Saturday 16 April 2016

From the Archives: Unlucky Numbers Pt 1 "Unlucky 17"

Centre entrance PD2s 291 and 298 at the 'Showground' terminus of the three days a year service 17 in 1968. (Brian Turner)
There are several long established bus routes in Blackpool – the 11 to Lytham and the 14 to Fleetwood for example. However Blackpool’s bus route history is also littered with short lived bus routes which – for one reason or another – soon failed. Service 17 seemed to be a particularly unlucky number while 10s and 20s have also often been short lived. This is first in a small series of posts about some of Blackpool's oddities and looks at the "Curse of Number 17". 

While many people are feel the number 13 brings bad luck, managers at Blackpool Transport would do well to be superstitious of the seemingly innocent 17. Like 13, 17 is a prime number but none of the variety of routes numbered 17 could ever have been said to reach their prime. 

The first bus to display service 17 ran in May 1928. Intriguingly there is a link to Blackpool’s first bus route which was retrospectively allocated the dreaded number 13 in 1926. This ran from Cleveleys to Thornton Station from 1921 to 1930 but in July 1927 was extended to Burn Naze. Oddly in May 1928 the route was split with the new 17 operating the Thornton to Burn Naze section. It shared a terminus with the 14 from Blackpool and may have been interworked with it. A dismal £235 was taken in 5 months of operation – between £1 and £2 per day. Faced with a long and unremunerative winter, the plug was pulled from the end of November. 

Attempt two started on 23 December 1929 and was an early Christmas present for the residents of the area being developed around the Welcome Inn in Marton. It was a somewhat circuitous route leaving Talbot Road Bus Station via Caunce Street, Devonshire Road and Newton Drive to reach Stanley Park then via Park Drive, Waterloo Road and Vicarage Lane to Welcome Inn. It was hardly a warm welcome, the 17 ceased on 5 May 1930 leaving the Welcome Inn without a bus service until 1933. 

1929 also saw the introduction of a market day express service from Blackpool to Fleetwood which was initially un-numbered but was later allocated number 17. Its operation was best described as ad-hoc and was officially dropped in 1936. The number re-appeared in December 1939 to replace the Blackpool to Layton Station section of service 15A along Warbreck Hill Road and is believed to have survived throughout the war until the reinstatement of the 15A in 1946. The 17 was then reallocated in April 1946 to a new link from Layton to Victoria Hospital via Devonshire Road which was a temporary measure until service 22 was extended via the more direct and newly constructed Grange Road in November. 

The sixth distinct service 17 made its debut on 15 May 1948 – with the first journey running nine years late. The new service had been scheduled to start in May 1939 but was postponed due to the impending war and it was not until 1948 that it could be implemented. It used just one bus and opened up what became the Mereside estate but was then known as Sandham’s Green. It followed the existing 6 route from Adelaide Street, Central Drive, Grasmere Road, Ansdell Road and Daggers Hall Lane to Welcome Inn before running via Chapel Road (even today one of Blackpool’s most rural roads) to Little Marton School at the junction of Clifton Road and Lee Road. Given that it sat on top of the established service 6 it probably didn’t earn much money on its own account, but was sufficient to protect Blackpool’s claim to serve Mereside as it developed as Ribble served the main Preston Road along the northern edge of the estate on its trunk routes to Preston. 

It was renumbered 6C in December 1951 to associate itself with the 6 (which spawned A, B, C and D variants at one stage) and became Blackpool’s first one man operated bus service in 1955. Sadly the curse of the 17 wasn’t lifted by its renumbering and the route ended in 1956. Perhaps the bizarre 84-minute frequency offered latterly didn’t help. 

Blackpool’s next flirtation with the 17 was probably its most successful thus far as it lasted for 18 years, yet ran for just three days per year. The annual Royal Lancashire Show was held on the old Aerodrome site which is now Blackpool Zoo and a special service was provided numbered 17. It started in 1953 and lasted until the show moved away in 1971 as the Zoo site was developed. 

Jumping into the post deregulation era, Blackpool stocked up on minibuses in 1987 and decided to introduce local services in St. Annes and Bispham. While the former ran from June 1987 to February 1988, the latter only managed two months from December 1987. The Bispham service used four minibuses on a circular service to local housing estates Bispham running every 10 minutes each way as 17A and 17B – the penultimate of Blackpool’s short lived 17s.
Although its lasted six years so far, the current 17 has a suitably short lived section between St. Annes and Lythan. Here Delta 118 turns onto Smithy Lane on the section now covered by Coastal 78 (Brian Turner)

Since this article was written in 2009 a new 17 has emerged. In June 2010 the 14 was split with the Blackpool to St. Annes section becoming route 17 and linked to the former 2 service between St. Annes and Lytham. The service ran half hourly, but the St. Annes to Lytham section was jettisoned to the equally rare number 18 in September 2010 and this too ended in January 2011 with a new Coastal Coaches tendered service 78 replacing it.

The 17 was reduced to hourly in June 2015 with service 10 extending to St. Annes to maintain the two buses per hour. In April 2016 both the 10 and 17 were extended to Poulton.
And for one week only, the unluckiest number of all - Solo 253 works a 17A shuttle from Spring Gardens to St. Annes due to a lengthy diversion for the 17 in February 2013. See post here (Brian Turner)

From the Archives: Unlucky Numbers Part 2: Blowing Sands

The original bus to Blowing Sands was provided by William Smith's Motor Services
Blowing Sands was the delightful early name for the outskirts to Blackpool crossed by School Lane and was first served by William Smith’s bus service from South Pier which terminated at Midgeland Road/School Road. This became Blackpool’s service 10 and survived until 1962 when it was partly replaced by the 23. Blowing Sands saw some residential development but no dense housing and today is quite affluent. It has never been promising bus territory and the history of its links to Blackpool centre is littered with short-lived services hence its appearance in the ‘unlucky numbers’ series.
Centre Entrance PD2 274 heads towards Midgeland Road on the 6B in 1968 (Brian Turner)
The first link to the town centre started in 1936 when service 21 started. This ran over the 6 route from Adelaide Street to Hawes Side Lane/Daggers Hall Lane and bridged the short unserved section to Watson Road where it joined the 10 route via Common Edge Road and School Lane to Midgeland Road. Suspended in 1939 it was formally discontinued in 1940. During the Second World War, route 11C was diverted to cover the section of route between Blackpool and Common Edge Road, on its way to St. Annes having previously used St. Annes Road the section of Blackpool Road across what is now Squires Gate Airport.

In 1946 a peak hour service was resumed on the 21 route, but showing 11B to relate it to the 11C. 
A second route was introduced in 1948 as the 18. This also ran from Adelaide Street over the 6 route but further – to Welcome Inn then straight along Midgeland Road to the terminus. It ran every 90 minutes and was co-ordinated with service 17 to make a 45 minute service as far as Welcome Inn - the 17 running to Mereside.

This continued until August 1951 when a network recast took place. The 11B was replaced by route 19, both the 18 and 19 now ran hourly and interworked at Midgeland Road and also interworked with new route 4 in the Town Centre.

These routes to Blowing Sands were hampered because they really duplicated other routes on the main corridors into Blackpool. The aforementioned service 6 was co-ordinated with route 13 between the Town Hall and Spen Corner – the 6 continuing to Welcome Inn and Cherry Tree Gardens (later extended to Mereside) while the 13 took in Marton Drive to reach the developing housing estate at Lindale Gardens. In 1953 they provided a bus every six minutes.

Additionally service 6A ran as far as Highfield Hotel, leaving the Tower just in front of service 13 every 12 minutes. The 11C ran every 20 minutes through to St. Annes, the 18 and 19 to Blowing Sands each ran hourly and the 6C to Little Marton via Welcome Inn on a bizarre 84 minute frequency. If this was not enough, route 4 ran over the same corridor as far as Condor Square on its way to Mereside every half hour and the unadvertised 6B was a short working to Condor Square. This made at least 22 journeys over the common section to Condor Square and 20 to Spen Corner with varying frequencies. Co-ordination was unlikely, however the the timing of the 11C and 19 to leave the Town Centre at exactly the same time when the latter had over 95% of its route in common with the former was remarkable! With enough journeys to provide a 2 or 3 minute interval, the poor co-ordination resulted in four gaps of six minutes and two of five minutes in each hour!

The upshot of this was that routes like the 18 and 19 relied on their unique sections to pay their way – unlikely given the spare population – as they didn’t really generate any extra passengers on the over-bussed common section. Rationalisation was therefore inevitable. First to go was the 19 in 1956, replaced by extending the 6A to Midgeland Road – though this was also reduced to every 15 minutes at the same time.

From 1964 certain 6A journeys were diverted via the Welcome as service 6B to replace the 18. The 6A/6B were then progressively cut back through the 60s and 70s as declining passengers and increased costs caused the undertaking to review the duplication of its services. Firstly they were reduced to every 20 minutes in 1966; then their evening service was virtually eradicated in 1968; 1970 saw their frequency halved to every 40 minutes and one man operated buses took over in 1971. In 1975 the deepest cut of all saw the 6A go and just an hourly Tower to Midgeland Road service 6B remain for just one year until it too was cut in 1976. From a 15 minute service to nothing in just 10 years was a remarkable decline.

Midgeland Road did retain a link to the Town Centre, however, as route 3A (North Shore – Town – Park Road – Cherry Tree Gardens) was diverted at the Welcome Inn to run along Midgeland Road to School Road turning circle as a replacement.

Service 3A included a couple of peak journeys which extended to the Borough Boundary, mainly to serve St Nicholas School on School Lane. Here Swift 559 awaits departure for Cleveleys. (Brian Turner)
By contrast the original link to South Shore (the 10) remained largely stable until it too was axed in 1962, replaced by the 23 (Hospital to South Pier) which was extended to Midgeland Road via Highfield Road and School Lane. Other than a brief period when the 19 replaced the 23 in 1976, both the 3A and 23 continued in this form until 1986, with both buses usually terminating together at the rural turning circle.
Single Deckers (and more recently minibuses) have been the domain of the routes to Midgeland Road, apart from a brief period in 1987 when both the 10 and 23 operated with 86 seat Atlanteans! Here 313 awaits departure on service 10 in a short lived experimental livery whilst 358 promotes the Travelcard on the 23 departure behind. (Brian Turner)
At deregulation both the 3A and 23 ceased and ten years of stability ended. Midgeland Road was linked to the Town Centre by a new service, ironically numbered 10. This took most of the the old 6A route but at Highfield Hotel turned into Highfield Road and then Midgeland Road. Blackpool withdrew the service after a year and its former associate but now competitor Fylde Borough took over. Blackpool instead reinstated the link to South Shore with a revised 23. Fylde’s 10 later became the 12B and was also diverted via South Shore but ended in 1989. Since then an array of routes have tried to serve Midgeland Road. Few have been left in peace to do so, partly because of the bus industry’s obsession with tinkering at the margins of its networks. As the changes defy any simple description and chronological list follows:

  • October 1986 – BTS 10 Blackpool-Spen Corner-Highfield Rd-Midgeland Road. Fylde 23A South Pier-Common Edge Rd- Midgeland Rd – Mereside (Eves/Suns) introduced
  • Jan 1987 – BTS 25 (Hospital-Town Centre-South Shore-Halfway House) extended off peak to Midgeland Rd via Common Edge Road
  • April 1987 – BTS 23 (Hospital-Town Centre-South Shore-Highfield Rd-Midgeland Road) introduced
  • November 1987 – Fylde take over 10
  • June 1988 – 25 no longer serves Midgeland Rd
  • November 1988 – Fylde 10 replaced by 12B Town-Lytham Rd-Highfield Rd-Midgeland Road
  • March 1989 – 23 replaced by 25 (Hospital-Town Centre-South Shore-Highfield Rd-Midgeland Road) Fylde 12B withdrawn
  • March 1994 – 23A evening/Sunday service taken over by Blackpool
  • November 1994 – 23A evening/Sunday service replaced by extended 23
  • August 1996 –25 replaced by 23 Staining -Hospital-Town Centre-South Shore-Common Edge Road- Midgeland Road-Mereside (includes eves/Suns service) – now minibus operated
  • April 2001 – 9 Royal Oak-Watson Rd-Highfield Rd-Common Edge Rd-Midgeland Rd back to Highfield Rd replaces 23
  • Nov 2001 9 revised to run Poulton-Hospital-Royal Oak-Highfield Rd-Squires Gate Lane-Midgeland Rd-Mereside
  • April 2002 – new 2B Poulton-Blackpool-South Pier-Highfield Rd-Squires Gate Lane-Midgeland Rd-Mereside replaces 9 evening/Sunday service ends
  • June 2002 – 2A Poulton-Blackpool-South Pier-Highfield Rd-Squires Gate Lane-Midgeland Rd-Asda replaces 2B
  • December 2005 – 10 Blackpool-Lytham Rd-Watson Rd-Highfield Rd-Midgeland Rd-Common Edge Rd circle replaces 2A

2009's line 10 provided one bus an hour linking the area with the Town Centre and South Shore. 593 was the branded minibus in light blue until 518 took over in 2007 painted silver-grey. (Brian Turner)
The 10 proved quite stable with limited changes over the years until 28 June 2015 when it was extended to St. Annes, working both ways via Highfield Road, Midgeland Road and School Lane then as service 17 via Queensway, Spring Gardens, Leach Lane, Heeley Road and St Davids Road North. Then on 4 April 2016 it was extended across Blackpool Town Centre to Poulton over the erstwhile 2 route.

Since 1986 Midgeland Road has therefore been served by the 10, 23A (evenings/Sundays), 12B, 23, 25, 23 (again), 9, 2B, 2A and currently – once again the 10. For good measure the Welcome Inn to Highfield Road section has also seen the 25, 8A, 8, L1, 10 and 16 in recent times. 

Ribble on the Fylde Part 4: Fleetwood Minilink

July 1987 and Minilink is in full swing. 512 and 544 stand in Cleveleys Bus Station (Mike Rhodes)
11 October 1986, 15 days before the deregulation of local bus services, Ribble introduced its Minilink brand to Fleetwood. The minibus revolution commenced in 1984 with experiments in Exeter and started to spread through the National Bus Company thereafter. As the new era approached in 1986 Ribble ordered 90 Mercedes L608D minibuses, but 26 were diverted to North Western Road Car - the new operation which tookover Ribble's southern operations in September 1986. The 64 left for Ribble had Reeve Burgess conversions of their van bodies, with the first 21 having 19 high backed seats and the rest 20 bus seats. Kendal was the first network converted in August, with Fleetwood following in October.
Minilink 550 lays over on Pharos Street, Fleetwood (Mike Rhodes)

12 minibuses were allocated, 512/3 with high backed seats and 541-550 with normal seats with several Leyland Nationals replaced. A completely new network was introduced replacing the 91-96 and 196 - though the 92 continued for the two weeks until deregulation. New cross Cleveleys links were introduced, but the Cleveleys to Poulton link was lost.
  • F1 Fleetwood Local: Queens Terrace to Shakespeare Road via Carr Road
  • F2 Fleetwood Local: Queens Terrace to Broadwater via Park Avenue, Hatfield Avenue, Whinfield Avenue
  • F4/F5 Fleetwood Queens Terrace-Cleveleys via Larkholme, Green Drive (F4 to Cleveleys, F5 to Fleetwood) then as:
    • F4 continues Cleveleys-Thornton Centre via Meadows Avenue, Rossendale Avenue
    • F5 commences Cleveleys to Hillylaid Avenue via Victoria Road West, Beechwood Drive and Thornton.
    • Bus ran F4 Fleetwood-Cleveleys-Thornton-Cleveleys and F5 Cleveleys-Thornton-Cleveleys-Fleetwood
  • F6 Cleveleys to Cumberland Avenue via Cleveleys Avenue and Northumberland Avenue
  • F7 Cleveleys to Pheasant Wood via North Drive and West Drive.

A 20 minute frequency service ran on each route. The F4/5/6/7 were interworked - the F1 and F2 stood alone. A half hourly evening services was provided on the F4, plus the F5 Cleveleys-Fleetwood section. Initially a 'summer Sunday' service ran matching the evening service, but from November a 'winter' Sunday service ran over the same basic route, but diverting via Rossall Hospital and extending to Marine Hall always showing F4. . Additionally from deregulation a Fleetwood circular "Leisurelink 150" ran hourly each way evenings and Sundays covering much of the F1, F2 and also serving Larkholme
while local independent Carriages ran an tendered service 151 Fleetwood to Stanah via Cleveleys with three round trips to fill in the gaps in the network. This regularly used an unusual Lex bodied Bedford minibus WNH50W Ribble replaced the 180/2/3 between Fleetwood and Poulton with the 81 (via Little Thornton) and 82 (via Castle Gardens), both of which continued to Blackpool. These ran with conventional buses - usually Nationals - with two each provided by Fleetwood and Blackpool.

Not a wonderful copy, but this shows the revised network at October 1986. Several estate roads were served for the first time as a result - but many were removed at the first revision in January
Operators were required to run their deregulated network until the end of January. From 31 January 1987 Ribble revised its minilink routes, removing many of the estate roads introduced a few months earlier. 

The F1 and F2 were combined into a circular starting at Albert Square Clock Tower rather than Queens Terrace - the F1 via Carr Road, Shakespeare Road, Rossall Grange Road,Eden Avenue, Marine Parade, Larkholme Lane, Broadwater, Whinfield Avenue, Highbury Avenue and Poulton Road - the F2 did the reverse. Park Avenue was no longer served, nor was the short lived terminal loop for the original F1 which took in Macbeth Road. A half hourly service was provided in each direction.

The Cleveleys to Fleetwood link became service F3, still every 20 minutes with minor changes compared to the F4/5. On arrival at Cleveleys the F3 would continue either as an F4, F5 or F6. Buses from the F5/6/7 worked onto the F3.

The F4-F6 were recast, each half hourly making a combined 10 minute service Cleveleys to Thornton. The F4 still terminated at Thornton Centre via Meadows Avenue and Trunnah but with a simpler route missing out some estate roads in Thornton. The F5 still served Stanah and Little Thornton but took the more established route of the former 94/5 around Beechwood Drive. The F6 was completely re-routed now running to Poulton via Cleveleys Avenue, Cumberland Avenue, West Drive, Four Lane Ends, Thornton and Little Thornton. 

The F7 still served Pheasants Wood but via Northumberland Avenue replacing the F6 - both ran every 30 minutes combining to a 15 minute service. The F1/2 worked with two buses, the F3-F7 with eight. Evening and Sunday services were tendered by Lancashire County Council and awarded to other operators:

  • F3 Fleetwood Marine Hall to Cleveleys every 30 minutes to Blackpool Transport
  • F4 and F5 Cleveleys locals each every hour - Blackpool Transport
  • F6 hourly Cleveleys to Poulton every hour - Carriages
  • 150 Fleetwood circular each way hourly - Carriages

Carriages also continued the 151. Blackpool initially used Leyland Nationals but from May 1987 introduced its new City Pacers.

This network formed the basis for several years with some notable changes:

  • February 1988 one journey per hour on F6 renumbered F8 and diverted to run via Arundel Drive, Carleton with F6 still via Little Thornton. Ribble is running Sunday F3/F4/F5 contract
  • October 1988 - F7 now services Burn Naze, 
  • November 1990 - F7 to Pheasants Wood, journeys to Burn Naze now show F17
A network review in April 1991 saw the F1 and F2 circular broken with a new Fleetwood local F1 every 30 minutes Albert Square to Broadwater. The Fleetwood-Cleveleys link increased to every 15 minutes comprising half hourly F3 and F4 - the latter serving Shakespeare Road to replace the F1/2.

The F4 continued from Cleveleys to Thornton with a diversion into the new Safeway Store, then replaced the F8 via Beechwood Drive, Arundel Drive into Poulton. A half hourly service was provided, but one bus per hour then extended into Blackpool. 

The F5 remained as a Cleveleys-Thornton local every 30 minutes but with two variations:
  • either via North Drive, Cumberland Ave, or Safeway, Amounderness, 
  • both West Drive, 4LE, Hillylaid Stanah Lambs, Sunningdale 
  • (Some trips via Burn Naze and not Stanah car park)
The F6 was completely revised to run Fleetwood to Blackpool every hour via via Queens Hotel, Cala Gran, Trunnah, Lawson, Victoria Rd, Little Thornton, Poulton - this allowed the replacement of the 154/8 between Blackpool and Fleetwood - these had replaced the 81/2 in 1987.  The F7 was withdrawn, and the number used for a summer school holiday extra service from Cleveleys to Poulton via Thornton.  A new F2 ran every 30 minutes Cleveleys to Pheasant Wood.

11 buses were now needed, four on the F2/3/5 cycle, five on the F1, F6, F4 cycle and two on the Fleetwood to Poulton F4. Extra Mercedes were drafted in and big bus operation out of Fleetwood ended for now. 
Sunday contrasts at Cleveleys on in May 1987 with brand new Blackpool City Pacers 560 and 562 at work on the F3-F5 group, while Carriages Ford A CUT374T unloads on arrival from Poulton on the F6 (Brian Turner)

Evening and Sunday tenders changed hands periodically:

  • August 1988 150 to Blackpool (at least on Sundays)
  • November 1988 Fylde took over F3/F4/F5 evenings/Sunday
  • January 1989 Evening F6 to Fylde
  • May 1989 - ESU F6 renumbered F9 and runs via Beechwood Drive
  • October 1989 F3 and 150 evening/Sunday service merged into new F11 every hour - operated by Fylde - though BTS ran a Sunday evening service for a few months
  • December 1989 Sunday F9 to Cartford Travel (evenings still Fylde)
  • March 1990 F4/F5 re-routed and renumbered F15/F14 resp
  • August 1990 Sunday F9 to Fylde
  • November 1990 Evening F9 to Ribble
  • February 1994 F11 replaced by extension of Fylde 333 (Cleveleys to Mereside), Evening F9 to RM Coaches
  • by September 1994 evening F9 to Fylde and Sundays to RM Coaches
  • October 1995 F14/15 withdrawn evenings
  • April 1996 F11 restarted on Sunday with Ribble replacing Fylde 333. Sunday F14/F15 to Ribble 
  • July 1996 Fylde workings taken over by Blackpool Transport with their business - Sunday F9 also taken over
  • October 1996 - Sunday F9 to ACE - later taken over by Phoenix North West (date tbc)
  • October 1997 - Evening F9 to Ribble
  • October 2000 evening 333 w/d Cleveleys to Fleetwood without replacement
  • April 2001 - Sunday F9 to Ribble
Fylde later dominated the tendered market - though the F9 (Poulton) had spells with other operators. Here its Renaults 118 and 101 await departure on the F11 to Fleetwood and F14 to Stanah resp (Brian Turner)

In April 1992 minor changes saw the F2 cut back to run hourly Cleveleys to Poulton via Pheasants Wood, Four Lane Ends and Castle Gardens with two trips via Burn Naze. The F3 was supplemented by an extra hourly Fleetwood-Cleveleys working which extended via Bispham to Victoria Hospital in competition with Carriages who had extended their St. Annes to Cleveleys via Hospital service 4 to Fleetwood.

The F4 was withdrawn between Poulton and Blackpool; the F5 increased to every 20 minutes but with three variations F5 to Hillylaid Road, F5A to Hillylaid and Stanah and the F5B via Tarn Road. The F6 was joined by an F7 to make a half hourly Fleetwood to Blackpool service - the F7 differing as it ran via Four Lane Ends not Thornton Centre.
Stagecoach acquired Ribble in 1989 and started to repaint buses into its iconic, if not universally loved white with orange, red and blue stripes. 547 stands in Cleveleys Bus Station  (NDL642M)

A summer service from Cleveleys-Fleetwood via West Drive, Cala Gran and the Marine Hall was  as service F8. 16 buses were now needed from an allocation of 17. 

In August the F8 ended and the F2 was diverted to run Cleveleys to Cala Gran via Phesants Wood. The F3 lost its supplementary service but 3-4 journeys extended to the Hospital. Carriages ended their incursion into Fleetwood and accepted through fares renumbering their 4 to F10. Ribble ran one evening journey through to St. Annes.

By September 1994 the Hospital workings had ended, the F2 had become a half hourly Cleveleys to Pheasant Wood service, F5 had reduced to half hourly with one variant to Stanah Car Park hourly.

In June 1995 the F2 was diverted to run Cleveleys to Cala Gran - Pheasants Wood was now tendered and served by Fylde service 6A - with ACE taking over as service 10 Pheasants Wood to Victoria Hospital via Cleveleys in October 1995. Also in June 1995 one hourly F5 was renumbered 86 and revised to run Cleveleys to Knott End via Thornton and Poulton.
Next generation of Mercedes were coach build with Alexander bodies, 594 and 637 cross on the F4 bound for Fleetwood and Poulton respectively local network (NDL642M)
The fleet had evolved with investment. New minibuses - Alexander bodied Mercedes 709Ds 610-614 arrived in December 1992, 593/4, 601/6/37 in August 1993. These ten were supplemented by 502, 512-4 and 541/7 from the 1986 batch. Bigger vehicles arrived in 1994 with the introduction of new Volvo B6 minibuses to service F4. 
Volvo B6 283 stands at Cleveleys Bus Station working the F4, returning bigger buses to the local network (NDL642M)
Minor changes continued with the F2 going completely in 1998, the F3/4 swapping routes in Fleetwood in April 2000. The network remained stable, until the early years of the 21st century - changes which will be covered in a future post. 

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Round up

Network revisions took place as planned, albeit with some teething problems created by temporary traffic signals in Talbot Square creating havoc. 

Catch 22 bus are out-stationing two buses in Fleetwood for service 22, Preston Bus has moved its Blackpool outstation to a different yard in Marton, to the rear of the previous base at Jacksons Coaches. two Solos have joined the allocation for service 74. The schools Olympians were replaced by Dennis Tridents last weekend. 

Stagecoach's depot at Fleetwood is now in use as a store, with several Solos in the yard on Sunday. 

Blackpool Transport is reinstating service 20 from Marton Mere to Blackpool Town Centre via Zoo from 11 June. Not previously reported was the withdrawal of Solo 285 in August.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Ribble on the Fylde Part 3: Wyre Locals 1931 to 1986

Queens Terrace outside the former Fleetwood Railway Station was the terminus for Ribble and Blackpool bus routes for many years. Four basic Ribble routes ran from here - in post war era these departed in pairs with an F1 (Holmfield Road) and F2 (Eden Avenue) leaving in tandem then 15 minutes later an F3 (Eden Avenue) and F4 (Golf Club) departed. Here different eras of single deckers with a high floor Leopard 507 alongside early National 381 await departure - oddly both showing F3! (Mike Rhodes)

The Lawrence Network
In 1931 Ribble took over the Lawrence Motor Services operation and this brought the following network, numbered initially as:
  • 178 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Cemetery via Mount Road, Carr Road, Warren Avenue North, Shakespeare Road every 12/15 minutes
  • 179 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Cemetery via Ash St, Poulton Road, Carr Road,Promenade, Fleetwood Road every 30 minutes
  • 180/180A Fleetwood Pharos Street to Poulton Square via Broadwater, Gardners Arms (180) or Trunnah (180A), Four Lane Ends and Castle Gardens every 30 minutes (hourly 180 or 180A)
  • 181 Cleveleys Beach to Poulton Square via Four Lane Ends, Thornton Station, Little Thornton (Silcock's Corner) every 30 minutes
  • 182 Cleveleys Beach to Thornton Station via Victoria Road every 15 minutes with one per hour to Stanah
  • 183 Cleveleys Beach to Thornton Station via West Drive and Trunnah Road every 30 minutes
  • 184 Fleetwood Queens Terrace to Laidley's Walk via Esplanade every 15 minutes
Ribble adopted local letter series for town networks in the 1930s and renumbered much of its network. The Fleetwood local services by 1939 were:
  • F1 Summer only Fleetwood Queens Terrace to Queens Hotel via seafront up to every 10 minutes (former 184)
  • F2 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Cemetery via London Street (former 178)
  • F3 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Shakespeare Road/Dronsfield Road via London Street
  • F4 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Cemetery via Ash Street/Elm Street (former 179)
  • F5 Fleetwood Pharos Street to Shakespeare Road/Dronsfield Road via Ash Street/Elm Street every 30 minutes
Ribble also provided a typical 7/8 minute service between Cleveleys and Thornton, mostly via Victoria Road but with two per hour via West Drive. This was made up of:
  • F8 Cleveleys to Thornton via West Drive
  • F9 Cleveleys to Poulton via Little Thornton
  • F10 Cleveleys to Thornton Four Lane Ends
  • F11 Cleveleys to Thornton Station 
  • F12 Cleveleys to Stanah
  • F13/F14 shorts Thornton to Stanah
  • F15 Cleveleys to Thornton via Church Road and Woodlands Avenue
Leopard 531 approaches the Golf Club terminus of service F4 on Rossall Grange Lane (Ian Clark)
Finally the following services completed the network
  • F6 Fleetwood to Thornton Four Lane Ends via West Drive and Gardners Arms
  • F7 Fleetwood to Thornton Four Lane Ends via West Drive and Trunnah
  • F16 Fleetwood to Cleveleys via The Mount, Queens Hotel, Rossall Square every 30 minutes
Post War F-Series
In the post war period the F-series were extended in Fleetwood as the town developed. The resulting network was:
  • F1 Homestead Drive via Lord St, Elm St, Poulton Road, Highbury Aveune, Hatfield Avenue, Heathfield Road, Holmstead Drive (returns via Whinfield Avenue) - 30 mins - no ESu (15 mins with F3)
  • F2 Eden Avenue via Lord St, London St, Mount Road, The Esplande, Dronsfield Road, Shakespeare Road, Beach Road, Chatsworth Avenue to terminate at Eden Avenue 30 mins - hourly E/Su (combines with F4 on common sections and F3 at Eden Avenue)
  • F3 Eden Avenue via F1 to Hatfield Avenue then Chatsworth Avenue to terminate at Eden Avenue 30 mins daily (makes 15 with F1 to Hatfield)
  • F4 Golf Club via Lord St, Elm St, Poulton Road, Carr Road, Warren Avenue North, Agnew Road,Shakespeare Road, Beach Road, Rossall Grange Lane to Golf Club 30 mins - hourly E/Su (combines with F2 on common sections)
  • F5 Fleetwood Road Camp Summer via Esplanade, Laidleys Walk, Fleetwood Road
The Cleveleys network was simplified. The F9 (Cleveleys to Poulton) continued initially  In the early 1960s Ribble linked various local services together and the F9 was incorporated into service 180 (Great Eccleston to Preston) which now extended to run hourly Cleveleys to Wigan! Route 92 had also emerged making a second hourly Cleveleys to Poulton service but continuing onto Blackpool.

RE 236 stands at Cleveleys Bus Station bound for Thornton on the F15 (Ian Clark)

By the late 1960s the following Cleveleys/Thornton network had emerged:
  • F6/F16 Cleveleys-Norcross F6 via Four Lane Ends and direct, F16 via Thornton Station and Beechwood Drive. Peak hours/lunchtimes to serve DHSS
  • F7 Cleveleys to Burn Naze via Cumberland Avenue, West Drive, Heys St, Butt Lane. Hourly (no E/Su). 1x F17 via North Drive, 1x F19 out via Church Road and back as F18 via West Drive
  • F8 Cleveleys to Thornton Station via Cumberland Avenue, West Drive, Trunnah Road to Thornton Station. (F9 on Sunday via Gardeners Arms/Woodlands Road) hourly all day (F9 on Sundays)
  • F12 Cleveleys to Stanah via Victoria Road, Four Lane Ends, Railway Station, Stanah Road hourly all day, daily
  • F15 Cleveleys to Thornton Station via Church Road 2/hour hourly eves, no Sunday service
  • F80 Cleveleys circular via Victoria Road, North Drive, Northumberland avenue, Cumberland Avenue, North Drive, Victoria Road every hour - not Sundays
This was complemented by longer services:
  • 196 Queens Terrace via Lord St, Elm Street,Poulton Road, Beach Road, Chatsworth Avenue, Duddon Ave, Middleton Avenue, Northway, Larkholme Parade, Southway, The Strand, Broadway, Westbourne Road, Green Drive, Thornton Gate, Rossall Road to Cleveleys Bus Station (186 via Broadway)
  • 162/4 Fleetwood via Lord St, Elm St, Poulton Road, Fleetwood Road, Trunnah Road, Woodlands Road, Fleetwood Road, Castle Gardens, Poulton then to Preston via Elswick and Kirkham (162 via Garstang Road, 164 via Mains Lane) hourly combined - eves 162 only to Poulton
  • 163 as above Fleetwood-Poulton but direct via Thornton Gardeners Arms. Daytimes continues from Poulton to Blackpool.

During the 1970s the F8/F15 were combined into new Cleveleys to Thornton circulars F10/F11 with the F10 out via Victoria Road and back via West Drive and Cumberland Avenue with the F11 the opposite.

1980s Network Review
Around 1980 Ribble recast the network into a new 9x series into which the long established 92 (Cleveleys-Blackpool) now fitted
Leyland National 410 in NBC all-over red livery at Queens Terrace terminus of Fleetwood Circular 98 (Brian Pritchard)
The revised routes comprises:

  • 91 Cleveleys-Stanah (ex F12) via Victoria Road, Meadows Avenue, Church Road, Fleetwood Road, Victoria Road, Stanah Road, River Road.
  • 92 (Blackpool Depot) Cleveleys-Blackpool via Victoria Road, Meadows Avenue, Church Road, Fleetwood Road, Victoria Road, School Road, Tarn Road, Little Thornton, Breck Road, Poulton, Blackpool Old Road, Layton Blackpool
  • 93 Cleveleys-Burn Naze (ex F7) via Rossall Road, Cumberland Avenue, Cleveleys Avenue, Northumberland Avenue, Central Avenue North, West Drive, Fleetwood Road North, Heys Street, Butt Lane to Burn Naze.
  • 94 Cleveleys-Thornton via Rossall Road, Cumberland Avenue, West Drive, Fleetwood Road North, Trunnah Road, Lawson Road, Alexandra Road, Belvedere Road, Beechwood Drive, returning via Fleetwood Road South, Victoria Road, Lawson Road and reverse 
  • 95 Cleveleys-Thornton via Victoria Road,  West Drive, Fleetwood Road North, Trunnah Road, Lawson Road, Victoria Road, Fleetwood Road South, Beachwood Drive returning via Belvedere Road, Alexandra Road, Lawson Road and reverse
  • 97/98 Fleetwood Circulars (replacing F1-F4) 97 via Lord Street then via London St, Mount Road, The Esplanade, Dronsfield Road, Shakespeare Road, Beach Road, Rossall Grange Lane, Princess Way, Chatsworth Avenue, Hatfield Road, Highbury Road, Poulton Road, Ash Street, Lord Street. Every 30 minutes 98 via reverse every 30 minutes - 97A/98A variants later followed serving Elm St/Poulton Road, Carr Road and Warren Avenue North from Lord Street to Shakespeare Road

Ribble route map as at 1984 - also showing Blackpool route 14 and the tramway

At the same time the trunk The 162-164 group was withdrawn and replaced by:
  • 180/2 extended from Great Eccleston to Fleetwood via Castle Gardens, Fleetwood Road, Woodlands Road, Trunnah Road, Fleetwood Road, Poulton Road, Lord Street every hour (replacing 162/4 Poulton-Fleetwood)
  • 183 new Blackpool to Fleetwood service replacing 163 - same route as 180/2 from Poulton except omitting Trunnah Road/Woodlands Road
  • 193 extended Wesham to Blackpool via Poulton every 2 hours replacing 162/4 Poulton to Kirkham and part of 87-89 between Elswick and Blackpool
Bus links between Cleveleys and Fleetwood were the subject of much dispute in the 1930s when Blackpool Corporation applied for a license to run during the summer along the new direct Broadway - while Ribble requested a year round license. Blackpool's operation - an extension of the 9 - ran from 1937-1939, leaving Ribble to provide the permanent service to the developing areas away from the tramway - it was the latter that Blackpool strived to protect. The Ribble service, previously the F16, became the 196 and  ran every 30 minute. National 838 awaits for a tram to cross Victoria Square in Cleveleys before heading to the Bus Station (Mike Rhodes)
Ribble routes in Thornton and Cleveleys c1984
Finally the Fleetwood to Cleveleys link was still formed by the 196 which ran  Queens Terrace via Lord St, Elm Street,Poulton Road, Beach Road, Chatsworth Avenue, Duddon Ave, Northway, Larkholme Parade, Marine Parade, Roundway, The Strand, Broadway, Westbourne Road, Green Drive, Thornton Gate, Rossall Road to Cleveleys Bus Station. Some peak journeys showed 186 and ran via Broadway and Rossall Rd.

In October 1986 the network, and its fleet of single deckers, was swept away by the a new Minilink network - the subject of part 4 of this series.

The Old Order in Fleetwood and Cleveleys

Preston Bus Solo 20013 in the final weeks of service 75 in Fleetwood - Preston will retain a presence in the town as the new operator of service 74 (all Alan Hayward)

Stagecoach 47490 awaits departure from Fleetwood to Blackpool on the 74 - Preston Bus will take over a shortened route from 4 April
Stagecoach Solo 47655 loads at Cleveleys on service 86 to Fleetwood. This started in June 1995 as a Cleveleys to Knott End via Poulton service which lasted until January 2003 when it was cancelled by Stagecoach. A revised 86 from Fleetwood via Cleveleys to Knott End (but not via Poulton) was tendered by LCC and awarded to Hampsons. By 2004 it was in ACE Travel hands and Stagecoach took over around 2007
Solo 47487 works an 84 to Fleetwood at Cleveleys. Direct ancestry can be traced to February 1988 when service hourly F8 started from Cleveleys to Poulton via Thornton and Arundel Drive - replacing one of the half hourly journeys on the F6 which ran via Little Thornton. The F4 had operated as a Cleveleys-Thornton local from 1986 and was revised to run  every 30 minutes Fleetwood to Poulton in June 1991 replacing the F8. One journey per hour continued to Blackpool until April 1992. The F4 became every 20 minutes in March 2003 and became the 84 in May 2005. 

Stagecoach 47493 stands at Knott End - when the 86 ends and 89 passes to Kirkby Lonsdale minicoaches after service today, this will end the direct lineage of Ribble's provision to Knott End which dates back to 1927