Friday, 30 December 2011

Snow Condition for a Bus Service

14 December 1981 and PD3 523 is trying to maintain a service on otherwise Swift operated route 12, but has become stuck at the Airport terminus
30 years ago, Blackpool witnessed one of its most severe periods of winter weather. Tram enthusiasts will be familiar with the period as it involved the memorable sight of three coupled Balloons charging snow drifts on the tramway. Snow started falling on Sunday 13th December and by midnight was around a foot deep in places.
The Swifts were confined to the depot on the 14th as their rear engine layout gave them poorer weight distribution than the PD3s. Here the Diamond T tow wagon poses with 569 549 and 594.
On Monday 14th December the town was a white out, pretty much deserted save for the odd intrepid bus and tram photographer. It was not possible to run the morning bus service but from 1000 a handful of PD3s emerged to provide a tram replacement service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, service 12 along Lytham Road and part of the 22 between Blackpool and Halfway House. Later it was possible to run routes 7/7A and 26, albeit the former didn't serve Dickson Road but used the Prom. Only PD3s emerged with the Swifts and Atlanteans confined to the depot as it was felt the front engined buses were a safer bet for grip in the challenging conditions.
PD3 508 heads through the slush and snow near the Metropole on the tram replacement service. Sisters 515 and 518 were also seen in use on 14th.
Tuesday saw further routes added with Swifts and Atlanteans returned to service. Several routes had diversions to avoid estate roads where they were still blocked, either by snow or abandoned cars. Wednesday saw services reinstated to routes 14 and 16 and by Thursday things were returning to normal on the bus front. The trams had resumed between North Pier and Ash Street on Tuesday afternoon, but buses were required to cover on the southern section for a few more days.

Conditions had improved enough to reinstate more routes, and the Swifts, on the Tuesday. Here is 550 back in action on route 26 on Clifton Street.