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

726 and (288) Gain Sanctuary at Rigby Road

726 at Wyre Dock stands alongside 678 on the right and Brush car 635 in the background. Both Images by Steve Meyer-Rassow. After gaining secure storage with the FHLT trams at Wyre Dock both Brush Car 288 (625) and Balloon Car 263 (726) are destined to return to Rigby Road Depot. By agreement with the Owner both trams will transfer by the usual means from Wyre Dock to Blackpool - in the near future. Number 288 was the very first Brush Car to go through the Workshops in 1958 and receive a single indicator in place of the twin indicator cab domes which formed part of their 1937 design at Loughborough. It would be followed by 291 and then over a very extended period the rest of the extant Bru

Blundell Street Tramway on its Way Out

Above : one rail only leading to Princess Street in the background. It is several years since trams last rumbled their way along Blundell Street's single track to and from Princess Street and the Foxhall pub on the promenade where a linking line allowed access on to the Promenade's tramway. Currently contractors are busy with expansion of 'Foxhall Village' which is a housing development on the northern side of Rigby Road. Having taken over the original Gas Works and Tram Depot site which called for considerable ground remediation (and track removal) the development is inching its way over Blundell Street on to the western property line which has seen the former boarding house buildings d

Pleasure Beach Memories Revived

Contrasting trams all in immaculate green and cream (and some black and grey trim) to make the Pleasure Beach turning loop very nostalgic today, The unique Rail Coach cum Motor Unit 680 in its one off fleet livery on loan from the MTMS is a great survivor. The FHLT own sister car 678 in far less pristine condition awaiting its return to glory. Recently turned out of the Paint Shop in its original attractive BTS fleet livery of the 1990s Number 718 one of the quartet of rebuilt Balloon cars to a radical changed design. Now immaculate in its as built green and cream colours making a huge difference to the tram's appearance. Even the extended centre door platforms look less intrusive (or

Market Street Bus (Station) opens

Blackpool's newest bus 'station' opened on Market Street this week just in time for the long May Holiday weekend. Neatly angled bays allow for an additional stand to be inserted on the revamped 'apron' complete with new shelters of the tubular chrome and safety glass variety. Council Operational Services teams also adjusted kerbs with an increased turning circle as buses exit Market Street for the Promenade heading south, or turning left to access the further stops on Corporation Street. Above - contrasting BTS bus fleet brands (and vehicle designs) at the new layout. A Mercedes Citaro waiting to continue on its journey from Victoria Hospital to Halfway House.

Boats, Bathing Cars and Baths

Whilst we are familiar with the remaining boat cars very much evident in the current bout of hot weather (for Britain) and ever popular with visitors - there were similar open trams for tourist elsewhere, perhaps not quite as stylish as Blackpool's fleet. Grimsby of all places was the most unlikely town to operate an open car purely for tours - but the 'tramcoach' did just that for a few years. Possibly an ill judged venture but with just one diminutive two axle unit on to which was fitted a bathlike body with square ends and back to back transverse seating. With the cessation of Grimsby's town trams (as opposed to the more permanent Grimsby & Immingham line) the tramcoach was 'exported'

Manchester's Agony

No words can describe the sheer horror engulfing the great city of Manchester and the innocents whose lives have been ended by the murderous act of an individual now seemingly an actor in an orchestrated plot of a hidden group in the northwest. Having served in the Army in Northern Ireland at a time when violence was being waged on a daily basis with bombs, bullets and explosives aimed at the security forces and both sides of a hard sectarian divide - the lasting impact on communities is incalculable. That this calculated hatefilled obscenity taking place amid a concert with such a youthful audience and their families is ever more heartbreaking for all of us, wherever we live. The daily

Training Week

Driving down Lord Street on a bright sunny morning from meetings the sight of a Balloon car trundling sedately on its way to the Ferry obviously caught my attention. On Driver Training duty it happened to pass a Flexity coming the other way also with driver under instruction - snatching an image from my car just about caught the scene. A more sedate walk to Fleetwood Ferry found Balloon 711 parked up on the loop with the trainer and his conductor taking a break with time for a brief chat. Apparently this week sees a series of training days for both heritage crews as well as additional staff on the Bombardier trams. For the record this is Fleetwood at 1200 today. An unfortunate affliction

The Standards Live On

Blackpool among its many historical milestones was the last British tram system to operate what were (are) considered to be the typical tramcar design familiar in many towns and cities up to the 1930s. The end loading double deck wooden framed 'standard' design came with many variants, not the least of which was the differential between four axle (bogie) cars and their shorter two axle sisters the latter being the more numerous. Blackpool perversely did try out the two axle design in 1911 with three models arriving for an initial launch along the promenade carrying Council Members and officials. The bucking and swaying of the top covered open balcony design caused great distress to the off

Blackpool Bus Notes Today

The old order changeth as one generation of Blackpool bus heads past a previous type outside the condemned 'Wilko' building soon to be demolished (thankfully). The 'Love your bus' theme of BTS is a feature on the rear of the 'Trident' type and seen in closeup outside Council Offices on Corporation Street - below : Catch22bus follow a similar shade of green application - this time for Freeport Fleetwood sponsorship : Yet another green 'rear' but with the Scottish spelling of 'environmentally' - an error by the Alexander Dennis Ltd graphics people - or is this how the word is spelt north of Carlisle? Or just perhaps a deliberate pun which went over the head of the author... But spelt correctly

Market Street Bus Stances near completion

A team of shelter workers were seen putting together the finishing touches to the newly installed shelter frames now lining Market Street. Angled to permit more buses loading and allowing greater ease of manouvre into and out of the bays. Along with Market Street this will be one of the main bus loading points in the town centre convenient for the focus of retailing in the town's commercial district. Once Talbot Road Bus Station served the much larger spread of shops in Blackpool's town centre. Now serving as a fitness centre and restaurant - the former bus station is embedded within redevelopment of its original 1939 structure. Finishing touches being made to the newly installed bus shelt

Fleetwood - update

The Trust has been engaged in extended discussion with the owners of Wyre Dock, Associated British Ports, over the past six months. The objectives of the Trust being foremost in exchanges with ABP management - namely the creation of a permanent tram exhibition within a redevelopment of this important waterfront site. The Trust's trams - most of them, have been stored at Wyre Dock courtesy of ABP for the past three years and decisions on their future are required given the intention of ABP to see the property redeveloped. Drawing on outside advisors and with an invitation from ABP, the Trust has put forward proposals which also incorporate an operating line at Wyre Dock. This forms part

ADL Enviro200 - something new in town

A chance encounter in Abingdon Street on Thursday morning found Blackpool's newest bus being tested out in service. The Alexander Dennis single deck design may become the replacement for the now ageing Optare Solos. A quick look inside found a well appointed interior layout - see image. According to the driver the bus is on a week's trial with BTS. His only comment was on the wheel spacing differential for drivers used to the nimble front axle Solos. In this case the Enviro200 model has its front axle behind the entrance door position which meant pulling up at bus stops in some cases needed adjusting the distance for loading. No doubt the neat green band which added to the overall ap

Bus Advertising

The appearance of a new external marketing agency promoting advertising on Blackpool's buses prompts me to press the recall button to 1956 when Blackpool's Transport Committee was forced to approve external advertising on the town's trams and buses. Like many municipal transport undertakings (Manchester springs to mind) there was a civic reluctance to allow commercialism to spoil the elegance of public service vehicles in local liveries and bearing a coat of arms. Blackpool was one such town which dispensed with advertising on its trams after the Great War - such were the profits filling Corporation exchequer coffers from the ever increasing ridership. After taking over the Blackpool & F

Stockholm Trams - Heritage Museum

A cross bench open trailer - and a motor unit and trailer from the 1920s. There is an excellent static display of many of Stockholm's classic trams open to the public in the city's transport museum located at Tegelviksgatan 22 with bus services 2 and 66 giving direct access from the centre. In addition to the varied display the city's transport system also operates as part of the 7 Line a regular 'heritage' tram featured in the previous blog. Of relevance as well is the 'Cafe Tram' a twin-car set readily identifiable by the coffee cup on the roof of one of the cars! This was not sampled by our reporter however (below). Obviously one of the earliest of the city's tram fleet complete with

Sparvagsmuseet

A European capital with an excellent transport network including suburban electric trains, subways with distinctive station designs, and naturally a tramway network, also operates a traditional or 'heritage' tram as part of a normal service alongside the latest light rail designs. This is Stockholm. The heritage tram can be seen and ridden on Line 7. Solidly built bogie car 335 is part of Stockholm's transport network with regular tickets being used on line 7. It helps promote the city's transport museum which is run by the Stockholm County Council. Inside a classic Stockholm tram from the 1920s. with 24 'sitting places' in two and one seating and large extended platforms. At the other

Bus Preservation Too

Blackpool's trams deservedly get much of the limelight for their longevity and now continuing role in heritage tour service (and seasonal peak appearances). However the Blackpool transport system, still thankfully in municipal ownership, also gained fame for similar stylish, if not unique, vehicle designs through successive decades from the 1930s. Resplendent in decidedly conservative cream and green livery, the bus fleet was an equally positive ambassador for the town, more particularly so in today's market dominated by a handful of corporate ownerships straddling Britain's towns and cities. Whilst Blackpool's operation has gone through a sequence of makeovers in the past twenty years

That Missing Glasgow Standard

Images of the returned Glasgow Standard car 488 now undergoing a total overhaul and being made ready for an operating role at the East Anglia Transport Museum reminded me of a special visit to a secured site near Swindon some years back. At the invitation of the Science Museum staff in charge of their extended 'reserve collection' I made a special trip to a large former airfield location on which several concrete hangars of wartime build housed a diverse amount of artifacts, vehicles, planes and much more. I only got to inspect the residents of just one of these treasure troves and specifically to see Glasgow Standard 585 which I last saw proudly displayed in South Kensington at the Science

Jubilee Car 761

This week saw transfer of ownership of Jubilee Car 761 from the FHLT to the Blackpool Heritage Tours Trust following on friendly consultations between both groups over recent months. This unique tram represents an important achievement by the engineering and workshop staff at Rigby Road during a period when Blackpool alone retained tram operation in Britain - against prevailing trends which saw every other UK tram system give way to diesel buses in the postwar period from 1945 up until the opening of Manchester's Metrolink first line with on street operation. Facing the need for economies in its overall operations and especially on the tramway Blackpool's Transport Department embarked on a

Boring Holes

The sight of drilling teams at work next to Blackpool North Station and the Wilkinson's site is more evidence of imminent redevelopment at this part of Blackpool's central district. Test holes to determine the ground strata and condition on what originally was the classic railway terminus bringing millions to Talbot Road Railway Station and coincidentally the lure of a 'breezy cliff top ride to Fleetwood' courtesy of the tramroad company, are a necessary preamble to the capital investment for the North Station scheme from 2018. This will coincide with total closure of the railway into Blackpool North next winter - to allow a realignment of existing tracks and platform infrastructure and er

Those Amazing Workshops

Ive been writing about Blackpool's transport for the past ten years. Acknowledging the hub of this town's operations I decided to call my modest enterprise 'Rigby Road Publishing'. From the early 1920s when the Corporation assigned a large site to the urgent need for vastly improved facilities to handle the repair, maintenance and new-build requirement of the Tramways Department, this location has been home to generations of engineers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, fitters, overhead power linesmen, painters, track and maintenance staff. A supporting team of clerical, stores and traffic managers together with accountants and payroll staff all ensured delivery of the highest standa

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