ALL CHANGE PLEASE
Blackpool's promenade and the Tower are the setting for a major Hollywood movie now filming in spite of horrendous weather this week. The Stars and production crew are to be congratulated on coping with unseasonal heavy rain and high winds blowing from the west. Not what they expected.
Inevitably filming is causing major disruption to traffic along the sea front with many bus services diverted along unfamiliar roads to avoid the central promenade. The tram service is less fortunate; being split into two halves and passengers forced to brave rain, wind and traffic to continue their journeys both north and southbound. Given that this is an A movie with famous names in town - and Blackpool being one of the sequences in the film - hopefully in a positive light, the unfair impositions on residents, visitors and indeed local traders, is perhaps on this occasion worth the aggro.
Obviously very little thought was given to the impact on the tramway in the design of the 'Headlands'; and more importantly the one facing the Tower which is fitted out to allow special events, shows and displays usually needing closure of the tram service. The Switch On each year now means the tram service is completely disrupted for at least 24 hours - with consequent loss of revenue to BTS - and aggravation for everyone not wishing to pay out a generous amount for the entertainment preceding the 'Switch On'.
It is hard to see how such disruption can be avoided given proximity of the line to the 'Comedy Carpet' and associated public space (read 'Headland'). For the moment BTS must be resigned to a truncated service with trams stabled at Bispham (loop) overnight as fenced off tracks bar transfer of cars to and from the depot. Once or twice in the season this is tolerable but any increase in such events must be questioned as to their real net value to the town's image and offer.
The filming this week (and possibly next week as well) must certainly be a one-off, given that closure requires up to four days of continuous diversions to all traffic on the Promenade; as well as total tram service disruption. We will wait to see if it was all worthwhile. The images are of the last Lights Switch On event at the Festival Headland - not much joy for trams, crews or passengers on this occasion.