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.

Follow the regular updates on the Trust's projects, comments on Blackpool's bus and tram network and transport issues around the UK and further afield.

Featured Posts
Archive

Glasgow Hybrids - 2

One of the more remarkable survivors from Glasgow's tramway fleet is Number 1100. This particular car was the subject of experiments which involved rebuilding the ends to replicate (somewhat) the 1937 Coronation Mark I class. The rebuilding would seem to have involved a sort of make it up as you go along design with the use of twin route colour lights (familiar to citizens of Edinburgh at the time but not so far seemingly required in Glasgow). These were inserted alongside the top deck front windows - as were diminutive route number indicator boxes fitted on the nearside front panels. These and other somewhat eccentric changes made 1100 definitely stand out from its sister Kilmarknock

Glasgow Hybrids - 1

Glasgow's most famous single deck tram was 1089 which was built in the late 1920s at the city's equally famous Coplawhill tram workshops. Intended as an experimental high speed car with front exit (or was it entrance?) it did not find favour with the public and was altered to rear platform only style. Eventually assigned to peak hour duties serving shipyards along the Clyde - 1089 surprisingly lasted until the very end of Glasgow's trams in 1962. It was thoughtfully kept as a museum piece for the then new Transport Museum which would occupy the former Coplawhill Works Paint Shop. Moved twice since those days it is now installed on display in the Riverside Museum appropriately close to i

The Proper Way to go round a roundabout

Trams have crossed over the Gynn road junction from 1898 to 1963 - thereafter they ignored it completely by traversing the promenade side reservation. A roundabout was built after closure of the North Station to Fleetwood tram service in 1963 - ostensibly the road crossing and new roundabout requirement was the reason for cessation of the tram service. Of course trams in Fleetwood have had no problem with road junctions at Cleveleys (roundabout), Broadwater and along the length of Fleetwood's commercial centre. But then that is another Authority's responsibility where the planners were seemingly more relaxed. Seeing T 681 take a neat journey around the Gynn Square roundabout was a first l

The tram that revolutionised north america

By the early 1930s American operators of 'streetcars' were desperately looking for a more upmarket alternative to retain their ridership as car ownership and more comfortable buses eroded revenue. A cooperative organisation was formed with a core number of major operators known as the Presidents Conference Committee. With a team of engineers, designers and testing laboratory in Brooklyn, New York, the result was a totally new streetcar incorporating silent running (depending on track condition of course), smooth acceleration and braking, one man operation, clean light interiors, comfortable seating and not an ounce of wood anywhere in the construction. The 'PCC Car' as it became known was

Fylde coast heritage strategy in the news

Blackpool's newspaper - the Gazette front page headline 'Just the Ticket' today is about the ongoing study of potential options for linked transport heritage attractions on the Fylde coast. Inevitably focus is on Rigby Road transport site and in particular those elements which have a tramway aspect, including the workshops. Several participating groups have come together to support an emergent scheme which covers both trams, buses, cars, aviation and horse drawn vehicles identified with the Fylde coast through the years. These include aviation history which is still being made through the important BAE Systems facility at Warton; the intended initiative of the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tou

The tram that revolutionised Germany

Today the Alstom 'Citadis' tram type is the most prolific design in Europe with nearly all of the French tram systems operating variants. There are a few exceptions such as Strasbourg and Lille. Nearly a thousand examples of the Citadis model have been built since its inception nearly two decades ago. The design has found its way to Melbourne, Dublin and Nottingham - as well as new systems in Algeria and Tunisia, with further orders in hand from existing and new customers. A truly successful design for this company. The 1950s saw an equally (and possibly even more successful) tram design emerge which revolutionised early postwar tramways in west Germany - and set a benchmark for systems

That wonderful? Millenium Car quartet

Looking somewhat forlorn in Rigby Road Depot - three 'Millenium' cars lined up awaiting a possible return to service on tours or hires in 2016. Numbers 168 to 171 may not be familar to followers of Blackpool trams but these were the fleet numbers of the four strong Millenium class built by Hong Kong tramways more or less at the time as the emergence of Blackpool's own 'Millenium' cars 707/709/718/724. Hong Kong and Blackpool have something in common - they are the only two tramways in the world that operate double deck trams. (One can add the trailers on the Alexandria tramway as a qualifier!). Hong Kong - like Blackpool, decided to improve on the 'look' of its double deck tram fleet by

Northern Powerhouse - tramtalk ?

From articles published his week online by the BBC there are background noises indicating reviews of options in strengthening the north of England's transportation links and infrastructure. Apparently several scenarios are receiving attention : Widening the M62 cross pennine artery for most of its entire route and potentially creating a second cross pennine motorway potentially through a tunnel which would be assigned to goods traffic. Electrifying the railway links between Manchester (and Liverpool) and major Yorkshire cities with further rail lines linking with Sheffield. This includes the HS3 (or 4) east west corridor which interestingly has been given a cautionary signal as the actua

What has the EU done for the UK light rail industry ?

Actually the header should read 'What the EU has done to the UK light rail industry'. Above : a nice German tram coming to a stop near you ! One of the early deliveries from Bautzen - 3012 one of over a hundred high platform trams serving the people of Greater Manchester. In reality made a whopping great profit for a handful of foreign companies; provided a large number of jobs in European factories and assembly plants - and satisfied the shareholders / pension funds with stakes in a small number of foreign corporations. To get a sense of how much UK taxpayer money through grants administered by that font of all knowledge and distributor of UK public capital - the Department for Transport

Exports v Imports

The last British built trams exported to a foreign customer were shipped out to Sudan of all places in the early 1950s. Previous to that trams built in Preston, Loughborough, Kilmarnock and the West Midlands - found customers in Warsaw (yes Warsaw) and a Silesian operation at Sosnowicz; Johannesburg, Bombay, Calcutta, St Petersburg, Wellington, Cape Town, Alexandria, Mukden, Singapore; and a host of tramways in south America, British built trams were sights (and sounds) in further reaches of the Empire, particularly in South Africa, pre-independent Ireland, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong etc etc plus Porto, Barcelona, Athens in Europe. The waning influence of British designed trams was

Fylde's rich transport heritage

They dont load trailers today like they used to. Here is T9 going on a one way journey and eventual scrapping as it prepares for its last journey from Rigby Road Depot. The trailer class have had quite a confusing history in recent years - three being stored at Wyre Dock currently - and an example due to reverse this scene in the coming weeks. Blackpool hosted the first aviation display in the United Kingdom. The town of course was the first to put its faith in electric powered trams running along its streets in 1885. Railway journeys north to Scotland ended at Fleetwood where passengers transferred to steamers for onward journeys to the west coast of Scotland and Belfast - until mo

Pst - anyone want a tram depot ?

An absolute steal at only £4.35 Million. For the connoisseurs of fine living looking for that drop dead space in the capital - now for sale through Sotheby's the property market is placing a tram depot for sale with asking price - around £4.35 Million. Formerly the home of a fashion designer whose creations adorned Lady Gaga among other 'names' the trams are long gone but their former home off Camdem Road is now an absolutely stunning loft space for that darling couple. Reflecting the Alice in Wonderland world which is now the country's capital - the asking price is a mere snip compared to other flats on the market such as one above a restaurant in Grosvenor Square which is offered at only

Coming to a bus stop near you

The introduction of a new single deck design being trialled on Service 5 between Halfway House and Victoria Hospital this week provides no doubt useful comparison with the Mercedes Citaro buses acquired by BTS in 2015. BTS have committed to purchase of ten double deck buses from the Alexander Dennis firm (ADL) for delivery mid 2016. The same company are also marketing the single deck version of their latest model and the ADL demonstrator is on loan to BTS in a subdued grey, silver and pale green design. Captured arriving at the Blackpool North, or is it Talbot Gateway? stop this Tuesday. It will be interesting to see whether the single deck ADL model catches the mood of BTS in the same way

Top Deck Reproduction

One of the prevailing problems confronting tram restoration schemes which involved 'rescued' lower deck saloons of trams which formerly ran with balcony or enclosed top decks - is finding the top deck. The challenges of restoring a vintage double deck tram are far far simpler when the tram body involved is of an open top design. Finding a top deck enclosed tram which still retains its upper deck saloon and awaiting a rescue is a rarity indeed. There have been cases in the past, the Leicester car at Crich being one. I believe a second example of similar design is also in preservationist hands in that city. Southampton 11 - one of the famous low height enclosed double deck trams pecul

County Council Helpline for Fleetwood tram service

By way of update on the saga of Wyre Borough residents being able to use their NoW cards on Blackpool Transport trams - the Lancashire County Council burning the midnight oil deal on a budget resolution last week approved (among many other matters) the funding of the contribution to Blackpool Council for tramway infrastructure maintenance and repair on the section traversing through Wyre Council's jurisdiction. The deal was further leveraged on an agreement whereby Wyre Borough residents with NoW cards would be able to use them on the tramway (as well as buses). Left : Simpler days in Fleetwood Photo : John Woodman Two open aspects of this decision are subject to further qua

Wyre residents tram travel - a resolution

Not quite the type of tram running from Fleetwood Ferry to Blackpool in 2016! But a look back in time - actually to 1944, when Fleetwood trams travelled both to North Station (as above) as well as further south along the promenade to the Pleasure Beach and Clifton Drive. No NoW cards in those days but plenty of copper coins for conductors. The tram is Number 176 for the benefit of purists - on a typical rainswept day at the Ferry tram stop. Photo : John Woodman Archive One positive outcome of the Budget debate this week by Lancashire County Council has been a decision to cover (or contribute to) the costs of travel on Blackpool's tram service by older residents in Wyre LA The announ

blind faith

Blackpool's transport fleet now bears a mix of destination (and route number) blinds and LED/digital lighting. All new buses are now digital compliant with the Citaro buses having the most brilliant LED displays - visible in bright sunlight as well as dull and nighttime condition. Most of Blackpool's Trident buses are now fitted with digital destinations and route numbers, with only the earlier series retaining their traditional wind around blinds, including the digit route number box at the rear. Naturally the heritage trams retain traditional blinds formatted with font that faithfully recreates the destinations and styles of successive era. This is in no small part due to the partic

Point Break

An all too frequent sight along the tramway is the track (street scene) crew attending to repairs at point sections. The latest being crossovers at the Foxhall which require attention. A previous blog in 2015 noted the same work being carried out at North Pier. The problem lies in the lack of thermit welding on the joints themselves which would have prevented a loosening of the rail section. Bolts which affix the side plates (above) also required a nylon or similar thread to avoid track vibration wearing loose. These were requirements of the points and rail manufacturer (Austrian) and should have been part of the rail installation contracts. Apparently supervision on the part of the

Orange light for North Station

Above : Talbot Square in the days when trams passed the Town Hall - a far more amenable public space than the windswept concrete desert which has emerged in recent years. In the distance the tiled facade of Talbot Road Bus Station dominates the skyline facing North Station (out of sight). The trams of course are on the Marton service - every four minutes if you please. Photos : John Woodman Plans to extend the tramway from the Promenade up Talbot Road as far as 'Talbot Gateway' development adjoining Blackpool North railway terminal seem to be gathering pace. The Owners of the Wilko store and property have a planning application to build a new town centre outlet which should sec

Leeds, Preston, South Hants, Liverpool, Crossriver, westLondon, Isle of Wight - we've heard it a

First Generation light rail vehicles consigned to the history books. Above Manchester on a wet miserable day and below West Midlands in sunshine, with a visiting group examining the troublesome units on that system - all now gone. The publication this week of a transport strategy report for Lancashire by the County Council and the revival? of proposals for light rail (or similar) investment on the Isle of Wight no doubt will go the same way as countless expensive studies and reports published in the past twenty years for light rail schemes in the UK ---- On the shelf or in the bin. Given the fact that Lancashire County Council cannot even sustain a six figure maintenance con

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

 

This website and the content is © 2020 of Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust