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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Trespassers will be prosecuted

When someone intrudes on your property (whether owned or leased) despite prominent warning signs - and proceeds to illegally wander around freely to take 'snaps' at his or her leisure (whatever the subject) and then proceeds to post them on 'social media' there is firstly the immediate issue of trespass.

The FHLT expend effort, time, and quite considerable expense in the preservation, yes preservation, of trams which deserve to be retained for public (yes public) viewing years hence. We are supported by professionals and business owners in this part of the Fylde. We also have a good working relationship with Blackpool Transport Services; their management and the prime movers of Blackpool HeritageTours (BHT) which has responsibility for the operation of traditional trams held at Blackpool Transport Services. Unlike BHT, the FHLT are a registered charity - to clarify misconceptions in the minds of certain individuals wholly fixated on comings and goings of Blackpool trams.

Contrary to jaundiced views on the role and aims of the FHLT - expressed with an ever greater frequency on Trams Today 'Community Organisation' Facebook Page and applauded by millions (or is it billions?) of its online followers - our Trust is definitely not averse to publishing images of trams in its ownership in both a responsible and timely fashion online. This website was purposefully created to do just that - free of kneejerk comments. What we will not allow is unauthorised individuals to enter our property without notice despite warnings of trespass posted by the Company managing the site - against Any unauthorised entry. The person involved in the instance cited by Mr Blood on Facebook may well have provided images in good faith however naively. His images were taken as the result of illegal entry on our property out of hours (and not taken through a fence). This was admitted by the individual concerned - a point apparantly missing in Mr Blood's comments posted today. The most recent vitriol on the Trams Today 'Community Organisation' Facebook underlines through content and verbiage - a quite extraordinary personal bias against FHLT. Anyone who has not read his latest posting is strongly commended to do so on 'Trams Today' of June 10 (or is it 11?). This is all sadly reminiscent of similar nagging and critiquing of the Lancastrian Transport Trust's activities a few years ago by a vociferous gaggle of 'enthusiasts'. Now it seems the FHLT have become flavour of the month by many of the same cast of quite fixated characters. What did those women knit as they sat around the guillotine to watch the dismemberment of French aristocrats?

There was a time, now unfortunately passed, when 'tram enthusiasts' were of a like mind in their pursuit of a gentle, if not eccentric, personal pasttime. Like the passing of steam locomotives - such interests are confined now to museum lines. The whole individuality of the tram, with its differing designs and character from town to town - passed away in 1962 with final closure of the great Glasgow tram system. Blackpool; a town which I grew up in - managed over subsequent years to soldier on with a fleet of mainly 1930s' vehicles - to the good fortune of a much later generation of enthusiasts; of whom Mr Blood is one. In 2011 even this seaside attraction came to an end with launch of a light rail service operating under quite different regulations; bereft of the quirks and manner of the former tramway. The dismembering of the remaining fleet was watched from the sidelines - cameras at the ready to record the removal of this or that tram. At the time the Lancastrian Transport Trust, by then long established and arm in arm with the FTS, were the prime movers in bus and tram preservation locally. Thus our own newly formed group determined to focus on gaining funding support through the private sector. This continues. As a bonus we take comfort from unsolicited help by enthusiasts who recognise the undoubted value of our enterprise.

My generation determined to do something positive in ensuring (outside of official Company sanctioned heritage fleet 'momentos') a few individual trams would remain on the Fylde coast to create an eventual display in or around Fleetwood. It was after all the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company, which in 1898 launched the continuity of electric tram operation to the present day. The LTT likewise had their agenda with parallel motives, and substantial existing residue of enthusiast support (at that time). My, how things change. The efforts of a new management team at BTS endorsing Bryan Lindop's own extraordinary role to keep a residue of seasonal heritage tram operation alive from 2012 - was itself remarkable. It certainly put our modest initiative firmly in the proverbial shade. But there are no hard feelings on that score.

From these combined actions involving a small number of motivated individuals, the likes of 147, 143, 304, 761, 641, 290, an OMO car, twin-set(s), 660, Bolton 66, a covey of Balloons, Brush cars and Centenary's- and of course Box 40, - are still around (and kicking). Our Trust secured a home, however transient, for several interesting trams and arranged for at least one to be on public display year round. Naturally we cannot operate our trams for the delight of Mr Blood and followers - but this is on our agenda. With joined up minds at BTS / BHT - we are all working towards modest goals. And YES, 641 will appear on the Promenade for the Illuminations, yes it will get attention from hundreds of thousands of visitors, yes it will not appeal to Mr Blood and his ilk - but who cares? Life goes on.

Mr Blood took umbrage at the request from the person providing 'Trams Today' with images taken this week of our recently delivered trams in Wyre Dock - to remove those images from the 'Community Organisation' Facebook page. This individual was made personally aware of the consequences of his trespass through which such images were created. He was also advised it would be a responsible action to have the online images removed promptly. Social Media and image postings can be a tricky thing. Naked tourists on top of a Malaysian mountain top are finding this out right now. We haven't had that problem at Fleetwood - but who knows? Perhaps someone is willing to bare all and dodge the seagulls - to provide a bit more entertainment for 'Community Organisations' of this world. But no trespassing please !

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