JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

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Thank you Illuminations team

Over successive years since 2012 our Trust has arranged for a classic tram to be on display facing the promenade at the Pleasure Beach terminus. This has been the result of a good many organisations and companies offering practical assistance and some sponsorship - as well as the expert painting work of the Trustees (and Inkie!). Brush Car 290 was the subject of the successive displays in three different guises : the Queen's Diamond Jubilee ; the Inkie urban street art design, and return to Corporation green and cream in 2014. Images : Copyright Stephen Meyer-Rassow Centenary car 641 was its replacement in 2015 with a celebratory design commemorating the longevity of Blackpool Football

Kevin Bucknall saves a tram

Its pleasing to record that thanks to a private transaction this month between the former owner of Brush car 637, one of the quartet of cars rescued from scrapping at Knowsley, this tram is to survive and prosper. Plans for the car to be used for spare parts were briefly considered with some internal items sold to other groups. However the interest of Kevin Bucknall in acquiring the tram 'as is' in December has resulted in it being placed under tender loving care going forward. The new owner was in Fleetwood this week taking measurements (and stock) of his new charge. (Photo below). It is expected that 637 will be transported further south in due course (to the Midlands) once a suitable

309 Calls it a day

The ever present camera (or so it seems) of Tony Armitage caught a rare view of one of Blackpool's Trident fleet failing in service in the town centre. The company's own heavy breakdown vehicle itself is not presently in service. So outside contractor Fylde Motor Company is called on to do the honours as it were - in recovering errant buses and returning them to Rigby Road Garage. These images were taken on Monday in Clifton Street and passing the Town Hall (out of sight in the image). Both images Copyright : Tony Armitage

Thank you BTS

An especially pleasing relationship between the Trust (FHLT) and successive management at BTS has existed from inception of our efforts in 2010 to secure a number of redundant trams for preservation and future display. This has emerged strongly in the past twelve months with agreements for storage of two of our trams under cover at Rigby Road Depot alongside a considerable 'fleet' of heritage trams. It is quite remarkable that from the doom laden days in 2010 when a minimal number of traditional cars was forecast to be retained as part of the light rail upgrade - this has transformed into a magnificent assembly of examples drawn from both the LTT, as well as other exiles. Practical help has

Thank you Links Signs and Graphics Blackpool

Successive displays in 2014/2015 and 2016 of the Trust's two preserved trams, Brush Car 290 and Centenary 641 - have received exceptional design and material support from this specialist and expanding Blackpool graphics display company. The two cars attracted considerable attention with their informative and eye-catching vinyl panels which utilise both tram and football images provided by a number of sources. Certainly it has been something 'completely different' for the public to appreciate and whilst the cars have been purely static exhibits - their finished appearance has benefitted from the work of LSG and their team. We are indebted to the team at Links Signs and Graphics for their ex

Thank you Builders Supplies (West Coast) Ltd. Fleetwood

The FHLT have been very fortunate in gaining the interest and support of several Fylde coast companies. A list of the businesses helping in practical ways with the Blackpool Football Club tram display is posted on both sides of 641 on the Promenade. One of the companies which has stood by our efforts from inception is Builders Supplies (West Coast) Ltd. Managing Director was responsible for the final sponsor advertising on Balloon Car 249 (712) before it was donated to the National Tram Museum at Crich where it is in the Exhibition Hall exemplifying the 1930's styling. (Above image is of a retained sponsor promotion inside 249 at Crich) Builders Supplies (West Coast) Ltd. have assisted

Excel Twilight Postscript

Rigby Road Tram Depot has now become a store for withdrawn buses (or those on the verge of extinction). The tracks to the far east side of the depot have been assigned for this purpose - with care due to the inevitable problems of pits between the rails as shown below with Excel 222 and sister bus awaiting despatch to the scrap yard in November. This is nothing new. In the late 1940s and during the war years this same part of the tram depot was also utilised for withdrawn (temporarily or permanent) buses of the Corporation transport fleet. Also for many years the two buses assigned to Permanent Way use were similarly parked on this far side of the depot. Image : John Woodman

Excel Twilight

I have been reminded of the imminent withdrawal from service of the remaining examples of Optare Excel buses that have been a familiar part of Blackpool Transport's fleet since 1999 (albeit in different liveries and guises). Assigned fleet numbers 201 to 226 the initial deliveries were beset with problems and the manufacturer provided replacements for eight vehicles. More familiar in the purple and yellow Line 7 'Metro Coastlines' colours - these larger capacity single deck buses have operated on most of the company's services during their nearly seventeen years at Rigby Road. Now only two examples have been kept on the road (216 and 224) and their imminent withdrawal is forecast. Rep

Tram Trains 'r us ? Maybe

As the first UK effort to implement 'tram train' operation nears the start line in Sheffield and Rotherham - it is worth relating initial studies made on similar possibilities on the Fylde Coast. Sheffield and Rotherham were once linked by tram service operated by both municipal systems. Rotherham was unusual in purchasing (from English Electric) a small fleet of single ended double deck trams for this important 'main line'. They took the shape of rail bound trolleybuses and unique to Rotherham. This all ended in the late 1940s. Sheffield now has a second generation tramway/light rail system and a renewal of a fixed track tram service between these two Yorkshire towns makes eminent se

Illuminated comings and goings

As many of our readers and supporters are preparing to turn their new Calendars to the Month of January 2016 with a distinctive colour image of Blackpool's first illuminated feature car - Number 68 (in its final year of operation - 1936) the passage of many of these fine creations of Rigby Road Works is worth a mention. We have lost all of the early classic 'floats' namely the Gondola and Lifeboat and the 'Bandwagon' of 1937 - which morphed into the 'Progress' car of 1949 - all casually sent for scrap or spare parts for preservation groups. Even the wonderful 'Blackpool Belle' which replaced the 'Progress' car in 1958 did not make it to a preservation state despite initial transformation t

Buses get a look in and christmas cheer

Blackpool's bus history has always been a poor cousin compared to the attention given to the town's trams. For every twenty books on Blackpool trams possibly one has appeared on the bus fleet and services. Rigby Road Publications endeavour to give equal coverage of the bus operations in the content of titles published to date (with exception of the Marton Trams Tribute) - with more on the way during 2016 ; Blackpool's Desert Bus / Tribute to Rigby Road Works 2009 - 2015 / Municipal Transport Heyday - Blackpool buses and trams in the 1950s. However a new title appeared this week 'Blackpool Buses - Enthusiasts Handbook' published by Train Crazy Publishing and available from the North Pier

one small step towards heritage transport attractions on the fylde coast

Tucked away behind the larger grants announced this past week by the Government to assist heritage projects in seaside communities - was a modest amount to kickstart the embryonic transport heritage scheme for Blackpool and the Fylde coast. This is the result of an initiative by a group of organisations brought together by the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre EDC at the end of 2014. These include aviation, road transport, including trams of course, and automotive heritage interests. The initial grant (with matched contributing funding by participating interests) will allow a feasibility case to be made for the ambitious objectives jointly agreed. These would see new heritage transport venues i

Norbreck North takes shape

Work on the reinstated Norbreck North tram stop (sorry Station) is taking shape with the southbound platform structure now in place. Extensive groundwork is needed on the northbound side due to the proximity of higher ground abutting the tramway fence line. This is now underway as can be seen in the images taken today. Despite the intolerable weather Council workers are making good progress with the aim of seeing this additional and important new stop ready by the end of the first quarter 2016. A more desirable shelter than the cheapjack product installed on the rest of the line would be a big improvement - with increased seating provision given the numbers of elderly living in the loca

Borismasters rule

The Wrightbus product is by now a notable, if not dominant aspect of London's central district bus services with its rounded features and open rear platform design. Whereas on introduction it was very much a novelty - now the fleet of these vehicles (unique to London for the moment) are a major factor in the shoals of red double deck buses which give the capital some added distinction. Hundreds have been delivered to date and further tranches are on order given their popularity and especial styling. Whilst those with longer memories recall with fondness the equally distinctive RT / RTL and RTW exposed radiator designs and their replacements - the RM and RML (and RMC) 1950s and 1960s prod

London's Illuminating Buses

For someone knowledgable about Blackpool's illuminated tramcars past and present - (see our 2016 Illuminated Tram Calendar featuring wonderful creations through the years since the 1920s) it was something of a surprise to find lighting effects being used on the exterior of (some) London buses during a visit this week. Technology has definitely moved on since the screw in socket and coloured light bulb era ! Whilst the buses parading on London's busy streets are not quite in the same league as Blackpool's famous illuminated trams - they are nonetheless a harbinger of probably more exotic designs and features to come. Disney Movies and M&S were the two sponsors/advertisers utilising this new

a tram at Covent Garden

Many years ago when the London Transport museum relocated from out of centre site at Syon Park to Covent Garden the ground level area was filled with vehicles. Admittedly the space available is limited, but in those formative days three trams found their way on to public display : a wonderful 'Feltham' car, a bogie car typifying the bulk of London's tram fleet in final decades and a sample two axle open balcony car, formerly in the West Ham municipal system until absorbed by London Transport made up this trio. West Ham Corporation Tramways 102 in all its glory stands as the sole representative of the capital's huge tram system. A fine model of LCC 1 in its original dark blue and white

design buzz

Arriving at a leisure destination is usually full of anticipation for travellers of all ages. Whether by coach, car or train (or plane) - the immediate impressions are the one's that linger and sometimes make all the difference to the first time visitor. Bicester Village Station newbuild with all mod-cons and clean easy to follow signage. A very important feature for foreign visitors coming here for a shopping trip from London. Large coach, taxi and car parking area at the station entrance. Compare this to the bus shelters at the Blackpool Coach Station fronting on to Central Drive - or the bland depressing surrounds of Blackpool North which remains devoid of platform canopies or any welc

INTO THE SUNSET - NORTHERN RAIL

During a week where I sampled the new Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village to Marylebone service on Chiltern Railways it is refreshing to read the news that the northwest train operator franchise is being assigned to a new company in 2016. The contrast between the rolling stock, the services and the stations of the decrepit hand me downs of Northern Rail to the quality comfort and cleanliness of Chiltern trains is like night and day. According to public announcements this week the abysmal Northern Rail current operator will be no more from next April ; with the new appointed operator being Arriva Rail North. A promise of oodles of capital spending secured their contract, together with commitmen

WELCOME YOUR NEW BUSES

Nearly sixty years ago Blackpool was welcoming its new buses in formal ceremonies on the Promenade. In 1957 the Transport Department took delivery of ten rear platform double deck buses - the first of this type since 1932. The inter-vening years had been exclusively devoted to centre entrance deliveries (of both buses and trams) under the edict of the General Manager (Walter Luff). His successor did away with that policy in one of his first (of many) changes aimed at increasing both vehicle capacity and crew efficiencies. We see the Mayor of Blackpool Alderman Grimbledeston standing with a senior manager of the bus body building firm, Metropolitan-Cammell-Weymann which was delivering a

Brush Car Survivors - 298

One of the 1937 Brush rail coaches surviving at the end of this year is of course Number 298. This tram has been the subject of probably the most extended restoration project in UK tram history - having first been a guest of Blackpool Technical College before being handed over to a core team of dedicated people under the aegis of Keith Terry in 1977. The tram's claim to fame is its retention of many original features when it was removed for restoration finally to the Mode Wheel Works in Salford. Efforts by Keith and colleagues ensured that 298 would become endowed with sliding roof panels in both saloons, sliding doors and a multitude of internal details and decor which had vanished from

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

 

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