Sunday, 14 February 2016

From the Archives: The Original 5

Route 5 originally used Church Street from Promenade to Winter Gardens. Northbound buses were diverted though Talbot Square in 1936 but it was not until 1976 that southbound journeys followed. Here 515 demonstrates the new route in 1985.
July 1926 saw the introduction of service 4 from Adelaide Street to Halfway House via Lytham Road, Watson Road and St. Annes Road with a 20 minute frequency provided. In 1927 this was joined by service 5 from Gynn Square via Warbreck Hill Road, Devonshire Road, Talbot Road, Queen Street, Promenade and then as route 4 to Halfway House. Both ran every 20 minutes combining to a 10 minute headway.

In 1929 the 5 was diverted to start at Hoo Hill (Windmill Hotel) and run via Layton, Caunce Street, Church Street and then onto the existing route to Halfway House. This replaced the stand-alone 7 to Hoo Hill and also route 4 - though this continued to be used for short workings until 1939. The 5 typically ran every 10 minutes with six or seven buses required and was one of the earlier routes to use Leyland Titans from 1934.  Economies in 1939 as World War II developed saw the 5 curtailed to run Hoo Hill (Plymouth Road) to Blackpool only. By the end of the year a through service had been reinstated at 20 minute intervals with shorts from Hoo Hill to Tower as service 5A to make a ten minute frequency.
PD3 518 has turned off the Promenade onto Lytham Road heading to Halfway House on route 5
The full ten minute service was finally restored in late 1946 and new centre entrance PD2s saw service from 1949. 1950 saw the service extended into the developing Grange Park council estate turning off Poulton Road onto Chepstow Road terminating at Dingle Avenue just beyond Fulwood Square. In 1955 the route was diverted at Chepstow Road onto Gateside Drive then Dinmore Avenue to Normoss Avenue close to the current Dinmore Hotel. In 1958 it was further extended along Dinmore Avenue to Easington Crescent and finally in 1960 to Pilling Crescent. The basic ten minute service continued, though this rose to 8 minutes in the summer season on weekdays after 1000 remaining every 10 minutes at other times. Winter evening services ran every 20 minutes and winter Sunday services ran every 15 minutes. 1962 saw a minor route change with the 5 now serving Manchester Square, previously it had left the Promenade at the Foxhall and served Tyldesley Road rejoining Lytham Road at the Coliseum Coach Station. The end of the Lytham Road trams may have facilitate this move.

The service frequency progressively reduced during the late 1960s with a winter daytime 12 minute frequency and a summer service every 10 minutes. Sundays saw a 30 minute frequency, supported in the summer by short workings from Grange Park to Manchester Square as service 5A. February 1973 saw the Sunday service converted to OMO with AEC Swifts and these journeys terminated at Easington Crescent instead of Pilling Crescent where a reversal was required.
From 1973 Sunday services used OMO single deckers, mainly Swifts but by 1986 Nationals such as 543 had joined in.
1976 saw alternate weekday services diverted to reach Halfway House via Lindale Gardens as service 5A (so the Sunday short workings became route 5B instead). Later that year changes in the Town Centre saw the direct route from Winter Gardens to the Promenade via Church Street closed to traffic. The 5 now ran via Clifton Street and Talbot Square, 40 years after journeys to Grange Parks had been diverted away from Church St via Talbot Square. The final frequency cut saw the service standardised at every 15 minutes daytimes and every 30 minutes evenings/Sundays in 1977 - though the summer Sunday short 5Bs continued until 1979. Thereafter the 5B designated depot workings.
Atlantean 327 is chased by Preston Corporation Olympian A33MRN, on its final day on demonstration with Blackpool before moving down the road to Fylde.
Atlanteans now supplemented the PD3s on the resolutely crew operated weekday services which needed six buses. Swifts and, later, Lancets and Nationals provided the three Sunday workings. 7 January 1986 saw the unexpected debut of the AEC Routemaster in Blackpool with RM1583 on hire from London Bus Sales and pressed straight into service on route 5/5A in faded London red with Harrods adverts. Later purchased it was joined by five sisters which saw regular use on the 5/5A, most initially in London red before later gaining retro red and white based loosely on the 1930s livery.

Deregulation saw major changes to the bus network and the end of route 5. The Grange Park section was replaced by an extension of service 6 with the Halfway House section partially replaced by routes 24 and 25.
Amazingly the London Routemasters were pressed into service without even losing their adverts let alone a repaint. 523 arrives at St Johns Church with the slip board on the dashboard reassuring doubtful passengers that this was a 5 to Grange Park
Fortunately 523's appearance did not put off the passengers who scramble aboard in a location since transformed by pedestrianisation.

Three days later, 16 May 1986 saw 522-525 all in service. At least 522 had received blinds to the traditional London Transport layout and font - though the intermediates had not been set. The two RMs contrast their faded domes, while 522 displays an array of numbers in the cab. "55" being its route (timecard), "522" its fleet number and "5" its service number, contradicting the blind.

The Grange Park to Blackpool section continued as service 6 until 2010 when it was replaced by service 11 which today runs every 15 minutes Grange Park to Lytham. The Halfway House end was covered until 2001 by the 23/24/25 group and also from 1988 by the 12A (Bus Station to Lindale Gardens) - which followed the former 5 route between except using Highfield Road rather than Watson Road to link Lytham and St. Annes Roads. In 2001 the 23-5  and 12A were merged as a new Line 5 running via Central Drive, Waterloo Road, Lytham Road and Highfield Road with a loop at Halfway House/Lindale Gardens. With minor changes - including a recent withdrawal from Lindale Gardens - this remains as a tribute to the former 5.