Saturday, 3 February 2018

A Swift Returns after 30 Years

570 awaits departure on the 1500 to St. Annes at Cleveleys Bus Station (Paul Turner)
Catch 22 Bus operated LTT's Blackpool AEC Swift 570 on its service 21 today. 570 has recently passed its first MOT for over ten years after mechanical attention and thus became the first native Blackpool Swift to run on a local bus service in the town for 30 years. Two ex Great Yarmouth Swifts ran for Easyway in 1988, giving a brief taste of Swift operation again.

55 Swifts were purchased between 1969 and 1975, 570 made its debut in April 1974 - one of the final batch of 30 purchased. Blackpool's Swifts had a relatively short life, though not untypical for Blackpool buses at that time with some PD3s and early Atlanteans also operating for 12/13 years. 19 Swifts remained in use at deregulation (October 1986) but these were whittled down during 1987 and a batch of second hand Leyland Nationals replaced the remainder with the last, 590, operating on 29 February 1988. 570 was laid up in December 1987. Wealden Omnibuses - a Kent dealer - acquired most of the last survivors including 570 which was sold onto Blue Saloon of Guildford where it ran from 1988 to 1992. It was purchased by Graham Oliver for preservation and returned to its second livery of green and off-white. It passed to LTT in 2003 and was repainted again in 2005, but was stored for most of the intervening years until overhauled and MOT'd this winter. 

It was nice to see a green and cream Swift back in use again - hopefully it can be repeated a few more times. Non accessible buses can be used up to 20 days each per year on local bus work and its on this basis that 570 ran today.

In other Catch 22 Bus news, Versa YJ61JHH has been reported on service 24 after a lengthy period out of service. Restoration is also progressing on LTT owned Blackpool PD2 346 (PFR346) - ironically the type replaced by Swifts in 1974/5 - with a new platform frameworked welded in. 

570 climbs Anchorsholme Lane - it would have regularly passed here on routes 25A and later 3/3A in its service life. (Paul Turner)