JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

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Boris's Bus is Culled

One of London's Routemasters now freshly out of Rigby Road Paintshop and resplendent in a rendition of original Tramways fleet colours. John Woodman Archive A shoal of the RM replacements - 'Borismasters' heading towards Piccadilly Circus with their unusual rear end treatment. Might look even more interesting in green and cream if any second hand sales make it to Blackpool. Announcements emanating from the capital this month show the 'Borismaster' has fallen out of fashion especially with London's Mayor and also with Transport For London (Tfl). The cost of the new buses is well above Blackpool's now standard double decker produced by Alexander Dennis and launched last year with an initial

Buggies, wheelchairs v mobility scooters

Another report today of a wheelchair user being refused space on a bus (not in Blackpool) ostensibly because the bus driver said he already had a baby buggy on board is now leading to a further court case. Blackpool has to have the largest concentration of invalids and or morbidly obese people in the country given the volume of mobility 'scooters' being propelled around its streets and particularly in the town centre. The profusion of establishments, either selling or renting out these unlicensed machines, is clear evidence of their increasing use (and misuse) by a sizeable segment of the local population, as well as a good many visitors to the town from north of the border. With the DDA

Sheffield Diversion

Its quite some time since I last visited Sheffield and an opportunity presented itself today en route north on the M1 from Nottingham. Sheffield's 'Supertram' is the second UK light rail system to appear after Manchester's pioneering line and has a now dated fleet of 25 German 'Duewag' manufactured semi low floor trams. The city has transformed itself over recent decades away from its heavy industrial roots with the usual clutter of amorphous plastic brands taking over the commercial centre. A somewhat sterile central district has replaced the former darkened structures of much character and diverse architectural merit which dominated the streetscape of Sheffield's original tramway. Th

Renewing Blackpool's Buses

An important milestone will be achieved within three months when Blackpool Transport Services take delivery of twenty five double deck buses from their manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. Joining the first ten examples delivered in 2016 this year's tranche will establish the template for Blackpool's bus fleet well into the next decade. Notable for the Palladium livery adopted in 2015 with delivery of ten Citaro single deck vehicles manufactured by Mercedes - this sizeable contract will impact on the image of BTS to a significant extent once they 'hit the streets'. The ADL vehicles will edge out the yellow and black 'Trident' design which represents the former management era as well as i

Full 'Steam' Ahead

A sign of the times at Blackpool North Station today with an impressive rake of contractor coaches and equipment required in the preliminary work to electrify the railway line to Preston. Parked on the southern most track alongside Sainsbury's petrol station it proved an irresistible subject for the images below. Meanwhile construction of the new road bridge at Plymouth Road continues apace with the specialist cranage becoming a local landmark. Images : John Woodman

President Trump's Executive Orders

This week has seen remarkable changes to US Federal Government policies heralded in the months leading up to the US Election by Donald Trump intent on reversing America's industrial decline. Summoning the chief executives of the US car industry to the White House it was made clear to them that the days of exporting jobs to cheap labour markets and importing their manufactured goods into the US without penalising tariffs is over. As the Prime Minister and new President confer on Friday - no doubt the same message will be conveyed to the UK Government as the most practical step it will be able to take once this country shakes off the shackles of the EU and 'single market' (if not before)

Northern Powerhouse in Leopold Grove

The Government Cabinet Meeting in Manchester today is symptomatic of heightened awareness of a strategic shift towards rebalancing the UK economy away from the dominating influence of the City of London and financial service sector in the capital. There is no denying the sizeable benefit to the UK Treasury from the sector over the years - however this has tilted the country's economic profile away from manufact-uring and other productive and wealth generating areas. Leopold Grove is up the street in this current scene at the Winter Gardens. The sight of scaffolding holds out hope this landmark structure might finally be receiving care and attention along its western facade. Over several dec

332 Then and Now

Retro branded Trident 332 hurries past the author along St Annes Road this week on 'Line' 7 to Cleveleys. A smart looking bus especially without the advertising. It seems like only last year when Blackpool Transport took delivery of the latest tranche of new Trident buses from East Lancashire Coachworks. Resplendent in light blue and yellow 'Line 11' branding they added to the previous order for similar vehicles which were (most of them) in dark green and yellow 'Line 14' colours under the then Metro Coastlines branding of BTS. How time flies. Since then, and after a whole potpourri of 'Line' branding colours applied in the Metro Coastlines era (foreshortened by the departure of Steve

Make Britain Great Again

It all started with the Treaty of Rome : Image : John Woodman This week sees two parallel epoch changing events, with the UK Government laying out its position in removing this country from the stifling tentacles of a European organisation that has lost its way : and the installation of the 45th President of the United States whose widely repeated mantra is 'Make America Great Again'. Millenia generations have a hard time understanding the values of the independent Britain before unelected elite and obscured interests placed their European veil over democratic processes of this country. A thorough kicking was administered by those of us with long enough memories and like minded real

Bispham Station makeover

The landmark building which marks the tram stop at Bispham is now receiving attention following years of neglect after cessation of Blackpool Transport's use prior to the light rail upgrade work. Since then it has been shuttered and left more or less to the elements with disfiguring boards covering broken windows. Blackpool Council own the structure (along with the neighbouring station building at Little Bispham). Having put the building on the market for rent with no takers it seems that alternate use may be on the cards. Certainly the building is need of care and remediation as anyone waiting for a tram at this point can clearly see with flaking ceilings and brickwork in need of pointin

UK Rules - Post Brexit Britain

German trams on Blackpool's historic service to Fleetwood. This is the new tram stop at Norbreck North in 2016 - first day with Mrs Woodman testing 013. French trams looking very sleek - at Nottingham Station stop - will Blackpool North tram terminus look equally professional ? Number 93 in the Manchester Metrolink new tram order of 120+ units at the new Victoria Station tram stop. German workers benefit from this largest single tram contract in Europe in recent years (from the UK !) Thank you Bombardier. This week sees fundamental change dominating our headlines with a new US Administration taking office led by a non-politician and the UK Government's approach to EU Membership being cod

Electric Trains Heading This Way (soon)

With the Plymouth Road bridge now well and truly dismantled and undergoing re-placement, signs of the pending electrification of the railway from Preston to Blackpool's North Station are clearly visible - as well as being felt by Fylde coast motorists corralled into lengthy detours in north south directions. Rail service between Blackpool North and Preston is being suspended at weekends from the 21st of January onwards. Bus substitution will serve passenger needs sat Poulton and Kirkham. Whether Layton station similarly gets a bus is an open question - we shall see shortly. Evidence of the considerable work underway to replace the bridge with a much improved (and higher) version can been

A Tramroad Seat Anyone ?

Images : John Woodman From time to time odd bits of local tramway history pop up in the most unlikely places. Last year an ebay posting saw an original Blackpool Corporation Tramways crest which used the early Corporation coat of arms before formal incorporation of the town and its approved familiar seagull and waves design. A frantic bidding online secured this probably unique version for eventual display. Tucked away at Farmer Parr's in Broadwater in the eclectic local museum among diverse artifacts and unrecognised as such is an original swingover tram seat (for two) which could well have come off a Tramroad car. Painted in a somewhat gaudy and definitely not politically correct colou

Europe's most successful tram

Bielefeld, Germany 1965. New Duwag articulated 'grosswaumwagen' replace this systems motley fleet of pre-war two axle trams and trailers. Both Images : John Woodman Whilst the French builder Alstom has created a whole new market for its 'Citadis' design over the past two decades - with examples close to home operating in Nottingham and Dublin, probably the most successful tram design from a European company was the 'grossraumwagen' launched by Duwag, in the aftermath of World War Two. Even while the Continent was recovering from the ravages of war and the interim building and rebuilding of worn out two axle cars in Germany, the Dusseldorfer Wagenfabrik, Uerdingen developed a stylish con

Lingering relics

A regrettable aspect in the tale of British trams being 'exported' to the USA over the past sixty years has been the total disinterest shown by the Members of the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, to appeals for the return of two classic 'English' cars in their collection - for restoration by UK sponsors. The otherwise excellent museum and its large diverse exhibits (and substantial workshops) includes several 'foreign' acquisitions from the 1950s and 1960s. Trams from Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Blackpool (of course), Japan, Sydney, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds - were shipped to Maine, usually via the port of Boston. One could also mention cars from Toronto and Montreal for the sake o

A wee bit more from Glasgow

'Wee Baldie' makes a brief camera stop on one of its many enthusiast tours during the waning years of the Glasgow tramway. A second tour car follows closely. Among the many memories I have of days spent riding around this great city is of one particular tram which immediately stood out (if that is the right term) from the hundreds of 'caurs' still serving on several routes. GCT 1089 was a single deck passenger car (to differentiate it from the small fleet of works cars) which could be seen at peak hour service from Partick Depot running along the banks of the River Clyde carrying shipyard workers to and from their labours. Standing outside Partick Depot (possibly for the camera of Derek R

Beamish Beginnings

The incredible visitor attraction which has become a lead destination in the north east had modest beginnings and was entirely due to the efforts of one man who saw the potential of redundant structures and industrial machinery for future generations. As part of the vision thing a small group of enthusiasts added their own efforts to the initial development of the Beamish 'Open Air' Museum site. Sheffield's lone tram in the British Transport Commission collection at Clapham Museum was in need of a new home when that popular venue (a former bus garage) closed down. Fortunately all of the trams at Clapham, including former Conduit Car 4, found alternative venues but the Sheffield car (342)

Tram Museum Aborted - 3

FHLT Member Colin MacLeod finishes off a neat covering job on a Balloon car at HTI yard in Fleetwood. Unfortunately prevailing high winds on the Fylde coast negated quite a few similar efforts. The next serious attempt at establishing a permanent tram museum involved the Lancastrian Transport Trust (LTT). In the run up to Blackpool's great tramway upgrade the LTT had accumulated (if that is the right term) from previous management at Rigby Road quite a collection of withdrawn trams. Their initiatives had started much earlier with Coronation Car 304 and fire damaged Engineering Car 3 (ex 143). However a surge of acquisitions included a boat car, two (or three) Balloon cars, a second Cor

Glasgow Memories - 2

On a gloriously sunny Sunday morning a Cunarder emerges from under Central Station underpass (actually Argyle Street) Derek Redmond formerly of Lancaster and now of Reading reminded me that he took the photo of myself 'driving' a Glasgow tram in the previous Blog and it was taken at Shawfields terminus.. Both of us made several visits to the Clyde in the years up to complete closure of that wonderful traditional tram system. There may be one (or two) Scottish enthusiasts reading this blog, so a further tranche of images from my camera from those halcyon days chasing the 'caurs' on the remaining routes. These were all a far cry from the pristine paint enhanced museum pieces which now prov

Dear old Glasgow Town

The Author in his teenage years takes the controls of 'Cunarder' 1358 during a break at the Service 18 (or was it 26?) terminus. For enthusiasts of a certain generation its hard to believe that almost fifty five years have passed since the last great UK tram system passed into history. Glasgow by a long chalk was the most impressive of systems still running in the late 1950s. Sheffield with its two axle cars and Leeds with its mix of similar cars augmented by London 'Felthams' shipped north were both fascinating, but nothing could beat the intensive tram services operating in Scotland's industrial heartland. No tourist traffic to deal with, just a mix of regular riders day in and day

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

 

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