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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Eyes On The Capital

Launching briefly into a mini rant on the politics of this country - disturbing as they are for everyone, no matter their views on the Brexit drama taking hold of Westminster - there is no question that the United Kingdom is presently in the grip of the mother of all constitutional crisis.

Reconvening a Parliament of two years engaged in a bitter political battle with itself is the rerun of a platform for all too familiar figures to grandstand and pontificate - endlessly proclaiming entrenched and well rehearsed opinions. The country has had enough of this self absorbing inquest on the national referendum 'our' political parties charged themselves to respect when the outcome was known. A clearing of those parliamentary benches is well overdue; with immediate need for a General Election.

Let the chips now fall where they may - across all Parties and at all levels.

A newly energised leadership is needed with electoral mandate to cut through Westminster posturing. This tainted threadbare Parliament has managed to destroy Britain's standing in the world. Britain's largest travel company has gone to the wall needing mass repatriation of holidaying families and individuals this week. The small matter of the global warming crisis demands government freed from sad political machinations we have had to put up with for far too long. And its high time for fundamental change to the fossilised political set up the British public has become trained to accept in Westminster. End of rant.

Talking about the capital's politics and heading back to the 1930s when London's transport policies were abruptly given notice that electric trams no longer had a future. An arbitrary 'Royal Commission' with its cast of nonenities decided to throw out millions of pounds of infrastructural investment in favour of the motor bus lobby. This was tried in Blackpool but successfully resisted by a blunt speaking Yorkshireman in 1933 with adept Council leadership. One final burst of modernisation occurred just before the destroyers of the capital's tramway network got their way. London County Council's tramway managers produced an exemplary new double deck tramcar intended to be the forerunner of a new fleet of modern cars. In 1931 LCC Number 1 appeared in bright dark blue and white colours to inaugurate this new era. The new tram was the LCC response to the fleet of exemplary Feltham cars already emerging into service in north and west London through modernising tram operators Metropolitan and London United. The superlative swansong of LCC tram design :

Soon to appear at the National Tramway Museum.

Number 1 ended up being a solitary brave attempt to sway the minds of the newly formed London Transport Board. But it was too late and against the political deck already stacked against any future role for trams in the capital. Manchester's system (and along with it adjoining municipal operators) similarly was condemned by another tram naysayer who mismanaged that city's transport policies resulting in the dominance of polluting diesel buses ruining any chances of modern electric trams as the principal mainstay of an urban transport system. Much much later this northern city under more enlightened leaders restored the balance.

LCC 1 went on to Leeds in a postwar deal (along with most of London's Feltham cars) to gain a short reprieve until that city too fell under the influence of blinkered political hacks. Leeds has yet to recover. The purpose of this digression ? Following launch of Standard 143 in Blackpool this week - attention has switched over to the Crich Tram Museum where LCC 1 is due to return - fully restored to 1931 as built condition as the pride of London's County Council. We await this launch with equal interest as it is intended that a further Blackpool class tram - 1937 Brush Engineering built rail car 298 will take rightful place in the Museum's workshop for restoration to its original art deco styling of the late 1930s. This is the culmination of a long overdue (forty years) process which took time, labours and money from the enthusiast community. Number 298 was the object of sustained effort by the late Keith Terry together with a small band of volunteers. So eyes on the Capital's exemplary creation of 1931 (LCC 1) will again swivel to Blackpool in due course of time - matched it must be said, by Fylde Transport Trust's ongoing work to create a parallel railcoach design of Preston based English Electric Company also from the early 1930s'. . Bring it on...

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