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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Blackpool's Bus Scene - Five Years Ago

The Blackpool Zoo Bus Service Terminus with Solo 240 ahead of Catch22Bus RM An immaculate Routemaster on Service 21 in Blackpool June 2016 Another immaculate 1960s period Blackpool bus at the Cleveleys terminus of Service 21 - the red and white colours hark back to the 1920s when Blackpool Corporation Transport's buses and trams were resplendent in similar colour. Departing from Cleveleys to make a hard right turn over the tramway for the return trip into Blackpool. Bus courtesy of Catch22Bus team. Tridents passing in Cleveleys with 335 viewed from the Models Shop opposite the tram station. Sister vehicle enroute to the Cleveleys Bus Station terminus of Service 9 above. Note the two BT

English Electric Trams in Poland

The interwar years saw a newly created Poland - riven from the Communist ruled Russian territory and the former Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. The new state was in need of modernisation of transport infrastructure, particularly in and around Warsaw. British Government credits were available to support new export markets for manufactured products. The English Electric Company saw opportunity for its power generation and electrical distribution systems and with political support secured contracts for the electrification of Warsaw suburban railways. This extended to supply of rolling stock for two seperate tramways running out of Warsaw's suburbs. At the same time the company also gaine

BTS Bus Adjustments

In addition to the severely truncated bus schedules now being operated as a result of the corona virus impact - the handling of fares and transactions have also been curtailed. New protective screens have been inserted over the original design allowing fares and card use. Instead passengers can merely display their card or pass to the driver without any physical handling from the cab. Seat use is prohibited immediately behind and on the nearside area from the driver - to further avoid potential viral transmission. Transport for London (TfL) require passengers on buses to only use the middle doors of vehicles whether entering or leaving. Blackpool's fleet is front door design. Very low pas

Aachen 1010

One of the more unusual imports in the British Isles involved the upgrade to the Snaefell Mountain Railway trams several decades back. The need to improve the braking and power systems of these veteran trams resulted in a contract being given to London Transport's engineering business by the Manx authorities. Withdrawal of a series of postwar bogie cars by the Aachen system with relevant equipment provided opportunity for the Manx Government to acquire sufficient material. A deal done involving LT resulted in the Aachen cars being shipped to London where their bodies were scrapped releasing the braking and other equipment to be refitted on the Snaefell bogies. One Aachen car 1010 was h

Lost Tram Depots on the Fylde's Coast - 2

A further grievous loss was the tram depot built by Blackpool Corporation as part of its development of the tramway around the town's eastern district to Marton - and thence by almost circular route back into the commercial and leisure centre at Hounds Hill ending at Central Station. This was completed in 1901. At the time Whitegate Drive was essentially a wagon track surrounded by open fields. This quickly changed following the Corporation's approval of the new line. Large single family residences with equally large gardens sprang up almost overnight, together with a new 'Victoria Hospital' and several educational venues alongside the new tramway. Land was available for a brand new

Lost Tram Depots On The Fylde's Coast - 1

Sticking with the transport museum theme for a moment (see previous Blogs this month) - the omission of a public display of vintage trams (and buses) depicting the transitory story of urban transport over three centuries along the Fylde coast - is a grotesque example of benign neglect by local authorities. Local Authorities now signing up to proposals for a enhanced electric powered light rail system embracing communities from Fleetwood to Kirkham and Lytham (and of course Blackpool). What goes around comes around. Three electric tram systems once provided services connecting the Fylde coast towns with interrunning across all three. To house and maintain rolling stock of three very d

Really Good Use For Old Tram Depots

A working tram depot in The Hague upgraded to create a remarkable assembly of that city's trams displayed to the public and used for tours and special events. Ive visited many towns and cities operating trams or formerly with trams and it is surprising just how many recognise the historic importance of surviving examples sufficiently strong enough to warrant their further use to house representative tram and bus displays. From Prague to Liege, Brussels to Moscow and especially throughout Germany - notable collections of now vintage vehicles are housed in old tram depots upcycled to become educational and heritage museums. Of course such structures are prone to demolition as developers and

Farefree Travel ?

Transport for London this week has announced no fares will be taken on London's bus network. Jointly TfL has also directed that bus passengers must only use the centre entrance of vehicles. Loading from the front and paying fares by card or cash to the driver is now forbidden as a measure to avoid infection of bus drivers through transmission involving fare payments and proximity to drivers when boarding. The alarming number of deaths by LT staff, particularly bus drivers, has caused these measures to be put in place with immediate effect. Blackpool's bus fleet uses only front entrance and exit designs. The tram fleet has drivers enclosed in their cabs with no need for interaction with

The Missing Museum Display

Blackpool's Tower, Piers and Trams are forever synonymous with the longevity of this Lancashire seaside resort. Whilst the Piers - all three of them - have survived in the care of successive owners, and the Tower with its equally famous Ballroom are now iconic emblems of Britain's seaside resorts since the late 1800s when railways transformed travel and access for millions seeking seaside enjoyment - Blackpool's trams have fared less well. The once nostalgic ride along the coast in period cars with swing back seats and airy picture views has morphed into bland travel within modular designed vehicles devoid of character or any charm. Low floor design and lack of roof mounted glazing has m

Shade Gap - The Electrics

This excellent museum operation is much enhanced with the running line extended since my visits up to the '90s. All images : John Woodman Shade Gap was the first US trolley museum to take delivery of working examples from the Oporto system. Its two Brill cars (one bogie and the other a two axle version) are classics from the early part of the 19th Century. They were joined by one of the former 'coal cars' used as a maid of all work car 64 seen below on track replacement duties. Johnstown PA was the last small town tram system to operate in the US purchasing a batch of postwar PCC cars as a final flourish. Their equipment went on to provide running gear and controls for a new series o

Shade Gap

What could be better than having a combined steam railway and electric tramway of the heritage sort - comingling services in a rural setting well away from tourist trails ? In the middle of Pennsylvania this idyll exists at Orbisonia where a former narrow gauge steam railroad suvived long enough to be taken over lock stock and turntable roundhouse in the 1960s. Electric trolley enthusiasts combined forces with the dedicated steam train group to produce a wonderful mix of authentic heritage rail operations. I had the good fortune of visiting this out of the way operation several times during my years working in New York. Pennsylvania is blessed (if that is the right term) with several he

American PCCs in Europe

The US styling of its 1930s modern streetcar as marketed as the 'PCC Car' found a fulsome market in North America but was less appreciated when applied in Europe. In fact only the Belgian national tram system 'Vicinal' and the Dutch city of 'Den Haag' accepted the same bodywork design (albeit to a narrower specification) as the US original. Europe in the early postwar era desperately needed to refresh (if that is the right term) its myriad urban tram systems. The PCC license had already been secured by the Fiat Company in Italy and the Belgian leading tram builder. In the UK an amended application of control equipment was developed by Crompton Parkinson under the 'VAMBAC' branding, whi

Easter Weekend - Blackpool April 2020

This important holiday weekend is like no other in Blackpool or indeed anywhere else in Europe. Whilst ordinarily crowds would be flocking in to the seaside resort especially given the warming sunshine and mild breeze - instead the town centre resembles a ghost town (or nearly) with isolated pedestrians and slow moving lines waiting their individual turn to enter this or that food emporium. All non essential retail outlets are closed with only health and medical venues together with those selling food allowed to stay open. And even then with severe restrictions on the numbers permitted to enter at any one time. Security and store supervising staff maintaining a cordon around entrances. B

A Big Thanks to NHS And All Public Staff

As the country heads into what looks like being a glorious Easter Weekend one like no other - it is timely to acknowledge in full the eminent work and commitment of tens of thousands of public sector employees undertaking absolutely essential work up and down the British Isles. The daily toll of fatal illnesses reminds us of how much risk is being taken to fulfill essential tasks from driving buses to caring for the infirm and elderly - as well as staffing hospitals large and small. GP practises and their staff are equally in the forefront of facing constant threat from unseen but an omnipresent virus indiscriminate in its toll of human life. Whether its postal delivery, policing our stre

The Way We Were - 5

From the beginning of the 1930s until 1957 - Blackpool's municipal buses were more often than not designed and contructed in the town by coachbuilding firm HV Burlingham which had set up a modest fabrication business building small vans in the mid 1920s. By leaps and bounds the company found itself as a leading coachbuilder in the north of England in the following decade. Originally setting up shop in Marton with diverse modest rented premises its founder sold out in 1934 to pursue a lifetime skill in cabinet making. This found a ready market in the design and construction of caravans. The new business flourished as Burlingham Caravans on a site adjoining the busy A6 road outside of Gar

The Way We Were - 4 (Glasgow)

Glasgow's amazing tram system closed its last service nearly sixty years ago. But the onetime familiar images, if not the sounds, of the city's trams still have a resonance in 2020. Unlike its ever present rival - Edinburgh, Glasgow has still to embrace the renaissance of light rail, although from time to time creditable attention is given to this or that scheme for formal consideration. A line running from the centre to Glasgow's Airport being oft mooted but so far unrealised. In the meantime Scotland's capital is taking next steps in extending its present light rail line worked by trams (foreign built it must be said) but retaining the madder and white colours long associated with Ed

The Way We Were - 3

Going back in time all the way to 2013 ! A wonderful sight at the Pleasure Beach loop with newly painted boat car in its original fleet number 230 and embellished gantry with images of Blackpool favourite - George Formby. Princess Alice stands behind to complete the set. Parked on the display track is Brush car 627/290 in its special Queen's Diamond Jubilee commemorative livery - a product of work at HM Prison Kirkham with technical support from the Lightworks team. All Images : John Woodman Immaculate retro heritage tram in the shape of 'Princess Alice' loading on the Pleasure Beach loop. A popular car for seafront rides.

Blackpool Transport - Operating Changes

Blackpool's Transport Company (BTS) has announced several changes to services and its operations over the coming days. Fullest details are best sourced from the BTS official website online. A summary is as follows : Tram Service - remains suspended until further notice. Travellers on the trams are advised to use Promenade Service 1. Bus Service Frequency - with a significant reduction in passenger numbers throughout the Fylde coast (and the UK as a whole) BTS bus timetables are being amended from April 5. A much reduced frequency on all services has now been published with later starting times and last buses departing much earlier than current timetables. NHS Travel. The company i

Love Our NHS

The UK's national health system - originated in the immediate postwar years under the Atlee Government (along with a nationalised railway network) has come into its own facing up to the pandemic created on the other side of the world in China. The tens of thousands of professionals labouring to deal with the consequences of the virus unleashed in Wuhan do so at great personal risk. Notwithstanding the precautions required within any medical facility, or simply handling an infected patient numbers of doctors, nurses and medical staff are falling victim to exposure to the corona virus. Unlike in the United States where I lived for over twenty years, no-one seeking medical assistance and atte

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

 

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