Saturday, 28 January 2012

Routes 2 and 15 1920s to the 1980s

Abingdon Street Bus Stop shows services 2, 2A, 15, 15A and 15C - all (with the 15B) part of the complex group of services which ran along Newton Drive
Part of Blackpool's bus network originated in private hands with William Smith running buses to Bispham, Poulton and in Fleetwood and South Shore. The routes started in the 1920s and included a bus from Talbot Mews Bus Station via Newton Drive to the Plough Inn at Staining from October 1923. This was later extended to Hardhorn and Poulton.

Smith sold out to Blackpool Council (as Smith was a Blackpool Councillor, today this move would probably be controversial!) and BCT progressively absorbed his services. The Poulton via Staining route became BCT route 2 from April 1927 but in September was split to provide two basic hourly services along Newton Drive to Staining Road End with route 2 continuing along Normoss Road, Longhouse Lane and Hardhorn Road to Poulton Market Square and the 15 taking Staining Road End to the Plough. 

For about a year in 1933/4 the 2 became a circular, linked across Poulton with route 1 via Castle Gardens and Carleton to Blackpool. A minor route change saw buses leave the Bus Station via Talbot Road, Abingdon Street and Church St rather than the more direct Cookson Street. Route 2 appeared to have the higher profile and surviving accident records show new Leyland Tigers 102-113 as regulars on the 2 in 1935, while the 15 typically used 1928 vintage Lions 55 to 66.

From October 1936 extra short workings ran from Blackpool Bus Station to the brand new Victoria Hospital via Newton Drive displaying route 15A. Neither the 2 or 15 ventured off Newton Drive to the Hospital entrance. This used double deckers from the start and was soon extended from the Bus Station to Layton Station via Dickson Road and Warbreck Hill Road giving a cross town link to the Hospital. From June 1938 a second extra service, the 15B started running as far as Staining Road End and this made a ten minute service over the common sections with the 2 and 15. The 15A evolved as a separate service, though the section to Layton was dropped for the war.

PD2 334 approaches Talbot Road Bus Station to work a 15B working to Staining Road End in 1967
Double deckers were first introduced to the 2 and 15 in 1940 and 1942 saw the reversing point for the 15A at the Hospital gates replaced by a loop via Whinney Heys Road and Whinpark Avenue that is still followed by service buses today. Yet another service variation - the 2A - started in 1947 providing a winter service over route 2 as far as Hardhorn Road corner. With a variety of service numbers and individual timetables which didn't draw attention to the combined headway achieved along Newton Drive - the service pattern was never particularly clear to the casual observer. Analysis of the 1953 timetable reveals the following.

  • A 10 minute frequency from Bus Station to Staining Road End (just beyond the Borough Boundary) as services 2, 15 and 15B.
  • Service 2 continued every 40 minutes to Poulton via Hardhorn (into what is now Wyre Borough)
  • Service 15 turned right every 40 minutes onto Staining Road to Staining Village (in what is now Fylde Borough)
  • Service 15B terminated at Staining Road End every 20 minutes, buses reversing into Dobson Road to turn round.
  • On Summer afternoons and evenings the 2 was increase to every 20 minutes, with the extra trips running in tandem with the 15s over the common section.
  • In the winter an extra 40 minute service ran as the 2A as far as Hardhorn Corner from 1200 to 1900 Monday to Friday and 1000 to 1900 on Saturdays with two extra evening journeys.
On top of all this route 15A ran every 12 minutes from Layton to the Hospital in the winter and every 10 in the summer. The table below shows the afternoon departure pattern from Talbot Road in place in the late 1950s. A basic 5 minute summer service ran formed with either a 2 or 15B between each 15A. The 15 workings ran in tandem with the 2. Winter headways were at least every 10 minutes but with at least 12 per hour but much less even than in the winter.

Winter 58/9Summer 59
13:1115BStaining Rd End13:1115BStaining Rd End
13:3115BStaining Rd End13:3115BStaining Rd End
13:5115BStaining Rd End13:5115BStaining Rd End
Staining Rd End
Staining Rd End
14:3115BStaining Rd End14:3115BStaining Rd End
14:5115BStaining Rd End14:5115BStaining Rd End

Minor changes saw an extension of route 15 from Staining Plough to the new Whalley Estate where the buses reversed into Bibby Drive. 1955 saw the 15A extended from Layton Station to Bispham Tram Depot via Bispham Road and Red Bank Road and it was increased to every 10 minutes for most of the day in the summer but still ran every 12 minutes in the winter.

An unusual operation in Summer 1956 was service 1A which ran from Castle Gardens over the 1 and 14 route to Blackpool and then via route 2 to Poulton running every 40 minutes to make a 20 minute frequency to Poulton with service 2 (which remained every 40 minutes). From 1957 the previous pattern with service 2 running every 20 minutes in the summer resumed.

13 August 1983: An elderly clientele clambers aboard Lancet 599 at Poulton Church
Also by 1956 a summer special service 15C was in operation linking Blackpool with the Newton Hall Holiday Camp on Staining Road. This did not appear in public timetables and is believed to run on a limited basis.

The winter service 2A ended after 1959 and the 2 was increase to every 20 minutes from 1200 (1000 on Saturdays). Cut backs began in the 1960s with a reduction in evening and Sunday services from 1963. Residential developments in Poulton and Staining encouraged a simplification and enhancements of the 2 and 15. By Winter 1964 the 2 and 15 provided a 20 minute frequency from 1200-1900 (Winter M-F) and 1000-1900 (Sat and summer Mon-Fri) with a 40 minute service at other times. The 15B now provided a handful of morning trips to supplement the lower frequency of the 2 and 15 and by the end of the decade was no longer listed as a separate route but was still displayed on the bus blinds. 5 buses were required. The 15A was cut back in frequency during the late 1960s with a 12 minute summer and 20 minute winter frequency in place.

In February 1982 the 15/15A were revised again. The 15A no longer served the Zoo - its off peak journeys were diverted to Grange Park Estate (giving a link from there to the Hospital) showing 15B while peak journeys were extended to Staining to replace the short 15 journeys. The sole difference between the 15 and 15A was that only the latter served the Hospital.
Route 15B ran from 1982-1986 providing an off peak link from Grange Park to Victoria Hospital and onto Blackpool and Bispham. 353 runs through Grange Park in 1986.
The 2/2A continued on its 20/30 minute frequency, but the enhanced service was cut back to start at 1515 meaning only four round trips along Highcross Avenue.
National 548 leaves Poulton for Blackpool on route 2 in 1986
Deregulation in 1986 saw a simplification of the pattern with the 2 and 15 co-ordinated once more to make a 15 minute service along Newton Drive (2 every 30 minutes, 2A every hour and 15 every hour) with all buses continuing to Bispham via Devonshire Road (2) or Warbreck Drive (2A/15) replacing routes 7/7A (Bispham Circular). Evening/Sunday services ran every hour as 2A Poulton to Bispham and 2 Blackpool to Bispham only). Extra 2 (Poulton to Blackpool) evening services were provided under contract to Lancashire County Council by Fylde who also ran peak and evening/Sunday journeys on the 15.

Swift 580 leaves Talbot Road Bus Station on route 2A one afternoon in April 1980
21 December 1971 saw route 15A converted to OPO AEC Swifts which terminated at Bispham Clinic rather than the former Tram Depot, but were later extended to terminate at Warbreck Drive/Cavendish Road where buses turned in a triangular junction layout. The 15A now ran every 20 minutes (days) and 30 mins evenings but in the summer extra buses ran every 20 minutes from Hospital to Cornwall Place (near Gynn Square) on weekdays to make a 10 minute service while the Sunday service was doubled to every 15 minutes. The Winter 1971 timetable also saw some weekday afternoon journeys on route 2 diverted via Highcross Road instead of Longhouse Lane passing Baines School. These ran every 40 minutes from 1200-1840.  
February 1973 saw the Sunday 2 and 15 reduced to every 48 minutes so they could be operated with one bus each and summer 1973 saw the extra short 15A workings continue to Antrim Road (turning via Warbreck Hill Road/Devonshire Road roundabout). From the winter the 15A dropped to every 24 minutes (3 buses) on weekdays and the even more unusual 36 minute headway evenings and Sundays. 
6 May 1974 saw the 2 and 15 converted to OMO as the 15 could now turn via the Nook near Staining Plough - depriving Whalley Estate of its bus service until c1975 when Fylde council completed the construction of the present turning circle near Bibby Drive. Route 2 now ran every 20 minutes in the morning peak and afternoon (one per hour as 2A); every 30 minutes from 9am to 12 noon and again in the evening with a 60 minute Sunday service. The 15 ran 2-3 times per hour in the morning peak, every hour 0900-1200 and every 30 minutes until 1900 then hourly evenings and Sundays. This meant there was now no co-ordination between the 2 and 15 along Newton Drive.

The 2 was a common test bed for demonstrators - here Ipswich Dennis Falcon loads alongside one of Blackpool's traditional bus shelters on Newton Drive.
1977 saw route 15A reduced to every 30 minutes (45 Sundays and no evening service) and it was extended the short distance from Victoria Hospital to Blackpool Zoo. One way systems affected the services with outbound routes diverted via Caunce Street and Grosvenor Street in Blackpool in 1976 while Poulton Square was pedestrianised in the 1970s.

January 1980 saw a merger of routes 15 and 15A which now provided a standard 30 minute frequency service from Cavendish Road (Bispham) to Newton Drive with one per hour to Staining as service 15 and one per hour to the Hospital and Zoo as 15A. Some extra peak hour Blackpool to Staining runs were provided. Atlanteans were usually used, while the 2 retain its single deckers.
Atlantean 336 at the Cavendish Road terminus of the 15/15A in 1980