JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

Disclaimer :   The opinions and commentary voiced on this page are those of the author and do not have automatic endorsement of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust (Registered Charity) unless otherwise stated.

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Trident replacement - taster of a new fleet ?

Courtesy of Tony Armitage's camera - a demonstrator was captured at Fleetwood Ferry this week. No not a political activist against fracking. This was the eyecatching 'Streetdeck' model built in Ballymena by Wrightbus - the same company which is flooding London's streets with 'Borismasters'. Carrying BTS legal transfers - the transparant side panelling on the offside of the bodywork may not be altogether appropriate, allowing viewing of ascending passengers on the stairs. In far earlier generations of buses (and trams) the staircase railings on the external side of the vehicle carried what were termed 'decency panels' which deflected viewing of ladies ankles (god forbid) or indeed ot

smile you're on camera

The story of the 'Football Tram' was recorded for a programme on the new television station 'Lancashire TV' to be found on Channel 8 now being trialled. Roland Gent filmed the tram today for a news piece being run Monday or Tuesday this week. The author was filmed inside 641 recounting some of the background to the tram's new look and its recent unveiling. Inevitably what became an hour filming will be distilled into some brief moments (probably thankfully for viewers). More of the story will find itself on to later scheduling.

Atlantean Revival

Before the ubiquitous Tridents there were the Atlanteans. Replacing the equally large fleet of open platform PD3s from 1977 under a step change introduced by Derek Hyde, the Leyland Atlanteans were the mainstream of Blackpool services. Seeing two examples operating in the town (at least over the weekend) brought back memories from an era pre-dating even the new Centenary cars from 1984. Note the different livery styles with the later version immediately above parked outside the Transport offices during the Open Day weekend. This was a privately preserved vehicle.

Sylvan woods

Blackpool trams can now be ridden on from the shores of the Pacific to Heaton Park's sylvan woods in Manchester (or is it Bury?). Whilst most enthusiasts were gathered by the seaside this weekend I paid a visit to the Heaton Park line of the MTMS which was understandably quiet. The park itself was host to one of the inevitable 'Runs' which now seem to be a weekend leisure fixture in many parts of the country. Large numbers of determined families flooded past my more sedentary stroll around the lake in what was glorious sunshine. I thought at one point that so many MTMS members had transferred to Blackpool that the Heaton Park operation was closed for the weekend. But not so. The unfamili

761 gets an airing - and more

Jubilee Car 761 'starred' if that is the right word, in a line up of trams alongside the Engineering Workshop on the the first day of the 130th celebratory weekend. It was outshone by the myriad other trams (and some buses) which were put on display for this spectacular event - which far outdid the limitations of museum weekends. Favoured with sunshine (plus obligatory clouds) the first main event was an inaugural run of the second twin car set returned to an earlier livery. With full loads both units traversed the tramway to Fleetwood launching this weekend's comings and goings. Below : Jubilee 761 has its complimentary airing at Rigby Road on Saturday. Trailer unit 675/685 travers

Blackpool's transport in the 1940s - READ ALL ABOUT IT !

The latest Rigby Road Publications title has gone on sale at Brook's Collectables on Waterloo Road and now at the North Pier Shop in a collaborative agreement with Nick Meskell. 'War & Austerity - Blackpool's trams and buses 1940 - 1949' has 120 pages of photos and material on a less well known period in the town's transport history. It carries the story forward from the 1930s and 'Municipal Transport in Transition' copies of which are available from Rigby Road Publications. Both books being 120 Pages in A4 Landscape format with soft covers. Copies of the 1940s title are being mailed out to advance subscribers this week. A further title in this series will take the story forward throug

BCT Atlantean to South Pier

Atlantean 334 waiting to set off from Cleveleys on Service 12 to Pleasure Beach. As 'Pleasure Beach' was not on Atlantean's destination blinds - South Pier must do... A rare sight in the UK - a thirty year old Blackpool Corporation Atlantean still in public service is a treat for bus enthusiasts venturing to the Fylde coast. Caught today on the Catch22Bus Service 12 - it seemed just like old times, especially with South Pier on the destination screen. Later on in the day I managed to catch a ride on 334 all the way to Cleveleys and a return to the Blackpool Hilton. All of these interesting vehicles will soon go into the history books with advent of new Disability / Low Floor access req

Metro Coastlines - a missing brand

In a policy reminiscent of Stalinist Russia( ! ) the vibrant colourful brand launched under a previous management 'Metro Coastlines' has been completely erased from the lexicon (and heritage) of Blackpool Transport. While the fixations of enthusiasts are incessantly focussed on which version of the green and cream livery was affixed to which tram and when - the glaring omission of examples from the most eclectic livery ever, is now very much the 'elephant in the depot'. Erasure of Metro Coastlines started almost immediately following the arrival of Trevor Roberts with corporate decals being removed or covered over and a phased repainting of the bus fleet as a priority into a standardised y

Norbreck North Anyone ?

The recent statement that funding had been approved for reinstallation of the former tram stop at Norbreck North will be welcomed by the many residents living in proximity to the promenade at this point. Withdrawal of the stop, combined with the earlier closure of Norkeed Road tram stop, may have given a faster journeytime between Little Bispham and Norbreck, but did little to facilitate nor encourage ridership to and from this residential part of Blackpool. Not being a part of visitor destinations, Norbreck North (and Norkeed Road) were tram stops installed for the benefit of year round residents, voters and taxpayers. The extensive housing developments along and behind the promenade at t

treatment on the 'buzz bus'

A more unusual bus which can be seen travelling around Blackpool's town centre is under the care of Blackpool Operational Services at their Layton Depot. Sponsored by several local organisations including the NHS, the 'buzz bus' provides counselling and for addicts and the homeless of which Blackpool has a noticeable number - a feature of many seaside towns. In this case the bus was parked in the shadow of the Tower on Bank Hey Street one busy weekend. It recalls Blackpool Transport Department's two converted single deck buses which were features on the Promenade during the summer season in the 1950s and 1960s. These were staffed by nurses and attendants as 'Lost Children Centres' retain

Rotting bodywork at the pleasure beach

A survivor from the days of Blackpool Corporation Transport is rotting away at the Pleasure Beach tram terminus. The familiar Inspector's Cabin has been a feature of this once busy point on the tram route. Formerly housing BCT uniformed staff instructing crews on departure time (and destinations) of the many seasonal 'Specials' stacked up on the twin loops and siding track at busy periods of the day. The glory days of Blackpool trams with the new Inspectors Cabin installed on the storage siding at the Pleasure Beach. A queue of trams wait for the tea time crowds leaving the Pleasure Beach and heading to their 'digs'. The duty overhead crew are on hand in case of an immediate need for th

Strangers in the sunlight

A brief encounter at Rigby Road this week saw feverish? preparations underway for the display of trams (and the occasional bus) being organised at the weekend. The Trust was permitted inspection of Jubilee Car 761 now carefully stored (along with Brush Car 290) on seemingly full depot tracks. The Wynsor Shoes all over vinyls are by now a little the worse for wear and 761 will definitely benefit from a makeover when the time allows workshop attention. This is not however imminent. Blackpool Transport and the BHT team have a pressing priority to complete the work on Standard 143 which fortuitously was parked on the depot fan alongside Jubilee 761 - to allow an external dousing of cleanin

Palmyra, Syria 1972

The endangered Roman ruins at Palmyra is the setting for this visit of Blackpool Corporation Transport bus number 298 (EFV 298) en route from the UK overland to Pakistan. This is a classic image from a more civilised era? With the exodus of Syrians from their country as a result of the civil war and deliberate destruction of world heritage sites such Palmyra by so called 'Islamic State' - it is poignant to recall this unique journey undertaken by two young students. An account of the diverse episodes and locales traversed in what must have been the longest journey by a Blackpool bus - will appear in the 'Desert Bus' title - from Rigby Road Publications.

Football Specials

The Trust's contribution in this year's Illuminations was finally unveiled on Friday evening with removal of the cladding over side windows and panels. Attended by representatives of Blackpool Supporters Trust including two former BFC Players, an informal 'launch' quickly revealed images of BFC teams, players and some memorable events in the Team's history. They included the ecstatic parade along the promenade with the Team on board 'Princess Alice'. Other images taken over fifty years ago include scenes on Lytham Road with 'Football Specials' arriving in time for the crowds leaving the Bloomfield Road ground after the final whistle. Blackpool Illuminations sent their own team to the tr

Facts not presumptions

The Trust's special Football Tram Display involves contributions from a great many companies and several Council organisations who have come together in support of a shared objective - to see Blackpool's Football Club and its extensive history highlighted in a unique way in this year's illuminations. ALL of the tram's side windows carry images of teams, players and events. The tram's end display panels are sheetmetal and not plastic, fitted by a Blackpool coach bodywork firm gratis. This display is for the benefit of the public and has very little or nothing to do with fixated segments of 'tram enthusiasts'. Some of whom make it their life's work to find fault with just about anything

FOOTBALL TRAM TAKES AN OVERNIGHT TRIP

The arrival of Calked Heavy Haulage at Wyre Dock on the 16th September signalled the entry onto centre stage of Centenary Car 641 in a totally new guise celebrating the long history of Blackpool's Football Club, its Teams and Players. A series of images cover all sides of the tram which has received official BFC tangerine and white colours to complement the original all-over orange which it was given in the final years of traditional tram operation. The BTS slogan above the windows on each side have been retained in their original form. After a bumpy start loading on to the long rig provided by Calked this fifty feet long tram was cajoled and creatively towed over the concrete hard standing

Football Tram preparation

Final arrangements are in place for the transfer of the Trust's 2015 display project from Wyre Dock, Fleetwood to south promenade this week. The Football Tram - has been finally 'wrapped' ahead of its move with striking designs converted into vinyl panels which now cover most of the tram. Number 641 retains its original fleet numbers in place and the BTS signage above the side windows - which made this tram especially relevant to a celebration of the town's football team. Unveiling of the complete tram will take place on Friday evening from 1900 at its display track. The gantry tower has still to be fitted - complete with its own vinyl panels in place, together with external lighting fixtu

Going back to the 1940s

A new title will shortly appear that covers a decade now passing from memories of two generations. Blackpool's transport history during the last major war and its immediate aftermath is recounted in the forthcoming book ' Municipal Transport in War and Austerity - 1939 to 1949'. It is the sequel to 'Municipal Transport in Transition' which recounts the radical changes initiated by Walter Luff from 1933 to 1939 following his appointment to head Blackpool's transport operations. The next title in this series will deal with yet a further management change and a host of new strategies during the 1950s. .

China and Ribble

Blackpool's transport scene is certainly livening up this past week with buses bearing both chinese lettering? as well as the familiar cherry red of Ribble Motor Services inbetween Blackpool Transport and Catch22 colours. An interesting 'pick up' at the Tower bus stop over the past weekend was a coach assigned to UK travel services for Chinese tourists. Pausing briefly at the Tower stop it was quickly filled with a full load of visitors who had been enjoying a few hours in the town. What they made of the Comedy Carpet would have made interesting conversation (in China) - a far cry from the terra cotta army heritage in their country. It would be interesting to know just how many Chinese

WAR & AUSTERITY

The long awaited follow up to 'Municipal Transport in Transition' the title recounting Blackpool's transport revolution during the 1930s' will shortly be available this month. 'War & Austerity' deals with Blackpool's trams and buses during the war years and the immediate postwar aftermath up to 1949. Published to the same A4 Landscape format with 120 pages, mostly black and white, the title has many rare images as well as some familiar ones from this decade. It includes a contribution from Ian Yearsley and a local resident who grew up as a schoolboy in the 1940s with his father working as a BCT bus driver. This new title will be available at the North Pier Shop in addition to Rigby Road Pu

Working to conserve for display, trams and artefacts of the longstanding coastal tramway serving Blackpool, Thornton Cleveleys and Fleetwood.

 

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