Sunday, 22 January 2012

Buses to Great Marton

August 1935 and one year old Leyland Lion 92 turns from Hoo Hill onto the Promenade at Central Station. This was one of a batch of six - Blackpool's only Cravens bodied buses. Like all buses from 1933 to 1951 these buses had centre doors. They were withdrawn after the war - having been converted to perimeter seating for serviceman's transport and also converted to gas power. Scrapping took place in 1950. Lions 90-95 were regulars on route 16 at this time.
February 1928 saw the launch of a new bus service numbered 16 from Talbot Road Bus Station via Cookson Street, Raikes Road (now Church Street), Newton Drive, Beech Road, (West and South) Park Drive and Preston New Road to Newhouse Farm. It returned via Preston Old Road. Frequency ranged from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the time of day.
November 1930 saw the 16 revised to start on the Promenade and run via Victoria Street, Hornby Road, Forest Gate, West Park Drive and Preston New Road to Cornwall Place, returning via Preston Old Road back to West Park Drive. A half hourly service was provided with short workings to Park Gates as service 8 to make a 15 minute service. The 8 was dropped in the winter from January 1931 leaving the 16 to serve Hornby Road and Stanley Park alone. The 16 terminus reverted to the Bus Station at this time, but reverted to the Promenade again in December 1931 and now served Preston Old Road both ways.

June 1935 saw the 16 extended from Cornwall Place across Preston New Road via Cherry Tree Road to Welcome Inn - buses now running every 10 minutes having been progressively increased in frequency as Great Marton developed. One year old Tigers 90-95 were commonly used. Short workings had used the number 16A for Cornwall Place and 16B which ran off the main route via Halifax Street, Goldsboro Road and Worcester Road to St Leonard's Road. 1939 saw this Welcome Inn extension cease and buses terminated at Cornwall Place - or at workers times continued across Preston New Road to Kumara Crescent (opposite Newhouse Road just across Preston New Road) and the service was converted to double deck operation for the first time as permission had been granted to lop tree branches on Forest Gate and Mere Road. The 16A was now redundant and the 16B soon suspended due to fuel shortages. The latter was soon reinstated and the each of the 16 and 16B now ran every 15 minutes making a 7-8 minute interval on the common section. This was later increased to every 12 minutes and the 16B was extended along Worcester Road and Lancaster Road to terminate at Cornwall Place with the 16. 6 buses were required.

In 1953, despite its long established use as a terminus, residents of Cornwall Place complained about buses reversing there and as an experiment the terminus was moved slightly further along Preston Old Road to Buttermere Road which was renamed Wordsworth Avenue by 1956 after the experiment had been made permanent. The 16/16B were amongst the last refuges for the prewar Burlingham Titans as shown on this flickr link at the Promenade terminus outside what was Woolworths and is now Wetherspoons. With these retired in 1958, the route became the territory of the post war streamliners as seen here and here.

Summers 1964-1966 saw an unusual linkage of the 16 and 16B with the 3A and 3 respectively. Buses continued from Wordsworth Avenue via Preston Old Road and Cherry Tree Road with the 16B turning onto Newhouse Road to follow the 3 route and the 16B picking up the 3A route at Cherry Tree Gardens and onto Vicarage Lane. Both routes met at Oxford Square and continued via Park Road, Town Centre into Claremont terminating at Westminster Road (16) or Cromwell Road (16B). The combined six minute service continued with no less than 14 buses required. For the winter - and permanently after the 1966 season, the separate routes were reinstated.

Route Map of Great Marton - click on image to view large size
Frequencies were progressively withdrawn during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Summer 1967 saw an 8 minute combined headway reducing to every 10 in the evenings and on Sundays. Winter 1968 saw just a 15 minute headway with 3 buses and a 20 minute evening/Sunday service using two buses. Around 1966/7 the Town Centre terminus moved to the Town Hall.

Now preserved AEC Swift 570 leaves Park Gates for Wordsworth Avenue on 28 August 1982
21 December 1971 saw the routes converted to OMO operation with AEC Swifts, buses now terminating via Cornwall Place, Kingsley Road and onto Wordsworth Avenue to avoid conductorless buses reversing. Winter 1976 saw the 16/16B simplified into a single service in Great Marton with all buses showing 16 and running via South Park Drive, Preston Old Road, St Leonard's Road, Worcester Road, Lancaster Road and Preston Old Road to the Wordsworth Avenue terminus. Buses no longer served Halifax Street and Goldsboro Avenue, no doubt a relief to the drivers who had to pilot long Swifts around these quite tight roads. The peak frequency was every 10 minutes, off peak every 15 minutes and evenings every 24 minutes, but this was soon reduced to every 15 minutes (peaks), 20 off peak and 30 evenings and Sundays with a maximum of 4 buses.

Route 16 loadings were rarely sufficient to require the 86 seat Atlanteans, but on Saturday 18 February 1984 343 makes an appearance
In 1977 the Town Centre terminus moved to Cookson Street, outside Talbot Road Bus Station. Number 16B reappeared in February 1982 to denote Sunday journeys which were an amalgam of services 3 and 16. Buses ran via Park Road to Oxford Square and South Park Drive following the 16 route to Wordsworth Avenue, then via Cherry Tree Road North and as service 3 to Mereside. An hourly service was provided, supported by hourly services on both the 3 and 16. The 16 ended on Saturday 25 October 1986.
At deregulation route 16 was replaced by route 4 which served Park Road rather than Stanley Park. In October 1987 Swift 589 heads into Blackpool Town Centre displaying Thornton - terminus of alternate journeys at the time (Donald MacRae)
It was replaced by service 4 which ran from Cookson Street via Park Road and South Park Drive and then as the 16 to Wordsworth Avenue. A half hourly service was provided using two buses, though this reduced to hourly in the evenings and on Sundays. Single deckers - typically Swifts - continued to be allocated. On 6 April 1987 the 4 was extended from Wordsworth Avenue to Mereside on Monday to Saturday (including evenings) and one weekday daytime bus per hour was extended from the Town Centre to Thornton via Warbreck Drive, Bispham and Ashfield Road. July saw alternate daytime journeys (those starting in Blackpool) and all evening/Sunday journeys re-routed via Preston Old Road not Worcester Road in Marton as route 4A. Sunday journeys were extended to Mereside.

April 1988 saw the 4/4A end with one bus per hour on route 3 diverted at Oxford Square as 3A via South Park Drive and the 4 route (including Worcester Road) to Mereside. This lasted until April 1990 and Great Marton was now left to Fylde.
Minibuses often appeared on route 33 as demonstrated by 552 at St George's School - the terminus by Marton Hypermarket
Also from deregulation Stanley Park was served by route 33 which ran from Marton Hypermarket (now Asda) via Great Marton, Stanley Park, Town Centre, Warbreck Hill, Bispham and Norbreck to Cleveleys. Daytime buses ran every hour Marton-Cleveleys and every 30 minutes Blackpool-Cleveleys but in the evening and on Sundays only an hourly Blackpool-Marton service ran. The 33 was withdrawn in August 1988 as Fylde services covered most of its links.

Fylde in Great Marton

Fylde Renault 119 sets off from Marton Mere Caravan Park on Fastlink F4
As part of its post deregulation expansion, Fylde introduced minibuses to Marton and Mereside. Its second service was 'Fastlink F4' which ran from Market Street to Marton Mere Caravan Park via Church Street, Whitegate Drive, Preston Old Road, Halifax Street, Goldsboro Avenue, Worcester Road, Lancaster Road, Wordsworth Avenue, Kipling Drive and Preston New Road. A half hourly service was provided using three buses shared with the F1 (to Mereside via Park Road). An hourly evening and Sunday service was also provided which prompted the withdrawal of LCC subsidised route 33.
The F4 competed with the much more frequent Blackpool service 26 along Whitegate Drive as well as providing a better frequency in Great Marton compared to the paltry hourly service on Blackpool's 3A. Goldsboro Avenue was served for the first time since the 16B came off in 1976, as was Halifax Street but the other section (to Preston Old Road) compared to the 16B (which accessed it from West Park Drive). By combining Whitegate Drive and Great Marton, the F4 gave a link to the shops near the Saddle. The service ran into Marton Mere Leisure Park, initially serving the internal road system before the later terminus at the Park entrance was adopted.

The F4 saw periodic minor changes summarised below:
  • November 1988 - diverted to Mereside Shops due to winter closure of Marton Mere - now uses two buses without interworking
  • February 1989 - renumbered 44 and extended to Hypermarket
  • April 1989 - evening buses diverted to Marton Mere (33 served it daytimes)
  • October 1989 - 33 and 44 linked as circular, 44 out via Preston Old Road to Mereside Shops and back via Newhouse Road and Park Road. Now every 20 minutes each way
  • March 1990, circular split, 44 terminates at Mereside Branstree Road until Tesco opened in March 1990
  • November 1990, 44 terminus moved to Mereside Troutbeck Crescent
  • 1991 - 44 re-routed to run via Weymouth Road and St. Leonards Road between Goldsboro Avenue and Preston Old Road (not via Halifax Street)
  • September 1992 - 44 increased to every 15 minutes and converted to single deck operation using Bristol REs. Terminus usually Branstree Road, but some extend to Tesco
  • March 1993, 44 converted back to minibuses and split as 44A to Tesco and 44B to Marton Mere. No longer serves Weymouth Road or Goldsboro Avenue - continues on St Leonards Road to reach Worcester Road.
  • February 1994 44A/44B extended to Cleveleys Park via Bispham over 55A/B route
The Bristol RE era on the 44 sees 15 (ex 38) depart from Corporation Street for Mereside on 8 October 1992 (Keith West)
The evening F4 lasted until October 1989 when it was merged with contracted evening service 3 (Gynn to Mereside) as the 333 and 444 which ran from Gynn via Claremont, Blackpool and Park Road to Oxford then in a loop via Penrose Avenue, Mereside and Great Marton (444 ran the reverse). Each ran hourly. This periodically changed terminus between Mereside Shops, Tesco and Marton Mere Leisure Park. In 1992 the circular was split on paper with the 444 running both ways via Great Marton - though buses continued onto route 333 at Marton Mere and vice versa.

Blackpool Deltas 101 and 102 spent 1995/6 with Fylde in blue and cream as 8/9. 9 waits at Corporation Street for Mereside in April 1995 (Dave Hatcher)
November 1994 saw the 44A upgraded to single deck operation using Deltas and single deck Atlanteans, with the 44B, 333 and 444 retaining Renault minibuses. The 44B was diverted via Mere Road, West Park Drive, Knowsley Road back to Whitegate Drive at this time. June/July 1996 saw all four routes converted to low floor operation with Optare Excels. Marton Mere was last served in November 1999 and the year round terminus for both routes was now Tesco.

The Excel era sees 206 on turn out of Forest Gate on the 44B - historically the 16 continued past the photographer onto Hornby Road
Two further Fylde routes served Great Marton briefly. February 1989 saw new route 4 take a meandering road from Cleveleys to Lytham via Little Bispham, North Shore, Blackpool, Stanley Park, Victoria Hospital, West Park Drive, Lawson Road, St Leonards Road, Worcester Road, Lancaster Road, Wordsworth Avenue, Kipling Drive, Paddock Drive, Mereside Shops, Clifton Drive, Queensway, St. Annes housing estates and Ansdell. It lasted in this form until October 1989 when it was replaced by a more direct route between Cleveleys and St. Annes via Hospital but not Great Marton.

Between May and September 1992 route 33B ran from Blackpool to Marton Mere via Park Road, Oxford Square, South Park Drive, Preston Old Road, Wordsworth Avenue, Kipling Drive, Paddock Drive and Preston New Road to Marton Mere, though this was replaced by the increased frequency on the 44 in September.

Great Marton was also served by Phoenix North West route 53/53A from Squires Gate to Poulton every 30 minute from January 1996. Between Oxford Square and Hospital the service ran via Preston Old Road, St Leonard's Road, Weymouth Road, Colchester Road, Lawson Road and East Park Drive. From April 2001 this was taken over by Blackpool Transport following the sudden collapse of Phoenix and ran until November 2001 when it was replaced by route 9 (Poulton to Mereside via Hospital and South Shore) which lasted until April 2002.

August 2009 saw a shuttle service numbered 4A from Wordsworth Avenue to Mereside due to the shortening of Line 4 due to roadworks. Solo 269 waits at the terminus across the road from the original route 16 terminus
Metro Era
April 2001 saw the 44A, 44B, 333 and 444 replaced by Line 4 which followed the 44B route from Tesco to Blackpool and the 44A route to Cleveleys Park. It ran every 20 minutes with seven buses, and hourly evenings/Sundays. Excels were used until January 2003 when Solos took over. With minor changes it continues in this form today.