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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Blackpool Buses to Manchester Trams

A business meeting in Manchester this past week used a BTS bus journey to and from Preston Station on rail replacement duties, then Northern train to Oxford Road with the short walk to St Peters Square with its four track tram station and constant coming and going of the Metrolink fleet. The BTS contract service direct to Preston took a rather disjointed route from Blackpool North to Chapel Street via Central Drive and then on to the Kirkham road. A more direct journey would have brought us to Preston New Road and the same Kirkham direction. However the experience was without traffic delays and arrival at Preston amid a cluster of Blackpool's smart new buses was a rare experience. A glim

Easter Blues

Blackpool without train service is a rare experience as overruns on completion of electrification on the Preston to Blackpool line mean a delay to the original timetable. Instead April 16th is now given as the drop dead date for trains to again run in to Blackpool North (and Poulton and Layton). A frenetic scene greets bus passengers en route into the centre along Talbot Road with all manner of equipment and activity on the station approach. All of the overhead masts have been erected but electric wiring has yet to be completed among other essential infrastructural work. Blackpool's buses will thus continue on their rail replacement duties for nearly three more weeks, along with contract

Northwest Tram Revival

The news this week of a further order for new trams is pending to improve capacity on Manchester Metrolink's services with more than twenty further units, presumably of the same type as the current fleet, places Manchester well ahead as the UK's largest tram operator. No doubt this eminently successful system will grow and grow in coming decades replicating to a great degree the network of interrunning first generation tramways which clustered in and around Manchester. Below : the Manchester 'Standard' likely to endure well into the 21st Century. The first low floor tram to be seen on the Fylde coast tramway (pre-light rail) in 2006. Under test by Trampower in cooperation with BTS. St

Trams, Mines and Mining

Carrying out research on further titles for potential features raised the interesting subject of tramways built specifically as adjuncts to the development of mining communities. A somewhat specialised theme but interesting nonetheless. The most northerly electric tramway in the world was at Kiruna in Norway - within the Arctic Circle and built specifically for the transport of workers to mines (not coal) of economic importance. No longer operating but with an extant preserved example of the blue painted cars used by the company - it is a topical starting point. In the United States the famous name in copper - Anaconda, was the site of a specialist electric tramway to ferry workers to t

Vinyl on a Tram - in Toronto

A wintry trip to Toronto quite some time back brought close acquaintance with that city's amazing tram/streetcar system - then exclusively PCC operated which goes to show just how long ago this encounter refers to. The Toronto Transit Commission or TTC as it was more familiarly known was then considered to be one of the finest if not the best managed urban transit system in North America. It was certainly the largest operator of PCC cars by far having taken advantage of the rundown in US trolleycar systems and premature withdrawal of modern (for those times) cars. Cleveland, Birmingham, St Louis were among sources of second hand PCC cars to augment the Toronto fleet in the 1950s and 60s

La Poste - Vive les Bateau de Blackpool

One up on the Royal Mail - where else can one post a letter with valid postage that features one of Blackpool's famous 'boat cars'. Perhaps a Standard car might follow ?

Blackpool Buses Next

Talking of books - the new Rigby Road Publishing title 'Tilling Stevens to Alexander Dennis - Blackpool's Buses in Transition 1921 - 2018' is somewhat delayed in publication date due to the new edition of 'Tribute to Marton Trams 1901 - 1962' which will be available late April. A photographic survey of the varied types of municipal vehicles serving Blackpool will cover principal marques and designs which have been familiar on the Fylde coast over the years - leading up to the new 'standard' Blackpool double decker built by Alexander Dennis Ltd. When rail replacement services finally end and the BTS vehicle assignment is completed - the once common yellow and black styling of Trident exa

German Trams and Books

Arrival this weekend of 'German Trams In Colour 1955 - 1975' after an extended wait brought back memories from my time in that country in the 1960s. Straight from Blackpool via Catterick Camp to the middle of North-Rhine Westphalia brought me in immediate proximity to German tram systems then undergoing metamorphisis from postwar reconstruction to economic 'wirtschaftwunder' of the new Federal Republic. Systems large and small were gearing up to replace their pre-war wooden framed trams, usually involving multiple trailer operation with two axle cars. In their place came ubiquitous Duwag 'grossraumwagen'; firstly with the bogie versions from the early 1950s and into articulated versions

Siberian cold delays rail upgrade work

Unsurprisingly the now drawn out cold weather impacting on the UK has had a knock-on effect with the railway electrification contracts in the northwest. The Blackpool to Preston upgrade has understandably been delayed by at least three weeks according to reports published this week. Therefore trains will not be running into Blackpool North during the Easter holiday weekend which is much earlier in the calendar this year. Anyone needing to work outside during these sustained bitterly cold nights with strong easterly winds has my sympathy; and even with weather protection gear on, sustained exposure in these conditions limits progressing delicate overhead installation. At least Blackpool

Box 40 Meets the Incredible Hulk

A most unusual press call took place on Blackpool promenade early this morning with a special event organised by Merlin Group's design and technology teams. This involved one of Marvel's comic characters now being installed in the Tussaud's display in Blackpool - the Incredible Hulk. The Incredible Hulk stops a runaway tram is the headline for a unique feature no doubt hitting the nation's media (and elsewhere). In this particular case Fleetwood Box Car 40 was provided from Rigby Road's substantial collection to take the place of the 'runaway' with a special installation of the 'Incredible Hulk' posed halting its progress on the loop track next to the Visitor Centre. Regrettably the Auth

Park and Ride Works

Another notable feature of the Oxford bus network and joined up transport strategies of both road and rail is the success of park and ride services which are a strategic feature of Oxford's determination to reduce traffic volume within the city central area. All of the main roads leading into Oxford (with one exception) have large staffed park and ride sites prominently well marked for motorists. To encourage their use the local bus operator together with the city council provide high frequency dedicated services into and out of Oxford. These use prominently branded double deck buses that enjoy bus priority lanes from the P+R sites. A smart (and busy) park and ride centre opened up to t

Thanks for all the laughter Sir Ken

News of the passing of Sir Ken Dodd of Knotty Ash in the County of Merseyside was the lead in this morning's news. For Blackpool as for all the country a sense of great loss in our lives - at least for those with memories stretching back decades. Ken Dodd was the star of many Blackpool seasons at the height of his fame which has gone on and on and on - giving viewers and audiences at his many shows a wonderfully tickling experience abounding with laughter. The author caught this summer season memory of Ken Dodd starring at the Blackpool Opera House even while trams rumbled past - in this case equally memorable 208. Thank Ken. Knotty Ash will never be the same with expected closure of th

Oxford Branding

One of the noteworthy aspects of local bus services (and those serving destinations further afield) is the prolific branding specialisation. Blackpool's flirtation with individual service branding under the 'Metro Coastlines' strategy initiated under Steve Burd's management from 2000 to 2009 is still a recent memory, although it quickly was erased by Trevor Roberts when he took the helm. Oxford's bus services feel as if one is going back to the future as the following images depict: Oxford service 2 oxford service 6 oxford service 5 Oxford service 8 Classic Oxford backdrop and service 3

Blackpool Council to Approve Tram Extension Funding

Next Monday Blackpool Council will be invited to approve financing £6.4M to top up the total capital spend required for completion of the tram extension from the Promenade to North Station. This involves street running along Talbot Road where relocation of utilities is already underway. Plans for the new line to open in 2019 will require removal of the first generation tramway infrastructure embedded under the road surface from Talbot Square all the way to Dickson Road where the new tramway will veer to the left onto land currently occupied by the Wilkos store and car park which is set to be demolished later this year. This momentous vote will turn the clock back from a decision in the l

Lytham Dock to Wyre Dock

Tobias Morris - Legal Counsel of Helical Technologies takes an obligatory photo call by one of the Trust's collection at Wyre Dock on his visit to Fleetwood this week. Helical Technologies on Dock Street, Lytham are owners of a remarkable collection of transport vehicles, steam engines and heritage artifacts. Their property once hosted a working narrow gauge steam railway with extensive trackage, much of which still exists. The collection is currently stored on their premises but not accessible to the public and active plans for a new purpose built exhibition centre (and working narrow gauge line) are expected to be approved during 2018/19. Producing high technology equipment used by the

Dickson Road Trams As Well

Literally the end of the line outside North Station before the terminus was cut back to relieve problems caused by traffic during peak season. The feeder wires are evident above this Brush car before it reverses for its return journey to Fleetwood. Blackpool residents today will note the more sober look of the retailing offer in the 1960s - compared to today's low end frontage. The much anticipated extension of Blackpool's tramway - the first since the 1920s - along a stretch of Talbot Road to a new terminus adjoining Blackpool's principal railway station is reason to remember the much earlier tram service to the same destination. Dickson Road didn't quite have the photogenic qualities of

Fifty Years On

The entry into service on Sunday 4 March of 017 and 018 adding to Blackpool Transport's light rail fleet prompted comparison between Blackpool's trams over fifty years with this image of Twin-Set (682/T2) in retro cream colours of the early 1960s and the current Bombardier Flexity product. The larger dimensions of the Flexity model in width and height overwhelms the more modest British designed and built unit even though there are far more seats (and far less standing room) on the Twin-Car. Roof glazing and clear glass on the side windows provides for much better vision for seated passengers - not to mention more comfortable sprung seating as opposed to hardened 'squabs' purporting to deli

Lytham Road Trams - for a change !

Highfield Road crossover with a Balloon car making a return journey to the Cabin and well kept local shops with sun blinds lowered as a backdrop (plus trees). Marton trams seem to be getting overly long attention on this blog so it is only fair to share some images of the equally important street tram route in Blackpool which ran up to Squires Gate Lane from Manchester Square. Originally built for the Blackpool St Annes and Lytham Tramway Company with joined up service as far as Station Road where Blackpool Corporation trams ended (for a time). Eventually Blackpool Corporation took over the entire Lytham Road tramway. The continuing line that ran over the railway tracks at Squires Gate La

Tribute to Marton Trams - A FURTHER UPDATE*

Our online shop was automatically adding postage costs to paid orders for the 2018 edition : Tribute to Marton Trams. As advertised all paid individual orders received by 10th April will be post free. Please note that a refund of the postage and packing charge will accompany mailed copy to subscribers registering their payment and being charged postage over the past two days. The retail price of the title is £29.00 and our online shop has now had technical correction this afternoon which removes the p&p charge on further Marton title orders. We appreciate all the orders now being received for this classic title in its 2018 enlarged edition. Below : This way to Preston ! Royal Oak

Order Your Copy Now

The new 2018 edition of 'A Tribute to Marton Trams 1901 - 1962' can be ordered online from today through the Tramtalk shop. Orders received by April 10th will be mailed out post free next month week of April 23rd - title price is £29.00. hereafter orders will require post and packing charge. First copies will be made available to advance subscribers who are attending the special tram tour on Standard 147 organised by Steve Palmer (Friends of Forty) on April 21st from Rigby Road to Fleetwood. The new edition will contain a further twenty four pages featuring photographs taken by Colin MacLeod during his youthful years living on Whitegate Drive - and tales from that time. Below : Up on

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


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