In a policy reminiscent of Stalinist Russia( ! ) the vibrant colourful brand launched under a previous management 'Metro Coastlines' has been completely erased from the lexicon (and heritage) of Blackpool Transport. While the fixations of enthusiasts are incessantly focussed on which version of the green and cream livery was affixed to which tram and when - the glaring omission of examples from the most eclectic livery ever, is now very much the 'elephant in the depot'.
Erasure of Metro Coastlines started almost immediately following the arrival of
Trevor Roberts with corporate decals being removed or covered over and a
phased repainting of the bus fleet as a priority into a standardised yellow and
black theme (with a large swirl). The trams were slightly more problematic and in any case destined for imminent withdrawal. Here is Magenta liveried Optare Delta 109 on Grange Park Service 6 outside Metro Coastlines Information Office.
Below : A resplendent Metro Coastlines Balloon 710 with the extra large decal on its side panels. Lined up for a special event in 2010.
Advent of the heritage fleet saw eradication of the twin-set and balloon car versions - albeit few in number. All of the balloons 'exported' to museum groups being of the green and cream variety, with the exception of 'Sunderland 101' at the Beamish Museum. Just one Metro Coastlines version remains - that of the FHLT 710 which ironically was the prototype application of this brand on a tram. Brush car 636 sold to an energy technology group in Derby retains (as far as we know) its striking green and yellow Metro Coastlines colours and style (but not the decals).
Of the five Metro Coastlines branded twin-sets, the FHLT are host to two trailers and one motor unit in Metro Coastlines livery 681 / 673 and 683. Matching Motor Unit 671 remains in limbo at Rigby Road depot as a heritage unit, also in Metro Coastlines colours but without of course its matching trailer which is stored in Fleetwood. The branding of the twin set at the NEETT museum when it comes due for repainting is not known.
It seems churlish to eradicate totally every example of the Metro Coastline era from any heritage story of Blackpool's trams. For the moment the FHLT intend that their quite famous Balloon (710) is retained in its distinctive plum and yellow colours (by now somewhat weatherbeaten). The MetroCoastlines brand is also kept alive, at least in model form by Corgi whose rendition of Balloon 710 and Brush Car 636 are reminders of this very colourful, if relatively brief, era.
One would hope that when circumstances allow for the full story of Blackpool's tramway heritage to be put on permanent public display - there will at least be one or two, examples from Steve Burd's years at Rigby Road as MD.
Images : John Woodman