Lytham 77

Following four decades of standardisation on the Leyland Titan, its delisting in 1968 saw Lytham look for a new model when it decided to buy its first new double deckers since 1964. The Atlantean was nothing new though, having been introduced in 1958. Radically the engine was moved to the rear and the door to the very front allowing the driver to take over monitoring passengers boarding/alighting. The days of the "ding ding" starting signal from the conductor was coming to an end. Prudently Leyland kept its Titan model alongside the Atlantean for the more conservative operators (personified by Blackpool and Lytham), but in 1966 one person operation of double deckers was legalised. With the impending introduction of New Bus Grant offering firstly 25% and later 50% contribution to new OPO buses, the Titan was doomed.

Lytham therefore bought its first Atlanteans (75-77) in November 1970, but chose to run them as crew operated buses. Northern Counties built the bodies to an unusual design based on a style built mainly for Nottingham City Transport with an angled destination display over the windscreen. By contrast to their predecessors they were massive, seating 77 passengers. PD2 70 seats 64, with 61 seats in Lytham 61 and just 56 in Lytham 19.

OPO double deck operation finally started in March 1975 (two years before Blackpool Transport) when six more Atlanteans arrived and 75-77 were equipped with ticket machines and cash trays. Lytham St.Annes Corporation had become Fylde Borough in 1974 and 75-77 gained the new blue, white and yellow livery in 1977 on their first overhaul.

75 and 76 were sold in 1983 but 77 survived until deregulation and a massive increase in the Fylde fleet, including some older vehicles. 77 continued in regular service, though largely confined to school specials by the late eighties. From 1990 the bus adopted a further role as one of the Atlanteans dedicated to the Blackpool promenade service that competed with the resort's famous tramway system.

No. 77 was repainted in dark blue livery with yellow front and 'Coastliner' branding. Later it was renumbered 58 and after a spell operating in an all-over advert for Wyre Attractions it succumbed to a multi-coloured 'RollerCoaster' livery.

The bus eventually passed to Blackpool Transport upon their take-over of Fylde Borough Transport ("Blue Buses") in 1994, when it was renumbered 458 and repainted in the dark blue and cream livery adopted for Squires Gate based operations.

The bus was withdrawn from service in October 1996 and purchased by the Trust for preservation the following year. During 1998 some minor work was undertaken on the vehicle prior to repainting in original blue and white livery, sponsored by 'The Gazette' newspaper. However, a need was identified for the front end of the bus to be completely rebuilt and from 1999, No.77 was stored at the St. Helens Transport Museum. It returned to the Fylde coast in March 2003 for further storage at our Clifton Road building. Restoration to its 1977 condition as Fylde 77 is planned on completion of the work on Fylde 79.