Wednesday 30 August 2017

Lion Roars Around Lytham

Lytham St. Annes Leyland Lion 24 starred at Monday's RVPT running day. 24 was new in 1934 as a demonstrator and joined the Lytham fleet the following year, running until 1957. An early preservation project, it ended up in Canada in the 1970s, falling derelict. Rescued in 1999 and returned to the UK, an extensive restoration followed. It is seen here approaching Lytham Hall in an idyllic country scene (Brian Turner)

The characteristic rear entrance is shown to affect as 4 heads up Park Street, as it would have done while working Lytham's route 4 many years ago (Brian Turner)

24, the first generation of Lytham to Blackpool motorbuses passes 422 - one of the latest generation. 24's later duties before withdrawal was taking school children for swimming lessons at Lytham's baths. The baths was located on the site of the apartments behind 24. (Brian Turner)

A familar location for 24. The Lion was bought for the new 11 service from Lytham to Blackpool in 1935 which approached Lytham Square via the Promenade, turning left just to the photograher's right. In later year it was common on service 4 which also passed this point on its way to Green Drive (Brian Turner)

OK - not the Lion - but 50 years its junior. 1984 Leyland Atlantean 45 splits two generations of Blackpool buses and captures the attention of 412's driver. Your blogger is piloting the Atlantean, and rather enjoyed himself. (Brian Turner)

Enviro 200 demonstrator

The Enviro 200 demonstrator is captures turning at York Avenue in Cleveleys prior to working back to Mereside on the 4. The bus has mainly been used on routes 3 and 4, though is understood to have appeared on the 2 as well (Paul Wigan)

Monday 28 August 2017

Lytham Hall In Pictures

Today was the fourth Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust Lytham Runing Day centered on Lytham Hall. Ribble 2101 - the first production Olympian, new to its Blackpool depot was amongst the service buses (David Umpleby)

Fylde Atlantean 71 squeezes through the classic gates at Lytham Hall on its way to St. Annes. (David Umpleby)

New to Ribble Bristol VR 1995 OCK995K has recently joined the RVPT collection -  it is seen here in its Eastern Counties guise - where it was converted to open top (David Umpleby)

71 again parking up between journeys (David Umpleby)

ECW bodied Leyland Atlantean 1481 takes its turn to drive through the hall gates (David Umpleby)

HOD55 is a recent addition to Coastal Coaches of Warton after a thorough restoration by Kenzies Coaches. (David Umpleby)

Several RVPT single deckers formed a display at Lytham Hall (David Umpleby)

Making its debut in preservation after recent restoration is Stagecoach Ribble 2234 - a Nothern Counties bodied Volvo Olympian (David Umpleby)

Blackpool Atlantean 362 awaits its slot on the free bus service (David Umpleby)

A visitor from Stagecoach Kendal depot, Trident 17012 has recently received this livery inspired by the original White Lady double decker coaches. It is now part of their private hire fleet (David Umpleby)

1939 Leyland Titan 2057 enters the Hall grounds (David Umpleby)

Lytham Lion 24 of 1934 was a popular exhibit and was used for one trip duplicating the bus service to St. Annes (David Umpleby)

50 year old Blackpool PD3 501 approaches the bus stop at the Hall Gates (David Umpleby)

Saturday 26 August 2017

August Round Up

Heritage livery Volvo B7RLE 524 has been a regular on service 2 recently - this seems largely single deck operated on weekdays now instead of double deckers - perhaps for the school holidays (Paul Turner)
Diverting and Shuttling
Recent events have caused some disruption to the bus network due to the closure of the Promenade. This weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) the Livewire events have closed the Promenade in front of the tower after 1300 and next Friday's switch on ceremony for the Illuminations will do likewise.

Blackpool Transport has taken the decision to split its cross town services for the duration with a free shuttle bus linking the two termini. The 5, 6 and 7 are split, with the 1 suspended south of the Town Centre:

  • 1 operates from Talbot Road (opposite Wilkos) then via Dickson Road and Pleasant Street to rejoin the Promenade.
  • 2/2C will terminate at St Johns Square rather than Corporation Street
  • 3 and 4 will miss out Abingdon St towards Mereside
  • 5 will run Hospital to Abingdon Street and New Bonny Street to Halfway House
  • 6 will run Grange Park to Abingdon Street and New Bonny Street to Mereside
  • 7 will run Cleveleys to Talbot Road (outside Wilkos) and New Bonny Street to Lytham
  • 9 will terminate at Talbot Road (outside Wilkos)
  • 11 will terminate at New Bonny Street
  • 14 will terminate at Talbot Road (opposite Wilkos)
  • 15/16 will terminate at St Johns Square
  • 17 will terminate at New Bonny Street
  • 20 will terminate at New Bonny Street
The 5, 6, 7 and 17 leave New Bonny Street via the Promenade then Chapel Street to resume normal routes. 5 and 6 will also run through St John's Square to reach Abingdon Street terminus, with 2/2C, 15/16 using temporary stops at the pedestrianised Winter Gardens end of Abingdon Street

Longer term diversions affect the 15/16 currently with a closure of Harrowside bridge. Both routes are using Lytham Road, Squires Gate Lane and Clifton Drive to avoid the bridge. 

The recent Blackpool Airshow (12/3th August) also saw the 1 suspended south of the Town Centre, the full route allocation still ran with buses standing at North Station - here Trident 316 and DAF 362 wait time (Shaun C)
DAF 369 runs slowly through the pedestrianised St John's Square on 25 August (Paul Turner)

Enviro 200 Demonstrator
During August a second Enviro 200 demonstrator has seen service with BTS on the 3 and 4 services, following on from the first demonstrator earlier this year. This one is YX17NLF.

Catch 22 Fleet and Service Changes
Further Dennis Darts have arrived from Cardiff, in the 'Capital Links' yellow livery. Y379GAX and Y381GAX were the first pair and have since been joined by Y373/82/6GAX. Older Darts 316, 362, 363, 369 and 371 are now believed withdrawn removing some of the longer Darts following the recent eradication of the MPDs.

The withdrawal of 316 appeared to eradicate the orange/teal livery variant with recent repaints emerging in all-over teal. However a recently acquired ex Stagecoach Trident S833BWC has been outshopped in this livery! Ex Manchester Airport SN55HSK is now in use in all-over green livery after repaint. 

For a small fleet there is currently a variety of liveries:
  • 5x All-over teal YJ10MGU, SN55HSK, 361, 812/3
  • 1x Teal and Orange 833
  • 5x Lighter Orange (ex Cardiff Links buses not repainted) 373, 379, 381, 382 and 386
  • 2x Teal and White YJ61JHE/H
  • 1x Manchester Airport SN55HSZ
  • 2x Red 319, 365
Tuesday 28th August sees the revision of service 24 to replace service 22 between Cleveleys and Fleetwood. The new 24 will use 4 buses Monday to Saturday on a half hourly frequency Poulton to Fleetwood, 3 on Sundays on an hourly Knott End to Fleetwood timetable. The 21 continues unchanged while the 22 is withdrawn. The 24 will no longer service School Road in Thornton.

Sunday 6 August 2017

RVPT Lytham Hall Line Up Bank Holiday Monday 28th August

Ribble Olympian 2101 leaving Lytham Hall last year (Paul Turner)
The Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust fourth Lytham Hall Running Day is on Bank Holiday Monday 28th August. An impressive 13 buses will provide a 10 minute frequency bus service between Lytham Hall, Lytham Promenade, Fairhaven Lake and St. Annes Square.

Buses start at 0935 from St. Annes Square run every 10 minutes until 1635, with buses from Lytham Hall between 1000 and 1600. Access to the Hall is by bus or on foot only - there is no public parking at the Hall, but there is parking nearby close to the Hall entrance gates, where the service bus will pick you up.

13 double deckers have been lined up for the bus service, mostly with local connections and including two open toppers. Ranging from RVPT's 1939 Leyland Titan TD5 to Stagecoach's 1999 special events 'White Lady' Trident open topper the line up includes some marking special birthdays, with Fylde 71 40 years old this year, 501 50 years old, A267 60 years old, 2234 marking its preservation debut in its 21st year and the Trident has celebrated its 18th birthday. 

Bus Service Line Up:

  • Ribble 2057 (RN8622) Leyland Titan TD5/ Alexander of 1939
  • Ribble 1775 (RCK920) Leyland Titan PD3/ Metro Cammell  of 1962
  • Ribble 1995 (OCK995K) Bristol VR/ECW Open Topper  of 1972
  • Ribble 1397 (NRN397P) Leyland Atlantean/Park Royal  of 1976 
  • Ribble 1481 (TRN481V) Leyland Atlantean/ECW of 1980
  • Ribble 2101 (GFR101W) Leyland Olympian/ECW  or 1981
  • Stagecoach Ribble 2234 (P234VCK) Volvo Olympian/Northern Counties  of 1996
  • Stagecoach Cumbria 17012 (S812BWC) Dennis Trident/Alexander open topper  of 1999 in "White Lady" livery
  • John Fishwick and Son's 5 (528CTF) Leyland Titan PD2/Weymann  of 1958
  • Blackpool Corporation 501 (HFR501E) Leyland Titan PD3/Metro Cammell  of 1967
  • Blackpool Transport 362 (A362HHG) Leyland Atlantean/East Lancs  of 1983
  • Fylde Transport 71 (OJI4371) Leyland Atlantean/Northern Counties  of 1977
  • Liverpool A267 (VKB900) AEC Regent/Metro Cammell  of 1957

all vehicles subject to availability

Buses will layover at the Hall between duties alongside a handful of other buses led by prewar Leylands Lytham Lion 24; Ribble Lion 1161 and Ribble Cheetah 1568. 
part of last year's Lytham Hall line up (Paul Turner)

Promenade Service at 30

Busy times as Fylde 103 operates the new Beachcomber Promenade service at Tower (Brian Turner)
In 1984/5 when local bus deregulation was proposed, there were many objections, often focusing on loss of links at quiet times. On the Fylde, while many bus services were recast, the feared heavy cuts did not happen. One particular local concern was the exposure of the Blackpool Tramway to bus competition. Prior to deregulation, other than between Manchester Square and Talbot Square (5, 11/11A, 12); Gynn Square and Bispham and Little Bispham to Anchorsholme (3/3A) there were no parallel bus routes to the tramway in Blackpool. Ribble did overlap considerably in the Wyre area.

In fact the initial deregulation network reduced overlaps, with the 3/3A cancelled on North Promenade. Competition between Blackpool Transport and Fylde developed in 1987 with the most significant measures being the introduction of the St. Annes Handybus in June 1987. Fylde's response was to introduce its own minibus operation, competing with Blackpool's hitherto un-threatened tramway.
The response - day 1 of the new "Beachroamer 55"and 530 heads for Gynn Square near Harrowside (Brian Turner)
Its six Dodge S56 minibuses, with Northern Counties bodies arrived in June 1987 and entered service on 29th June on new service "Beachcomber 5". This ran from outside Pontins along the Promenade to Gynn Square with a bus every 7/8 minutes and all six needed daily. Fylde's 1965 vintage open top Atlantean also put in appearances, newly branded for new 'service 1' which ran two return trips, Mondays Tuesdays and Fridays from St. Annes to Fleetwood for the market. 

The Dodges seated 22 (101-4) or 20 (105/6), so with around 160 seats per hour the tramway was unlikely to be threatened - given that one double decker tram could take 100 passengers. However the minibuses did dent the shared taxi operations which had become popular.

At the end of the season, the 5 was revised to run a 30 minute Starr Gate to Little Bispham service using 2 buses - with the other six switched to new route 66 Town Centre to Sevenoakes. In January the 5 morphed into a Blackpool to Cleveleys service and the southern end of the Promenade became busless again in the winter, except for the odd positioning journey to/from Fylde's depot.

Fylde's minibuses resumed for Easter on Good Friday 1 April 1988 this time using route number 55. Full season service resumed in May, now starting from Pontin's forecourt. Blackpool Transport responded with its own Promenade service using six Routemasters bought from London Buses - joining six bought in 1986 and used on service 12. The buses had a simplified version of the 'heritage' red and white used on the first batch and were branded "Beachroamer 55" v Fylde's "Beachcomber". The Routemasters started on 28th May.

The 1989 season saw Fylde run at Easter renumbered 40p - reflecting the flat fare which had risen from 35p the prior year. Blackpool resumed their service also renumbered 40, prompting a fare cut by Fylde to 35p meaning their service was renumbered too!
1990 and Beachcomber has become Coastliner 1 with Fylde's ex Hull Atlantean 134 leading Blackpool's now unbranded Routemaster southbound at Manchester Square (Brian Turner)
For the 1990 season, Blackpool Transport secured access to Pontin's forecourt, banishing Fylde. BT provided an all-over advert tram and Routemaster, presumably better value than Fylde's two minibuses. Fylde responded by replacing its minibuses with double deckers. There was no Easter service and some of Fylde's older double deckers  3 open toppers and 4 closed toppers received a branded livery with a yellow front branded Coastliner. The closed toppers had blue sides/rears, the open toppers advert liveries. The route became service 1 ran ran every 10 minutes from St. Annes Square - so it could still pass Pontins - terminating at Market Street, Blackpool Town Centre. 5 buses were needed. Evening services ran Pleasure Beach to Gynn Square.

Blackpool's 40 continued every 10 minutes Pontins to Gynn with a half hourly evening service to Tower only.
Fylde Atlantean 54 displays the 1991 version of the Promenade livery with two tone blue and a yellow front (c NDL642M)

Fylde developed its new service 1, rebranding as "Rollercoaster Route 1" in partnership with Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Liveries became more vivid and more venerable Atlanteans joined the fleet. In 1993 the Fylde Promenade fleet comprised:
10 ex Hull Atlanteans 1969-1971 (48, 49, 52-57, 59/60) 52/3/4/5/7 were open top
2x new to Fylde Atlanteans/Willowbrook 1975 (50, 83)
1x new to Salford Atlantean/Met Cam open top 1965 (51)
1x new to Lytham Atlantean/NCME 1970 (58)
1x new to Clyde Coast Atlantean/NCME 1977 (70)

Blackpool used six 1961-1963 built Routemasters, alternating its fleet each year between the two batches after 1991 when the 12 lost its batch. It also ran a tram fleet of mainly 1930s vehicles. Promenade travel was a vintage affair. 

Routewise, Fylde tended to run to Cabin at the north and extended in St. Annes to Pleasure Island complex serving the town's hotels. Blackpool withdrew between Tower and Gynn in 1992, reducing its PVR to just 4. Fylde ran 8 per hour to Blackpool's six.
The 1994 livery featured light blue orange and yellow - with a dark blue bustle. 19 year old Atlantean shows the rendition of the Big One Rollercoaster on the offside (c NDL642M)

Fylde was taken over by Blackpool in May 1994, but stayed as a separate entity until July 1996. The Promenade services were co-ordinated with each operator providing a 10 minute service. This would be the last year of Routemasters on the Prom as the 1995 season saw Fylde service 1 reign supreme.

Fylde's distinctive Promenade liveries were replaced by the new standard blue and cream fleet livery, with yellow fronts for 1995 but these were dropped for 1996 so fleet liveried buses became standard - ending the dedicated operation of the older Atlanteans. The last open toppers remained dedicated, though these ended in 1998. 1996 saw operation extended from Cabin to Little Bispham, but this was cut back in 1997. 1998 saw a short extension to Bispham and then Cleveleys in 1999. 
1998 was the final season of Fylde's venerable open toppers. Here, in the restrained green and cream livery 453 turns into Pontins (Brian Turner)

The service continued during the 2000s, with various changes. Seasonal timetables saw lower frequencies in the early season and higher frequencies in school holidays. The St. Annes section was reduced, by 2003 it was high season only and by 2006 it had ended. Pontins became the southern terminus, though buses served the Airport southbound from 2006. The holiday camp closed in October 2009 and buses terminated at the Airport for 2010.

The Metro era saw the Atlanteans common on service 1 displaced by Olympians from 2003, with route branding resuming with an orange/yellow livery for service 1 - and also for school services. Olympians 365-7 and 407-10 were dedicated for 2003, 404-6 in 2004, 368/9 in 2006 (with 404 painted for line 20), 2007 saw 401-4 and later Tridents 333-337. Olympians 411-7 also gained the orange livery but tended to be used solely on schools. Tridents 338/9 were the final recipients in 2009/10.

Summer 2006 saw a dalliance with City Sightseeing open toppers. These had provided a tour in 2001 but moved onto Zoo service 21 - which also served the Promenade from 2002 and onto the 1 in 2006. They moved onto revised service 20 from 2007. 
Metrobus 815 represents the short lived City Sightseeing era on service 1 in 2006 (Brian Turner)

Blackpool's tramway was in troubled times - not really caused by bus competition, but declining infrastructure. Major track renewals took place in winters 2003/4 and 2004/5 with tram replacement buses from Thorton Gate to Fleetwood. It was decided for the 2007 winter to make Line 1 a year round service and it ran every 20 minutes Starr Gate to Fleetwood. Major winter works continued on the tramway until it was relaunched in 2012. This included the closure of the Fleetwood street section in 2010, and the closure of the entire line north of Little Bispham in 2011. The 1 therefore performed an important function. It ran every 20 minutes with season extras. 
Centro 527 operating on service 1 during 2011 - it is diverted at Little Bispham onto Cleveleys Promenade due to tram works. (Brian Turner)
September 2010 saw the nine new Volvo/Plaxton Centro single deckers allocated to the 1, but these proved too small at busy times so double deckers soon appeared. The major Promenade road scheme saw the route split into 1 Fleetwood-Blackpool and 1A Blackpool to Airport for winter 2010/1. The through route resumed in June 2011. November 2010 also saw the 1 replace the 14 between Fleetwood and Freeport.
2008 - and the 1 is running Pontins to Fleetwood, with a mixed Trident/Olympian allocation. The two 1989 Olympians painted into orange (368/9) are seen at Pontins terminus (Brian Turner)

Since the reopening of the tramway, the 1 has continued with its base 20 minute frequency service, and half hourly evening timetable which remains today. It complements the trams, especially for older folk whose concessionary passes are not valid on the trams if outside the local area.

So Promenade buses started in 1987 - with 8 minibuses per hour and today, 30 years on use 3 double deckers per hour. The tramway has probably never been fitter with a fleet of 16 new trams in 2012, a planned extension and a vibrant volunteer run heritage operation. 

The ex Blackburn Tridents were allocated to service 1 in 2007 when the service became year round. Here 333 and a sister head south at Norbreck (Brian Turner)

Thursday 3 August 2017

Round Up

New Advert for 315
Blackpool Trident 315 has emerged in a new advertising livery for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, including a rear end promotion for the Hot Ice Show.

Blackpool Transport Services
Illuminations period timetables take affect from 2 September including the withdrawal of the evening service 1; Saturday reduction of the 3 and 4 to half hourly; 20 minute Saturday services on the 7 and 11 and a 15 minute service on the 9.

Catch 22 Bus Services
A staff shortage has prompted emergency timetables on Catch 22 services 22 and 24 from 31 July. The 22 is reduced to hourly Blackpool to Cleveleys with half hourly journeys onto Fleetwood, while the 24 is reduced to every 30 minutes Monday to Fridays. Service changes are registered for 29th August which sees the withdrawal of the eponymous 22 service and changes to the 24 which is understood to be extended to cover the Cleveleys to Fleetwood section of the 22.