100 Years of Blackpool Buses

3 weeks ago Fri 28th May 2021

How old is Blackpool’s bus service?  

Well, we have witnessed England winning the World Cup, the Moon Landing, The Beatles, Colour Television, Spice Girl Mania and Love Island, just to name a tiny few! 

To celebrate the centenary of Blackpool’s buses, we have planned a weekend full of events to take you back in time to celebrate the occasion. 

Blackpool’s bus services began in July 1921 and still carry hundreds of thousands of customers across the Fylde Coast today. 

The 20th Century has brought us many memorable occasions and this year, we look back on a century of buses along the Fylde Coast. 

Brought into the town in 1921, the first buses were quite a way from the Palladium buses you see in Blackpool today with their free WIFI, audio and visual announcements, mobile device charging and e leather seating!

The first bus route on the Fylde didn’t actually begin in Blackpool but was a service between Thornton Railway Station and Cleveleys Beach for a fare of fourpence (around 48/50p in today’s money). 

In 1924, a tram replacement bus service was put in place between Talbot Road and the Gynn, which proved to be so popular that it stayed in place once the tracks were complete. 

This led to the beginning of the widespread bus network that you see across the Fylde Coast today and by 1932, sixteen bus services were operating and a seasonal service to the popular Stanley Park. There was also an illuminations tour with the famous lights attracting people from far and wide. 

During the war, many bus services were cut short or taken out of service due to the need for fuel and tires.  

Conductresses were employed in 1940, the first time that female platform staff had been used since the end of the First World War. A small number of women became drivers of single deck buses. 

The bus depot at Rigby Road which is still in use today was used for military purposes and 6 buses were developed to run on gas, carrying a large gas-filled ‘bag’ on their roof. 

After the war, no fewer than 100 buses were added to the fleet and continued to serve the Fylde coast throughout the ’50s and early 60’s, introducing the green and cream livery that is still remembered fondly today. 

Fast forward to the 1970s and apart from the period during the war, 1974 saw the introduction of women bus drivers, with the first female starting her duty on January the 15th after the lifting of a ban on female drivers by the trade union. 

Following bus deregulation in the 1980s, Blackpool Transport Services Ltd that you see today became an affiliated arm’s length company of our local authority shareholder, Blackpool Council. 

Did you know we had bus conductors all the way up until the millennium? Following the integration of Blackpool Transport and Fylde Transport in the late ’90s, bus conductors worked the bus service 14 on March 25th 2000 for the very last time. The end of an era. 

The ’00s saw the introduction of the colourful Metro Coastlines services with different ‘lines’ as they were known, sporting different coloured liveries. Do you remember each colour?  

In 2010, the Metro Coastline colours were discontinued and this brought about the yellow and black livery that many of our customers used across the Fylde coast more recently. 

In 2014, current Managing Director Jane Cole was appointed and her vision of renewing our bus fleet to ensure that no bus was older than 5 years came to fruition in the summer of 2020. 

Our fleet of Palladium vehicles is now one of the youngest and most feature-laden fleets in the country with onboard audio and visual announcements, wired and wireless charging, free Wifi and of course, contactless payment enabled ticket machines. 

We won’t stop there though, we're already researching electric bus technology and have planning permission to redevelop part of our Rigby Road depot in the coming years. This will allow us to introduce ultra-environmentally friendly buses and future proof our depot for years to come. 

Do you have a story about Blackpool Transport from over the last 100 years? Maybe you worked onboard with us in the past or maybe you know someone who did?

Whatever your story, we'd absolutely love to hear it so please do get in touch with our team to tell your tale.