In late 1983 Fylde Borough Transport took delivery of its penultimate Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlantean the 20th out of 21 Atlanteans purchased by Fylde or its predecessor Lytham St. Annes. It replaced 75/76 of the first batch from 1970. Numbered 74 (A74LHG) it entered service in early January 1984. The final five Atlanteans were long wheelbase 33ft examples with 76 high backed ‘dual purpose’ seats. It was the first bus delivered in the revised blue and white livery, the mustard band had been dropped in July 1983.
74 was regularly used on the trunk 11/11A from Blackpool to Lytham and remained so deployed after deregulation. In July 1986 it had received Fylde’s first commercial all-over advert. Several others prior to this had focused on local tourism or transport offers, but 74 carried a scheme for Louis Tussauds Waxworks on a salmon pink and white base with only the roof in traditional Fylde blue.
In June 1989 it gained the new two tone blue livery following a repaint at GM Buses. During late 1990 it was decided to refurbish the two newest Atlanteans 74 and 75 (of October 1984) for use by the Seagull Coaches division. 74 was re-registered NJI5504 in December then taken out of service at the end of the month. It was sent to Northern Counties for a refurbishment, with new interior trim, retrimmed seats, new doors and a modified upper deck windscreens.
It returned in March in a mainly light blue livery with dark blue skirt and was renumbered 24 in the Seagull Coach series. It entered service in May. A further renumbering took place in March 1992 as 44. In May 1993 it was repainted in the same livery, albeit with a dark blue band at roof level, as carried by the bus fleet. Revised Seagull fleetnames were applied.
Blackpool Transport bought Fylde in May 1994 but the business continued as a separate unit until it was absorbed into the main fleet in July 1996. 44 became BTS 444 and began to be used on local services again from September 1996 having spent six years in the coach unit. It was repainted into BTS green and cream in November 1996 and resume regular service on the 11/11A. Squires Gate Depot was closed in April 1999 and all buses moved to Rigby Road, prior to this 444 moved in February 1999 – its last day at Squires Gate was on 6th working on the 11/11A and started its new career on the 14/14A (St. Annes to Fleetwood) on the 8th.
March 2000 saw a front end repair with a flat dash panel after a road accident. 444 was placed in store in November 2000 following a reduced service requirement but was reinstated in February 2001. The ex Fylde Atlanteans were now mainly used on schools and summer services. It was withdrawn on 28 May 2004 with the remaining ex Fylde Atlanteans.
After a period in store, 444 was sold at the beginning of July to Lower Kersall Collonades Dance Troupe, passing onto Irlam Royalettes a few years later. Initially painted blue, it later became all-over black. In July 2015 the bus passed into preservation. It unfortunatly suffered from an engine failure in 2016 and It’s current owner Mark and Autotec of Keighley have worked hard in having a replacement engine fitted over a long period of time. It has recently arrived at Town & District premises and will be undergoing further restoration over coming months.