August Bank Holiday Monday will see the return to Lytham Hall of the vintage buses and coaches from the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust’s collection.
Following the successful Display and Running Day last year, Lytham Town Trust have invited the Trust to return to the sylvan surroundings of Lytham Hall, a Grade 1 listed country house built 250 years ago and originally the property of the Clifton family who were well known and respected in the Lytham area. It was purchased by Lytham Town Trust in 1996 with the benefit of a grant of £1mn from British Aerospace. The Hall and parkland which are now managed by Heritage Trust for the North West (HTNW) are currently undergoing a 3 year restoration programme at a cost of almost £6mn. This is supported by a grant of 41% of the cost from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the balance being raised by HTNW together with over 20 funding partners.
The Hall is an ideal venue for such a gathering, the delightful backdrop providing the opportunity to display many of the Trust’s beautifully restored vehicles ranging from a 1931 Leyland Lion single decker through to a 1981 Leyland Olympian double decker which should form a splendid spectacle for visitors to enjoy. In addition to the static display a further eleven buses including a number of guest vehicles owned by members of the Trust will operate a free service from the Hall via Lytham Town Centre to Fairhaven Lake and on to St Anne’s Square starting at 10h00, buses operating on a 10 minute headway until the last bus departs at 16h00.
Ribble Motor Services was a major bus and coach operator covering an area from Carlisle down to Liverpool and Manchester and eastwards into the West Riding of Yorkshire, with its headquarters in Preston. As a result of significant changes in the bus and coach industry and impending privatisation in October 1986, Ribble’s territory was split and the sale of what remained of the Company came about in 1988 when it was sold to a management team and then subsequently acquired by the Stagecoach Group only a year later.
The Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group as it was then known was set up in 1972 by a small group based mainly in North Lancashire most of whom were working in the bus industry and by the late nineties a limited company, RVPT Ltd, had been established and charitable status attained. By 2001 the Trust had acquired its current base in Freckleton with the benefit of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This allowed most of the core collection to be housed undercover and a key objective of the Trust is to restore many of these preserved gems as and when funds permit since the full restoration of one of these vehicles can easily exceed fifty thousand pounds.
One of the highlights is expected to be the use of the former Lytham St. Anne’s Corporation Leyland Lion single decker fleet number 24 dating from 1934 which was unveiled last year following a full and painstaking restoration. This bus is likely to operate occasional return journeys from the Hall direct to Fairhaven Lake. This will offer a trip down memory lane as the bus was one of the first replacements for the trams in 1934 and its journey down Clifton Drive, from Fairhaven to Ansdell will take it along part of the old tram route between Blackpool and Lytham and past one of the original shelters at Fairhaven which in recent years has been restored by Fylde Council.