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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Wires Down Blight Steve's Tour - PS

Health and Safety be damned. Standard 147 during its conveyance from Cleveland port to its new home at Columbia Park, Ohio with a crew member positioned on the roof to fend off low slung overhead wires en route ! Photo J. Woodman Archive

Poste Francais : smart French postal system providing personal images to be printed on to valid EU postage stamps within and externally from France. This one featuring 147 courtesy of course of that well known French tram enthusiast Peter Watts.

Damage to the tramway overhead wires and infrastructure at Norbreck occurred overnight on 20 April resulting in termination of tram service north of Bispham for most of the following day. Tram Replacement buses operated along the seafront to Fleetwood with shortworking service trams from Starr Gate. All of this was especially bad for traders north of Bispham with no trams bringing visitors to Cleveleys or Fleetwood on what was an exceptionally fine sunny day - one of the best weekends so far this year.

As it happens Steve Palmer's annual tram tour for 'Friends of Forty' or in this case 'Friends of One Hundred and Forty Seven' were given a foreshortened tram ride from Hopton Road to the Cabin, then a break on the Pleasure Beach turning circle for crew and passengers, and then back to Hopton Road following reversal at Foxhall. In and of itself an interesting 'tour' for the nearly forty guests including the author. Blackpool Transport hurriedly laid on one of their heritage buses to convey the participants from Rigby Road to the North Euston - and a return journey following the traditional lunch and speech. In this case given by Bob Ferguson, a regular on these annual tours. The guests were treated to an especial account of a very young Ferguson being taken to witness the run of Blackburn's last tram with a special squashed 'penny' kept as a souvenir since 1949. Some anecdotes from the Blackburn and Over Darwen steam tram service - as told to Bob firsthand by earlier generations gave us a glimpse into how tram travel must have seemed a century previously in the less well known systems of east Lancashire. The notable disdain shown by the Blackburn tram operation to its far smaller neighbour, Darwen was a fascinating aspect, as was the prevalence of Darwen's overhead trampoles to collapse, apparantly caused by the overfamiliarity of the town's canine population with these street features.

Fortunately the proceedings were blessed by brilliant sunlight throughout with the tour members being returned from the North Euston by a veteran Blackpool Corporation PD3 substituting for the equally veteran Standard 147. Tram service to Fleetwood was in fact restored by expedited overhead repair work during the day and the first cars running the entire route in the late afternoon.

Steve Palmer looking remarkably happy on 147 during the break at Pleasure Beach

Standard 147 looking even more remarkably splendid following its months of attention in Rigby Road Workshop and repaint including the very fine rendition of the interwar side branding which appeared on some of the Blackpool Standard fleet (but not all). A great credit to the BHT team and paintshop proving the value of this resource.

Above : Just a decade between the Blackpool Standard car of the 1920s and the English Electric built double deck car of the 1930s. Both are caught in brilliant sunlight at the Pleasure Beach loop 'snapped' by nearly all of the tour participants. Centenary Car 641 gets in the act in the background with its current sponsor paint scheme. Below : Against the same sunlight - outside the North Euston BCT PD3 501 in the final halfcab format of this long class of open rear platform buses first introduced in 1957 with 301 - 310 and continuing thereafter to 1968, against the UK urban bus trend for front entrance driver operated double deckers. The bus introduced a unique feature on the annual tour organised by Steve over the years - and provided an excellent substitute under the circumstances. The Service 12 tram replacement indicator blinds were a nice touch for those old enough to remember 1961. All Images : John Woodman

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