Blackburn Corporation Transports roots go back to the first services in 1881, the trams, unusually, being wholly steam-hauled for the whole period, with corporation takeover and subsequent electrification in 1901.
Bus services started in 1929. Tramway closures started in 1935, but the system’s complete demise was delayed by the unpleasantness between 1939 and 1945; finally closing in 1949.
In March 1948, BCT took delivery of five single-deck Leyland PS1’s, with Crossley B32F bodies, the second half of an order placed in 1947. This second batch were numbered 6-10 (BCB 339-343). They were delivered with the typical Crossley body design of two shallower rear windows. At some stage, these four windows were altered to resemble the others. They also had painted radiators, later becoming chrome. Clayton Dewandre heaters were a fitment, and unusually, for a bus, the front entrance has a recessed sliding door. You can see the emergency exit in the rear of the bus.
The buses spent most of their lives on the so-called East/West route, merely bearing the words EAST or WEST on their blinds. Quaintly, the rear ‘blind’ was a very small window box low down on the rear nearside, with a flap hinged across the centre. The flap moved up or down to expose either ‘EAST’ or ‘WEST’, printed on short vehicle registration plates – crude, but effective!
The batch was finally withdrawn from service between 1964 and 1969, No. 7 being withdrawn on 28/2/1967. However, it remained in the fleet, eventually as a heritage vehicle, being transferred to the company’s coaching arm, Blackburn Coachways. It was very active in the preservation scene in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Some time after 1998, she was re-registered EAS 956. (The BCB 340 registration was transferred, firstly, to a Volvo B10M coach in the Blackburn Transport fleet, in 2002; then going onto East Lancs-bodied Dennis Trident double decker No.1, which carried the mark, until being sold to Blackpool in 2007).
Copyright Chris Hebbron
In 2004, the PS1 was sold and purchased by keen bus enthusiast, Merddyn Jones, of Jones International Coaches of Llandeilo, who mechanically restored it. My photo was taken in 2007, outside Jones’s garage. Imagine how surprised I was to find a Blackburn bus, perchance, in rural Wales!
In 2008, the bus was acquired by Silver Star Holidays, of Caernafon. It earns its keep, together with an impeccable 1950 Burlingham-bodied AEC Regal III (LPT 328) , on vintage coach tours/weddings etc. In a photo I’ve seen, dated last January, it was looking very smart, apparently having had a repaint.
A sister vehicle, No.8 (BCB 341) has also been preserved.
A keen Leyland aficionado, Merddyn now owns something bigger, an ex-Southdown ‘Queen Mary’.