Friday, 17 November 2017

Lytham Gearless Lion Returns

Lion 34 on Clifton Drive North in St. Annes (David Umpleby)
The Lancastrian Transport Trust's 1936 Gearless Leyland Lion 34 is nearing a return to use. 34 ran with Lytham St. Annes from 1936 to 1957 and was then preserved passing through various owners until it was purchased by Fylde Transport - the successor to Lytham St. Annes in 1988. After a three year restoration it returned to use in 1992. 'Use' was mainly on private hires and the occasional bus rally, though it sometimes worked free event services and even put in a turn on service 21 from Blackpool Zoo once Blackpool Transport had taken over Fylde.

BTS retired it in 2006, as it needed further attention and it was purchased for LTT in July 2008. Recently work to reactivate it, with new seat cushions, repairs to the interior bodywork and a full repaint have culminated with repairs to the vacuum brake system. Some local test runs had taken place, but on Wednesday 34 was taken for a longer run reaching both St. Annes and Blackpool Town Centres. 34 will be joining the Catch 22 Bus hire fleet for 2018, though restricted to Fylde Coast hires

In other Catch 22 news, withdrawn Darts 466 and 617 have passed into preservation. One of the two ex First Bristol Volvo B6s has returned to use (812) - the other is still stored (813). A fourth Routemaster has been purchased, with RML2290 rejoining the fleet - it had formed part of the original Classic Bus operation back in 2007 on hire from Graham Oliver and was used on Seafront service 12 in 2012, leaving in early 2013 on sale to Ensignbus. It has spent much of the intervening period in Cornwall.

Lion 34 stands in St. Annes Square, about to be passed by a Blackpool Transport DAF (David Umpleby)