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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Green and Cream Rules (plus yellow & black)

Blackpool's public transport scene provides a menage of fleet liveries past and present - to the mystification of residents and probably most visitors. The tramway provides an initial challenge with noisome single deck articulated vehicles clattering their way along the promenade in a downbeat dark purple, black and white styling. Blackpool Transport (the operator) corporate identity is totally missing apart from a nominal transfer affixed to one of the lower panels. Sharing the tracks are the remnants of former glory days of Blackpool Corporation Transport providing memories of past decades and resplendent in the green and cream fleet colours introduced in 1933. Blackpool's buses also

Marton Tram Book Sold Out

That last copy of Tribute to Marton Trams has been sold and shortly on its way to Australia. Abingdon Street in 1960 with work ongoing outside the new Timothy Whites Store and a temporary tram stop in view. The uniformed BCT crew member watches the Vambac car move off towards Clifton Street curve just ahead whilst a classic Blackpool bus on the 3A is on its regular journey to Cherry Tree Gardens. Image : John Woodman

Tram Museum Anyone ?

It was a further forty-odd years after the aborted scheme to create a tram museum using the former Copse Road Tram Depot site before a further initiative to provide a heritage centre for Blackpool trams surfaced. This time the focus of interest was on the relatively dormant weed covered sidings and property at Thornton Gate still in ownership of Blackpool Council. Above : Thornton Gate Sidings are perhaps best known for the lineup of redundant Standard cars in 1958 despatched from Blundell Street and Marton Depots for scrapping. This venerable assembly included open balcony 145 at the southern end of the lineup and enclosed Standard 177 at the northern end. Number 177 was in fact t

Manchester's classy tram stops (and more)

Manchester certainly does things in style and is the epitomy of a go ahead northern city - providing all of the infrastructure and hospitality assets needed to attract visitors from around the world, but without the intensity of London. One thing which London doesn't have in its centre are of course trams. Whilst that southern offshoot - Croydon has installed a tram network within its immediate reach, Manchester has the real thing running through the commercial heart of its central district - and of course to the ever expanding Manchester International Airport. What Manchester doesn't have are tram drivers falling asleep at the controls while operating in service. The BBC News online

Tribute to Marton Trams - Sold Out - PS

A number of recent orders for this now classic title means this title is no longer in stock or available online through our shop. It is pleasing to know that this book retains the interest of enthusiasts - and the original print run is now at an end. * Slight Correction - due to unexpected circumstances we find there is a single copy of 'Tribute to Marton Trams 1901 - 1962' still available through our online shop. First order received secures. The title covering Blackpool's Buses in a sequential album format is next on the list of books to appear from Rigby Road Publications; followed by Blackpool's transport during the 1950s - 'Municipal Transport Heyday 1950 - 1959'.

British Railways Returns to Blackpool

Motorists filling up at the Sainsbury petrol station might be forgiven at taking a second look at the familiar outline of a BR mainline diesel locomotive parked alongside on Friday afternoon (on the North Station side of the fence of course). BR locomotive 37057 in British Railways dark green lined out livery of the late 1960s headed up another of the special engineering trains now a frequent sight on the Blackpool to Preston line. With traditional semaphore signal gantrys in the background it was a feeling of deja vu for this one time youthful engine spotter. Of course it was not a reversion to a nationalised railway network for which the UK is badly in need of - that would be too much t

Rest Home for 645

Two Centenary cars are at rest in the Fylde - having been acquired by private owners at the great cull of Blackpool trams in 2010/2011. A third of course (641) remains with the FHLT and is a constant feature of interest at the Pleasure Beach tram loop despite its now dated material for Blackpool Football Club. The Trust are in talks with a potential sponsor for a new makeover of this car in 2017. Elsewhere tucked away next to a building at Farmer Parr's visitor attraction close to Broadwater and the A585 is Centenary car 644 which carried advertising for the venue in its later years of operation before withdrawal. Slightly further inland at 'Windy Harbour' Caravan Park off the A585 (a

Great Buses - Pity About the Shelters

Public services for the travelling public - Your Council at Work in Bispham A huge disparity has opened up between the quality vehicles now being operated by Blackpool Transport Services Ltd., the Council owned arms length business, and the abysmal state of bus shelters from which the public is required to access services. Neglect is a mild term to apply to the appalling condition of the town's bus shelters. Seemingly nobody on this Council has either interest nor application in dealing with the now thorny issue of Blackpool bus shelters. Indeed the only remedial attention they would appear to receive concerns the revenue earning advertising affixed to some of them. This is understood

More bus storage stuff

Titan TD4 heads a lineup of Blackpool's last pre-war buses after withdrawal in Marton depot in 1958 Photo : John Woodman Marton tram depot also made room for buses from time to time. This usually involved assigning storage space on the southern most tracks of the structure. In this case the last of the 1937 Titans have been taken out of service, delicensed and await collection by the scrap merchant. The Department took pains to paint out the Corporation crest on the lower side panels and remove the destination blinds, front rear and side . Although whether this in anyway changed the fact that these were clearly recognisable as Blackpool Corporation vehicles is highly questionable.

Tram Depot and Bus Store

Rigby Road Depot has seen its eastern side turned over to storage of withdrawn buses. The infusion of twenty five double deck buses from ADL and consequent withdrawal of the familiar yellow and black Trident types, starting with second hand examples acquired in the previous decade requires storage space for now transient vehicles. The diminished tram numbers has meant that depot space has been given over to housing the surplus bus fleet destined, presumably for scrap. This is not the first time Rigby Road has seen buses encroach on the trams. During the postwar period a similar adjustment saw trams give way to buses in the same part of the tram depot. At that time Blackpool had the l

Centre Entrance Trams Rule - OK?

Whilst Blackpool may forevermore be distinguished by the centre entrance trams and buses which were introduced in the 1933s by its then new Manager, Walter Luff, and perpetuated with preserved and heritage trams running in 2017 - it was far from alone in this predeliction for centre entrance passenger flow. Both Glasgow and Liverpool bought new trams at the start of their electric tram era with centre entrance styling (on single deck cars). Liverpool also trialled a centre entrance double deck tram of relatively advanced design prior to World War One. Apart from a brave attempt to move from open balcony cars to centre entrance single deck trams by Bradford in the late 1920s (it failed) -

Another Great Title

Blackpool's buses deserve another airing (publication wise) and the delivery of 25 new double deckers and the consequent withdrawal of many if not most of the second hand Trident type double deckers this past week has seen a big difference on the main services. Tilling Stevens to Alexander Dennis is a pictorial gallery of the varied buses which Blackpool's council owned/controlled transport system has operated since 1921 when the first buses began an inaugural route linking Thornton Railway Station with Cleveleys Tram Station. In our usual A4 landscape format and with supporting material including guides, timetables and other ephemera - the book will appeal to a broad range of enthusiasts

And Now Somewhere Completely Different

One of several distinctive Lancashire tram and bus operators in former times was Blackburn Corporation Transport. The trams were finally replaced by buses in the aftermath of World War II as new buses became available from manufacturers and Blackburn's final route closed in 1949. Both buses and trams were given a very sombre olive green and cream livery with panel lining out. The trams were of an angular upright design on 4 feet track gauge -quite high off the ground with no dropped end platforms. Number 52 is typical of the enclosed double deck fleet waiting for its next journey to Darwen. This is wartime with headlamp covers affording just a sliver of downward angled light and wh

The Sun Shines on Blackpool's Bus Launch

The glistening lineup of Blackpool's new buses with matching images caught in the cab windscreen provide an impressive backdrop for the formal handover of twenty- five Alexander Dennis Enviro400 double deckers on April 9th. BTS MD Jane Cole gives the principal public speech accompanied by Chair of BTS Board and the MD of Alexander Dennis Ltd. The latest delivery (411 - 435) continues the sequence of fleet numbers following the initial order for ten of this model delivered in 2016. A nice touch is the application of a vinyl heart symbol with 2017 embedded in the image next to each vehicle's front entrance. I am advised that the ten buses (401-410) will similarly receive a retrospective ve

Manchester Metrolink

There is no question that Manchester's city centre and commercial heart has been boosted by the extraordinary growth of the Metrolink network. The second city centre crossing provides critical new capacity for the frequent peak hour tram services which all run into a relatively compact business and shopping district. Celebrating 25 years since the first Metrolink trams appeared in service the system has come a very long way since then. The initial fleet of Italian sourced trams have all disappeared, replaced by a monotonous class of yellow branded units all manufactured in Germany (where else?). Reaching out to many, but not all, adjoining towns and communities surrounding the city of

Those New Buses

Blackpool's bus fleet is set to show off its latest delivery of double deck vehicles already transforming the town's services in the silver and grey 'Palladium' brand adopted in 2016. On Sunday April 9th a formal handover of twenty five buses to Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. will take place on the Tower Headland by manufacturer Alexander Dennis. In 2016 ten examples of the company's Enviro400 model were the precursor for the latest tranche, setting the seal on this design becoming the standard for Blackpool Transport for another generation of riders. Buses are the most visible element of the town's municipal services (along of course with the trams). Arrival of n

Church Street Tram Track Reveals Itself

Revamping the parking and pedestrian space along a section of Church Street this week saw road surface being removed (or at least some top layers) to reveal the distinctive railhead of the former busy Marton tram route. Between the traffic lights at the former Regent Cinema and the gentle slope running down towards now pedestrianised precinct opposite St Johns Church - isolated reminders of Marton's trams have appeared, but all too briefly. The writer and Colin well recall countless encounters with the once familiar English Electric rail coaches with the heavy rumble of trucks on steel rail, and the far more discrete hissing of oncoming 'Marton Vambacs' demonstrating the reason for their u

2018 Has Arrived (well nearly)

With the arrival of Spring even though it doesn't feel like it - both the swallows and the next FHLT Calendar herald another warmer season. The 2018 Calendar will be on sale at the end of this month focussing on Blackpool trams which came through Rigby Road Workshop over successive decades. There are a lot to choose from starting of course with home built Standard cars and of course six toastracks of which 166 remains as a 'souvenir' at Crich. There was the small matter of rebodying the former Company 'Yanks' to enclosed saloons thence forward becoming 'Glasshouses' for the many side windows which utilised the original side posts on these cars. And the Works did try at its hand with

Balloons to go

Both Images : John Woodman The return to Rigby Road Tram Depot of yet another Blackpool exile in the form of Sunderland 101, or as it will no doubt be known Number 703 in future, prompts a brief look at this class of twenty seven trams delivered in 1934 and 1935. Remarkably with return of 703 this month from service at Beamish this brings a total of thirteen examples at Rigby Road, all of which can be considered to be 'Balloon' cars, even though several have been treated to the 'Light Rail' upgrade with extended platforms and all manner of electrical goodies. A further four former 'Balloons' can be added in the form of the rebuilt 'flat front' design which was fortunately short lived in i

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

 

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