Blackpool's newspaper - the Gazette front page headline 'Just the Ticket' today is about the ongoing study of potential options for linked transport heritage attractions on the Fylde coast. Inevitably focus is on Rigby Road transport site and in particular those elements which have a tramway aspect, including the workshops.
Several participating groups have come together to support an emergent scheme which covers both trams, buses, cars, aviation and horse drawn vehicles identified with the Fylde coast through the years. These include aviation history which is still being made through the important BAE Systems facility at Warton; the intended initiative of the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours team and its ever growing collection of traditional trams (two more arrived at Rigby Road today); the equally important collection of buses and coaches held at Freckleton by Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group; Owners of TVR cars - a famous Blackpool marque with several thousand members nationally, the landau owners whose individual carriages date back to the early part of the 20th Century in some cases, and of course the equally important collection of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust.
The FHLT are considering an integrated themed visitor attraction in Fleetwood and have held preliminary meetings with several Companies and interested Parties on a waterfront development possibility. The findings of the current study are expected to aid the progression of this scheme - as well as identifing viable routes for other sustainable transport attractions in Blackpool and the Fylde Borough which extends to Warton and Freckleton. Fleetwood is within Wyre Borough.
T 681 passing the Savoy Hotel - but not on the tramway.....
Each of the contributing organisations are looking to strengthen the public outreach of their collections, and in some cases are already taking steps individually. However this diversity of transport heritage assets in three contiguous local authorities suggests that joined up collaboration and marketing would be a big plus in attracting a much wider visitor base year on year. Blackpool's Rigby Road Depot saw arrival of two further 'exiles' today joining the not inconsiderable fleet of traditional trams which has accumulated since the great tram clear out of 2010/11. Trailer unit 681 originally T1 when new - rejoined its matching Motor Unit 671 (finally) after a somewhat circuitous tour of the northwest which took it first to storage for Merseytravel in Knowsley (for the intended Wirral Waterside tram scheme which was subsequently cancelled); and thence to the FHLT site at Wyre Dock where it joined other cars in the Trust's ownership. A private owner arranged for 681 to return to the rapidly enlarging Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours collection and it departed Fleetwood for a very fast and unusual journey along Blackpool Promenade today (by low loader of course). The return to Rigby Road being a reverse of its outbound departure some five years ago. The other tram arriving earlier in the day was the restored Brush Car donated back to Blackpool by Owner Andy Ashton further adding to examples of this classic tram design at Rigby Road.
Trailer 681 - HOME AT LAST !
Friday 27 February saw Trailer 681 arrive back at Rigby Road five years after leaving for parts unknown?
The FHLT are pleased to have played their part in assuring the tram's preservation locally. An unusual sight was seeing a tram negotiate the roundabout at Gynn Square with a much faster journey time from Fleetwood than the regular service cars. Bright sunshine all the way made this promenade excursion unique, given that all other tram moves between Rigby Road Depot and the FHLT site in Fleetwood have been via the back route from town. Its arrival was greeted by many familiar faces who had been on hand when it originally departed.