This past weekend saw the final flourish of the heritage fleet along Blackpool's tramway. In the great tradition of early November British weather patterns managed to produce the familiar pattern of squally showers and dismal overcast skies as a backdrop to comings and goings of green and cream trams.
Heading south from Cleveleys my tram (the normal service purple and white version) was passed by a Centenary car going to Thornton Gate, a Balloon car going to Little Bispham - enlivening my ride into Blackpool. This procession didn't stop however as Standard 147 rolled by together with a Twin Set and last of all a Brush car - not all together of course. The problems raised by limited stopping places for the Heritage service are very evident given this frequency of traditional trams operating along the Promenade - raising expectations of people waiting for a tram on the official stops and hopefully putting their hands out to signal drivers.
Either more prominent explanatory notices are posted on promenade stops to clearly inform the public of where the old trams can be boarded - or some additional stopping places for heritage cars are inserted between Pleasure Beach and North Pier (misleadingly shown as 'TOWER' on some indicators).
All of these points will no doubt be sorted in time; but far greater loadings would be accomplished if additional Heritage stops were added between Tower and Central Pier or possibly near to Manchester Square.
The Heritage trams will receive a well deserved rest for the next five months, except of course for private hire and other sponsored runs. Familiarity does breed contempt and limitations on the seasonal service are certainly justifiable, quite apart from reliance on mostly volunteer staffing to maintain the tours.
As this distinctive new operation gains strength and adds its own immeasurable value to Blackpool's unique leisure package - ways and means of building up its popularity and accessibility for the wider public is essential. No doubt more positive ideas and initiatives will be forthcoming in 2016 and beyond.
Final weekend of the 2015 Season - grey skies, showers and final turnout of this year's heritage trams - a representative selection on Saturday's Tour roster.