Sunday, 18 January 2015

You Can't Save Them All

7 is the oldest surviving Blackpool Bus - one of three 1937 single deckers bought for preservation, but the only one to survive - it retains its modified condition after withdrawal with the rear end cut back.
Centre Loaders
Three of the 12 1937 Leyland Tigers were purchased by David Ellor in 1964 after use as works vehicles having ended their passenger career. 6 was bought for spares for 7 and 8. 7 survives today having been sold on to Les Burchell in Sussex and was rallied in "Engineering Car" condition from 1999. 8 has was scrapped, but when, why and by whom seems lost to history.

Two of the 100 post war Centre Loader PD2s are preserved, but two more of the 1951 batch stood a chance. 298 was bought by a group for a world tour and preservation in 1970. It was taken through some remarkable territory on a trip to Karachi between 1970 and 1972 but on its return to the UK its preservation attempt ended in scrapping in 1979. Meanwhile in 1984 a surprising report emerged of 287 existing in Hampshire but a rescue attempt failed due to lack of storage.

Rear Loaders
PD2 309 survived thanks to disposal to Lytham St. Annes Corporation and use until 1982 by successor Fylde Borough as a trainer. Here at Tram Sunday 1988 it makes its debut after restoration, but sadly that winter lost its dome on a filling station canopy.  Eventually a replacement was found, but the bus was never fully repaired and eventually went for scrap (Brian Turner)

Today just one of the 50 rear entrance PD2s survives (346) plus full fronted PD3 (351) and eight half cabs  (390, 501, 511, 512, 516, 518, 529 and 540) in the preserved 'fleet'. A further PD2 was preserved. 309 of 1957 was unusually sold to Lytham St. Annes in 1970 and served as a driver trainer from 1975 to 1982 with Fylde Borough. Preserved locally on withdrawal, it was restored and rallied during 1988. Sadly that winter it suffered roof damage with the front dome destroyed. Eventually a replacement dome was fitted from sister 337 but 309 suffered from outside storage and didn't return to its former glories. After changes of owners it ended up with 351 on a farm in Westhoughton. A further new owner took it north to Carlisle but the trail went cold and its believed the bus was scrapped.
PD3 530 comes close to meeting its maker, derelict outside a scrapyard near Bacup in 2009. Converted as a caravan, 530 appeared at Totally Transport 2005 partially painted back into Blackpool colours, perhaps signifying a long term future that did not materialise (Paul Turner)

Of the half cabs:
  • 394 of 1965 saw service with Porthcawl Omnibuses and had a brief period of use as a driver trainer than went into preservation in the early 1990s. This was shortlived as it ended up as a static cafe at Alton Towers. It has since been scrapped
  • 505 was purchased by Blackpool and Fylde Sub Aqua group in 1983 and after six years was sold for preservation. Kept at Easyway depot in Blackpool with 309 it was soon sold onto a dealer who converted it to open top and exported it to Japan!
  • 507 of 1967 was retained by BTS on the withdrawal of its last sisters in 1988 as a semi preserved bus. Demoted to training duties from 1995-1999, it was sold onto Mac Tours in 2000. Never used it passed with much of the Mac fleet to Ensign in 2002, but moved back to Blackpool for preservation in 2005. Sadly vandalised in open storage it was taken on by BTS again in 2008 but eventually was sold back to Ensign for spares - it was too far gone to restore
  • 510 was preserved in 1982 and briefly rallied but it suffered damage in a fire which destroyed a nearby bus while stored in Huddersfield. After several years in store it was scrapped in 1998 having donated parts to sister 540. 
  • 515 was used by London & Country as a driver trainer in 1989 then (with 512) saw several different owners until Graham Oliver purchased it in 1998 and moved it back to Blackpool. Sister 516 became available the following year, so 515 donated its seats and passed to LTT in 2000 for spares. In 2012 it was dismantled having donated parts for 512, 529 and 540.
  • 522 and 527 both had brief spells in preservation after use as a Playbuses in Skelmersdale and Ireland respectively. 522 was destroyed by vandals after a few months, but 527 was found to be in a poor condition and eventually was used for spares around 2006.
  • 530 was another playbus which was reportedly preserved in 1992, but was then converted to a caravan. A later owner started to paint it into BTS livery and it appeared unannounced at the 2005 Totally Transport event. By 2010 it was derelict outside a scrapyard between Rawtenstall and Bacup.
Single Deckers
Single deckers have generally been in the minority in the Blackpool fleet. The first post war examples were the Swifts bought from 1969 to 1975. Two are preserved, but a third (589) was secured by Graham Oliver from a nightclub in Dorset in 1997. It changed hands a few years later and was reportedly under restoration, but in the end donated parts to a restored West Midlands example and has now been scrapped.
Lancet 597 was restored before preservation unusually. Enthusiast Graham Oliver purchased it for his Thames Valley Training fleet in London and brought it to Blackpool to receive its original livery. He sold it in 2000 for preservation but sadly it saw little or no active use. In 2004 it was parked outside deteriorating and has not been reported since (Paul Turner)
Four Lancets followed in 1982. Of these 597 was bought by Graham Oliver for his "Thames Valley Training" business in 1995 and repainted into its original Blackpool fleet colours - these were adopted by TVT as a fleet livery. In 2000 it was sold to a North East enthusiast for preservation and was last seen in 2004 in outside storage. It was available for sale but with no interest is assumed scrapped. [Now confirmed thanks to investigations by John Docherty]

Four new and 15 second hand Leyland Nationals were purchased from 1984 to 1987. 542 and 543 were preserved, 542 by LTT and 543 by Kells Museum in Ireland. The latter is believed still extant in store, but 542 has recently been disposed of for scrap having donated parts to other vehicles in view of its parlous condition. One of the ex Strathclyde examples, 156, was bought by a Glasgow based enthusiast but restoration did not take place and the vehicle has now been scrapped.

Delta 101 was purchased for preservation in March 2011 but it believed to have since gone for scrap.

Metrorider 502 was never officially preserved, though when LTT disposed of sister 590 it was expected that 502 would replace it once Classic Bus had no further use for it. Sadly a seized engine put paid to that - here it is being rescued after its last ever journey (David Umpleby)
Both of the City Pacers preserved, 575 in Blackpool and 560 in Reading - survive, but Metroriders seemed to suffered a degree of attrition. LTT acquired 590 with a failed rear axle in 2009 but it was sold for scrap in 2012 as sister bus 502 was expected to replace it after service with Classic Bus North West. Sadly this suffered an engine seizure and it too was scrapped. Private owners have purchased 509 and 510 but both are believed now scrapped. This leaves just 589 preserved, 505 on the Isle of Scilly and 512 as the Council PW Bus.

331 was bought by LTT in 2003, but replaced by sister bus 334 soon after. Sold to a dealer it saw further service with Fargo, Braintree in  who's yard it is seen on Boxing Day 2005 (Paul Turner)
There are four preserved Atlanteans, 334, 353, 362 and 364, but three, possibly four was preserved. 331 was bought by LTT in 2003, but was replaced by 334 the following year. It passed to Fargo of Essex for further service and was later scrapped. 337 was bought for preservation in Kent in 2003, but reappeared in Blackpool in 2005 but was scrapped in 2008. 343 was purchased by an Essex based enthusiast in 2009 and repainted into the late 1980s livery but was sold for scrap in 2011 after a failure. The fourth possibility is 322, reportedly preserved after use as a driver trainer, but without trace ever since.

Three of the Atlanteans purchased from Fylde were preserved for a while. New to Salford Open Top 451 ran with Hall's of Kennoway briefly but was bought for preservation in 2001 in Glasgow after a few years in a scrap yard. Sadly restoration did not commence and a proposed sale fell through so the bus was scrapped.
Ex Fylde and Hull open topper 454 was briefly preserved and is seen here at Freckleton.

Ex Hull open topper 454 was briefly preserved in 1999 but was sold to an operator in Hull who then sold it on for scrap. Finally 496 was bought locally for preservation and restored to Fylde livery, later replaced by a fictitious scheme. Sold a few years ago it has now been sold on again for spares and is expected to be scrapped in 2015.