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.

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F Line to Fisherman's Wharf

The Trust's objectives in Fleetwood look enviously at the achievements over 6,000 miles away on the Pacific coast where the city of San Francisco has merged its varied trolleybus, transit and streetcar systems into a classic transport heritage paradise. The cable cars add their own unique and distinctive flavour to a city which has achieved 'must visit' status. Among the varied trolleycars operating regular scheduled services are a small contingent from Milan, which itself maintains similar 1920s built 'Peter Witt' cars on some of that city's tramlines. No lack of passengers on this Peter Witt car - not a seat to be had. A nice touch is the retained 'Exit' sign in Italian (and probably m

Bridge of Sighs

Sunday 30th October - Crossleys Bridge from Layton Station platform with the pedestrian scaffolding footpath prominently in view. The heavy duty cranage was removed overnight. One week to go for road traffic before the entire bridge is closed. The heavy lift equipment is in place to lift the road way and bridge abutments over the main railway line leading into Blackpool. Within ten days road access to this important railway crossing will be terminated forcing traffic to find alternate routes from north to south and inevitable creating enormous delays in both directions. Already utility work at a key road junction on St Annes Road requiring closure of a five way intersection has resulted

Scenes from the Fifties

Now that the Council will formally decide on approving the tramway extension to North Station at their November meeting it is worth recalling the days when trams were very much part of the streetscape in Blackpool. Whilst the Promenade was naturally the principal route funnelling trams from Squires Gate and North Station into a mix of services - the high frequency of trams on Dickson Road, Lytham Road and around Marton were no less prominent. Nearly all services featured English Electric railcoaches - with 45 examples becoming the backbone of the fleet. Below : we see trackwork ongoing at the terminus of the Lytham Road service. This was undertaken just a year before the trams were rep

Dreadnought 59

One of the great survivors from the earliest years of Blackpool's tramway is the unique double deck open top car number 59 built in 1902 by Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in Shrewsbury. The tram was one of eight examples in the third tranche of this unusual design featuring twin staircases at each end of the bodywork descending on to a platform and steps which led down to the track. Of course this wouldn't get past the drawing board in later years but the need for faster unloading (and loading) of these high capacity cars on the busy promenade service overrode any inhibitions of management in those days. It is salutory to note that no other British tramway opted to acquire si

Fleetwood's Moving Past

New Zealand approach to heritage tram depot styling - the end wall size vinyl is quite amazing. Replica tram tickets adorn the side panelling. The Trustees will be taking forward outline proposals with Associated British Ports and the operator of Fleetwood Freeport following meetings with management in 2016. The Trust's tram assets will form part of an emergent scheme embracing Wyre Dock to include the Jacinta deep sea trawler now relocated within the Dock during October. The overall scheme is likely to encompass other leisure and hospitality investment now being drawn together through the Trust's initiatives which are ongoing. Fleetwood Town Council have participated in initial exchan

Fleetwood tram project talks begin

The Trust's 2017 Calendar on sale at Blackpool Visitor Centre, Brooks Collectables on Waterloo Road and Toys2Save shop opposite Cleveleys Tram Stop. Copies can be purchased on our Shop and also through EBay Collectables. Following a series of meetings with interested Principals over the past months, the FHLT have received confirmation from Associated British Ports that planning has begun for the regeneration of Wyre Dock. The Trust have put forward their conceptual design and preference for a waterfront site which would allow the creation of a permanent display and interactive visitor attraction. Recent discussions in Fleetwood involve the Local Authority and Town Council who support the

British tramways - foreign trams

Blackpool's electric trams on the conduit third rail power system with which the first company owned service operated from 1885. This is 'North Pier' C1892 In the early days of electric tramways at the turn of the 20th century and late 19th - it was the Americans and Germans who kickstarted development of new lines and tram construction. Blackpool, along with a strange bedfollow on Ireland's most northern coastline - the Portrush and Giants Causeway tramway (hydro-electric powered at that) launched electric traction in the British Isles. Blackpool Council were persuaded by a Halifax entrepreneur Holroyd Smith, to forego steam or horse powered trams for the yet as untested but emergent t

No more foreign built trams please - £1 = $?

The news that Manchester Metrolink's latest and final tram in its 120 strong contract has arrived this past week places the lid? on the largest tram contract in Britain since the 1930s. The UK had several manufacturers of trams (and trains) up and down the country over much of the previous century. Blackpool, being the sole UK tram operator from 1963 up to the final decade of the 1990s, managed to get by with its own dedicated and innovative skills base at Rigby Road, along with working partnerships with Blackburn-based East Lancashire Coachbuilders. Below : Trampower's design being tested on Blackpool's tramway firstly in ghostlike white - see here arriving at Rigby Road Depot and S

This is what a real transport interchange looks like - in Manchester

After an absolutely horrendous journey from Layton to Manchester - the train was over 50 minutes late from Blackpool North just five minutes up the line, and the two carriage affair felt very much like being in some hand me down rolling stock on a rural line in the fringes of the Carpathian Mountains stopping at every possible station en route - I finally disembarked at the newly redeveloped Victoria Station in Manchester (for the first time possibly since the steam age). This was last Thursday. Quite a revelation. A very nice touch being the retained Edwardian (or is it late Victorian?) mosaic tiled facade on the original terminal structure facing into the concourse. A sharp contrast wit

From one waterfront tramway to another

A splendid scene complete with PCC in former Birmingham Transit (the US city in Alabama!) fleet colours amid soaring palms on San Francisco Bay waterfront. No question that San Francisco is home to the world's most colourful heritage tram operation - quite apart from the mix of trolleybuses, modern trams, cable cars and the emblematic BART regional rail network (Bay Area Rapid Transit in American speak). Fortunately my wife has two brothers working in the Bay Area and returning this week from an extended stay allowed some 'snaps' of a very different waterfront operation. From PCC cars to heritage trams of diverse cities (including of course Blackpool) and a mini fleet of Milan Peter Witt c

Blackpool in my youth

Given that it is my birthday today and I'm spending it in Manchester - a performance of 'A Streetcar named Desire' draws me there and a celebratory meal afterwards - I reflect on my home town's better days in this blog. Blackpool in the late 1950s and early 60s when I was even then a keen observer of the transport scene - held a huge amount of interest for enthusiasts, whether they were fascinated by buses, trams or trains (or even planes). It was yet another period of transition for the bus side of Blackpool's operation with tranches of MCW Orion bodied vehicles arriving to take over from the unique and somewhat eccentric centre entrance Burlingham products which were ending their day

Wirral Bus & Tram Show - 3 etc

The Gloriously titled 'SHMD Board' and its constituent parts was represented by Blackpool's only other centre entrance bus operator in the Northwest - and a classic survivor. Lacking the distinction of the HV Burlingham design for Blackpool SHMD's small fleet were very workmanlike - as indeed they should be for their area. Quite apart from the superlatives droning on about the period buses and restored trams on show (and in service) on October 2nd in Birkenhead there were other aspects to the event which caught my attention. First of all what tram heritage line ends within sight of a German U Boat? Only in Birkenhead it seems. A surviving wreck was recovered from its resting place at the

ps : Wirral trams

I omitted the interior image of Liverpool 245 from the tram blog piece and some might find me churlish in not featuring an image of the Birkenhead tram in all its finery - so this is a correction. Below : the austere interior on 245 no frills here. Birkenhead 20 with its impressive lining out and equally enormous fleet number on the dash panels - they didn't do anything by halves in those days when electric trams were the 'must have' technology for any self respecting town or city council. Of course there is also a Blackpool tram somewhere in the Wirral. The cancellation of the laudable plans for a major waterfront development by Peel Holdings involving a heritage tramway through part of t

Wirral Wonderland - 2 The trams

Having covered impressions, however fleeting, of the diverse display and operation of period buses through Birkenhead at the Wirral Bus & Tram Show last weekend its time to record the tram element. Firstly; just as the buses put on a brilliant show ferrying (literally) crowds from the Museum to the Woodside Ferry(!) terminal (complete with U Boat) - so the trams put on an equally impressive presence. Passenger comfort was not exactly high on the list of priorities in Hong Kong. The two examples at Birkenhead being functional and robust - er that's it The tram queue is lengthening off camera to the right. Notable were the Hong Kong duo - both operating with full capacity throughout the

Wirral Wonderland

Sunday October 2nd proved to be an exceptional day weather wise. Given that Mrs Woodman was enjoying yet another weekend in California I opted to take a drive to Birkenhead to sample the 2016 Wirral Bus & Tram Show. Started in 1998 the Show is a contrasting menage of period buses and trams with emphasis naturally on the Wirral and Merseyside area. Dominant municipal hues were of course Liverpool's crisp dark green and pale cream on both buses and tram, Birkenhead's later pale blue and cream and its dark lake open top tram, and Wallasey's delightful primrose and offwhite? with exceptional lettering on its buses and its 'seagreen' tram. Crossville naturally was well represented given it

Tram museum aspirations - 3

Standard 49 from Marton Depot and Pantograph 167 in its all-green Permanent Way Car condition from Copse Road safely esconced at the expanding Crich museum in 1964. Glasgow Coronation 1282 joins them in this outside storage lineup - depot space being at premium then, as now. Photo : John Woodman Archive Following hard on the heels of the street tram route closures in the 1960s and consequent closure of Marton Depot, together with the planned closure of Bispham Depot a possible museum project was 'floated' which saw Copse Road Depot - itself slated for closure being headlined for museum status. This got so far as to involve the transfer of a small number of representative trams to Copse Road

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

 

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