JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

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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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A Nice Touch Philip !

On the very last day of authorised use of non DDA compliant buses Blackpool Promenade resounded to the roar of fifty year old classics. Catch22bus Service 21 linking Cleveleys with St Annes was entirely operated with a mix of London RMs, Ribble double decks and Blackpool PD3s - giving visitors quite a thrill as they encountered conductors and open platforms on their way to and from their hotels. Needless to say the event drew more than a sizeable number of enthusiasts to the seafront out to 'seize the moment' including the Author. For once cameras were definitely focussed on the roadway and Catch22bus with its traditional fleet, some courtesy of the LTT (Trust). Philip Higgs, MD of Ca

Colourful Oxford

Oxford is one of those English towns (and cities) which never made it to electric trams. Instead a desultory horse tram system plodded through the historic university centre until swept away by the all conquering motor bus in the 1920s. Today the bus is omnipresent with a bewildering array of operators and services dominating the roads in all directions. From the high frequency airport and London services (almost every ten minutes) to the town services. Soon to be joined (summer 2017) by airport coaches serving Birmingham International - the other direction up the M40 from Oxford. Park and Ride services cover the busy (and often full) large car parks sited in the approaching main roads

Thank You Blackpool Transport Services

BTS Managing Director Jane Cole before the camera at the launch of the company's first tranche of new double deck buses fresh from Alexander Dennis factory in Falkirk. Below - ADL demonstrator on test in Blackpool as a prelude to possible replacement vehicles. The town's bus company - Council Owned - deserves thanks for the reliable operation of both buses and the tram service through 2016. Considering the ever present woes of traffic hold ups, road diversions and the infusion of visitors over an extended season - drivers and staff manage to cope admirably with whatever problem, large or small arises on a daily basis. All the public are concerned with is 'when is the next bus/tram due' an

Classic Tram Classic Building

Classic Tram 648 - Read On. Image : John Woodman Time passes by quickly. It was just a few years ago then Blackpool's tramway still operated with an almost amazing mix of trams: double deckers, single deckers, trailer sets, open cars, and one person operated cars. The enormous variants of colours far outweighed the traditional green and cream examples to make a constant kaleidescope of colours and shapes as each tram passed by. The frequency of services and addition of 'Extras' and 'Short Workings' continued to the very last the great tradition of first generation tram systems in the UK. Just one example of their impact. Here is Centenary Car 648 (nee 651) in its final spons

The Blackpool Tram that Nearly Made It To Leeds and London

Testbed Railcoach 208 seen at the Oxford stop in its prime. It was a great runner. Testbed Brush Car 303 showing off its new resilient wheel bogies (helpfully painted white for the media and demonstration running). The Vambac control equipment had not been fitted at this time. This would be subsequently installed to provide this sole example of a Brush Vambac equipped car. It continued thereafter in service based at Bispham Depot and could be seen on North Station and Lytham Road services. It was scrapped, along with 208, at Marton Depot in 1962. For a brief period immediately following the end of the Second World War there was a gentle flurry of interest in modern trams in Britain. A

North Station Development Scheme - Box Ticked

The news that Blackpool's Council had approved the most important phase of the Talbot Gateway scheme was a very big tick in a very big box. Having acquired the 'Wilko' site from its Owners the planning for redevelopment of this key part of the scheme was able to move forward. The resulting design for a combined new hotel, offices and retail within the footprint of the property also includes the tram terminus complete with large new underpass link directly into the Station precinct. While it doesn't give direct access from tram to train it is very much the next best thing that can be achieved given the difference in levels between the railway and adjacent roads. A £17M new build hotel wi

Bus style contrast - looking back

Rigby Road Bus Park lineup (for the camera) in the 1980s depicts three successive generations of Blackpool Transport buses as we knew them. Number 533 one of the final delivery of half cab Leyland PD3s with matching registration number. AEC Swift Number 558 with Willowbrook bodywork and again matching registration number in its Derek Hyde green and cream fleet livery - and in the centre one of the stalwart Leyland Atlantean double deck examples 318 also with matching Registration number. Representing the town's principal bus types covering nearly fifty years. Photo Copyright : John Woodman Archive

Tram Museum Aborted

This is a picture taken from the top floor of the Transport Offices at a time when the roof of Blundell Street Tram Depot was being stripped of its tiles prior to demolition. This followed on the resulting inspection of the structure after high winds distorted the interior partitioning with consequent structural damage. The cost of repair was deemed to high by Blackpool Council thus condemning this otherwise historic structure to the history books. This event had echoes many years later when the roofing of the new Starr Gate Depot was similarly damaged by high winds with urgent repairs having to be carried out. Blundell Street depot would have/could have become a marvellous tram and bus

Nice Cupcakes BTS !

Blackpool Transport opted for cupcakes to entice the public to the special Christmas schedule information display this week in front of St John's Church. The ultra smart Alexander Dennis bus was the backdrop for a special stand on which the Company's Christmas Service Schedule and new changes were available. A treat came in the form of special cupcakes emblazoned with BTS logo on top of the cream topping. Needless to say this was the first item I picked up on visiting the team promoting the display and very nice it was too. Blackpool & The Fylde College were responsible for the cakes so I was informed. A very positive customer relations initiative by the Company - more please ! The firs

Civic Trust audit

1901 - the year Marton's trams first ran from Talbot Square to Waterloo Road and then through fields to reach Revoe and Central Drive's built up strip. A recent news item focussed on an initiative now underway by Blackpool's Civic Trust who have taken it upon themselves to undertake a check on the town's structures large and small which have historical or architectural merit. This is to be in two parts with the first covering the more obvious buildings which are associated with Blackpool - and the second the more numerous assorted buildings which are worth recording. There are indeed many still extant physical reminders of the town's great years in the past century (and earlier). There ar

Green and Cream - in Peebles

Peebles on the River Tweed is a delightful small town known for its famous Hydro and proximity to fine fishing. The wife's birthday (a big one) required a few days away (from Blackpool) and specifically to a place with not a tram in sight. Thus Peebles suited the week just fine Totally bereft of any railed transport - a certain Home Counties accountant had seen to that in the 1960s. Nearby Galashiels has seen return of trains (from Edinburgh) in a recently reopened stretch of railway, but this admirable project hasn't reached Peebles (yet). The former railway station is marked by a relief of a locomotive on the wall of a local store, but that's about it. A walk through the town's main

What Goes Around Comes Around

Presumably these images could have been taken last week but instead we are witnessing 621 being towed OUT of Rigby Road to embark on its great tour of northern England via Kirkham and Beamish. Whilst in Scotland last week it seems I missed all the excitement at Rigby Road with the arrival of Brush Car 284 (621) more or less in the same condition as it left for HM Prison Kirkham in 2011. The trolley gantry had been previously removed and was deposited at the Illuminations depot where for all I know it remains. The quirk of fate which sees the prototype car now back in the depot to which it was delivered from Brush in 1937 has had many 'godfathers'. Colin MacLeod was responsible for p

And Blackpool's Missing Museum - A postscript

A visit to Lancaster last week afforded time to walk around the city centre and its commercial heart - a thriving compact area enlivened by students and a mix of retail and specialist shops. Market Square is dominated by an imposing edifice which must have hosted an official function in previous era. Today it is a showcase for Lancaster's rich history going back to pre-historic and Roman times. I was impressed with the amount of detail and sequential displays covering everything from Roman milestones to the King's Lancastrian Regiment and its illustrious campaigns up to the post war era. Equally impressive was the attention given to the city's commercial and industrial past with evidence

Green and Cream Does It

The ever impressive double deck 'Balloons' from the 1930s have been a hallmark of the promenade and seafront line. Above at Little Bispham's equally classic tram shelter (now badly in need of some repair in 2016): and below at the former Ash Street tram stop with green painted traction pole and fledgling trees. The shelter was a product of Lancashire and or Wyre Council. Both Images: John Woodman A current spate of letters to the local newspaper shows an appreciable number of people living in Blackpool with long memories are of the view that the town's transport system would be better off reviving the former Corporation Transport green and cream fleet colours. The current Company ope

The Case of the Missing Cab Windows

The recent handwringing post on social media concerning one of our Trust's trams acquired two years ago by a private group (621) and subsequently transferred to the ownership of the excellent Beamish Museum tramway through a mutually agreeable arrangement led by James Millington warrants comment. The FHLT through its own initiatives and embryonic grouping 'Friends of Fleetwood Trams' purchased several redundant Blackpool trams during a period when BTS determined a large number were to be arbitrarily disposed of. Through our immediate efforts two Balloon Cars, two Brush cars, a Motor Unit, Centenary 641 and Jubilee 761 were saved with intention of their eventual display in Fleetwood. T

Cumbrian treat

Steelwork going up for the new museum structure being erected at Ravenglass railway station. And below an informative poster of the line and its high points. A family event brought us up to the Lake District this past week - to enjoy the quite remarkable natural beauty of this part of England. Snow capped mountains added their dramatic backdrop to an unspoilt area protected as a National Park - and quite a large one it is too (by England's standards). Ravages from the flooding had been put right by extensive highway repairs north of Ambleside. These included trimming back of trees and clearing of streams running from the mountainsides into lakes. Cumbria and its earlier constituent part

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

 

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