JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

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Tidying Up and Finishing Off

With sunshine now banishing the greyness of March and threat of warming temperature - thoughts turn to Easter and a whole new visitor season kicking off. Continuing work along Talbot Road and in Talbot Square is focussed on the completion of roadway and pavement infrastructure with need for clearing the detrius of contractors and materials by the onset of Easter holiday week. Enlarged pavements around Talbot Square with distinctive paving now in place is a definite enhancement. New tram overhead poles have been embedded to take the strain of span wires needed over the three way track junction and roads whilst the new Talbot Square tram stop platform is almost complete with similar materia

Pity About The Passengers

An evocative scene at Bispham Tram Station on Sunday captured by Ian MacLeod. The pristine 'red' boat car freshly launched in service stands out against looming rain clouds heading from the west. A not altogether unknown experience on the Fylde coast. Heritage Tours operated two open cars despite bitter cold winds which had been forecast over the weekend. Whilst few hardy folk chanced their health during Sunday before clouds amassed to deter even the bravest 'tourists' - not so volunteer crews needing to brave these inclement conditions. In former times the Department's substantial fleet of 'boat cars' were kept stored safely within the dry confines of Marton tram depot on Whitegate Dri

Pride & Prejudice

Now that public support is gathering (finally) for improvements to the rail links serving the south Fylde coast towns and communities - it is worth recalling the efforts made by Blackpool's Transport Manager to realise a joined up tram service along the Fylde coast. Whilst Blackpool Corporation Tramways (and the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company) enjoyed heady returns on their investment and tram service operating costs; the line operating south from Blackpool's borough boundary as far as Lytham Cottage Hospital was less fortunate. Year on year it turned in mediocre profits at best, whilst sustaining regular losses on its trams running into Blackpool. Takeover from the company op

Talbot Square - 1960

Municipal Transport Rationalisation - Blackpool Buses and Trams in the 1960s : The forthcoming title from Rigby Road Publishing : Photo John Woodman This busy scene captures Talbot Square in front of the Town Hall at the beginning of the decade. Foremost is experimental Vambac rail coach 208 leaving the terminus and entering the short single track leading into Clifton Street. Alongside is one of the new 'prestige' fibreglass bus stop signs erected at select locations in the town during this period. As a backdrop the classic Yates Wine Lodge building neatly bisects Clifton Street and Talbot Road with period road direction signs providing information to the town's many

Going Back In Time

For readers needing to go back in time to catch flavours of how Blackpool's buses and trams traversed the town in the 1950s and 60s - we plan to release two titles together in the autumn. 'Municipal Transport Heyday' published last year covering the 1950s - and now sold out, will be reprinted alongside the sequel 'Municipal Transport Rationalisation' which continues our coverage through the following decade. Both titles include massive changes in both bus and tram services operated in those years by Blackpool Corporation Transport. Introduction of trailer trams alongside the closure of the street tramways in Blackpool and replacement by new buses being just one aspect of these fascinat

Murder on a tram

Today's news headlines covering the shootings in Utrecht are of particular concern given this latest murderous rampage took place on or at a tram travelling to Neuwegein in The Netherlands. Some years back I worked closely with a Dutch client in that town and became very familiar with what (at that time) was a new light rail operation linking the university town of Utrecht with a burgeoning business centre. Trams are very much part of life in European towns and cities - and thus a familiar and comfortable feature of urban travel. Much like the double deck bus is in British towns and cities. Trams are an exceptional feature in the UK since their national demise which accelerated after th

BREXIT Latest

The UK wide national referendum on whether or not the country should remain a Member of the European Union, or leave the EU took place on 23 June 2016. Nationally 46,500, 000 (rounded total) voted; representing 72.2% of registered voters. The result saw 17,410,000 (rounded total) voted LEAVE and 16,141,000 vote REMAIN In the northwest an overwhelming vote LEAVE was registered in local areas as follows : BLACKPOOL 27,000 REMAIN (32%) 45,000 (rounded totals) LEAVE (67.5%) WYRE 22,000 REMAIN (36%) 41,000 (rounded totals) LEAVE (63%) FYLDE 19,000 REMAIN (32%) 26,000 (rounded totals) LEAVE (57%) All political parties and their local candidate

Brush Cars Galore

One of the remarkable aspects of Blackpool's former fleet is the longevity of a large number of survivors from the 1937 class of rail cars built in Loughborough by the Brush Engineering Company. A total of twenty examples were built for Blackpool representing the very last tram order of this famous British company. A handful of modern cars (for the time) from Sunderland and South Shields saw the company endeavouring to keep its place in tram design and construction but the Blackpool contract proved the final order after which the plug was pulled on further tramcar development in Loughborough. Left : the terminus at North Station in winter with a tram awaiting its return to Fleetwood.

Two Gentlemen From Verona

Two Gentlemen From Verona - err actually from Blackpool, pose beside their favourite tram Brush Car 290 which remains stored at Rigby Road Depot courtesy of BTS. Carrying out an inspection of the car to check on its condition for the FHLT Trust. 290 is one of several surviving trams of this type still very much with us after eighty years..... In the background sister car 288 in private care and undergoing painstaking restoration with panelling removed to expose the worn timber frame.

Two Towers In An Instant

A chance encounter on Market Street captured bus 552 with its BTS silver logo under the windscreen - and a reflection of the real thing.

Coastal Towns in Need of New Direction

One resort town taking the initiative to reinvigorate its attractions utilising an iconic historic structure is Great Yarmouth. A House of Lords Select Committee has been examining the condition of English coastal towns over the past year and will be publishing its findings and recommendations in the near future. Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust with its small collection of period Blackpool tramcars which operated along the Fylde coast over many decades has its stated aim of creating a permanent exhibition alongside displays of trawler history and famous Cadillacs of the 'Fleetwood' marque at Wyre Dock. Encompassing a development scheme branded 'Fleetwood Quays' to bring significant inves

Up The 'Pool !

March 9th at Bloomfield Road marks a new era in the long history of Blackpool's famous Football Club - still at its long familiar home in the centre of the resort. Media and public focus will today be on Blackpool's match versus Southend in the English League First Division. Why ? Because Bloomfield Road ground will be filled more or less to capacity for the first time in several years following on removal of BFC Owners from their role under court order implemented at the end of February. This followed on drawn out legal proceedings and judgements which ruled against the Owners and in favour of a litigant, as well as in favour of sustained community grievances on the manner in which th

Blackpool Today

A typical dreck day nonetheless afforded the opportunity to update on progress with the Talbot Road tramway extension. Traffic is now using the upper section from Abingdon Street junction to Dickson Road junction which benefits from new traffic lights controlling this important intersection. Tram track leads into the entrance area of the condemned Wilko property but no overhead poles or wiring have been implanted thus far in this section. From Abingdon Street junction down to Talbot Square a single westbound traffic lane is functioning whilst contractors continue to work on the inbound platform stop (see images). Extensive remedial work continues on the promenade where the northern boun

Municipal Transport Heyday

We are getting requests for this title published in 2017. Covering the decade of the 1950s Municipal Transport Heyday deals with Blackpool's buses and trams as well as depots and operations in an evolving busy era (what period isn't busy in Blackpool ?). With a limited run the book sold out quickly. The next title due out later in 2019 covers the 1960s. We plan to reprint the Heyday title this summer and will offer both sequential titles together in a special promotion details of which will be announced shortly. The century of Blackpool's buses is not forgotten. Adjusted to appear in 2020 marking one hundred years of municipal bus operation by Blackpool Corporation it will bring the sto

Farewell Box Car 40 - Courtesy of Steve Palmer & Friends of Forty

Overcast skies on a gloomy March 1st nonetheless did not deter a hardy band of stalwart enthusiasts from gathering expectantly outside the gates of Rigby Road. The reason naturally was the final private tour organised on this remarkable tramcar of the former Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company built in 1914. Steve Palmer used his considerable charms? to round up an expectant audience keen to sample for the last time a friendly ride to Fleetwood on Box Car 40 before its departure for Crich Museum via Beamish where it will provide a further service albeit of brief duration. Many familiar faces whose longevity (including the Author's) extended back to days of yore when the tram still retain

More from Quainton

Below : Narrow gauge South African steam - at Quainton Not too far from its former stomping ground. A 3 Unit Metropolitan Underground set. Below : A long way from the desert sands and sun of Egypt. A prototype steam powered articulated set for the Egyptian State Railways - built in England naturally. All Images : John Woodman March 3, 2019.

For the Steam Enthusiasts

A marvellously cold, rainy windswept day last Sunday marked the formal launch into service of yet a further steam locomotive rescued decades back from a Barry scrap dealer of immortal fame. Finding myself in Oxford with family and in proximity to the Aylesbury road from Bicester was sufficient reason to drag everyone out to visit the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. My last visit well over 15 years ago was in glorious sunshine and before the transformation of a new building which became the Visitor Centre. This was formerly a Victorian railway terminus in Oxford which had been donated by the new owners of the site on which it stood (rather than being demolished a la Poulton Signal Box). Th

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

 

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