Friday, 16 September 2011

Not just a coat of paint

Variations in Altantean livery (the original on the right, the 1987-1994 scheme on the other two) during driver training exercises
In their 90 years Blackpool's buses have typically carried on of three colour schemes - red and white (applied 1921-1933 and to some vehicles from 1985-1994), green and cream (1933 to 2001) and black and yellow (1987 to date). The multi coloured Metro era from 2001 to 2010 complicates the story somewhat with 16 themed liveries (plus the Lifestyle Line) and there have been many variants of the traditional liveries too.

The original style red and white was re-adopted for the Routemaster fleet in 1986
The small Tilling Stevens buses that launched operations in 1921 adopted the tramway lined red and white livery and this maintained until 1933 when Walter Luff introduced green and cream with buses painted mainly green with cream window surrounds and bands. This was modified with the introduction of the first streamliners in 1936 to be cream with green bands above and below the lower deck windows, green roof and window surrounds. Further evolution took place with the 1949-1951 PD2s when the green roof was replaced by cream and again in the late 1950s/1960s when the green window surrounds and front 'V' were omitted leaving just two green bands. Single deckers featured green window surrounds, waistband and V - though the latter two were later omitted.
Preserved Titan 300 shows the second version of the streamline livery in this 1985 Tram Sunday scheme. Earlier buses had green roofs

The livery was later simplified with the green u/d window surrounds and front V removed

Rear entrance buses carried this simpler scheme - note the gap in the band on the rear which was to accommodate adverts though these were soon dropped.

The introduction of rear entrance vehicles in 1957 saw a more restrained livery of just cream with green band above the lower windows and green wings. The introduction of AEC Swifts reduced the green to just the wheels with the entire body cream. PD2s and PD3s soon adopted this on repaint.

PD3s later adopted all-over cream (then off-white) and from 1982 the livery carried by 540 in the middle

The original Atlantean livery of off-white with green roof, u/d window surrounds and two bands shown to effect on 305. There is some affinity with that carried by 300 above allowing for changes in the body style
1977 saw the arrival of the first Atlantean which adopted a livery not dissimilar to the pre war livery, but inspired by Southampton's scheme. The cream was replaced by off white and the shade of green was darkened. The buses had a green roof, upper deck window surrounds, green band above the lower windows and a deep green band on the lower side panels above and off-white skirt. Titans and Swifts adopted the off-white and in 1979 for the Swifts and 1982 for the Titans adopted a livery with more green as illustrated. Various experiments and variations took place:
  • 1979 - Swifts 581/2 received a green roof only before production Swift repaints featured green waistbands too
  • 1982 - PD3 390 received green roof and window surrounds, 540 green roof, u/d window surrounds and band above l/d windows and 512 as 540 but with off-white u/d windows. 540s livery was adopted, 390 kept its variation but 512 was modified to match 540
  • 1984 - Atlanteans 308 and 313 experimentally received a green skirt - 302/3/16/7/21 were also treated in 1985 with orange and yellow strips as a promotional livery for route 6
  • 1984/1986 - Nationals received a green skirt on the Swift/Lancet livery

Swifts and Lancets (such as 596 here) carried a version of the livery with a green roof and waistband - Nationals were similarly treated with the addition of a green skirt
1986 saw the re-adoption of red and white for the Routemaster fleet following its reappearance in 1985 on PD3 507 to mark the tramway centenary. RMs 527-31/3 of 1988 carried a simplified version initially but adopted the full lined scheme that winter. PD3 512 was also so painted as was ex Eastbourne open topper 532.

Olympians 365-367 launched the new livery in March 1987 reintroducing the pre-1978 shades
March 1987 saw the repaint of ex West Yorkshire Olympians 365-367 and Atlantean 316 into a new livery using the pre 1978 shades. The roof, upper deck and lower deck windows and skirt were green. The Atlanteans, the new Olympians of 1989 and PD3s 503 and 532 were so treated. The Nationals received a green roof and skirt and the Lancets similar but with green window surrounds too. May saw the introduction of black and yellow for the 'Handybus' Optare City Pacers, the yellow skirt being the sole relief for the black body.

The current black and yellow livery is influenced by the 1987 City Pacers - between 1986 and 2010 Blackpool did not have a single standard livery with three schemes for different types (Routemasters in red, minibuses in black and big buses in green) until 2001 and later varying by route under the Metro banner
The introduction of the Optare Deltas in 1990 included black side window surrounds as part of their livery and this was adopted by Atlanteans from 1992. Late 1994 saw the adoption of the former Fylde livery style of cream with green skirt and roof level side band. Window surrounds remained black. Olympians 374-9 were the only buses delivered new in this scheme. The Handybus livery was modified on new Metroriders to feature a yellow roof level band. September 1998 saw Metrorider 589 outshopped in a reversed Handybus livery of yellow with black skirt and roof band which was adopted for repaints and new Metroriders 505-518. Prior to this in 1996 the Optare Excels had arrived in all-over yellow but the second Excels and first Solos adopted the same livery as the Metroriders.

The post 1994 livery, influenced by Fylde's style but in Blackpool's colours is demonstrated by Atlantean 351

Delta 105 demonstrates the single deck version.
Repaints into these liveries ended with 327 in February 2001 which uniquely omitted its black window surrounds. The new Metro liveries emerged with the launch of the new network in April. All featured a yellow base with a route colour front 'wedge' and lower panels towards the rear of the bus. Black was intended to be the Line 2 scheme, but was adopted as the generic fleet livery in 2003 with the arrival of Tridents 317/8. Prior to this a grey, yellow and olive livery was used. The Metro liveries lasted until July 2010 when the current livery was adopted - the fourth version of black and yellow to be adopted over a 23 year period.

Three Metrorider liveries in 2004. 596 in the centre retains its original scheme, 588 to the right carries the post 1998 mainly yellow scheme and 593 the original Metro pool livery of olive, yellow and grey.
Black and yellow first appeared on big buses in 2003 when Tridents 317/8 arrived so painted as the first buses in the new Metro pool livery. This was also applied across the fleet to Metroriders, Solos, Deltas and Olympians