Monday 1 April 2024

50 years of Fylde

Almost book ends of the half century of Lytham St.Annes Corporation. 1935 Lion 34 and 1970 Atlantean 77 pose with employees at Squires Gate Depot on its closure in April 1999. (Paul Turner)

1st April 1974 saw the implementation of part of the 1972 local government act. This involved a new structure of county and borough councils and had two main impacts locally:

Blackpool County Borough council became a borough council with Lancashire County Council taking on some functions. Fylde Borough Council was formed to replace Lytham St. Annes Borough, Fylde Rural and Kirkham Urban District councils. 

The act had an impact on many local council transport operations. Some were merged - eg Blackburn and Darwen and also Lancaster with Morecambe and Heysham. 

Others were renamed Accrington becoming Hyndburn and Lytham St. Annes becoming Fylde. The impact on Blackpool was less visual but it gave Lancashire and influence especially when money was required. This was perhaps most obvious in the 1983 network review which saw changes to the joint 11/11A and the extension of Blackpool’s 22/22A to Lytham. This reduced duplication and increased coordination. Nothing is forever and in 1986 bus deregulation saw the two council owned companies compete aggressively. Then in April 1998 another reorganisation saw Blackpool become a Unitary Authority taking functions back from Lancashire. Imminently a combined authority will bring everything back into one authority again - until the next change. To muddy things further by 1994 Blackpool Transport owned by Blackpool Council had taken over Fylde Transport once owned by Fylde Council!

So locally the main change in 1974 was the Lytham St. Annes buses became Fylde Borough Council’s Transport Department. Other than an instant application of a simple FYLDE fleet name, before the application of FYLDE BOROUGH and a new crest in 1975 little changed.

Five Bristol REs were unusual purchased by Fylde in 1975 but lasted a good life running until 1993. Sadly non survived into preservation. (Paul Turner)

Two coaches arrived with an avant garde livery variation of a mustard stripe on the traditional blue and white in 1974 and this became the standard livery. Ribble retained responsibility for the services in more rural Fylde - though Blackpool provided a link to Staining. It was in 1978 that the blue buses extended out beyond the Lytham boundary into Fylde when its route 3 (Spring Gardens - StAnnea and Lytham) was merged with Ribble’s bus to Wesham as the 193.

We are fortunate to have a fantastic collection of Lytham St.Annes buses preserved and mostly restored. There are four from the 1930s (3x Lions and 1x Titan), four post war Titans (plus a fifth ex Warrington), six Atlantean double deckers and one single decker plus a Delta from 1991 a Seddon RU from 1972.

Fylde 77 on standby at Lowther Gardens as a relief bus for Lytham Club Day

Fylde Transport Trust has just repainted Atlantean 77 to its 1977 guise in Fylde’s blue white and yellow livery. Many others represent Lytham’s classic blue and white livery while three have the later two tone blue livery. 

FTT is also working on bringing back into use Lytham Lion 34, PD1 19 and PD2 70. 

Lion 24 restored

Lion 34 restored under attention

Lion 44 awaits restoration 

Titan 45 under restoration

Titan 19 restored under attention

Titan 10 restored

Titan 24 restored in Warrington livery

Titan 61 awaiting restoration 

Titan 70 restored under attention

Atlantean 77 restored

Seddon 47 under restoration

Atlantean 79 stored 

Atlantean 71 restored

Atlantean 96 under restoration

Atlantean 44 under restoration

Atlantean 45 restored

Delta 3 restored as Blackpool 133. 

Atlantean single deck 7 restored

Friday 29 March 2024

Full front PD2 346 for repaint

346 in cream undercoat alongside the resplendent Fylde 77 at St Helens (FTT) 

With Fylde Atlantean 77 now back in blue, white and mustard - Fylde Transport Trust has taken PD2 346 to Arriva at St. Helens for repaint. 346 is the solve survivor of fifty rear entrance PD2s purchased between 1957 and 1959. Other than 301-305, these were bodied by Metro Cammell to their standard Orion body with four bays. Less common was the full front with a nearside cab door giving somewhat reduced access to the engine v the later half cab St Helens front buses. Blackpool's engineers were no doubt used to this after two decades of Streamlined full fronted Titans. 

The fifty PD2s arrived in three batches of 10 (1957), 20 (1958) and 20 (1959). 346 was part of the latter, first registered on 25th March 1959. Interestingly records show an order for 20 buses for due in October 1957 and 10 in October 1958 with chassis costing £2,430 each and the bodies at £2,685. Metro Cammell were outbid by Crossley - who offered £25 less, but MC were chosen to match the last five of the 1957 deliveries. Local firm Burlingham was the most expensive at £2,914. In October 1957 the order was increased by a further ten buses - at the same price. March to May 1958 saw the arrival of the first of the new buses (311-330) - somewhat later than the October 1957 date promised. Likewise 331-350 were delayed to 1959 - arriving in the last couple of weeks of March.  

Anecdotally 331-350 were noisier than the previous batch - as picked up by a couple of Gazette letter writers: "They are cold and draughty, and the seating is very utilitarian and uncomfortable. One point in particular is that while we can have a very expensive material on the interior roof, where normally paintwork would suffice, we have to suffer by reason of economy, I suppose, the lack of insulation-no inside panels on some of these machines. With regard to the noise factor, it appears that the exhaust system may differ from the old vehicles. This seems to be the primary fault."

The 50 rear loaders replaced the pre-war Titans giving a fleet of 150 PD2s (100 Burlingham Centre loaders of 1949-51 completed this), 3 1940 open top Titans and just nine single deckers.  As was the norm the new buses entered services on the busiest routes, such as the 11/11A to Lytham, 14 to Fleetwood and 22/22A Cleveleys to Halfway House. Older buses were cascaded to quieter routes. 

346 was first registered on 25th March 1959. Like its sisters it seated 63 v 52/54 of the post war Streamliners and just 48 on the pre-war ones. All 50 were painted cream with a green band above the lower deck windows and green mudguards. In later life many gained the plain cream livery adopted with the 1969 Swifts and applied to PD2s/PD3s from 1972. 346 was never so treated lasting in the original scheme to the end of service life in March 1975 after 16 years. 

Since 1959, 90 longer 71 seat PD3s had entered service. 20 full fronted similar to the PD2s in 1962, 10 more but with St Helens fronts and asymmetrical windscreens in 1964 then sixty half cabs between 1965 and 1968. These replaced the 100 centre entrance PD2s - plus some trams. To replace the PD2s, Blackpool turned to the one man operated AEC Swift single decker, placing 55 into service from 1969 to 1975. 

346 in slightly faded original cream and green livery poses at reversing bay at Thornton Social Club, terminus of the 14A (FTT Collection)

The 50 PD2s had a split future after withdrawal. Some went for scrap, others saw use with new operators while some had an ancilliary role. This included 334 and 337 which were used by the tram track gang as mess buses from 1975 to 1986/7 in a vivid orange livery, while 346 also went bright, painted all-over yellow and was used by the Council's Illuminations department as a mess bus, replacing older 310. It was last so used in 1982, and by 1985 was windowless having suffered a vandal attack at the Illuminations department yard. It was purchased by what became the St Helens Transport Museum and moved to Burtonwood in December 1985, then St Helens itself soon after when the new museum opened in the town's old bus depot. It was reglazed using parts from 334 which was broken for spares.

346 was kept on display in yellow for several years before moving into the museums workshops, but work did not commence. A collection review saw it purchased by the Lancastrian Transport Trust (now Fylde Transport Trust) in August 2005, it returned to Blackpool on 10th December. After some time in store, restoration commenced in 2014 and has progressed in stages. After a recent hiatus work has resumed and the bus was moved to St Helens (this time to the bus depot which replaced the one which became the museum) on 20th March.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Fylde 77 ready for repaint.

Today the Fylde Transport Trust's Atlantean 77 moved to Arriva's St Helens paint shop for a full repaint into the Fylde Borough blue, white and mustard. This was first applied in 1977 - when the bus was seven years old and had a 'mid life' overhaul (though it managed 19 more years in service!). It was 1986 before a further repaint saw it outshopped in a blue and white variant. The mustard band livery was a characteristic 70s livery as the operation tried to evolve from its traditional style. Fylde Borough was formed 50 years ago this year, from Lytham St. Annes, Fylde Rural and Kirkham Urban councils. FTT hope to celebrate this with an event later in the year at which the newly painted 77 will star.  

Photos thanks to Philip Higgs

77 from the rear - in the Arriva paint shop

77 started the day at the North West Museum of Road Transport in St Helens

77 on arrival at Arriva.

77 in the Arriva paint shop

77 from the rear - in the Arriva paint shop