Monday, 30 August 2010

Lost and Found Termini - Clifton Street

Enivro Demonstrator SN59AWX loads at the new Line 14 stop on Clifton Street
Today was the first day of the new Town Centre arrangements with buses using Clifton Street for the first time since 1996.  Lines 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, 15 and 16 all follow the new route. Interestingly this means that all bus services now serve Talbot Square in at least one direction - including Line 1 on the Promenade.
Trident 329 turns left onto Abingdon Street - Clifton Street is now one way eastbound; Abingdon St one way northbound and the road to the left of the camera is now closed.
Solo 242 loads for Cleveleys on Line 7

Solo 252 on Line 5

The former era on Clifton Street saw service 26 terminate outside the now demolished Yates building operating eastbound while the 5 and later 6 operated westbound on journeys from Grange Park to Halfway House (5) or Mereside (6).
Swift 572 awaits departure time in this February 1986 evening view on service 26 - the replacement for the Marton tram route.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lost termini: 2 Pontins

Autumn 2009 saw the closure of Pontins Holiday Camp ending a long tradition of holiday accommodation on this site - just within St. Annes on Clifton Drive North- and a much shorter life as a bus terminus.

Atlanteans 334 and 362 (with 304 behind the coach on the right) on an event service in 1986 - booth now preserved by LTT
The Pontins site was first used as a terminus in 1988 when Fylde's Promenade minibus service was reintroduced after its winter break. During its first season, 1987, it started outside the camp on the main road turning in a service road further down the road. Pontins was not unfamiliar territory for buses - or rather coaches in the main - and both Blackpool and Fylde buses did put in appearances on several occasions - on private hires; National Express workings or conference/event services.

Fylde 106 and 116 (the latter on loan from GM Buses) await trade at the original Pontins terminus
Pontins was quite a prize for the two competing Promenade operators - Fylde having sole access in 1988 and 1989 with its Renault minibuses on route 55 (later 35), Blackpool winning the access rights in 1990 and keeping them until the businesses merged using Routemasters as service 40. Fylde responded to this in 1990 by converting their service to double deck operation with elderly Atlanteans, renumbered it one and extended it to St. Annes so that it at least passed the camp. For 1989 Fylde painted two minibuses in all-over adverts for Pontins, but this was trumped from 1990 when Blackpool Routemaster 522 and Balloon 707 emerged so treated. 522 was later replaced by 527 (and 707 by 709 and later 722 then 622).

Routemaster 521 awaits another run along the Promenade to Gynn Square
Blackpool had started its Routemaster service in 1988 running initially from Starr Gate and later from Harrowside. It settled down in 1990 to a simple ten minute frequency service from Pontins to Gynn Square with 6 Routemasters required. From 1992 it was curtailed to run to the Tower only using 4 Routemasters - generally six of the twelve owned were operated each year followed by 18 months off!

Olympians 369 and 368 at the purpose built bus terminus, roughly where the two Atlanteans are in the earlier view 
When Blackpool took-over Fylde in 1994 the two Promenade services were co-ordinated but for 1995 Fylde took-over in its entirety with service 1. A 7/8 minute service was provided from Cabin to Pontins with alternate buses carrying onto St. Annes - though a reduced service was provided on non bank holiday weekends between Easter and whit. Various ageing Atlanteans were used with yellow fronts on the otherwise now standard blue and cream livery - a much more restrained identity compared to previous seasons. 1996 saw the service extend to Little Bispham with the yellow fronts dropped so that any double decker would appear. July 1996 saw Fylde absorbed into Blackpool Transport but for 1997/8 seasons the 1 continued to be run from Squires Gate but terminating at Cabin in 1997 and Bispham in 1998. A brief period of competition saw Bluebird of Middleton serve the site using one on a day trip to Blackpool to earn some money on the Promenade during the school holidays.

1999 saw the service operate from Rigby Road, typically using ex Trent Olympians and various Atlanteans. Most daytime journeys commenced at St. Annes with the evening service starting at Pontins but the northern terminus now became Cleveleys. Each year it seemed fewer journeys would run to/from St. Annes and for 2006 this was dropped completely. Route branding returned in 2003 with Olympians 365-7, 407-410 in use on a new orange and yellow Metro Line 1 livery - 401-406 later following suit.

City Sightseeing - the international brand - came to Blackpool in 2001 and the initial tour served Pontins. From 2002 this became Pontins to Zoo as service 21. In 2006 Line 1 was unsuccessfully operated with the open toppers but form 2007 they returned to the Zoo service which had morphed into Line 20 Pontins to Marton Mere. The initial Metrobuses gave way Olympians around this time too.

The site could be windblown at times - here 334 heads out onto Clifton Drive for another run to Fleetwood
November 2007 saw Line 1 become a year round service to cope with a tramway closure and five low floor Dennis Tridents were purchased from Blackburn Transport to provide an accessible service (though Olympians were still needed to make up the numbers).

Ex Blackburn Olympian 412 in the car park on an event shuttle service
Pontins closed at the start of October 2010 but Lines 1 and 20 continued to serve the vacant site until permission was received to implement a service change and the last bus left the site on Sunday 18 October with both services terminating at Squires Gate Airport instead.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


Alexander Dennis Envrio 400 double deck demonstrator SN59AWX has arrived for evaluation and should be in use shortly.  Further new Volvos have arrived with 525/6/9 (BF60UVJ/K/N) joined by 530/3 (BF60UVO/S).

Saturday 28 August saw Trident 342 enter service on Line 1 and earlier this week Solo 293 was noted in use on Line 7 - the fourth ex Line 16 Solo so treated. Delta 115 has now joined most of the Line 6 survivors at Jackson's Marton. Delta 109 has left for use as a staff transport bus for a firm in the Cotswolds with two more understood to be following. Just 11 Deltas now remain in service, mainly on the 11 and 14 but also often on the 17 on which 101, 102 and 123 were all noted  on 28 August.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Town Centre Route Changes

The unusual new stop sign on Clifton Street - perhaps better installed with gloves!
Some further details of the August 30 Town Centre route changes have been

Lines 2 and 2C will now be the only BT services to use Corporation Street. In bound they will use Church St, Topping St, Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road, Market St, Church St to terminate outside British Home Stores, returning via Talbot Road, Dickson Road, Springfield Road, High Street, Talbot Road, Larkhill St and Grosvenor St.

Presently Lines 3 and 4 are on diversion operating from Claremont via Pleasant St, Promenade and Talbot Road due to the closure of Abingdon St. This will form their permanent route from Monday except for Talbot Square they will use Clifton Street and then Abingdon St, Talbot Road, Dickson Road, Springfield Road, High Street, Talbot Road, Larkhill St and Grosvenor St. Line 15 will be diverted via the same to High Street and will then run via Talbot Road to Devonshire Road. This will mean Dickson Road will not be served between Pleasant St and Springfield Road southbound. Line 15 will also serve Clifton St and Abingdon St northbound (running from Cookson St via Talbot Road, Clifton St, Abingdon St, Talbot Road, Dickson Road), while the northbound 3 and 4 will run via Church St, Topping St, Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road and Dickson Road.

Lines 5, 7, 11 and 14 northbound will operate from Talbot Square via Clifton St and Abingdon Street - the 11 then following its current diversion route as the 3 and 4 to Grosvenor Street and then onto Caunce St. Its return route is as Line 2 to Market Street. The 5 will stop on Abingdon St the others on Clifton St Southbound buses on these serves will still use Market Street.
Line 11; the new livery and indeed Trident 341 are all new comers to St John's Square in its eleventh hour as a public transport thoroughfare

Line 9 will terminate on Clifton Street, running inbound via Talbot Road and outbound via Abingdon Street. Line 10 will terminate on Market Street. Line 16 will run into the Town Centre via Church St, Topping Street, Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road, Clifton St, Abingdon St, Talbot Road, Dickson Road, Springfield Road to North Station with outbound journeys running direct to Church St via Grosvenor Street.
Green Solos were more common in St John Square on Line 2, but are now mainly on Line 7 - this use of 285 on Line 16 is comparatively rare

Line 17 will now terminate at Market Street running inbound via New Bonny Street, Promenade and Talbot Square and outbound via Church St, Promenade, Adelaide St, Bank Hey Street and Albert Road. 

City Sightseeing Line 20 will also serve Topping Street.

In summary:
Clifton St/Abingdon St served by Lines 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15x2, 16= 38 buses per hour
Market Street served by Lines 2/C (passing), 5, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17 (27bph)
Corporation Street served by Lines 2/C (4)
Topping Street (south) served by Lines 2/C, 3, 4, 11, 16, 20 (18bph)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lost Termini: 1 South Pier

The traditional Marton terminus of South Pier is now disused and unserved having been virtually continuously used since 1895

Another product of the July bus service changes is the end of South Pier as a bus terminus. This was one of Blackpool's longest established termini - with a history traceable back the Lytham Road tram route which took trams down Station Road to what was then Victoria Pier from 1897. The end is somewhat confusing as the actual terminus had for some time moved to Bond Street - the former stop at Station Road/Promenade used as a 'through' stop. Nevertheless Saturday 24 July was the final day it was used and the following day saw the last bus terminate at Bond Street.

The first motor bus service is understood to date from 1933 - the former William Smith service to Midgeland Road (Blackpool's service 10) was diverted there from "Waterloo Road West" terminus in 1933 running via Station Road and Bond St to reach Waterloo Road. It carried on, virtually unchanged until it was unceremoniously axed in 1961. 1936 saw a summer version (10A) which ran to Highfield Hotel via Clifton Drive and Highfield Road. In 1951 this was extended north to Great Marton and ran along Bond St rather than service the former terminus at South Pier. For its final year in 1961 the 10A ended up as a Grange Park to South Pier service.

October 1936 saw the replacement of the Layton and Central Drive tram routes with two new linked bus routes the 22 and 23 which ran from Layton to Waterloo Hotel with the 22 running to Marton Depot and the 23 to South Pier bringing the brand new streamlined centre entrance Leyland Titans to the terminus, contrasting strongly with the outdated Standards on the Marton tram route which shared the terminus every summer until 1961. 1961 also saw some journeys on the 23 extend to Highfield Hotel (and later Midgeland Road) leaving the short journeys to South Pier to show 23A - a scenario which lasted until deregulation. Extra summer journeys from South Pier to Layton (the 23/23A now running to Victoria Hospital) typically showed service 24.

1961 saw new service 19 link South Pier with Mereside estate via Waterloo Road and Watson Road. This helped replace the 10 - though the two did run together for a while. The Marton trams survived until October 1962 - though the closure of the Lytham Road route in 1961 deprived them of their summer extension from Royal Oak to South Pier. The replacement bus service 26 had no where to turn at Royal Oak so continued down Waterloo Road and onto the Promenade to reach South Pier terminus and return via Station Road and Lytham Road.  This differed from the other bus routes. The 19 and 23A returning via Station Road, Bond St and Waterloo Road - all three did run via the Promenade to reach the terminus - as did the 23 on its way to Midgeland Road - it ran straight along Bond St on the way back.

The above picture illustrates the curiously busy nature of this terminus. The brand new National 2 is on a test run, but Atlantean 359 has squeezed in between the two Swifts on service 26 to Talbot Square. By the time of this shot (July 1984), the 26 ran every 12 minutes. The 19 ran every 60 minutes to Mereside and the 23/23A every 15 minutes to the Hospital, with 3 per hour terminating at South Pier. One of these turned into a 19 and another sat for a most generous 19 minutes. Normally the 23A would load at a second stop at the junction with Bond Street. It seems likely that this is the changeover between the 19 and 23A - a 19 would arrive at xx39 and leave at xx49 as a 23A - the incoming 23A  arrived at xx45 and departed on the 19 xx50. The Atlantean would be on the 26 that arrived at xx46 and left at xx52. By now all buses ran up Station Road and along Lytham Road to the Royal Oak - the section of Bond Street between Waterloo Road and Station Road was now only used during the Illuminations diversion period with a temporary bus terminus outside Holy Trinity Church.

Deregulation was the next significant change - the 19, 23 and 23A were replaced by services 23, 24 and 25 - the 23 still served Station Road but only between Lytham Road and Bond St. A new 23A was provided by Fylde under contract to Lancashire County Council and operating during the evening and on Sunday. It ran to Mereside via Highfield Road and Midgeland Road. Blackpool took it over in March 1994. Evening and Sunday journeys on service 25 used South Pier as a terminus from June to September 1988. November 1994 saw revisions to the 23-25 group with Evening and  Sunday services now running as 23 Hospital to Mereside and 23A Hospital to South Pier - a situation which continued until the Metro network started in April 2001.

The 26 meanwhile continued largely unchanged - route wise. Its frequency slipped to every 15 minutes at deregulation but September 1987 saw it increased to every 5 minutes and converted to minibuses. This coninced with a brief spell of competition from Fylde which ran every 30 minutes using Atlanteans but soon gave up. Evening buses on the 26 approached South Pier from the South, unusually, from August 1988 to October 1992 as the 26 was diverted via Watson Road to serve the Ice Drome at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This is the only known occasion the tunnel under the Pleasure Beach has been used by service buses.
Bond Street Holy Trinity Church - formerly used for Illuminations Diversions but a permanent terminus from 2002 to 2010

Single deckers took over from minibuses in August 1996 (with minibuses moving onto the 23/24/25) but new Metroriders enabled a reconversion from December 1998. At Metro Line 26 gained a light green and yellow identity running every eight minutes. In April 2002 it was replaced by an extended Line 2 running from Poulton to South Pier. The traditional terminus was replaced by the use of Bond Street with the Illuminations Diversion terminus made permanent - probably the only such occurrence. The stop was still served during the summer as Line 20 served Station Road on its way from the Town Centre to Marton Mere - a rare example of a westbound service operating the full length of Station Road. This operated from 2000 to 2006. Meanwhile Line 2 experienced various projections across the Fylde and from January 2003 one such extension took it to Lytham serving the old South Pier terminus stop once again.

This is how things stayed until the July service changes when the 2 was curtailed and Line 16 replaced its South Shore to Blackpool via Marton route. It still serves Bond Street (on Cleveleys journeys) and Station Road from Bond St to Lytham Road on journeys to Blackpool. However other than a few months in winter 2002/3 South Pier terminus is no longer served after 113 years.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

341 Hits the Road

Trident 341, the first new liveried double decker on Line 9 at Bispham Library
The first of the three second hand Tridents purchased earlier this year has entered service with 341 operating Line 9 today.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Enter the Centro

Blackpool Transport is understood to have taken delivery of the first of a batch of about nine Plaxton Centro bodied Volvo B7RLEs. These are believed to be unused dealer stock vehicles. Registrations BF60UVJ/K/N have been noted so far.

Following on from the five second hand B7RLEs, also in the course of delivery, these represent a change in fleet direction. From 1987 to 2009 165 of the 207 new vehicles purchase have been supplied by Optare - all the exceptions being Double Deckers. Prior to this the only Volvos operated were the six Olympians of 1994 and a solitary B58 coach taken over with Fylde.
Not previously illustrated here is the new livery on Optare Excel 211
Meanwhile the de-branding of Solos continues and their new freedoms are being taken advantage of. Red Solo 255 operated on Line 17 during the evening of Thursday 19th August, earlier in the day Line 4 liveried Solo 266 was stretching its legs on Line 7.

Solo 266 heads to Lytham Saltcotes Road; released from the shackles of Line 4

Monday, 16 August 2010

The end is nigh for St John's Square

Bus access to the remodelled St Johns's Square has been controversial due to the conflict between vehicles and pedestrians in the 'shared space'. Heavy winds seems to have solved the problem here though - to the detriment of the water feature.
Phase one of the withdrawal of bus services from St John's Square has taken place with effect from Monday 16 August. Abingdon Street has now been closed in the southbound direction diversions put in place. Lines 2/2C and 11 run from Corporation St via Talbot Road,  Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Larkhill Street, Grosvenor Street and as normal.

Lines 3 and 4 run from Pleasant Street onto the Promenade at the Claremont Hotel - serving the southbound Line 1 stop at North Pier then via Talbot Road and as the above route. Line 16 runs from North Station via Larkhill Street and Grosvenor Street.

Phase 2 will take effect at the end of the month and see Clifton Street reinstated for bus services - but reversed to run eastbound with buses then using Abingdon St to reach Talbot Road. It is not yet known which services will use Clifton Street- presumably some or all of the routes above. Also at this time Church Street in front of the Winter Gardens (aka St John's Square) will close and northbound buses will be diverted via Topping Street - using the southern section for the first time with new bus stops at the Church St end. They will run via Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road and pick up their current routes to their termini.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Round Up

Optare Solo 288 has returned to use as the third Solo in the new bus livery and was seen on Line 3 on 14 August. 288-290 and Excel 211 are the four vehicles in use. Second hand Tridents 340-342 and the ex Anglian Volvos have yet to make an appearance. Numbers 520-524 have been allocated to the Anglian Volvos, with the two already here numbered 522/3 (AU06BPF/K). A batch of dealer stock Plaxton Centro bodied Volvos is also understood to be under preparation.

Optare Metrorider 515 has now joined sisters 506/11/17/93 at Jacksons Coaches in Marton. Prior to withdrawal it receieved the new BT logo and lost its roof branding. Its blind suggest its last journey was on the Department of Work and Pensions shuttle service from St. Annes to Peel Park which is now normally the domain of sister 518. This, incidentally, put in an appearance on Line 3 on 10 August. 114 is confirmed as leaving for scrap on 5 August.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A big hand for the St. Annes Handybus

A typical light load of three for City Pacer 564 in September heading for Spring Gardens
Blackpool Transport's new fleet livery brings back memories of the Handybus image. A distinctive black scheme with yellow skirt was adopted for the new minibus fleet in 1987. Following on from the St. Annes Roamer profile, this post tells the story of the short lived St. Annes Handybus of 1987/8 and two of Fylde's short lived follow ups.
560 signals left to turn into St Davids Road North as 562 heads up St Thomas Road bridge
Five City Pacers arrived at the end of March 1987 (560-4 D560-4YCW) and entered service on tendered service 33 (Cleveleys to Marton Hypermarket) and the F3-F5 evening/Sunday contracts in Fleetwood and Cleveleys in May. The 33 was only a temporary arrangement as on June 1st they moved to St. Annes operating a free launch day service on the new Handybus route that started for real the following day. Four buses were required providing a ten minute service starting at Spring Gardens and serving almost entirely previously under served roads to St. Annes Square before continuing to Whalley Place. The northern leg competed with Fylde's 193 which ran half hourly and the southern leg arguably competed with the hourly Roamer but also both Blackpool and Fylde's main services along Church Road.
Handybus leaflet front and back covers showing the two route legs
The high frequency was somewhat ambitious and loadings were not particularly encouraging. The service was daytimes only with buses from St. Annes to Spring Gardens at 0751, 0811, 0831 and every 10 minutes to 1721 then 1741 and from St. Annes to Whalley Place at 0730, 0750, 0810 and every 10 minutes until 1700 and 1720. Buses started their day by operating as service 11C from Blackpool to Spring Gardens where they picked up their first working. Likewise their final journeys from St. Annes to Spring Gardens continued to Blackpool. From there one retired to depot but three ran to Fleetwood to work the evening services and positioning journeys on the 14 (Fleetwood) and 4 (Thornton).
One of the hired in Ford Transits heads to Whalley Place

A further 15 City Pacers were obtained to convert service 26 to high frequency operation in September 1987 but only one had arrived by launch day! Two demonstrators were purchased and a third borrowed but Blackpool Transport had to hire some two year old Ford Transit minibuses from Midland Red North. These - amongst the earliest of the first generation minibuses - were normally used in St. Annes to release the five City Pacers for the 26. C39-43WBF arrived in late August and were temporarily Blackpool's 379-383, C37WBF followed in September (385) and C49WBF in October (389). All except 49 arrived in blue, grey and purple livery and as part of the loan deal Blackpool Transport repainted each one into Midland Red North's new red/yellow livery. 39 went back first in early October (replaced by 49) and the rest followed by the end of October.
The Transits were repainted as shown by 43 (new red livery) and 37 (old blue livery)
Blackpool covered this hire under the blanket of a research exercise and passengers were given a questionnaire to fill in to compared the Transit and the City Pacer. The results were never published...

The other marketing initiative was to provide through fares to the extended Routemaster operated service 12 (St. Annes to Blackpool). However loadings were still poor and the inevitable notice was issued in February advising that the service would cease on 27 February 1988 - ironically the buses were used to part convert service 12 to minibus operation.

562 demonstrates hwo the buses penetrated local housing estates in St. Annes
This was not the end of minibus experiments in St. Annes for Fylde had a couple of valiant attempts. First was the Shoplink 1 and 2 from 9 December 1989. Each ran hourly with the 1 serving Alexandria Drive, Clifton Hospital Grounds and Kingsway to Ansdell then through South Park to Lytham with the 2 serving Mayfield Road, Shepherd Road, Jubilee Way, Hall Park and joining the 1 route in Ansdell to Lytham. Five journeys ran each way on each route and Renaults 111 and 114 launched the services. Oddly at times Bristol REs stood in - which with 44 seats provided a huge excess of supply over demand. The services were unsuccessful and ceased in February 1990.

Route map for services 1 and 2
The next attempt started on May 10 1993 when service 88 started. This followed much of the route of the Handybus from St. Annes via Oxford Road, Dobson Avenue and Frobisher Drive but terminated at the recent housing development on Appealing Lane known as "The Hamlet" - not a name which screams 'good bus territory'. The 88 ran every half hour from 0945 to 1415 (1645 on Saturdays) and 15 minutes later back from St. Annes with a break for the regular driver's lunch. The leaflet (below) credited the idea to a local councillor and quoted fares from St. Annes to St Patricks Road North of 25p (20p on the Handybus in 1987); to Links Hotel of 40p (25p in 1987), Rodney Avenue of 50p (v 35p) and to the Hamlet of 65p compared to the 45p maximum on the Handybus. Like the 1 and 2 the service lasted just two months, ceasing at the end of July.

Friday, 6 August 2010

849's North Wales debut

Richard Hughes has supplied the above picture of former Blackpool 849 on 5 August prior to its first day in use with Alpine. Although lettered for the Llandudno & Conwy tour it retains the image of a Blackpool Balloon tram on the side! Its first duty on 6 August was a private hire from Holyhead Ferry Terminal.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Deltas Depart

Disposal of Line 6 Deltas has begun. On Monday Optare Delta 103 (G103NBV) has become the sixth Blackpool Delta to go for scrap after 120 (2003), 131 (2004), 117 (2006), 110 (2009) and 124 in May. 105 followed on Tuesday and 114 will go later this week. All have gone to an as yet unknown Barnsley Breaker. 103 was been withdrawn earlier this year following a terminal engine failure - the 105/114 were victims of the recent network changes. Meanwhile sister buses 104, 106-109 and 113 have moved for storage at Jackson Coaches alongside Metroriders 506, 511, 517 and 593 and Olympians 365/6.

Optare Excel 211 and Solo 289 have now been painted in the new livery with another former Line 16 Solo now under preparation. Excel 214 has now gone to Cummins for its replacement engine.
[updated 4 Aug]