Sunday, 30 January 2011

Farewell to Wesham

Fylde's vividly painted Leyland Leopard 29 demonstrates the regular practise of using coaches on route 193
With the withdrawal of the Wesham to Lytham section of Line 7, Blackpool Transport has withdrawn from a market first served by Fylde Borough in 1978. Historically Ribble Motor Services had provided a link from Wesham via Kirkham, Freckleton and Warton to Lytham with service 171 as well as its Preston to Lytham 167 which joined the 171 at Freckleton. 1974 saw the 171 route come within Fylde Borough as part of the local government reorganisation which saw Lytham St. Annes Corporation Transport become Fylde Borough Council Transport. Initially Fylde kept to its former routes but January 1978 saw its first southern extension from its traditional terminus at Meadow Lane in Lytham's East End.
Fylde also used its Leyland Atlantean fleet on the 193. Ribble often, but not exclusively, used Leyland Nationals as seen in the background
This was achieved by combining service 3 (Spring Gardens - St. Annes - Clifton Drive - Lytham - Saltcotes Road) with the 171 into new service 193. A half hourly service was provided with Fylde operating three buses and Ribble one. Each operator provided one bus for the hourly evening service. Ribble later extended many of its journeys from Wesham to Blackpool via Elswick and Poulton. 1983 saw the evening and Sunday service diverted via Ansdell instead of Clifton Drive as part of wider changes.

Deregulation saw the joint operation continued on weekdays, though without Ribble's Blackpool extension (which Fylde won as separate route 192). Sundays saw Fylde take-over all workings on behalf of Lancashire County Council, inconsistently including the though workings to Blackpool!

1987 saw an hourly extension of the 193 into Blackpool. Here ex Grimsby Fleetline 49, barely disguised as a Blue Bus leaves Tower for the Bus Station
January 1987 saw Fylde extend one weekday daytime journey per hour from Spring Gardens via Queensway, Highfield Road (later via Lindale Gardens), St. Annes Road and Central Drive to Blackpool. Fylde's allocation grew to four with 3 double deckers working the Blackpool to Wesham journeys and one coach (usually) working the Spring Gardens to Wesham journeys alternating with Ribble's buses. November 1987 saw the Blackpool to Spring Garden section withdrawn and October 1988 saw the Wesham to Blackpool Sunday workings withdrawn.

Competition came to the route in Winter 1987/8 when Blackpool Transport introduced a handful of extra journeys. It provided trips from St. Annes to Kirkham at 1000, 1200 and 1400 and from Kirkham at 1050, 1250 and 1450. On arrival at St. Annes the bus ran to Woodlands Road, Ansdell at 1130 and 1330, headed over Woodlands Road bridge to Commonside to return to St. Annes via Church Road at 1152 and 1352. One Atlantean was used, interworked at St. Annes with the 11C. There was an additional journey at 1435 from Manchester Square to Kirkham, returning at 1650 to position vehicles for school or works contracts. In response Fylde advanced its nearest journeys by five minutes.

This curious pattern lasted until August 1988 when Blackpool registered journeys to duplicate most daytime Fylde journeys from Spring Gardens to Wesham leaving Wesham at 0743 to 1713 and Spring Gardens at 0745 to 1645. There was a gap in the timetable every two hours coinciding with Ribble's journeys as Blackpool's target was Fylde only in response to their competitive ventures against Blackpool's network. Blackpool withdrew its Saturday service in April 1989 and the weekday service in October 1989 as harmony began to break out between the two operators.

Fylde made minor timing changes in response. Its daytime service was now usually double deck operated on weekdays, single deckers on Saturdays and minibuses on Sundays. April 1989 saw the evening and Sunday service via Ansdell renumbered 293 to remove the confusion with the daytime route.

October 1989 saw the withdrawal of the Spring Gardens to St. Annes section during the day in favour of route 11C covered much of the same ground but now twice as often as before deregulation. It made sense for Fylde to divert its journeys via St. Davids Road (instead of Headroomgate Road which Blackpool still served) and both Blackpool and Fylde served Spring Gardens.

The evening and Sunday 293 still served Spring Gardens (except for Ribble's evening workings) but this was withdrawn completely in November 1990. As a replacement the 11A (Blackpool to Lytham) was extended to Wesham. Around this time Ribble withdrew its last Wesham to St. Annes journey and Carriages of Fleetwood won a tender for a single replacement journey which passed to Fylde in 1992. The daytime service continued largely unchanged with two Fylde buses to one Ribble. Single deckers became more common - the route switching between the two in accordance with the requirements of other services. For a while Ribble outstationed its bus for the 193 at Fylde's Squires Gate Depot, otherwise it ran from Blackpool depot until 1988 and Fleetwood thereafter. Metroriders 589 and 590 moved to Squires Gate joining 584-588 which were based there for the 33. Various others later joined these on a short or long term basis.

Closure of Squires Gate in April 1999 saw the 193 move to Rigby Road. From late September 1999 to the end of January 2000 it was normally operated by Leyland Atlanteans to release the Metroriders to cover other duties. 5 August 2000 saw Blackpool withdraw from the 193 with Stagecoach Ribble taking over in full. Blackpool continued to provide the contracted evening and Sunday workings on the 11A. These became part of Line 7 as a result of the Metro network changes in April.

Stagecoach replaced the 193 with route 169 in 2002 which continued from St. Annes to Blackpool via Lytham Road on a co-ordinated basis with its 168 from Preston. Low floor Solos were used. It was later diverted via Ansdell instead of Clifton Drive to match the 168. October 2003 saw the Blackpool to St. Annes section of the 169 withdrawn, the remainder was renumbered 69 in 2004 and the entire route ceased in October 2005 replaced by an extension of Kirkham Roamer service 70 from Wesham to Saltcotes Road on behalf of Lancashire County Council.

Solo 287 runs round Lower Lane Estate on Line 7 in January 2011
Blackpool Transport then extended Metro Line 2 to Wesham in September 2006 mainly using Metroriders with the odd Solo. These progressively replaced the Metroriders until 2009 when the entire route became Solo operated. The July 2010 network changes saw the daytime Line 2 replaced by an extension of Line 7 to match the daytime service. This now served Lower Lane estate (as they daytime route had since 2005).

Solo 250 heads towards Freckleton on its long journey to Cleveleys
After just over five years the contract for the Wesham to Lytham service passed to Coastal Coaches with its new service 78 from 31 January 2011.

Last Day of Line 7 to Wesham
Last Day: Solo 254 departs Lower Lane for Wesham

Last Day: Wesham Terminus - Solo 248
Last day: The rural approach to Lower Lane

Last Day: 248 on Station Road, Wesham

First Day of the 78: Coastal "Master Liam" in Lower Lane Estate