Friday, 21 August 2015

1983 Commercial Vehicle Rally at Blackpool

Well today I got to the end of my albums of colour slides. I've been scanning them for the past couple of weeks.

I kept most of my 35mm slides in plastic sleeves that held 20 slides to a page that could be stored in folders, a bit bigger than an A4 size.

But as I came to the end of the last album there were several pages that held strips of three 6x6cm square slides on 120 size film. These were the large format slides most magazines insisted on for colour photos at the time. I took them on a huge and quite heavy Mamiya C330 camera which had two lenses one above the other - the photographer looked down at a screen on top of the camera which showed the image coming through the top lens and the photograph was taken through the bottom lens. Which did mean that the photograph was going to be ever so slightly different to what you were seeing... Very different in fact because you saw a mirror image. If you were trying to follow action, anything moving from left to right appeared in the viewfinder to be going right to left so you had to practice very hard to swing the camera the right way!

Seen in the album the slides don't look like much. But hold them up to the light and they look like this! Scan them on a film scanner and they look even better!

So let's have a closer look! All of these photographs were taken in a square format, but they were not necessarily taken to be displayed in that format. We are in August 1983. This is the Commercial Vehicles Rally held on the Middle Walk at Blackpool. This is an ex Crosville Leyland Tiger PS1 half-cab single decker. A few drivers have told me in the past how driving half cabs was a bit like sitting in an oven, but this is how I remember buses of my early childhood so I do admit to a certain nostalgic liking for them!

CLT 414 is a 1963 London Routemaster. There are still a few of these in London but many were sold off at the time they decided that extra-long bendy buses were a good idea in London's rows of traffic light junctions. Blackpool has seen them along the Promenade in our own livery come to think of it! They were stuck in the queue to get through the Euston Road/Baker Street junction and were there so long that Blackpool Transport repainted them in "proper colours"!

Now to my mind this is near perfection. All it needs is to be re-sprayed and badged in Yelloways uniform! I was brought up in Rochdale where Yelloways first started and these were the coaches that used to take me to and from school when we had moved out of the borough to nearby Milnrow and I went to Heywood to school. Note the opening windows out of which your school cap would fly if you were silly enough not to whip it off your head as soon as teachers were out of sight when you got on the coach for the trip home at the end of the school day! And us first formers were not allowed on the back seat because the sixth formers were busy snogging...

Coach firms all around the country had coaches in this shape, known as a Burlingham body. There were a few alternative rooflines - this one has an add-on display board. Unlike modern coaches, the passenger door is halfway down the coach with an emergency exit opposite it on the other side of the coach. This wasn't a full-length door though so you had to shuffle across the seat and then jump.

A 1952 Daimler CVG6 in Lancaster livery - this for years ran as a special, might still do in fact as I'm sure I saw it recently somewhere other than at an event. On some web sites it is described as a CVG5, not sure what the difference between that and a CVG6 is ...logic says: 1? I've also seen it described as a prison bus - someone who knows the story is hereby invited to leave a comment. Can't quite see Nicholas Cage looking on in horror on this one as the prisoners cause it to crash somehow...

And there were a couple of ancient fire engines at the event too. This one quite handily has a big sign board to tell me what it was (a Merryweather) and even that it was registered on 20 February 1936 (!!! Yes but at what time???)

JEV 802 is another Merryweather fire engine with a nice bit of brass work here and there. That must have reflected the fires quite nicely - these little touches make a difference!

And if this entry has seemed a bit of a deja vu experience, I must confess that I featured some of the black and white photos from this event on 24 February 2012 (at 22:49pm but that will be Pacific Standard Time or something like that) just four days short of Merryweather AAM 39's 76th birthday...

By the way, if anyone is feeling rather sad that I've got to the end of my colour slides - that's not what I said... I've got to the end of my albums of slides - there's still at least 16 racks of the sort holding 50 slides that I used to feed into the slide projector on winter evenings when there was nothing on the telly! More to come...

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