The UK's tramways over the years have had some oddities but a dining or buffet tram has not been one of them. Blackpool has had its fair share of unique trams mostly of course involving the illuminations with exceptional creations starting in 1926 and carrying on up to the current display. There have been brief encounters with private groups hiring trams and arranging catering onboard for a special event. The local tram enthusiast group in years past organised a Christmas tour bringing their own hot pot, or similar I believe, being but one example.
The creme de la creme of tramcar dining has to be found in Melbourne and in Christchurch where specially modified trams (former Melbourne units) come complete with on board kitchen, bar and a fine dining experience. The Melbourne operation uses much of that city's extensive tram network to take its guests on a hour plus tour, whilst the Christchurch example requires several circuits of that New Zealand city's heritage line in the city centre. Both offer a menu with local dishes which naturally have to be pre-ordered when booking. The options also provide for lunch, early evening and full course night menus. Black tie on board staff serve the tables in a manner not dissimilar to the Orient Express.
Ironically the nearest a Blackpool tram came to being counterpart to the Electroliners in Chicago, and the D Tram from Dusseldorf to Duisburg (see previous blogs) was found on Centenary Car 643. After its sale to the Owners of the Broadway Caravan Park in Fleetwood the tram was refitted internally with facing seats and tables; a small kitchen space and food storage area. It never got to fulfill the intention of being used as a themed buffet car at their Broadway Park entrance - and was gifted to the FHLT. In turn the tram has found a good home in the Midlands where it is now being given a smart new version of the cream and green livery applied in Fleetwood - before being presented to a special needs school as a centre piece in the school grounds (with a seaside theme). Its presentation is expected shortly, after completion of exterior and interior work at a railway maintenance facility. A final image of 643 (as it will remain) prior to departure from Fleetwood this summer.
The kitchen installation was to be fitted behind the dark full height panelling with the nearside centre exit door being blocked off. A servery folding counter was fitted just behind the right hand exit door and can just be seen in the open upright position. Storage space and counter tops were fitted opposite the kitchen area. A sink unit and cabinets are installed in front of the black partition. Further table top seating is in place in the far section of the tram. A pity this was never used as intended. A rendition of Coronation Car corporation livery was provided on 643 as can be seen in the top image. All Photos Copyright : Steve Meyer-Rassow
Waiting for the next stop at Norbreck.
PS : after posting this blog earlier today I realised I had overlooked the quite excellent sponsorship of the Walls Ice Cream business which involved extensive remodelling of a Balloon car and incorporation of an 'eatery' in the lower saloon. I did not avail myself of this particular project at the time but certainly recall the tram from subsequent journeys long after the sponsorship ended but interior redesign remained. So I stand corrected in paragraph one above. Apologies all round.