top of page
  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Sighteeing Car to Stanley Park

Automatically assumes this blog is dealing with the ever popular Circular Tour open Boat Cars which circumnavigated Whitegate Drive in summer months. Original plans for Stanley Park envisaged a branch off from Whitegate Drive running into the Park but this came to nought and instead the Corporation Tramways purchased a number of diminutive open crossbench buses which shuttled between the Town Centre and the Park Gates. Built on low slung frames with equally diminutive solid wheels and tramstyle controllers - the Stanley Park service was an oft photographed arrangement which involved souvenir postcard shots being taken by the same team which had previously carried out the same profitable venture outside 'The Oxford' with toastrack trams briefly halted for this purpose.

However over seven thousand miles west another Stanley Park was created in Vancouver which had an equally interesting tram system, including track sharing with British Columbia Electric Railway interurbans, The Vancouver system also benefitted from wartime delivery of some PCC cars diverted from a large Toronto order. These brought visitors and residents to the main gates of the extensive Stanley Park which covered nearly 1000 acres.

Vancouver's natural scenery and coastal location with mountain ranges as backdrop favoured a sightseeing tour by tram. The municipal operator quickly ordered two open single ended cars with the stepped bench seating style favoured mostly in Canada. This permitted everyone to have a clear forward view over the heads of passengers seated in front. Montreal was another Canadian city similarly offering a sightseeing tour with four examples of the same car design.

Thus one could take an open car to Stanley Park, Vancouver, whilst Blackpool's visitors made do with a slow rumbling ride over cobbled streets courtesy of Shelvoke and Drewry whose products were more favoured for dustcart and milk deliveries. Whilst the two Vancouver examples 123 and 124 did not survive after the system closed (in favour of trolleybuses), Montreal's four similar cars (1 - 4) were snapped up by museums when that city's system closed. Two ended up in northeast US trolley museums at Seashore and also the Connecticut operation at Warehouse Point. Here I did enjoy a ride on the example still very much in service during my time in the States with frequent visits to museum lines on the east coast. Warehouse Point was less famous than the Seashore museum near to Kennebunkport in Maine, but nevertheless had an eclectic collection including two examples of cross bench cars from Rio De Janiero (US origin) which came back to the States in a bulk rescue project organised by enthusiasts in the 1960s. Another Montreal sightseeing car was acquired for the excellent heritage outdoor museum at Calgary (a sort of Canadian Beamish). Here the large parking lot is set away from the museum entrance and a single line was built to convey visitors to and from the car park to the museum. One of the Montreal sightseeing cars was performing this function on a visit we made in the 1970s.

Below : A sightseer's view from one of upper level bench seats on the Montreal example at Warehouse Point Museum. We are approaching a passing loop on the lengthy single track run with a Connecticut system cross bench car ahead of us.

Below : a snap looking rearward from the Montreal sightseeing car with a Rio De Janiero crossbench tram passing us. There were two examples of these trams at Warehouse Point and several others to be found in diverse US trolley museum operations in various colours. I believe the green livery is original to Rio.

Featured Posts
bottom of page