Fylde Atlantean 71 (OJI4371)

71 in preservation on a trip to East Lancs Railway (Paul Turner)
When new in November 1977, this bus was numbered 85 and registered EBV85S as part of a batch of four Atlanteans (Nos. 85-88). Its date of first registration was 18th November. 18 of the type were bought between 1975 and 1984. Originally painted blue and white with a yellow band, the yellow was replaced with blue at repaint. 85 was treated in September 1983. 

85 in its original condition but with 1983 blue and white scheme heads down Talbot Road on the 11C (Brian Turner)
After deregulation of the bus industry in 1986, Fylde expanded in competition with Blackpool Transport. The “Fylde Borough” fleet name was replaced by “Blue Buses” on repaints, but in 1988 a new livery was introduced of two tone blue with a thin white stripe a new “Blue Buses”, the “Fylde’s Own Transport” fleetname. 85 was repainted under contract by GM Buses in April 1989. Rear adverts were later applied the engine cover for Mike Speakman TV in April 1990 and Global Arms on the upper deck in July.

The Fylde fleet was elderly and funds were insufficient to catch up with renewal. After coach seated 74/75 had been refurbished in early 1991, a programme was set up to upgraded older buses to modern standards. 85 was the first bus so treated and was withdrawn in June 1991. After a mechanical overhaul it went back to its maker, Northern Counties. There it was repanelled and fitted with new lower deck floors, re-trimmed seats and a new front end to a more modern design. No. 85 was renumbered 71 and to disguise its age was registration OJI4371. It was back at Fylde in September 1991 but on 18th October was noted on display at Birmingham NEC for a trade show and returned to use in mid November 1991 - 14 years after it was first used. The livery was revised with a light blue body with dark blue skirt and roof band. An full offside and rear advert for Starr Gate Go Karts was applied over Christmas 1993. Five more Atlanteans were similarly treated - sisters 86 to 88 became 72 to 74; 84 became 75 and coach seated 99 became 43. 

A Sunday scene in May 1993 as 71 leaves Preston Bus Station on the short local service 29 to Frenchwood. Fylde ran this on a Sunday using double deckers. They would work a cycle such as 11A 1040 Depot to Blackpool; 154 1100 Blackpool to Preston, four round trips on 29 1155, 1225, 1255, 1325 then the 1400 154 Preston to Blackpool  and 1456 11A back to depot (arrive 1511) - this pattern was repeated every 2 hours (PT collection)

After refurbishment No. 71 was usually operated on the main routes 11/11A. No. 71 passed with the Fylde operation to Blackpool Transport in July 1996 and became No. 471. It was the second of the six to receive Blackpool’s green and cream livery (January 1997) and continued primarily on the 11/11A until February 1999 when single deckers took over most duties. Despite this No. 471 and its sisters continued to appear on busy journeys until the former Fylde depot at Squires Gate was closed in April 1999 when it moved to Rigby Road. Finally on 28 May 2004, the last of the ex-Fylde Atlanteans were retired after the purchase of six new low floor double deck buses. 471 was purchased for preservation in June as an example of the Blue Buses era and their ingenuity in prolonging the life of buses to reduce capital costs.

71 back on its familiar 11 route, but in Blackpool Transport colours on 1st September 1998 (Brian Turner)
71 was repainted in October 2004 and made its at events in 2005. It was part of the Lancastrian Transport Trust collection from 2004 to 2014. It briefly returned to public service on loan to Classic Bus on college contracts during 2009. After panel repairs in 2015 it has been prepared to return to the road in summer 2017.