Thursday 29 July 2010

Line 17's Family Tree - pt 2 - the St. Annes Roamer

38 climbs Highbury Road bridge with Old Links Golf Course in the background.
The southern leg of Line 17 runs from St. Annes to Lytham via Heyhouses. Arguably it is descended from Lytham St. Annes service 4 which ran via St. Annes Road East and Heyhouses Lane until 1986, though its direct ancestor is the St. Annes Roamer of 1978. Incidentally the 4 developed by chance in much the same way as service 11C for the Church Road route was diverted via Heyhouses Lane for three years in the 1920s due to the parlous state of Church Road. When the road reopened only the St. Annes Road East bid of the diversion was kept but pressure was brought to reinstate the whole route - and for bad measure it was linked to the equally unremunerative Lytham Green Drive section. From 1930 to 1986 service 4 operated at a loss even though Heyhouses eventually developed as a residential area, the 4 served the more affluent leaving the working class properties closer to the main high frequency Church Road services.

As the residential area developed it was decided to fill some of the gaps in the bus network with two new off peak services under the twee title of the "Community Roamer" from January 1978. Numbered 8A and 8B the former ran via Chatsworth Avenue, Highbury Road, St. Leonards Road and Grange Road in North St. Annes and the latter via Church Road, St. Thomas Road and St. Andrews Road South. Each ran hourly using one bus Monday to Friday shopping hours only. 1979 saw an extension of the routes. Both now ran out of St. Annes up St. Annes Road East to the Hospital with the 8A turning left onto Crosland Road North, Folkestone Road, St.Leonards Rd, St. Davids Road North, Highbury Rd, Chatsworth Road and Caryl Road. The 8B turned onto Crosland Road South and served Shepherd Road, Pilling Ave, Grassington Road, Waddington Rd, Whalley Place, Moorland Road, St.Thomas Road, Clifton Drive. Single deckers were used including Seddons, Panthers, Bristol REs and Leyland Leopard Coaches.
Unusually double deckers appear on Saturday workings on the 8B in 1982

1981 saw four Saturday journeys added on the 8B interworked with service 1 - and thus sometimes using Atlanteans - but the weekday journeys were renumbered 8C and extended to South Hey and Edwinstowe Road with some peak hour journeys introduced to replace those lost by changes to route 4 which became off peak only. The 8C once again reverted to the 8B route in 1982 and in 1983 the 8A gained a Saturday service.
This October 1988 route map shows the 1979 to 1989 route of the 8A (or 9 as shown here) and the 8B in its later form (via Heyhouses Lane not Crosland Road North). The 8C was used for two afternoon peak journeys

Deregulation (October 1986) saw the 8A continue, but the 8B was merged with the 4 which now ran over the 8B route to Whalley Place then via Smithy Lane, Ansdell and South Park to Lytham Square. This only lasted until 1987 when the old 8B route was reinstated and the 4 finally killed off. From late 1987 the 8A was renumbered 9 to release the number for a Lytham to Cleveleys route. REs and Leopards continued to be the mainstays.
Coaches made regular appearances - much to the dismay of the elderly clientele - Fylde briefly ran this ex Ribble Leopard still in NBC local coach livery.

February 1989 saw a the replacement of the Roamer with a new tendered bus service from Cleveleys to Lytham using four buses! This lengthy route took in Norbreck, Warbreck Hill, Blackpool Centre, Stanley Park, Victoria Hospital, Great Marton, Mereside, and Hawes Side Lane picking up the Roamer route at Crosand Road North to follow the 8A to St. Annes, then much of the 8B route to Whalley Place and onto South Park, Lytham Square and Saltcotes Road. Numbered 4 this ran hourly Monday to Friday off peak. The Saturday service was numbered 4A and ran from Spring Gardens to the Cemetery only using one bus. The 4B was a school day journey from St. Annes to Whalley Place and the 4C to afternoon peak short workings from St. Annes to Smithy Lane.
In October 1989 the 4 was revised to run Cleveleys to St. Annes via Victoria Hospital and new route 8 replaced the St. Annes Roamer sections effectively adopting the Saturday route from Kilnhouse Lane/Crosland Road North to the Cemetery. The 8 was renumbered the 3 in March 1990 and then the 77 in November 1990 (in Fylde's quirky minibus series of 33, 44, 55 etc) each change seeing a minor route revision.

A Renault minibus was now used with a regular driver so that the bus working included a lunch break! Other than some minor tweaks this pattern survived well into Blackpool Transport ownership. 1997 saw the last Renaults replaced by City Pacers 559 and 567 at Squires Gate Depot for the 77 - but Metroriders took over in February 1999. The regular driver had a lengthy duty - on school days the bus would start with a school run from Hornby Road to St Georges School at Mereside then work the 77 from 0858 to 1718 and be back at depot for 1730. School days also saw an afternoon school run from Lytham St. Annes RC Primary to Spring Gardens. Later the bus was used to duplicate the 0759 service 33 from Mereside as far as Greenlands School.
The November 1990 Route Map for service 77, broadly valid until 2003.

Once Blackpool Transport had absorbed Fylde it took until April 1999 for Squires Gate Depot to be closed and that September saw the full integration of all the staff with the 77 now in the general roster and crewed by three drivers each day - yet still with a lunch break in the timetable! Fylde had been operating the service commercially since the early 1990s and Blackpool Transport decided to withdraw the service in August 2000.

Local independent Phoenix North West won a replacement contract service but this passed to Blackpool Transport in April 2001 shortly before Phoenix ceased trading. 4 January 2003 proved to be the last day of operation as the route was replaced by an extended Line 2 operating half hourly - (the highest frequency ever!) - and running from Poulton via Hospital, Blackpool, Marton and South Pier and taking in a revised Roamer route form Highbury Road to South Hey and then extending into Lytham. The service was still partially supported by Lancashire County Council.
Short lived service 72 fruitlessly served the luxuries Cypress Point development in Ansdell. 591 fails to catch the attention of the ducks in November 2006. 

The Roamer made a very brief comeback in October 2006 when Blackpool re-routed the 2 away from Crosland Road North and Folkestone Road. A new service 72 was started from St. Annes Sq and took in Folkestone Road, Crosland Road North and South, Barle Road then via Shepherd Road to Whalley Place then Heyhouses Lane, Cypress Point, Rgegent Avenue (Cemetery), Blackpool Road, Broadwood Way, Forest Drive, Moorfield Drive and Ballam Road to Lytham Square. 5 journeys were operated each way using a Metrorider and this lasted until 30 March 2007 when Redline buses took-over until the service ended completely in July 2007 when the 2 was re-routed again.
Metroriders looked quite at home on the Roamer

The 2 ended on 24 June with new service 17 starting on 26th bringing big buses back on a regular basis to Heyhouses.
Excel 222 swings into Folkestone Road on new route 17 on 27 July 2010 following in the footsteps of...

.....Bristol RE 37 in May 1987

Line 17's Family Tree - pt 1 the accidental 11C

Line 17 is the new service replacing former Line 14 from Blackpool to St. Annes and Line 2 from there to Lytham. These two services are direct descendants from the 11C and St. Annes Roamer respectively. The 11C's evolution was driven by circumstance and it seems unlikely to have been envisaged in its familiar form.

The 11C started in 1939 as short workings on service 11 between Blackpool and Lindsay Avenue in Ansdell- operating along Central Drive, St. Annes Road (Halfway House), Blackpool Road, Headroomgate Road and Church Street. In February 1940 Blackpool Road was closed and the 11C diverted via Squires Gate Lane, Clifton Drive and Highbury Road. It was later diverted via Division Lane and presumably then onto Common Edge Road and Hawes Side Lane instead of St. Annes Road. Division Lane was closed on several during World War II and was then closed permanently in 1954 to expand the Airport. A new road - Queensway - opened around the perimeter of the Airport and the 11C was diverted via Queensway and Kilnhouse Lane.

PD3 501 heads under the former railway line - now Yeadon Way shortly before the end of crew operation of the 11C in 1983.
Although initially operated by Lytham St. Annes buses, Blackpool took-over operations in 1940 - though the service was still part of the joint arrangement between the two organisations. 1946 saw an increase from the wartime half hourly frequency to every 20 minutes and in 1954 the service was extended from Hounds Hill to Talbot Road Bus Station with four buses now needed rather than three before. Double deckers had also by now replaced the single deckers used previously.
PD3s were synonymous with the 11C until 1983 - here 506 drops off passengers at the Borough Boundary before heading onto Queensway and St. Annes
Other than OMO conversion of the Sunday service in 1971, the 11C remained unchanged. Within St. Annes it was almost entirely duplicated by local services 2 along Headroomgate Road and 3 which served Leach Lane and Kilnhouse Lane. Within Blackpool it followed the frequent 6 and 13 to Spen Corner and the 6A to School Road. It was only the section round Queensway that was entirely unique - though it did link Hawes Side to St. Annes and North St. Annes to Blackpool. No attempt was made to integrate the service into the complex provision on the corridor in Blackpool. However the other routes were whittled away with the 6A going in 1975 and the 2 ceasing in 1968. The Sunday service was eased to every 24 minutes (3 buses) in the early 1970s and then to every 30 minutes in 1975.

1983 saw conversion to One Person Operation and the introduction of Fylde Borough to the service (the successor to Lytham St. Annes). During the day each provided 2 Atlanteans for the 20 minute service, Fylde providing 2 of the 3 on the half hourly evening/Sunday service.

Deregulation saw a half hourly 11C operate every day (2 Fylde and 1 Blackpool bus. The son of the 6A (route 10 Blackpool to Midgeland Road) duplicated it as far as Highfield Hotel making a 15 minute service. This lasted until November 1987 when Blackpool withdrew the 10 (and Fylde won a replacement contract!) and transferred the two buses to provide the full 30 minute service on the 11C, duplicating Fylde's two workings which remained every 30/60 minutes.
Not Fylde's finest hour as Atlantean 134 is pressed straight into service on arrival from Hull in August 1987.

Fylde retaliated in March 1988 by starting a full 30 minute daytime service and extending it to Grange Park competing with service 6. These journeys were renumbered 6A, though soon became 11Cs again in July. Blackpool then stepped up the competition by increasing to every 20 minutes in August 1988 and Fylde followed suit in November - six buses per hour being the highest frequency ever on this route - though it ended the Grange Park section.

In April 1989 both operators retimed their services to make an even 10 minute headway - the evening/Sunday service had survived these battles on a joint basis with 2 Fylde and 1 Blackpool bus - just like 1983.

October 1989 saw both operators reduce to half hourly making a 15 minute service. Fylde also withdrew its 193 route (successor to the 3) from Spring Gardens to St. Annes. Both operators now routed the 11C via Spring Gardens (between Kilnhouse Lane and Blackpool Road) and Fylde also diverted its journeys via Heeley Road and St. Davids Road North instead of Headroomgate Road. The evening and Sunday services were later revised to provide a bus every hour along each variant regardless of operator.

Blackpools workings were converted to single deck operation from February 1993 and Fylde's then followed suit by 1994 - the former with Deltas, the latter usually with rebodied Atlanteans. Sunday 13 November 1994 was to be the last day for the 11C as the following day saw its replacement by the 14/14A (Fleetwood to St. Annes).

The new routes reintroduced double deckers and conductors as the Fleetwood end of the 14 had never been converted to OPO. The 14 followed the Blackpool 11C route (Headroomgate Road) and the 14A the Fylde one (St. Davids Road North) - all journeys ran from Blackpool Transport's Rigby Road depot and 12 Atlanteans were needed. Evening and Sunday buses were OPO.
Trident 311 on a diverted Line 14 working in St. Annes in 2007 - these buses were dedicated to the route from 2002/3 to 2010

March 2000 saw the end of conductor operation on the 14/14A (and indeed on Blackpool's bus network). The route was standardised with all journeys via St Davids Road North as service 14. The Metro network of April 2001 saw the St. Annes to Blackpool leg reduced to every 20 minutes with a 10 minute Blackpool to Fleetwood service operate. Atlanteans and Olympians ruled the roost until Tridents 301-316 arrived in 2002/3. These saw a minor change with Dawson Road no longer served, buses running up Leach Lane to the junction with Blackpool Road on their way to Spring Gardens. The evening service was withdrawn in February 2010 - though replaced by Coastal Coaches on contract to Lancashire County Council.
Delta 118 contrasts with 506's earlier picture at the Borough Boundary on new Line 17 28 July 2010
From 26 July new route 17 replaced the 14 operating every 30 minutes (back to 1986 levels), extending to Lytham via Heyhouses. 5 buses provided a 30 minute frequency - 2 providing an hourly evening service and 3 provided a half hourly Sunday service to St. Annes only.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

New Livery Hits the Street

First appearance of the new livery - Optare Solo 290 - 28 July 2010
Optare Solo 290 entered service today on Line 5 in the new fleet livery - the first bus so outshopped. Trident 342 is the only other bus with the vinyl swoops but this is not yet ready for service.

The rear view

And then there was one

A further product of the new Blackpool Transport network is the removal of the last two Metroriders from conventional service work. Solos are now allocated to Lines 10 and 15. 515's last Line 15 duty was on on Sunday 25 July and it then spent Monday acting as a route learning bus.

Line 10 livery 518 is now dedicated to the Department of Work and Pensions shuttle bus service from St. Annes (Moorland Road) to Peel Park offices. This half hourly shuttle runs Monday to Saturday and started in January 2008. It has previously used low floor Excels and more recently Solos. 518 has lost the route branding and now carries the standard BT logo.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

First Volvos arrive; Deltas off and Open Top Olympians get new home

The first two of the five second hand Volvo B7RLEs have now arrived - AU06BPF and AU06BPK. Ten Deltas have been confirmed as withdrawn - 104 - 109, 112-114  and 116 - all but the latter from Line 6. They join 103 in store and leave 101, 102, 115, 118/9, 122/3, 125-127, 132 and 133 in use.

Meanwhile Richard Hughes has kindly sent this picture of City Sightseeing open topper 844 in its new home with Alpine of Llandudno. They also collected 813 but have swapped this for 849 which just awaits new lettering prior to entering service.

Monday 26 July 2010

Blackpool's Multi Coloured Swap Shop

Today, Monday 26 July, has seen the start of the much vaunted new bus network in Blackpool. Out goes Metro Coastlines, some major links are broken and new ones made. Line 6 is retired as are the claret Deltas. The low floor guarantee is a thing of the past it seems with a virtually 100% record low floor turn out on the 14 from May 2003 ended abruptly this morning with no less than 7 Optare Deltas providing the surprise package.

So what did today bring. Well firstly little change on the 1, 3, 4 and 5 which - by and large- ran with their previously allotted branded buses mostly still lettered. An extra bus runs on Line 1 and today black Trident 317 put in an appearance alongside the venerable Olympian 403. No sightings have been received of the repainted buses.

Line 2/2C needs seven buses and was strongly rumoured to be receiving Deltas. Instead it was their newer sisters the Optare Excel which took over from the green Solos - though 249 refused to bow to tradition and worked the 0932 from Knott End - the final Line 2 bus from Depot (0750 at Poulton). The six Excels were 216, 224 and 226 in purple and 218, 223, 224 in black. The Excels should be unduly taxed on this service with 14 minutes layover at Corporation Street; 12 at Knott End and 16 at Poulton!
Line 7 is now Solo operated mainly with long wheel-base examples taken from Line 2. 244 loads for Cleveleys at Corporation Street.

Line 7 now extends to Wesham all day taking over the Lytham to Wesham section of Line 2. This requires Solos - even for the alternate shorts to Saltcotes Road which interwork with the Wesham trips. All buses seen were former Line 2 ones with  240-242, 244-247, 286, 294 and 296 noted. Scrolling blinds for "Lytham Saltcotes Road" are used on the newer Solos though 246 fails to display the service number - arguably not a problem when it was restricted to Line 2!
Volvo Olympian 377 - a familiar feature of Line 11 was today restricted to the northern section, now Line 9.

New route 9 takes the Blackpool to Cleveleys section of Line 11 and uses double deckers. 7 were Tridents, 2 were Olympians. 310, 314 and 315 stood out in their dark green 14 livery not previously regularly seen on this corridor. Turquoise 322, 328 and 329 were more familiar as was black livery 318 and the reliable old stand-ins Volvo Olympian 377 and Leyland Olympian 371. 371 stayed out onto the evening service.
310 and 307 provide a uniform feel with the former on new Line 9 and the latter heading for Fleetwood on its familiar Line 14 duty.

Line 10 saw Solo 273 in place of its regular Metrorider 518 which surprisingly saw use on the normally low floor contract service for the Department of Work and Pensions. Line 15 had three black solos (261/3/4) and probably another as Metrorider 515 was out on route learning duties.
Familiar bus, familiar route, strange destination - one time 6 branded bus 118 heads to Grange Park on diverted route 11. With a 2 now on the stop almost continuously, the 11 and 15 loading here congestion is already apparent.

The heavily truncated Line 11 which now provides four buses per hour rather than eight along Lytham Road and heads to Grange Park has been spared the rumoured Excel allocation which would certainly have led to capacity problems. Deltas 118, 132 and 133 added an air of normality with Trident 327, 332, Olympians 373 and 376 together with less common Line 14 liveried 303, 305 and 308 also seen.
Trident 305 put gave a green feel to Line 11 heading for Lytham

The biggest surprise was the appearance of 126 in Fleetwood on Line 14, followed by four more and one Olympian on consecutive workings on this previously low floor route. The 17 workings comprised 7 Deltas 115, 119, 122, 125, 126, 127 (L11 liv) and 123 in pool/advert livery; just six familiar green Tridents 301/6/7/9, 312/6, Turquoise Tridents 323/4/31 and Olympian 374.

Line 16 now needs seven Solos and although some of the four remaining light blue ones were out so were pool liveried 277 and 278.
With the five second hand Volvos still awaited 101 and 102 have had a stay of execution and both worked new line 17 at the somewhat inconspicuous new terminus outside Argos on Albert Road - a one time unloading point for former route 11C on this corridor

New Line 17 - the Blackpool to Lytham part of the 14 had a mixed bag. Its first departure at 0646 from St. Annes to Blackpool was Excel 210 with sister 212 and Solo 274 assisted by 20 year old Deltas 101 and 102 - the former looking somewhat out of place on the narrow estate roads of Heyhouses. An evening service is being provided under contract to Lancashire County Council from Lytham to Blackpool to serve South Park and North St. Annes - the first ever evening service for Heyhouses estate roads and the first evening service on Heyhouses Lane itself since the 1970s. Coastal Coaches will provide a Sunday Lytham to St. Annes service on this section. The evening service used two Solos - 277 off Line 16 and 284.

All in all an interesting day with some surprises and some buses looking decidedly out of place!

Thanks to James and Shaun for filling in a few gaps in the allocations and also to James for the photos

The Last Day in the Life of....

Sunday 25 July marked the final day of Line 6. Not all of the branded buses survived through the final week. Nine out of the ten buses required on Friday were observed as pool fleet 101 and 123, branded 106-109 and 112, Excel 220 and Olympian 371. On Saturday, six branded Deltas 104, 106, 107, 108, 109 and 112 were joined by all three pool liveried examples 101, 102 and 123 and Solo 281. For the record Line 11 saw Deltas 115, 118, 122, 125, 126, 132/3 with 2 Solos, 7 Tridents and and 6 pool Olympians making up the allocation.

The Sunday Line 6 service required five buses and fittingly all five were branded Deltas. First bus out at around 0700 was 104 heading to Corporation St to start service to Grange Park followed 20 minutes later by 107. Around 0730 106 left via Yeadon Way to form the first bus from Mereside at 0740. 109 left depot at 0750 empty to Corporation Street for the 0755 to Grange Park and finally 112 left around 0750 empty to Mereside. The five buses then spent the morning and afternoon on a 20 minute frequency service. Two buses ran in at tea time, 109 finishing at Mereside at 1712 and 104 at 1812 both running back to depot via Yeadon Way. This left 106, 107 and 112 to provide the half hourly evening service. Their last three round trips were:

106 2200 Mereside - 2241 Grange Park - 2323 Mereside and depot
112 2230 Mereside - 2311 Grange Park - 2353 Mereside and depot
107 2300 Mereside - 2341 Grange Park - 0001 Market Street and depot.

So 107 performed the last rites for Line 6. It was, perhaps, fitting that first two Blackpool Deltas to enter service back on 5 March 1990 - 106/7 - signed off in style.

Monday is a new day; with a new network and a new image. Deltas will continue - in coats of turquoise or black but probably not claret.

Friday 23 July 2010

The end of Stability - the 6 bows out after 84 years

Blackpool's service 6 has been the epitome of stability. After the initial flurry of changes took place as the route developed in the 1920s it has only seen two fundamental changes the extensions to Mereside in 1954 and Grange Park in 1986 and had only three main vehicle types since 1934 - Titans, Atlanteans and Deltas - with others providing just a supporting role.

In February 1926 Blackpool Corporation started a new circular service from Adelaide Place via Central Drive, Grasmere Road to Condor Square then via Condor Grove, Whitegate Drive and Palatine Road back to Adelaide Place. The Whitegate Drive half was soon dropped leaving a basic Town Centre to Condor Square service which took service number 6 during the summer. From 1928 it was extended along Grasmere Road, Bloomfield Road, Hawes Side Lane and back to town via Watson Road, St. Annes Road and Central Drive with route 12 used for journeys in the opposite direction. This too lasted only a few months with the 6 now turning off Hawes Side Lane via Daggers Hall Lane to the junction with Vicarage Lane. A 20 minute service was provided off peak and 10 minutes at peak times.

Limited journeys continued along Vicarage Lane to the Welcome Inn from 1931 and by the mid 1930s all journeys terminated there. Double deck operation had been experimented with in 1927 with a Karrier and a Guy double decker but regular double deck operation commenced in 1934. 1939 saw a short extension to Cherry Tree Gardens and the following year saw the town centre terminus relocate to Corporation St. Service 6A was started during the war as a short working and later grew into a stand-alone service operating from Grange Park to Midgeland Road
The 6A and 6B developed from short workings of the 6 and did, prophetically, link Grange Park and Marton following the 5 route to Town then the 6 to Hawes Side in the 1950s and 1960s See this article for more about the 6A and 6B

The post war period saw the development of the large council housing estate at Sandham's Green - better known now as Mereside. Route 4 was introduced via Condor Square, Park Road, Penrose Avenue to Mereside in 1951, with the 6 extended from Cherry Tree Gardens in 1954 initially to Langdale Embayment (Mereside Shops) reaching Branstree Road in the 1960s. The development of the estate caused much friction between the Corporation and Ribble. The latter used Preston New Road for its Preston services and wished to protect this and capture the estate travel. License applications were therefore fraught, not helped by the poor roads initially and a restriction on double deck operations.

Although a simple short route, the 6 had a complicated operating pattern. In 1964 a 12 minute frequency was provided with a 48 minute round trip. At Corporation Street buses interworked with the 4 and 13. The 4 ran every 24 minutes, the 13 every 12 - co-ordinated with the 6 to Spen Corner before heading via Marton Drive to Lindale Gardens. 10 buses were needed, 6 of which worked a 6-4-13 cycle and 4 of which worked a 6-13 cycle. Blackpool for years helpfully arranged its route number blinds with 4, 6 and 13 in order!

Incidentally as if the 6 minute service 6/13 to Condor Square and Spen Corner wasn't enough, the 6A ran every 16 minutes (Fulwood Square-Midgeland Road via Common Edge Road and School Lane) and the 11C (Blackpool to St. Annes) every 20 minutes which was clearly impossible to co-ordinate!

The 6 settled in to stable mediocrity - by 1970 it was down to every 15 minutes but was put back to every 12 minutes in 1976 when the 13 ceased. Crew operated Leyland Titans held sway from 1934 to 1980 - with OPO AEC Swifts on Sundays from 1973 and some crew operated Atlanteans in the late 1970s but in December 1980 it was converted to full OPO operation using Atlanteans. During the 1970s - presumably before 1973 a turning circle was constructed on land adjacent to Clifton Road to replace the previous reversing manoeuvre.

The 1980s saw transport operators begin to consider different ways to promote their services. Fares promotions started on route 6 in January 1985 with a maximum fare of 40p between 9am and 3pm and after 6pm, with a 30p maximum Sunday fare - this compared to the then 53p maximum from Mereside to Town Centre.

February 1985 saw the introduction of the "SHUTTLE SIX" identity and the a new a "Saverstrip" ticket. These multi journey tickets were similar to the well known Manchester 'Clipper Card' scheme and allowed users to purchase 12 journeys for the price of 10 provided they travelled between the same two points - this even applied to the off peak 40p maximum. Five Atlanteans were dedicated to the service with their standard fleet livery adorned with a green skirt, two orange and one lemon stripe and large Shuttle Six lettering. 302, 303, 316, 317 and 321 were so treated and these five, plus conventionally painted Atlanteans 301, 351 and 352 were equipped with Saverstrip cancelling machines. The experiment ended after six months - the buses retained their livery but saw general service use before becoming early recipients of the new livery in spring 1987.

Deregulation of local bus services took place on Sunday 26 October and this involved the most significant change to service 6 in its life. The Mereside to Talbot Square service was extended via the route of service 5 to Grange Park (Easington Crescent) via Caunce St, Layton Road, Westcliffe Drive, Poulton Road, Chepstow Road, Gateside Drive and Dinmore Avenue. Buses ran every 15 minutes in the day and every 30 in the evenings and on Sundays. 7 Atlantes were required. This brought back memories of the 6A/6B which shared this route from the edge of Grange Park to Hawes Side Lane until their withdrawal in the 1970s.

Route branding returned to the service in September 1987 when the daytime frequency was increased to every 10 minutes (10 buses) and a Superman inspired "Super 6" identity was coined. Atlanteans 301/5/6 received a blue, white and red based livery and 309,322 and 360 received broadside adverts with the same branding. Matching timetables were produced, though the image ended in April 1989 with the withdrawal of the Atlanteans.

Little Marton Mill provides a suitable backdrop to many a Mereside photo and here Atlantean 317 passes Branstree Road junction in June 1988 as it heads towards the turning circle.

This improvement was not enough to ward off the attentions of Fylde, who were using there growing fleet of double deckers between school duties to irritate Blackpool Transport on its core services. March 1988 saw the introduction of a half hourly service 6 Monday to Friday off peak, Saturday and Sunday daytime which used various vehicles from the ubiquitous Atlantean to the odd Leopard and Bristol RE with minibuses preferred on Sundays. In addition their 11C - which followed the 6 from Hawes Side Lane to Blackpool was extended to Grange Park to compete on this corridor. Fylde's interest on the 6 ended in April 1989 when the two operators scaled back their competing actions.
Fylde's brief incursion on the 6 included the delights of new to Lytham Atlantean 77.

July 1990 saw the opening of a large Tesco superstore across Clifton Road from Mereside and several bus services were duly recast. Surprisingly only one bus per hour on the 6 was extended the short distance to the store - the other five still terminated on the turning circle. June 1991 saw an unusual northern extension. During the day one bus every 30 minutes was extended from Grange Park via Carleton and Castle Gardens to Poulton replacing the recently withdrawn 53 service. This added an 11th bus to the roster and lasted until March 2000

The November 1994 network change left the 6 alone - though the new Volvo Olympians initially saw regular use alongside Atlanteans and sometimes the older Olympians too. 6 February 1995 saw a change to Optare Delta operation  - releasing the double deckers to allow the 22/22A to revert to larger buses. At the same time the evening journeys were extended the short distance to Collegiate High School following regrettable problems caused while laying over at Easington Crescent.

March 2000 saw an increased evening and Sunday service with a bus every 20 minutes and then in April 2001 the Metro network was launched. The 6 became Line 6 but was barely changed, other than the introduction of a single direction loop at Mereside - buses now arriving via Poulton Road and turning onto Dinmore Road to wait at Pilling Crescent, then bypassing Easington Crescent and leaving the estate on Chepstow Road. The evening buses also followed this route and no longer went to Collegiate. All journeys now ran to Tesco. 
Dedicated Delta 114 passes the now rarely used turning circle to turn onto Clifton Road and into the Tesco store behind the photographer

June 2001 saw the allocation of dedicated bus to each Line route and Deltas 108-110, 112-117 were given Line 6 stickers to provide 9 out of the 10 workings. Repaints into the Metro livery of maroon and yellow commenced with 116 entering service so painted on 30 June. 115 then 116 followed. There was then a hiatus as 114 was undergoing refurbishment which saw the high backed seats replaced by bus seats and this did not return to use in Line 6 livery until January 2002. 113 and 112 followed in February and March; 108 in June (without bus seats), 110 in August and finally 109 in October.

A change in policy to brand the full PVR saw 118 transferred from Line 7 in March 2004. A further change saw 115-118 move onto Line 11 in May 2005 and 104-107 were then painted in Line 6 colours between May and August with 108-110/112-114 treated to full repaints in October and November. Finally in February 2009 103 was painted maroon to replace 110 which was withdrawn.

February 2010 saw the evening service reduced to every 30 minutes, however little did people realise that after service on 25 July the service would be withdrawn entirely with Line 11 replacing the Grange Park leg and Line 14 replacing the Mereside leg. The final working is the 2300 from Mereside to Grange Park and the 2341 Grange Park to Market St.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Haddle House Estate

Twiddling the destination blind of preserved PD3 529 brought up "HADDLE HOUSE ESTATE" on the front and both "HADDLE HOUSE EST VIA WARBRECK DRIVE & BISPHAM VILLAGE" AND "HADDLE HOUSE ESTATE VIA WARBRECK DRIVE, BISPHAM & NORBRECK" squeezed into the side blinds. You would struggle to find Haddle House Estate on a map; nor people who could easily identify it. Haddle House was an old farmhouse in the Anchorsholme area - and became part of the 1950s housing development in that area.

At the time Bispham was served by a number of bus routes from Blackpool - the 7/7A circulars via Devonshire Road/Warbreck Drive; the 15A via Warbreck Hill Road and Bispham Road and the 22 via Layton and Bispham Road with just route 9A/9B extending beyond Bispham to Cleveleys via Devonshire Road (9A) or All Hallows Road (9B) and Fleetwood Road.

This all changed in October 1959 when the 22/22A took over the 9A/B routes to Cleveleys and the 9 later reappeared as a Blackpool to Bispham service into the new Ingthorpe Estate (Ingthorpe Avenue/Ashfield Road area). The 7/7A was joined by new service 7C which ran via Dickson Road, Gynn, Warbreck Drive, Red Bank Road then as the 22A via All Hallows Road and Fleetwood Road turning up Valeway Avenue, North Drive and Luton Road to the junction with Anchorsholme Lane East - Haddle House terminus, This ran every 30 minutes - rising to every 20 minutes during Blackpool's odd peak of 12noon to 6pm.

Norbreck was served from 1965 when alternate 7C journeys were diverted Bispham Library via Devonshire Road, Guildford Avenue, Norbreck Road, Russell Avenue, Fleetwood Road to rejoin the 7C route. Rather than 7D (which wasn't on the blind) this used the now vacant 8 number. Norbreck was now also served by route 25A so the 8 ended in 1967 - at the same time the 7C was diverted into Ingthorpe alongside the 9s serving Ingthorpe Avenue, Ashfield Road, Fairfax Avenue, Whiteholme Road back onto Fleetwood Road and then into Cleveleys - removing Haddle House from Blackpool's blinds for ever - the new blinds for the Swifts showed "Cleveleys via Ingthorpe Avenue and Luton Road"

In 1969 the 7C was one of the first two routes converted to OMO operation with AEC Swifts and in 1973 was diverted away from Fleetwood Road to run past the new College along Ashfield Road and Warren Drive.
Whiteholme appeared on as the terminus of the 7C from 1975 as shown here on Swift 560 passing the Supermarket building under construction on the site of North Station.

In  March1975 it was cut back following the extension of route 9 to Cleveleys and for a few months terminated at the College of Technology but from 30 June it was extended to "Whiteholme" - another transport department name for Anchorsholme Lane/Luton Road junction. Initially alternate journeys ran via Sevenoakes Drive or North Drive to reach the terminus (as 7B or 7C) before a standard route via North Drive, Anchorsholme Lane to the terminus and back via Luton Road was adopted in 1982 along with new route number 8.

At deregulation Blackpool chose not to register service 8 and Fylde won it on tender retaining the same hourly timetable. It soon realised that it could - just - reach Cleveleys centre and back in an hour so Fylde duly registered the service commercially and extended it there in April 1987, later doubling the frequency and eventually extending it to Lytham as part of trunk route 11. Today the link is maintained through Line 3 every 20 minutes just like the peak 7C back in 1959.
Swift 584 passes another lost bus terminus (Cavendish Road to the left of the bus) on its way from Whiteholme to Blackpool in 1984

So Haddle House Estate terminus lasted from 1959 to 1967, Whiteholme from 1975 to 1987. The terminus today is no longer served - Line 3 now penetrates the housing estate and Line 11 runs via Anchorsholme Lane East - the nearest stop is known simply as "Duck Pond".

Saturday 17 July 2010

Repaint Progress

Prior to the launch of the new network on 26 June the paint shop has been busy repainting buses into the new livery. So far six have been treated in order of completion:

Trident 341
Trident 342
Excel 214
Trident 340
Solo 290
Solo 289
So far only 342 is understood to have received the vinyl 'swoops' and 289 has not yet been released from paint.

Excel 211 is now also in the paint shop though its not known if this is for a full repaint.

Meanwhile several buses have now received new destination blinds to accommodate the service changes. Many of the Dennis Tridents have been treated - previously the blinds only covered destinations for Lines 11 and 14. Interestingly Deltas 115 and 133 have also received new blinds and have lost their route branding.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

New Network [update 28 July]

updated with type allocations 28 July
With most of the new timetables on Traveline, further details of the new network can now be summarised:

Line 1 - Airport to Fleetwood every 20 minutes (day), 30 minutes (eves)
One additional daytime bus added to the operating cycle to make 8. Route re-timed with additional 13 minutes running time Airport to Cleveleys and 6 between Bispham and Airport. Orange Tridents allocated with support from pool buses. 

Line 2/2C Blackpool to Poulton every 15 mins M-S days, 30 mins eves/Suns with alternate journeys to Knott End (2C)
Will now terminate at Corporation Street (C1 - the current Line 6 stand) and operate via Abingdon St and Church Street in both directions. It will no longer serve the Railway Station. This will be subject to revision in August/September when St. John's Square closes to traffic. 7 buses are required with the 2/2C inter-working at Corporation Street. Additional layover is provided with 14 minutes at Corporation St, 16 at Poulton (2) and 12 at Knott End (2C). Sunday services use 3 buses. Excel operated - Solos as spare buses.

Line 3 Cleveleys to Mereside Tesco every 20 mins M-S days, 60 mins eve/Suns
No change to timetable. Route revised in Mereside with Tesco to Cleveleys buses operating via Clifton Road not Langdale Road. 6 buses required - 2 evenings/Sundays. Line 3 liveried Solos allocated

Line 4 Cleveleys Park to Mereside Tesco every 20 mins M-S days, 60 mins eve/Suns
No change to timetable apart from minor change to evening times - but now runs via Whitegate Drive instead of West Park Drive. 7 buses required, 2 evenings/Sundays. Line 4 liveried Solos allocated.

Line 5 Hospital to Halfway House every 10 mins M-S days, 30 mins eves/Suns
No change to route or timetable apart from an earlier morning journey. 9 buses required, Line 5 liveried Solos allocated.

Line 7 Cleveleys to Lytham Saltcotes Road every 15 mins M-S days, 30 mins eves/Suns with alternate journeys to Wesham.
Service extended from Lytham Square to Saltcotes Road via Hospital. Alternate journeys then via Warton, Freckleton, Lower Lane Estate and Kirkham to Wesham. Existing evening/Sunday services to Wesham also now serve Lower Lane Estate. 13 buses required daytimes, 7 evenings and 6 Sundays. Solos allocated usually green/yellow ones.

Line 9 Blackpool to Cleveleys every 10 mins M-S day, every 20 mins Sunday daytimes, every 30 mins eves/Suns
Northern section of Line 11 using 9 buses M-S, 3 eves, 4 Sunday daytimes. Green/Black/Blue Tridents allocated with back up by Olympians.

Line 10 Blackpool to Midgeland Road every 60 mins M-S days
No change - 1 bus required, now operated by Solos.

Line 11 Lytham Square to Grange Park every 15 mins M-S days, 30 mins eves/Sundays
Requires 11 buses during the day, 6 evenings and Sundays. 8xgreen/black/blue Tridents and 3 Deltas allocated with back up by Olympians.

Line 14 Fleetwood to Mereside every 10 mins M-S days, 20 mins Sunday days, 30 mins evenings
17 buses required during the day, 5 in the evening and 8 on Sunday. 12xgreen/black/blue Tridents and 5 Deltas allocated with back up by Olympians and Deltas

Line 15 Staining to Poulton every 30 mins M-S days; Staining to Bispham every 30 mins Sunday days, Staining to Blackpool every hour evenings.
Will now operates via Devonshire Road between Talbot Road and Newton Drive, rather than via Layton. 4 Solos required daytimes, 3 Sundays, 1 evenings.

Line 16 Blackpool to Cleveleys every 30 mins M-F days, 60 mins Saturdays and Sundays. No evening service
Starts from North Station via current 2 route (Whitegate Drive, Waterloo Road, Bond St) to Clifton Drive then Harrowside, Highfield Road and existing 16 to Norcross, Fleetwood Road, Victoria Road to Cleveleys. 7 buses required M-F 4 Sat/Sun - uses Solos normally light blue or black ones.

Line 17 Blackpool to Lytham every 30 mins M-S days hourly every evening, Blackpool to St. Annes every 30 mins Sunday daytimes.
Starts from Albert Road (Argos) and as 14 to St. Annes Square then as current 2 route to Ansdell and via Forest Drive and South Park to Lytham Square. 5 Excels needed Monday to Saturday, 3 on Sundays. Daily evening service is operated on behalf of Lancashire County Council and uses two Solos

The above requires 104 vehicles with 119 low floor buses available once the recent purchases are ready. This compares to the previous 113 vehicles required, of which 89 are allocated as low floor buses from a fleet of 111. Metrorider 518 is now dedicated to the DWP contract.

Open Toppers Move on

Two of the withdrawn City Sightseeing Olympians - 813 and 844 - have moved to Apline Travel, operator of the Llandudno & Conway tour. 849 remains in store.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Ex Anglian Volvo single deckers

A post on East Anglia Buses news group confirms that the five Anglian Buses Volvo B7LRE single deckers are being painted into Blackpool Transport's new livery ahead of delivery. Two were observed on a depot visit linked to the East Anglian Transport Museum's Bus event.

The five vehicles are AU06BOV,  AU06BPE,  AU06BPF, AU06BPK and AU06BPO of which BPF and BPK are confirmed in Blackpool colours. They were new in March 2006 and carry 44 seat Wright Eclipse bodies.

Pictures of the two repainted vehicles are here:

Saturday 3 July 2010

PD3 goes to Glastonbury

The annual Glastonbury Music Festival sees various shuttle bus services in operation. Chepstow Classic Buses is one of the operators and amongst its Bristol VRs this year, turned out ex Blackpool PD3 518 (HFR518E). This was one of the final ten PD3s in operation in 1988 and was withdrawn with its sisters in November. A year later it headed to Scotland after a repaint into original livery having been purchased by Michael Roulston - remarkably at Christmas 1989 it was putting in a turn on Magicbus service 19 in Glasgow!

By 1994 it had moved to Chepstow Classic Buses and while there it has seen further PSV use - including spells on tourist services and it is now in the Chepstow hire fleet.

Thanks to Sean for the pic, his Bristol VR South West News site has pictures of the Bristol VRs used at the festival while for local interest he maintains an Optare Excel page

Branding Goes

The removal of the route branding from various Metro liveried buses has commenced. All vehicles except the doomed Line 6 Deltas and the pool liveried buses are expected to lose their lettering over the next few weeks. Today, Delta 115, Excels 215 and 224, Trident 312 and Olympian 379 were all noted with the place names removed from their sides and a 'tower and waves' logo where the route number was.

New line stickers have appeared on bus stops, so far for Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4 only. These feature the black and yellow wave of the new fleet livery; the tower and waves logo; route number and destination. Note that the Metro logo remains on this example together with the old style sticker for Line 15.

Trident 340 has been joined by Solo 290 in the paint shop while the stored open top Olympians are beginning to depart with 844 leaving on 30 June and 813 expected to follow next week. Metroriders 503 and 513 have been sold to Totally Transport CIC for spares.