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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Tram Extension Work Set to Begin

Whilst final legals have to be ticked the decision to proceed with immediate infrastructure work following the last night of the Lights has been taken by Blackpool Council. Ironically it was successive last night of the Lights way back in the early 1960s when tramways were closed in Blackpool in 1961 (Lytham Road Service), 1962 (Marton tramway service) and 1963 (Dickson Road North Station Service). Each final day of the Illuminations saw enthusiast tours traversing the soon to be redundant tracks on cars that were unfamiliar on the condemned routes. So in 2017 the end of the Illuminations heralds the commencement of work on a new tramway in the town. How the worm has turned. Full pra

Goodbye to Familiar Landmarks

As already noted on this blog - the overhead electrification work along the railway line linking Preston with Blackpool is well underway. In fact there are just under two weeks left before the entire line is shut down to regular passenger trains to allow completion of the overhead installation and new electronic signalling - as well as realignment of the platforms at Blackpool North (and all approach tracks into the terminal station). The latter work is also quite advanced with contractors working on the extreme north and south platform segments leaving just the central platforms to serve remaining scheduled (no electric) trains running into and out of Blackpool North. A notable change tha

Catch our Books on Blackpool's transport

Transport enthusiasts with interest in Blackpool's transport history will be pleased to know that the new title 'Municipal Transport Heyday' is with the printer and will be available to pre-paid orders from week of November 6th. All orders received with subscription will be mailed out post free - and special orders locally will be available at Brookes Collectables and Toys2Save shops in South Shore and Cleveleys respectively. The post free offer of £26.00 is available only until November 15th - thereafter orders will be charged postage for delivery. A handful of copies of the Marton tram book 'Tribute to Marton Trams' are now available from the Shop. We can only accept orders for single

Vandals & feral morons

As previously referenced Blackpool Transport has not only to deal with idiot vehicle drivers crashing their vehicles into walls, houses and on to tram tracks - but also the lamentable social breakdown prevalent in today's society. The new buses which came with such a proud reception have had their powerpoint sockets turned off to avoid bored young passengers infilling them with varied substances. More costly is the tendency in certain parts of the town for buses (and shelters) becoming targets for stone throwing youths. In some cases drivers have refused to take their buses through some areas after a spate of incidents. Not that this is unique to Blackpool - not by any means. I well r

Portents of Change

The assembling of materials and road signs at Talbot Square together with removal of a pedestrian crossing refuge on Talbot Road are harbingers of pending work to be implemented as soon as this year's Illuminations are dimmed. Extensive traffic diversions will begin to allow contractors to proceed with critical road reconstruction and track laying. Below : Talbot Square - initial signs of pending road work - stored materials. Above : Talbot Road at Abingdon Street junction - pedestrian safety refuge now removed and replaced with large plastic 'lego' pieces. More to follow soon. Newly installed neat kiosk outside Blackpool's railway station - room for one only ! At North Railway Station

SN66 WLK is too good for Blackpool

As luck would have it a chance encounter at the North Pier Tram (and Bus) Stop found BTS Demonstrator SN66 WLK waiting to load heading north. Before the atrocious rain and wind reached the Fylde coast I took the opportunity to board for a journey to Cleveleys (instead of my intended visit to Waterloo Road). Having seen this distinctive Alexander Dennis model quite a few times in recent weeks the blue (neutral) livery was already a familiar sight. However on boarding and heading to the top deck things were even more distinctive for passengers. Aircraft type seating with deep cushions, arm rests and folding tables inset into backrests were the first and most obvious difference. Passenger s

Another Fleetwood

The Borough of Fleetwood, PA - Twinned with Fleetwood, Lancashire Home of the Fleetwood Metal Auto Body Company 1909 - 1931 > Fisher Body, General Motors Corporation, Detroit > Cadillac Fleetwood Marque The impressive early 20th Century Plant of Fleetwood Metal Auto Body Company Fleetwood Pennsylvania is forever associated with the coachbuilding business which began design and construction of bespoke auto bodywork of a very high quality. The company was acquired by investors who created the beginnings of General Motors Corporation (GMC) - and transferred production from Fleetwood to Detroit in 1931. By this time the Fisher Body Division as it was known employed over 8,000 peop

Trains, Trams and Buses

As the end of Blackpool's 2017 season looms in early November, preparatory work is well advanced on the transport front to take benefit of 'downtime' in the annual calendar. Blackpool North Station's platforms have been reduced to four with groundwork already well advanced on both sides of the approach tracks - and installation of electric overhead pylons and gantrys inexorably heading westward from Poulton Station. Once train service is replaced by buses from Blackpool to Preston - a faster pace of work on completing this infrastructure will ensue. The section from Preston to Kirkham will be completed first, followed by Kirkham to Poulton and then the line into Blackpool North. Below

More Scenes from Cleveleys

A succession of operators traversing the tram tracks at Cleveleys in quick succession. Sorry - no trams. Taken Monday this week along with the BTS ADL Demonstrator - see previous Blog. Bus enthusiasts will know the types and numbers.

Another New Bus ? PS Monday update

The seafront bus service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood (1) was enlivened this weekend by the entry into service of a further demonstrator from the Falkirk factory of Alexander Dennis. Decked? out in a rendering of Scotland's 'saltire' colours albeit muted it made a definite difference amid the greys and yellows of Blackpool Transport's fleet. Whether this model has significant differences from the current deliveries from Falkirk or portends an improved version yet to be ordered, is not known. But for the avid bus enthusiast here are a couple of views as the demonstrator inched its way along traffic at the Foxhall on Saturday complete with Blackpool Transport Services lettering on a lower

Squires Gate Bridge Set For Rebuilding

Formal notices have been published announcing the closure of the road bridge at Squires Gate over the railway line with effect from the end of the Illuminations. Quite considerable delays and diversions will result in peak traffic hours as a result but are unavoidable. Much like the recent rebuilding (on time) of a similar road bridge over the railway line at Layton Station - the Squires Gate bridge is showing signs of severe corrosion necessitating its reconstruction. Nearby Harrowside road bridge is also being rebuilt for similar reason causing further diversions of traffic. All three bridges were constructed in the early 1930s hence this parallel rebuilding work by the Council. Thre

The Great North Rail Project (to Blackpool)

Blackpool North and diesel sets abound - including the dreaded 'Pacers' - days now numbered. Leaflets now being handed out in the Fylde provide details of the rail closure and opening dates ahead of termination of train services into and out of Blackpool stations (and other stations to Preston). Services end on Saturday 11 November from both Blackpool North and Blackpool South termini. Rail replacement buses will operate on what are expected to be very flexible schedules between Preston and Blackpool. Whether any timetable or frequency information will be forthcoming is not known at this time. Stations should remain open for the issuance of tickets and rail service information. Trains to

Bluebell, Poppy, Cissy and Spivs

Cissy shows off its classic lines - National Tramway Museum Trams in former times were usually everyday objects of affection by the regular travellers using them to and from their homes and workplaces. In part this had much to do with the crews and their banter which made them a welcoming predictable environment. All that has gone now. Driver only units with the driver safely esconced behind strengthened partition glass and locked door in what have become soulless modes of transport - solely focussed on scheduled movements between A and B. Consequently today's multiple or articulated bland units emit nothing like the character of trams (or for that matter buses) of previous generations

Back to the Fifties

Having now finished the final pages of the new title - Municipal Transport Heyday the images of this vibrant decade in the resort's history were brought vividly to mind as I was witness to the delivery of brand new buses, the emergence of the prototype trailer set, the new brush sweeping through the Transport Department of Mr Franklin, plus a host of impressions of packed trains and coaches arriving in the summer season and a First Division Football Club. For those readers of this blog who are waiting for news of the publication of this latest book - it will be going to the printers the last week of this month and hopefully initial copies available to subscribers promptly thereafter. The pr

Just A Month To Go

The sights and sounds of trains rumbling in and out of Blackpool North have just a month before closure of the entire line from Preston to the Fylde coast. From November 11th contractors have complete control of the tracks and freedom to correct platform and track alignment at Blackpool North as well as the erection of overhead power cables throughout the line from Preston. Blackpool South and the south Fylde single track from Kirkham junction will remain diesel operated. Preston Station at least has some smart signage installed ready for the closure of the Fylde train services from November 11th and their replacement by equally smart Blackpool Transport brand new buses. Above : Clearanc

Its Quieter in Manchester

Manchester is almost a tram city once more. After cessation of the Edwardian era double deck trams of stained quarter lights and once elegant livery fame - in 1949 when the final example (1007) trundled into its depot - a renaissance of steel tracks has made Manchester the largest UK tramway by 2017. The initial fleet of Italian built vehicles have given way to a standardised Bombardier model complete with new livery that is present throughout very competently designed and presented (and maintained) infrastructure. A second all street route linking the many services permeating the central business and commercial centre makes it seem as if there are trams everywhere. Destinations from Ec

Three Way Turn

The illuminated trio are rarely (if ever) featured on this blog but a chance encounter at Rigby Road this afternoon has helped correct this (glaring) omission. A daily ritual for the heritage tram staff at the Works is to ensure the unidirectional units are facing the correct way for departure each evening. Arriving back at Hopton Road every night after their duties on Illuminated tours has meant the driving positions are facing east - given the fact two of the three feature trams are unidirectional. Whilst the third has its front (or prow end) distinctively different from its rear, although both ends of the 'Trawler' have full driving cab positions. Below : Walking the Trawler ... Walk

Endangered Species - Wild Designs ?

In the beginning the electric tram era followed literally on the rails of equine motive power with relatively small two axle cars and open tops. Coachwork design was much the same although dispensing with limitations of horses meant heavier and somewhat larger frames and dimensions. It was not long before these basic designs morphed into much larger versions with bogies giving underpinning for lengthened bodywork. The largest electric trams in the United Kingdom naturally appeared in Blackpool even before the turn of the century in 1894 with the 'Lancaster Palace' cars and then the fearsome double end staircase 'Dreadnoughts'. Blackpool's huge growth in popularity for the working class

Art on Tram

The FHLT are providing storage for a Blackpool tram which retains its handpainted imagery advertising Blackpool Zoo. Uniquely privately owned 637 (300) still has carefully applied renderings of colourful creatures, as well as an early vinyl marking the advent of this technique which has now all but eliminated signwriting and its art, although privately owned small and medium size businesses still take a pride in their vehicles, whether trucks, lorries or vans, with traditional hand painted exterior signage. Ironically perhaps these stand out more in traffic than the gross in your face corporate messaging which is an all too frequent approach of bigger firms. So Brush car 637 is the sole

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

 

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