314K), 456 (WRH291J), 459 (ARH301K), 486-493 (MIW8186-8, RIB4089/6590, IIL4291, NIW6492, ARH306K)
  • Roe bodied open toppers 452-454/7 (TKH266H, WRH294J, ARH304K, WRH295J) plus open rear balcony 455 (ARH304K)
  • Metro Cammell bodied open topper 451 (DBA227C).
  • 449, 451-459, 486, 490/1/3 were type PDR1A/1 (451 PDR1/1) rather than the later AN68 type.
The buses retained Fylde numbers initially – those above being the Blackpool numbers (with 130 added to the single deckers and 400 to the double deckers). As an aside 322-331/4 kept Blackpool numbers with Fylde but 364 was renumbered 47 and surprisingly became 447 after the merger, though it regained 364 after repaint back into green and cream in May 1997. Also renumbered was 450 which became 480 in July to group it with its sisters 478-483.

Fylde had adopted a blue and cream livery which was carried by 442, 449, 451/4-6/8/9, 465/9/70, 473/8/9, 481-3, 486, 488-493 while 134-7, 443-445, 447 466/8 and 474 retained two tone blue. Adverts 441, 450, 452/3/7 471/2/5, 495/6 carried all-over adverts with the front in either blue and cream or green and cream, while 467 had been painted into Blackpool livery prior to the take-over.

Withdrawals and Disposals Part 2
331-337 were stored from April 1995, but were back in use by June 1995. Priority was to replace former Fylde buses. Between October 1996 and April 1997 449, 451, 456-459, 486/8, 490/1/3 were withdrawn. Open toppers 452-5 and damaged closed topper 487 came off in late 1998. February 1999 saw 465-470, 481, 489 and 492 withdrawn but 466/9 were later reinstated. East Lancs 322/3 also became driver trainers 922/923 that summer. These were not the first to be so used as 332/3 were used to train drivers for London General between December 1995 and September 1996 with 333 continuing to be so used until January 1997. Blackpool Transport was one of a number of provincial firms to train new local recruits for London operators who couldn’t obtain enough drivers in London.
Former Fylde 75 in its later guise as Blackpool 475 heads along the Promenade to work a school service in Lytham St. Annes in March 2004 a few months before withdrawal
Withdrawals and disposals continued in 2000 with 466, 478, 482 and 496 leaving while in early 2002 469, 479/80/3 were withdrawn. May saw nine new low floor Dennis Tridents arrived to replace Fylde 441 and 495 plus East Lancs bodied 324-7/9-332, with 328/38 following in July. The 2003 Tridents saw off 333/4, 336/7, 339-341, 343-9 and 442, while the 2004 batch replaced the last ex Fylde Atlanteans 443-445, 471-5 leaving Blackpool with just 15 Atlanteans (350-364). 
136 is one of four Atlanteans which Fylde had rebodied with Northern Counties Paladin single deck bodywork in 1993. They struggled to find a purpose with Blackpool Transport and were sold in 1999. 1998 saw a period of use on Promenade service 1 on which 136 is seen departing Pontins. 

The single deckers (134-137) were parked up at the end of October 1997 still in Fylde livery but were reinstated in December 1997. 134/6 went back into use but 135/7 were painted green and cream before use – 134/6 soon following. Despite this, they were withdrawn again at the end of March 1998, but returned to use at the start of May to release double deckers from summer services 1 (Promenade) and 21 (Zoo). December 1998 saw the quartet return to store but they emerged again in June for the summer services lasting until the end of August when they were withdrawn, departing on 30 October 1999 collected by Wacton – a Bromyard based dealer and operator.

Of the double deckers, disposals were varied with most of the East Lancs buses seeing further service, while the Northern Counties ones usually went for non psv work. Typically the older Roe bodied examples were scrapped while in May 2003, 333 became the first routine withdrawal of the East Lancs examples to be sent for scrap. Other than 333 and the fire victims all others of 301-349 saw further use.

Of the last 15, 350/1 spent several months in store in early 2005 but were not withdrawn until December 2005. More Tridents saw off 352/4-6/9 in June 2006 and 353, 357, 360-2 followed by August. A farewell event on 28/29 October saw 358, 360-2 return to use for the weekend, alongside 363/4. The latter pair remained in service while the others returned to store. Surprisingly 353 and 360 returned to use in January 2007 (though 358 soon replaced 360 in February). Final withdrawal for 353, 358 and 363 came in July 2008 with 364 soldiering on alone until October 2009. Since then it has remained in the fleet as a heritage bus for events only. Trainers 922/3 (ex 322/3) lasted until February 2007 and December 2006 respectively.

Repaints
Routine repaints commenced in July 1980 and all of 301-362 received a full repaint in the original livery except for 304 and 358 which received all-over adverts as their first repaint. The vehicles were treated:
• 301-310 between July 1980 and March 1981
• 311-320 between July 1981 and March 1982
• 321-330 between August 1982 and March 1983
• 331-340 between June and November 1983
• 341-350 between August 1985 and c Jan 1986
• 351-362 between May 1986 and February 1987
• 301-320 were treated again between November 1983 and August 1985
308 shows off the experimental version of fleet livery with green rather than cream skirt in 1984 which it retained until its next repaint July 1988
The standard livery was varied twice. Firstly 308 was outshopped with a green skirt, rather than cream in May 1984, followed by 313 in September – though this was not adopted routinely. Five more (302/3, 316/7, 321) received green skirts, but also orange and yellow stripes to promote ‘Shuttle 6’ a marketing initiative on route 6 at the end of 1984. Several buses received all-over adverts
304: Hounds Hill May 1982; Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde Health Authority November 1985; Hitachi April 1987 and to new fleet livery August 1989 (as a withdrawn bus)
312: Fylde Coast Rover April 1984; Louis Tussauds April 1986 and to new livery August 1988
314: Red Rose Rambler July 1982; Lancashire Bus Pass July 1984 to original fleet livery December 1986
326: Y-Fronts March 1984; back to original livery August 1985
358: Allied Carpets September 1985; Travelcard December 1986; Mackeson Stout May 1989 and back to fleet livery

324 newly outshopped in the new fleet livery in October 1987 using the earlier shades of green and cream, rather than off-white as used on the earlier Atlantean livery and the passing Swift. (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)
A new livery of deep cream with green roof, window surrounds and skirt was adopted in 1987 – launched on Olympians 365-367 but soon rolled out onto Atlanteans. The first repaint was 316 in March 1987 quickly followed by 302/3/17/21 by June – eradicating the Shuttle 6 livery. 304 received an advertising livery in April. 301/5/6 received the new Super 6 livery in September and by the end of the year 18 Atlanteans had been treated to the new livery: 302, 303, 307, 315, 316, 317, 321, 322, 323, 324, 327, 329, 330, 332, 333, 337, 339, 340.

1988 saw attention focus on completing the second repaints of 321-340 with 325/6/8 outshopped between April and September, 331/4/6/8 between March and July. The third repaints of 301-320 progressed with 308/9, 311-314, 318-320 all treated by September. March saw 347/9 become the first of batch five to be repainted into the new livery and the nine survivors had been treated by November. 351-4 were painted between October and December 1988 while 363/4 lost their coach livery in favour of the new bus livery in December.

The 1983 batch was treated between November 1988 and April 1989. The last three (360-362, plus Travelcard livery 358 and already painted 321) were all outshopped in all-over adverts for Mackeson Stout in April 1989. This completed the programme, but surprisingly in August/September 301-307 were all repainted despite being stored in reserve – 301/4-6 received the new livery for the first time, but only 305 would wear it in service as this was reinstated for winter 1989/90 before disposal in May. Also repainted in autumn 1989 were 315-317, 322-324.


Repaints took place again from September 1990, though the Stout buses lost their advertising liveries (362 for Bonanza Family restaurant, the rest for fleet livery). 327-333, 337-340 and 354 all received routine repaints before the end of the year. This continued with 325/6, 334/6/9, 341/3/5-8, 350, 352-355 treated in 1991 and 356/7/9, 363/4 by April 1992. 324 gained Shoemarket livery but the next fleet liveried repaint – 329 again – in October 1992 saw it emerge with black window surrounds as introduced on the Optare Deltas. Over the next two years 25 Atlanteans were treated to this revised version: 316, 324, 327-334, 336-40, 344/6/9, 350/2, 356/8, 360-2 – 346 was the last treated in October 1994


Atlantean 351 puts in a turn on seasonal service 20 in 2004. When new 351-364 had recessed destination glasses, but these tended to let in water and many later received rubber mounted ones as shown here. 353, 361 and 364 retained their original apertures until withdrawal.
The takeover of Fylde saw a revised livery using their style but in green and cream for Blackpool and blue and cream for Fylde adopted. Initial repaints in October saw 351 and 353 receive fronts in the new scheme with Zone Card adverts on the rear. 345 was the first full green and cream repaint in November. 322-327 went to Fylde and 322/5-7 had their livery modified to the blue and cream variant (over-painting green with blue or cream as appropriate. 323/4 were painted white with blue/cream fronts, 323 later gaining full livery but 324 received an advert. 328-330 were similarly partly repainted into blue and cream in March/April 1995 on transfer. 364 received a full repaint in Fylde two tone blue which was retained for Seagull Coaches operations and it joined that sub fleet as number 47.


The transfers left 331-334, 336-341, 343-362 in the Blackpool fleet. Routine repaints into the new livery commenced in January 1995 with 348. 334/6/9/40, 343/4/7/50, 354/5/7/8 361/3 were also treated by the end of the year – plus 331 and 341 as all-over adverts for North West Lancashire Health Authority and Travelcard respectively. Spring 1996 saw 352 and 362 completed, but then attention turned to repaints out of Fylde colours. Ex Fylde buses 441/4 466-8 475 487 496 were treated in 1996, along with 326/8/9 and the sold repaint out of the old green and cream livery was 360. 1997 saw 443/5, 471/2 and 492 repainted before April 1997 before the livery was modified on these buses to feature a more shallow skirt. 442 453-5, 465/9, 470/3/4, 478/9, 481-3, 487/9 were so treated between June 1997 and January 1998. East Lancs 322/3/5/7, 330 also lost blue and cream in the same period while 332, 346, 351/3/8 received routine repaints – some treated for the second time.


The old livery was last observed in 1998 with 349 painted out in February, 356 in June and finally 358 in July. Several vehicles received second repaints into green/cream from then until 327 emerged in January 2001 – the last full Atlantean repaint and unusually omitting the black window surrounds. Prior to this two further ex Fylde buses received fleet livery ex all-over adverts – 495 in August 1998 and 480 in November 1999. Internally buses were rarely modified, though some had non standard seat coverings fitted sporadically. Early vehicles had leatherette trim edging to the yellow, brown and black moquette. Coach seated 363/4 were treated to full seat retrims in 1999 using an NBC style orange pattern


Only a handful of new to Blackpool Atlanteans went directly for scrap. Other than 310/35/42 in 1987 seven East Lancs examples went for scrap: 333 in July 2003, 355/9 in July 2006 323 (ex training duties) in July 2007, 352/60 in April 2009 and 363 in July 2009. Of the Fylde examples 441, 456/7/9, 469, 473, 480, 483, 486-488, 490/1/3 all went directly for scrap. A handful of examples were sold for preservation – 322, 331, 334, 337, 353, 362, 445, 454, 458, 471, 479 and 496 though 331, 337 and 454 have since been scrapped; 322 is of unknown status and 496 now in non psv ownership

306 with Hedingham Omnibuses Nayland base in June 1991 still in Blackpool livery which it retained with Norfolks who acquired 305-309 in May 1990 prior to takeover by Hedingham the following year
The 1990 to 1994 disposals were shared between Liverline Liverpool (301/2/4), Toxteth Community Council (303), Norfolks of Nayland (305-309), North Devon (311/2), Blue Bus, Horwich (313/4), Eastbourne Buses (315/6) and North Birmingham Buses (317-321). The Liverline buses moved to Sheffield Omnibuses in 1992 and the Norfolks buses were absorbed by Hedingham Omnibuses in April 1991. Their later histories are
  • 301 Cedrics, Wivenhoe (5/94); Boardabus, Essex (9/94), Stuarts of Carluke (by 8/98) and disposed probably for scrap 2/99
  • 302 Partridge, Hadleigh (?/94) and North Devon Red Bus (8/95), later became First Western National, w/d 5/01 for scrap
  • 303 Maghull Coaches (2/92); Pilkington, Accrington (4/03) and c7/05 to A&P of Barway for spares/scrap [flickr 303 Barway]
  • 304 Supreme, Hadleigh (c9/94); withdrawn by 1/99 presumed for scrap
  • 305 ABC, Southport (8/96); Aintree Coachline/Helms of Eastham (10/00) sold for spares/scrap 1/01
  • 306 Brentwood Coaches (8/96); Dons, Dunmow (9/99) c2004flickr link 306]w/d 2006 and for scrap
  • 307-309 Thornes, Bubwith (8/96) w/d c2004 (307/8), c2007 (309) all scrapped
  • 311/312 w/d by First Western National (ex Red Bus) 7/01 (311), 10/00 (312). 312 used as a store by Western National Preservation group but scrapped 3/08. 311 scrapped 2001 [flickr: 312 with Red Bus]
  • 313 Wilson, Carnwath (4/96) and scrapped after low bridge accident 3/97
  • 314 exported to Saudi Arabia 7/93
  • 315 Philips, Penrhiwceiber 3/97, Shamrock, Pontypridd 9/97, scrapped 4/00
  • 316 stripped for spares by Eastbourne Buses 12/96
  • 317/9/21 scrap from North Birmingham 11/04 (317), 2/04 (319) and 2006 (321)
  • 318/20 to Trailways, Sutton Coldfield (3/05 and 8/03 resp), 318 for spares, 320 for service. Both scrapped in 2007 [Flickr: 320 with Trailways]
317-321 were the inaugural fleet of North Birmingham Busways and all but 319 returned to Blackpool for refurbishment with retrimmed seating and new doors in 1997. 321 came back again in August 2000 for accident repairs and September 2004 for a depot open day
Of the later withdrawals, 322 went to preservation in Yorkshire in December 2008 but its status is unknown. 324 went to Red Kite, St Helens (6/02), Tees Valley, Redcar (10/05), KJB, Lincoln (c2/07) and was scrapped in 2009. 325-327, 329, 330 and 332 all went to Liddells of Cumnock in August 2002 but were all withdrawn by 2007. Most were scrapped, but 327/9 saw further use with Howells of Deri but have since also been scrapped. 331 was briefly owned by LTT (until replaced by sister 334) and it was sold onto Fargo Coaches of Rayne who also purchased 339/40, 343-345 in August 2003 - these all went for scrap though 343 had a brief period in preservation. 328, 338 and 341 went to GM of Bridgend for further service lasting until 2006/7, though 338 later ran with Movereturn of Pontcymmer briefly in 2007. [Flicker: 330 as a store with Liddell]


336, 346-349 went to Ayrways of Ayr in August 2003 and went for scrap after a few years on school services. 337 was preserved initially in Kent and later in Blackpool but was broken up in 2008. Sister 334 is the sole survivor of this batch with LTT.
350 as Streetscene Permanent Way Bus
 The ‘final 15’ had a more varied afterlife:
  • 350 became a ‘PW Bus’ with Blackpool Council Streetscene in 2006
  • 351 was used for spares by local preservationists and was stored at LTT’s depot and was later scrapped
  • 352/60/3 were broken up at Inglemere Metals in Blackpool, 355/9 went to Partons of Barnsley
  • 353 was preserved by Chesterfield 123 Group and is restored in the final livery
  • 354/7/61 went to Scotbus, Inverness in November 2006 and they remain in use there.
  • 356 became a playbus in the South West
  • 358 was bought by LTT for spares, with sister 362 saved for preservation
  • 364 is still with BTS.

Ex Fylde 453 in its later guise with Mac Tours in Edinburgh during 2001 (James Millington)
Of the Fylde examples, 442 went to Pilkingtons, Accrington for spares and 443 as a mobile display unit in Cambridgeshire – both have been scrapped. 444 remains in use with a Dance Troupe in Salford; 445 is preserved and restored to Seagull Guise. 451 (DBA227C) briefly ran with Halls of Kennoway and was rescued from scrap by a preservationist but eventually again succumbed to the scrapman eventually. 452 was exported to France but has not been seen recently. 453/5 went to Mac Tours – the former ending up in USA and the latter went for scrap without use despite a repaint. 458, 471 and 479 are preserved by LTT as Lytham 77 and Fylde 71/9 resp, sister 481 was used for spares. 465 ran with Archway of Poulton from 1999 and 466 with Maghull Coaches from 2001 – but were scrapped in 2004 and 2008 resp. 467 has been a static playbus on Anglesey since 1999, while 468 survives on Jersey as a commentary unit after a period with Royal British Legion.

467 in its long term home at Pilot Boat Inn, Dulais, Anglesea (James Millington)
470/8 went for use as a playbuses but only 478 survives (at Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford). 472 saw non psv use in the Manchester area and 475 became a trainer in Dundee – both are now scrapped. 474 became a mobile cafĂ© in Blackburn but is now stored unused with the same owner.

482 spent several years in Bolton with A-Jay's Dance Troupe
482 ran with A Jays Dance troupe from 2000 to 2006, 489/92 were used as PW Buses from 2000 to 2002 and 2006 resp, the former spending some time at Whyndyke Farms in Blackpool before scrapping. 495 went to EST, South Wales for spares and 496 was preserved locally from 2001-2010 and it is now at Whyndyke Farm.


334 extensively stripped as part of its major restoration in 2006 (James Millington)
Current survivors are thus:
334/58/62 LTT, Preserved (358 spares)
350 Blackpool Council
353 Chesterfield 123 Group
354/7/61 Scotbus, Inverness [flickr 354 at Scotbus]
356 Playbus [flickr link]
364 Blackpool Transport
444 Irlam Royalettes Dance Troupe
445 Preserved
458 LTT Preserved
467 Playbus (Pilot Boat Inn on Anglesea)
468 Jersey (commentary box)
471/9 LTT, Preserved
474 Bedford, Blackburn (disused mobile kitchen)
478 Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford (playbus) [flickr: 478 at Haynes]
496 Whyndyke Farm, Blackpool
Also 452 and 453 may survive in France and USA respectively
In so many ways, 'the last' 364 towards the end of its long career in April 2008.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Swift Spotlight

Front and Back - first series Swifts pass at Abingdon Street corner. 548 shows how these buses originally had vents below the windscreen.
Blackpool had standardised on Leyland Titans from 1932 to 1968 and by summer 1969 had a relatively homogeneous fleet - 50 PD2s and 90 PD3s, all but five with Metro Cammell bodywork. The last of streamlined centre loader buses were retired earlier in 1969. One Man operation had not been practised since 1964 when the solitary OMO service 18 and the two specially converted buses had been withdrawn.

Traditionally new buses went on the busiest routes, but with economies needed Blackpool followed the industry route of replacing short crew buses seating 63 with long wheelbase single deckers seating 47 with standing room making up the total capacity. The buses could, of course, be worked with a driver only and this achieved economies and saw the unusual practise of the newest buses on the quietest routes.

Blackpool first inspected a Leeds Corporation Swift in January 1967. It chose to order 15 AEC Swift chassis with bodies by Marshall of Cambridge. This was not the departure from Leyland stable that it may have seemed as Leyland by then owned AEC and the Swift shared a common chassis frame with Leyland's Panther. That said it was something of a departure for the conservative operator. The new buses became 541-555 (PFR541-555H) and the first to arrive was 544 which featured in official publicity and was licensed on 20 October 1969. 545 was licensed on 3 November so its likely that these two were used for driver training. 541-3/6-8 were licensed on 1 December. They entered service on Monday 8 December operating service 7C and 25A between Blackpool and Cleveleys that required four buses between them. Service 9 (Blackpool to College) soon followed taking the requirement up to six buses with 549 licensed from 15 January.

Swifts had short lives by Blackpool standards with most withdrawn at between 10 and 14 years. 546 is in its last year seen here on service 11C which used Swifts on Sundays.
The final seven did not arrive until the spring with 550/1/3/5 licensed on 2 April, 554 on 8 April and 552 on 5 May. On 4 May routes 7 and 7A were converted to OMO operating taking the weekday requirement to ten out of the fifteen buses. On a Sunday Swifts could also be seen on route 1 to Poulton - but the Sunday service came to an end later in the year.

Further Swifts were ordered for the 1971/2 programme. AEC quoted £4,150 per bus and Marshall £4,472 for the bodies. Delivery charges were £20 from AEC and £31 from Marshalls. Deliveries started in September with 558/9 licensed on 17th and 557/60 on 21st. 562 followed on 4 October, 556/61/5 on 6 October and 563/4 on 4 November. No further bus routes were converted until 20 December when routes 6A/B (Grange Park to Midgeland Road using two buses), 15A (Bispham to Hospital with five buses) and 16 (Town Centre to Wordsworth Avenue with 4 buses) were converted. 
The second and third batches had higher driving positions and different windscreens compared to 541 to 555. 556 was the first of the 1971 batch of ten seen here in April 1980 on route 12
On Sundays Swift operation also extended to the 11C from December 1971, 6 during 1972, 5 and 23 from February 1973. During 1971 it was decided to replace the remaining PD2s with a batch of 30 further single deckers in 1973/4, though delivery delays meant that the buses did not appear until March 1974! The results of the tendering exercise were interesting:
  • 1st Seddon RU - £10, 845
  • 2nd AEC/Marshall - £11, 038  (28% higher than 556-565!)
  • 3rd Leyland National - £11, 510.50 
  • 4th AEC/Willowbrook - £12, 147
  • 5th Metro Scania - £12, 774.05 
Note how the AEC/Marshall combination was not the cheapest. It was felt that the Seddon’s floor layout was not to Blackpool’s liking and the fact that 25 Swifts were already owned meant that AEC were awarded the contract as the maintenance savings from standardisation offset the extra purchase cost. The flagship Leyland National and Metro Scania were deemed “not to Blackpool’s specification in numerous ways”. 

566-579 were registered ready for 1st April 1974, 580-586 for May 587-589 in July and 590-595 in August. 6 May 1974 saw routes 2 (Blackpool to Poulton), 15 (Blackpool to Staining) and 12 (Blackpool to Airport) converted. Routes 3 (North Shore to Marton) and 26 (Town Centre  to South Pier) followed on 3 March 1975. 45 out of 55 Swifts were required for the basic service on routes 1, 2, 3/3A, 6B, 7/7A, 7B/7C, 9, 12, 15, 15A, 16, 25A and 26.
Route 25A was one of the first routes to use Swifts. Here 569 complete with original dash vent and Blackpool's added slip board holder. It is seen here on Dickson Road heading against the current one way flow of traffic in 1979
Service reductions during the 1970s saw the vehicle requirement reduce and new Atlanteans took over duties on the 7/7A and 9. Swifts were then used to convert routes 19 South Pier to Mereside (Feb 1976) and 23/23A (Hospital to South Pier and Midgeland Road) to OPO. 

By 1983 the 29 surviving Swifts (and the four Lancets) provided routes:
  • 2/2A (Blackpool to Poulton) 3 buses
  • 3/3A (Cleveleys to Mereside/Midgeland Road) 4 buses which incorporated the 6B and 25A
  • 8 (Blackpool to Whiteholme) 1 bus
  • 16 (Blackpool to Wordsworth Avenue) 3 buses
  • 19 (South Pier to Mereside) 1 bus
  • 23/23A (Hospital to South Pier/Midgeland Road) 6 buses
  • 26 (Town Centre to South Pier) 5 buses
  • Plus Sunday services 5, 6 and 16B.
The 56th Swift
Blackpool owned a 56th Swift from September 1977 in the form of ex Southampton City Transport 2 (MTR420F) with Stachans body which was purchased for spares and spent three years in Rigby Road yard being cannibalised before sale for scrap in July 1980.

Swift Liveries
The Swifts were new in all-over cream with just the wheels in green. This was distinctive but stark. A handful of buses received the later off-white shades from 1977/8 but in early 1979 581 and 582 were outshopped with green roofs following the introduction of Leyland Atlanteans in green/off white. 558 and 559 followed with a green waistband and this was adopted as the new livery. 581/2 were modified to match during 1981.

The first and last of of the 1969/70 batch 541 - in original livery and 555 in the later livery on withdrawal in 1981
All but 12 Swifts received the new livery - early withdrawals 541-7/50/1/3, 561 and 563 being the exceptions. The programme took four years to complete with 562 and then 588 as the last two to be treated. There is some suggestion that 574 and 575 received further repaints in February 1987 but this is not confirmed. The only other Swift repaint was 577 which received an all-over advert to Latusport Shop in July 1984.  

Swift withdrawals
Withdrawals of the Swifts began, surprisingly, with 561 which was parked up in early 1980 after just over eight years use while sister 558 was also parked up with accident damage. Routine withdrawals began, not surprisingly, with the initial batch. 544/5 were delicensed in August 1980 followed by 541-3/7 and 555 in March/April 1981. 552 declared its self redundant on 31 May 1981 while working service 11C when it collided with trees on Regent Road, while youthful 578 at just seven years and six months did likewise due to a collision with the depot doors on 20 September.
Accidents happen. Two 1981 withdrawals were unplanned. 552 on the right collided with trees on Regent Road while 578 hit the depot doors and was withdrawn before its eight birthday
551 - and newer sister 563 were withdrawn in September 1981, 546 came off in December. This left 548-550, 553 and 554 in use during 1982. 549/50 survived until July/August, 553/4 September/October and 548 survived as the last of its batch until April 1983. Four new Dennis Lancets in 1982, new Atlanteans purchased annually and the impact of service reductions saw off the Swifts.

In addition to 548, 1983 dawned with seven of the 1971 batch intact (556/7/9, 560/2/4/5). Inroads were soon made with 557/9/64 off by May and 562 by August along with 567/8 - the first of the final batch to succumb. Withdrawals then slowed with only 566 (of 1974) off in March 1984; 560 (of 1971) in May 1984 and 556 (of 1971) in January 1985. 
Swifts repose in Rigby Road Depot in February 1986 - most of these survived after deregulation
As at January 1986 565 of 1971 and 25 of the 30 1974 buses remained in use. 581 had been parked up in December 1985. The purchase of four second hand Leyland Nationals and six ex London Routemasters saw off 579/80/2/93 in February 1986 while 565/9/86 followed in March/April.

Deregulation saw new routes for the Swifts which appeared on the 4 (Blackpool-Mereside), 33 (Cleveleys-Marton Hypermarket) and revised services 2A, 15, 23-25 and the barely changed 26. 590 heads for the Hypermarket (now Asda on Vicarage Lane) on route 33 in October 1987. (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)
19 remained in use at deregulation (570-577, 583-585, 587-592 and 595). Buses began to be whittled down with 584 off in November 1986, 592 the following month, 595 in January and 577 in March. 572/91 also reached the end of the road in October 1987. The 11 survivors were to be replaced one for one by a batch of ex Strathclyde Buses Leyland Nationals - which were just five years younger. These entered service between December 1987 and February 1988 and 570/4 came off before the end of the year with 573/6/83 in January leaving 571, 585 and 587-590 into the final month. 571 and 590 are believed to have been the last to run, working route 4 on 29 February with 590 working the final 2300 from Bus Station to Mereside.
574 heads for Bispham on route 15 - normally the preserve of Leyland Nationals as the rota included trips to Preston on routes 180/2 (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)  
Swift Disposals
Disposals of the AEC Swifts generally fell into two categorises - pre deregulation sales direct to dealers for scrap and a post deregulation block sale to Wealden Omnibuses from where several buses went for further service.

36 Swifts were sold between 1981 and 1986 (541-569, 578-582, 586 and 593). Dealing with the exceptions first, 554 went for Preservation and 564/7/8 went to Stonier of Tunstall in 1984 via a dealer but did not operate for the firm. They were eventually sent for scrap. 562 went to Blackpool Airport in 1984 for use as part of fire brigade training exercises and was finally destroyed in 1997. 565 went to Lancashire Police for use as an exhibition unit but was out of use by 1989.  The remainder generally went to dealers for scrap. 

Leaving home - Swift 574 departs Rigby Road for the long journey to Kent in the ownership of Wealden PSV dealership
This left the 19 vehicles that were still in service at deregulation. Progressively withdrawn from service from December 1986 to February 1988 all remained in store at Rigby Road Depot at the start of April 1988. Wealden Omnibuses, a Kent based operator-dealer purchased all 19. It quickly find home for 12 buses -all of which had seen use in the last six months of operation. These were:
  • 570 with Blue Saloon Guildford 5/88 - w/d 8/92.  Preserved by 5/96 (Graham Oliver and later LTT) (570 with Blue Saloon front and rear view)
  • 571 with Weybus of Weymouth 5/88 then to Anglewish (Seaside Shuttle) of Portland in 10/88 w/d 5/89 and to Davies of Bridport as spares for 589 in 9/89 then scrapped 2/90
  • 572/4/6 to Ogdens of St Helens 8/88 (572 briefly loaned to East Surrey Buses before the sale) all w/d summer 1989 and scrapped by end of year
  • 573 Wealdens operating arm and loans to East Surrey, sold c3/90 to Raff of Gravesend then scrapped 8/90
  • 583 Davies of Bridport, later back to Wealden and to Knotty, Staffs in 1993 - burnt out 1996 (583 with Knotty)
  • 585 Bonner, Ongar 5/88 then to Raff Gravesend 12/89 and scrapped 7/90
  • 587 to Inverclyde, Greenock 5/88 then by 9/88 to Cumbrae Coaches, Millport w/d 1/90 and scrapped
  • 588 to Inverclyde, Greenock 5/88 w/d 11/88 and auctioned 5/89 scrapped 9/89 588 with Inverclyde
  • 589 with Weybus of Weymouth 5/88 then to Anglewish (Seaside Shuttle) of Portland in 10/88 to Davies of Bridport 9/89, De Vinci's Nightclub, West Bay 5/90, preserved 1997 but not reported since early c2002 Flickr Picture of 589
  • 590 Wealden hire fleet and loaned to East Surrey Buses. Last licensed 10/88
The rest were not fit for further use and Wealden had several moved to Fylde's Squires Gate depot for storage (Wealden used Fylde as a staging post for buses collected from Scotland). 575, 584, 591/2/4/5 all moved to Fylde - as did 583 briefly while at least 572 of the Ogdens trio called in at Fylde on prior to moving to St Helens. The six were gradually disposed of with 591/4 going in November 1988; 575/92 in February 1989, 584 around August 1989 and 595 around August 1990. 595 did move onto Wealden but the rest went straight for scrap. 
Preserved Swift 570 and AEC Routemaster 521 displayed together at the 2010 Blackpool Transport open day
Survivors
Most of the survivors after deregulation had short second lives with their new owners. Swifts were an acquired taste and required gentle nurturing. Knotty for example swore by them (others perhaps swore at them) but modified 583 to use a Leopard style air pedestal gear change to replace the automatic electric unit specified by Blackpool. Those wanting a cheap ready to run vehicle tended to be disappointed and at least one operator ceased due to maintenance problems. 1991 started with the following survivors:
  • 554 (PFR554H) -with Wealden who purchased it from Graham Oliver and put it back in to bus service but by this time it had been placed in store. It was bought back by Graham in 1995 and passed to LTT in October 1996. It was restored to original cream in 1998 and but has been stored in recent years awaiting mechanical attention
  • 562 (UFR562K) - shell at Blackpool Airport scrapped 1997
  • 570 (OFR970M) - Blue Saloon, Guildford w/d 1992 but kept in store until sold in 1995. Preserved by Graham Oliver in 1996 it has since passed to LTT.
  • 583 (OFR983M) - Davies of Bridport later to Wealden and to Knotty in 1993. Destroyed by fire in late 1996 as last Blackpool Swift in service
  • 589 (OFR989M) - with Da Vinci's nightclub in Bridport, Dorset and for sale in 1995. Later bought by Graham Oliver for preservation but passed to another owner. Was under restoration, but no recent reports.

Today both 554 and 570 are in store with LTT - 554 requiring and overhaul and 570 - displayed at BTS open day in September 2010 - requiring minor mechanical work prior to recommissioning.