Tuesday 14 December 2010

Termini - Town Centre

The bleakness of Talbot Road Bus Station is shown well in this December 1986 view. Venerable Blackpool Transport PD3 loads for Fleetwood with a conveniently placed hose to top up the radiators on the adjacent pillar. Alongside Ribble Leyland National 2 829 is waiting to depart to Knott End. The lack of pedestrian segregation is apparent. (photos Brian Turner)
Blackpool's buses traditionally had two main bus termini. Talbot Mews was first used in 1923 and was later to form the site of Talbot Road Bus Station. In the 1930s this was the terminus for services to Poulton (1 and 2), Staining (15), Devonshire Road (7), Bispham Road (9) and Fleetwood 14. Service 3 to Claremont started nearby at the Public Library on Queen Street.

The other terminus was Adelaide Place, near the Tower. Buses to Daggers Hall Lane (6), Stanley Park (8), Lytham (11/11A), Lindale Gardens (13), Great Marton (16) and sundry other short lived services to the South of the Town. Service 5 was the only cross town service passing Adelaide Place on its way from Halfway House before turning up Church Street to Caunce Street, Layton and Hoo Hill.

Further cross town services developed with the extension of the 3 along Park Road in 1936 - avoiding both the Bus Station and Adelaide Place in the process! Also in the same year the 22/23 started from Layton to Marton Depot or South Pier to replace the Marton trams and link the two main termini for the first time.
Adelaide Street was a popular pre-war terminus which lingered for many years as the terminus of Zoo service 21 until services were extended along the Promenade in 2002- it remains in use as a loading point for City Sightseeing buses
Adelaide Place was becoming crowded so 1940 saw the introduction of a new terminus on Corporation Street by the market - the current Line 2 terminus - and services 6 (Cherry Tree Gardens and later Mereside) and 13 (Lindale Gardens) moved there. New service 4 (Mereside) started from there in 1951, while the Marton tram replacement service 26 used the stop outside the Town Hall on Corporation Street. The 11/11A (Lytham) and 11C (St. Annes) moved to Albert Road though the 11/11A relocated to the Bus Station in 1946 and the 11C in 1954.

Fylde Atlantean 98 awaits custom for Lytham on a quiet February evening in 1986.
This left the 16 to Great Marton terminating in front of the Tower - arriving via Coronation Street and the now long pedestrianised Victoria Street before returning via Adelaide St including the section now underneath Hounds Hill shopping centre! The 18 ran from Adelaide St to Midgeland Road until 1964 while the seasonal 8 to Park Gates started alongside the tram track opposite the Tower. In 1963 new service 25A from Cleveleys, replacement for the North Station trams used Central Station as a terminus arriving along the Promenade and turning via Adelaide St, Bank Hey St and Hounds Hill - in front of the old Station, now Coral Island. The 16 moved to the Town Hall in 1967, the 25A to either Talbot Square or Manchester Square in 1977. The historic terminus continued for seasonal services, mainly now the 21 to the Zoo.
Clifton Street then: Lancet 597 at the 26 terminus adjacent to Yates in 1984
Corporation Street was also progressively downgraded with the 26 moving round the corner to Clifton Street in 1975; the 4 and 13 ceasing in 1976, the 16 moving to Cookson St outside the Bus Station by 1977 and the 6 to Market Street in the early 1980s.

Deregulation Day and Fylde Atlantean 88 leaves Talbot Road Bus Station on the lengthy Sunday service 193 to St. Annes via Poulton, Kirkham and Freckleton(!) while Blackpool Atlantean 305 awaits departure on the 9 to Cleveleys
At the time of deregulation the 4 (Great Marton), 9 (Cleveleys), 10 (Midgeland Rd), 11C (St. Annes), 12 (Airport) and 14 (Fleetwood) terminated at the Bus Station. Most other services operated cross town with some serving the Bus Station in at least one direction (eg the 2, 2A and 15 to Poulton and 22 to Lytham) with others using nearby stops such as Topping St (22 to Cleveleys, 23-25 to Hospital) or the Odeon on Dickson Road (3 to Bispham). Service 26 still terminated at Clifton Street and service 6 was the only other not to run near the Bus Station, serving Winter Gardens and Market Street instead. Fylde's 11, 11A and 11C plus many of their tendered services terminated in the Bus Station as did the out of town Ribble services to Knott End, Fleetwood, Preston and Morecambe.

Market Street then: 1982 sees Atlantean 324 loading at its terminus stop while 331 overtakes on cross town service 22
Fylde's commercial expansion changed the shape of the Town Centre termini in the late 1980s. They had an increased focused on the Town Hall area, by now used for southbound Blackpool Transport buses on the 22-25 along Central Drive and the 6 to Mereside. All northbound buses and the southbound 11, 11A, 11C and 12 used Talbot Square. Fylde introduced several competition minibuses routes in 1987/8. These included route 66 to Sevenoakes and later Cleveleys from November 1987, followed by the 5 to Cleveleys Park in January 1988 - both starting from Market Street - getting shoppers closer to the shops. The Fastlink routes to Mereside from June/August 1988 also ran from Market Street and the Cleveleys routes moved to the old terminus on Corporation Street. The Fastlink routes joined them in November 1990.  Fylde's version of big bus services 2 and 15 also used Market Street for a few months in 1988.

Market Street 2004: The improved status of Market Street has seen the two stops increased to four. Delta 6 heads for Mereside while Atlantean 357 is loading for Marton Mere Leisure Park on service 20
Blackpool's response to Fylde's innovations were minibus routes 7/7A (Bispham circulars) and 9 (CleveleysFylde's 11/11A northbound journeys were also diverted to serve Corporation Street instead of Talbot Square and southbound journeys via Market Street.

Corporation Street (Town Hall) - the 26 terminus from 1962-1975 and 1996-1999, then served by Line 6 until 2010, the Town Hall is embellished with a transport frieze just visible above the first floor windows.
With the takeover of Fylde by Blackpool in 1994, their respective networks were integrated and the changes saw an expansion of cross town operation. Fylde had preceded this by the linking their minibus services into two cross town routes from Mereside to Cleveleys (33 and 44A/B) which served Corporation St in both directions. The new network included the merger of the 2/2A (Poulton-Blackpool) with the 7/7A (Blackpool-Bispham) and the 14 (Fleetwood-Blackpool) with the 11C (Blackpool to St. Annes). Most services were re-routed via Corporation Street northbound and Market Street south except for the 2/2A which ran via Winter Gardens.

The old Market terminus on Corporation Street was used by the 6 and 13 for many years then fell disused in the early 1980s until Fylde adopted it for minibus services. Several northbound Metro services, including the 14, passed through until August 2010 when Town Centre changes saw them move to Clifton Street with just the 2/2C and - for the winter - the 1/1A using these stops.
The 33 and 44A/B were removed from Corporation Street in 1996 as Abingdon Street was deemed close enough and the 26 replaced them instead of terminating at Clifton Street, but in 1999 was relocated to North Station. With the Metro changes Market Street and Corporation Street remained the focus of the bus network, with this becoming the favoured Town Centre termini as the Bus Station became marginalised and effectively closed in 2002 - saved for coach services. Short workings on routes such as the 14 now terminated at Market St/Corporation Street as did the 10, 16 and 20 arriving from the South. The transformation was complete with the closure of the Bus Station enquiry office and staff rest room in favour of Market Street around 2004.
Clifton Street Now: Re-opened to buses in 2010 and Solo 245 loads for Cleveleys on the first day  - 30th August
Despite further pedestrianisation of the town centre, this focus largely continues - though recently extended to encompass Clifton Street due to the closure of St. John's Square. Today just about every Blackpool Transport service serves this area - including the Promenade service this winter. Lines 2/2C, 9, 10 and 17 terminate in the vicinity and the 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, 15 and 16 pass through - all except the 11 passing nearby the now out of favour Talbot Road Bus Station.