Saturday, 18 February 2012

Happy 30th Birthday 365

Newly arrived 365 with 367 behind on 2 November 1986. Blackpool blinds have been fitted but the buses have yet to see use. The eclectic selection of vehicles includes a withdrawn Swift (569 or 584), former PW bus 334, also now withdrawn and OMO tram 4.
  February 1982 saw the registration of West Yorkshire PTE 5005 UWW5X - one of a batch of 20 Roe bodied Olympians which entered service in March. 5005 made its debut from the PTE's Bradford Hall Ings depot on 11 March where it operated until October 1986 and a move to Leeds prior to premature withdrawal at deregulation. Yorkshire Rider - the successor to the PTE's bus operations declined to take on some of the more modern vehicles due to the payment conditions associate with them.

5005 along with sisters 5011 and 5015 were quickly snapped up by Blackpool Transport who needed them to replace three Atlanteans destroyed by fire at the beginning of October. They were collected on 31 October and became 365-367. 5005, now 365 entered service in mid November still wearing the PTE's green and cream livery. 365 was the last of the trio to receive the newly introduced green/cream fleet livery style in April 1987. It settled back into regular service across the spectrum of double deck routes including the 2 (Bispham to Poulton), 6 (Grange Park to Mereside), 9 (Blackpool-Cleveleys), 10 (Blackpool-Midgeland Road), 11C (Blackpool-St. Annes), 14 (Blackpool-Fleetwood) and 22/22A (Cleveleys-Lytham).

365 leaves Talbot Road Bus Station on route 25 in October 1987 (Donald MacRae)
 August 1988 saw a full rear end advert applied for Dixons Fiat dealership which lasted until August 1990 when the bus received a full repaint. A further repaint in October 1993 saw the bus receive black window surrounds on the same livery and in March 1996 it receive the new livery of cream with green skirt and roof band.

May 1996 saw 365 and its sisters move to Squires Gate Depot, still for a few more weeks operating under the Fylde identity and they became regulars on the 11/11A services. With Deltas taking over the 11/11A the Olympians dropped down to school duties. Squires Gate closed in April 1999 and 365's last duty from there was on 24 March shortly before the end of school terms. It resumed life from Rigby Road and was treated to another repaint in November 1999 - its last in green and cream.

July 2007 and 365 by now in its second coat of orange and yellow awaits custom on school service 570 from Lytham St. Bedes to St. Annes Spring Gardens
 August 2000 saw 365 placed in store as surplus to requirements following changes to school services, but it returned to use in February 2001 as several Deltas were taken out of use for repaints prior to the Metro launch. The Olympians were now increasingly seen on local services, particularly summer route 1. August 2003 saw 365 gain the orange and yellow Line 1 livery and it settled into summer duties on the 1 and year round school work. The upgrade of the 1 to year round service with some Dennis Tridents, reduced 365's service appearances but it was treated to its final repaint, again in orange/yellow in December 2006 - a nearly even 3 year repaint interval having been treated in 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2006.

365 and 366 were taken out of use on 28 April 2010 joining earlier withdrawal 367 in store. Both went to Marton, but 365 was to get a last hurrah, returning to service on 8 September 2011 after over 16 months in store. It is likely to be an early casualty of the impending entry into service of the Manx Tridents, but it if doesn't see its 30th birthday on 11 March 2012 in service (it is taxed until 29 Feb), at least it has survived until the anniversary of its licensing.

365 has, so far, accrued 25 years and 4 months service life at Blackpool (although interrupted by storage) and is second only to Atlantean 353 which lasted a further six months.

A surprising number of Blackpool buses have reached the age of 30 with the company - the others are:
  • Routemasters 521-531 and 533 were all over 30 years old when last used - and 534 passed this landmark after withdrawal
  • Open Top Atlantean 451 was withdrawn in late 1996 in its 32nd year
  • Open Top PD2 532 was over 31 when sold in 1999
  • Trainers 907 and 916 had passed their 30th birthday after retirement from passenger service
  • Sister 366 is likely to pass its 30th birthday in store (it was registered on 2 March 1982)
  • Lion 934 was a mere 71 years old when it was sold to LTT and by virtue of a duty on route 21 in August 1996 is the oldest bus (at 59 yrs 10 months) to run in service with Blackpool Transport!