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Back in time - both ends of the line

July 13, 2015

Two very different era are represented here at opposite ends of the eleven mile tramway linking Starr Gate, Blackpool with Fleetwood Ferry (to Knott End).   

 

 A covey of Coronation cars mark time at the Starr Gate turning circle.  Its a hot day judging by the driver's windscreen being at maximum opening tilt and open half drop windows.  This is 310 waiting to head up to Thornton Gate, with 305 behind also on a short working to Bispham.  The closeness of the trio is notable when today there are regulatory gaps large enough to turn an oil tanker in before one tram meets up with the one ahead.   Ironically this class of car was the most ill-fated of Blackpool's tram fleet even though they exuded comfort and style when introduced at the beginning of the 1950s.   Three examples remain in Blackpool despite the awful reputation they quickly accrued at Rigby Road Depot (and Works).  Photo :  John Woodman

 

Moving forward to the late 1980s - Britain's very last tramcar 647 - before light rail and low floor specifications became the norm.   Built in Blackburn by East Lancashire Coachbuilders, the 'Centenary' class are so named because of the tramway centenary year in 1985. A total of eight examples were delivered to Blackpool by 1988.  Prototype 641 (owned by the FHLT) and two tranches of three cars ordered by Blackpool Council (642-647) plus the GEC trials car (651) which subsequently was renumbered 648 on it being purchased from GEC and included in the sequence assigned to this class.  Car 647 was the very last new tram to be delivered to Blackpool Transport pre-light rail.

Seen here at the northern terminus of the line in a traditional pose which began with Box Cars and Pantograph Cars in the late 1920s.    Most of the class have been preserved in one form or another - appropriately enough given their role in British urban transport history as the final all British tram design.  Will British engineers ever again be assigned the task of developing trams for the UK market - and British companies given the opportunity to build them?   Photo :   John Woodman Archive

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