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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Freeport Lisbon - Icecream Tram

Today's Times newspaper in its Business Section (Page 16) contains a dramatic photo of an old Lisbon tramcar in the brilliant yellow and white colours of the system's operator (CARRIS) sited within the Freeport Lisbon Shopping Centre. Surrounded by outdoor cafe type seating the tram has been fitted with roof mounted airconditioning and freezing unit to enable its use as an icecream 'parlor'. The number of the Lisbon tram is not known but is a typical two axle car of the type still operated on several of the city's tramlines and as iconic as London Routemaster buses are in our own capital.

Blackpool also had a tram converted to serve icecreams which was sponsored by the Walls company. In this case it was a double deck balloon car which was completely remodelled internally on both decks and fitted with garish external fixtures - in which form it ran for a few summer seasons. Of course Fleetwood Freeport has been rebranded in 2019 and is now known as 'Affinity'. The FHLT were in exploratory discussions to position one of the Trust's trams onsite before the pandemic lockdown pre-empted formal exchanges but the potential remains to emulate the apparent success of the Lisbon outlet centre's tram landmark.

Trams have been the centre piece of other urban developments; notably in Prague where a cluster of old two axle types restored to original appearance provide a cafe and bar venue in that city's principal square. West Berlin for a time had a privately owned 1920s centre entrance car used on a short stretch of track offering drinks (of the alcoholic kind) and light refreshments. From time to time Blackpool's heritage team tinkered with a special service that offered a fish and chips supper with a trip to Fleetwood and back. One suspects that the lingering aroma of salt and vinegar laden comestibles was not entirely welcomed by later passengers.

Special tours similarly with onboard meal and or drinks (or icecream) have been features of vintage trams in Melbourne, Christchurch and Zurich. The latter was sampled by the Author on a sunny afternoon visit to that city and found to be most enjoyable with choice of seating in an enclosed articulated car, or on an open bogie trailer (for icecreams). Much earlier in life I made a point of riding in the 'speisewagen' of the limited stop interurban service between Jan Wellem Platz in Dusseldorf to the centre of Duisburg. A modest table menu allowed at least 'bratwurst mit sempf' and a kartoffelsalat amply aided by a litre of best beer from a local brewery - all consumed as we sped past postwar German reconstruction and intermittent arable land. Much later a client in Stuttgart afforded me chance to hire that city's special bar car - a double articulated one this time - stocked with large quantities of Scwabischen bier for an evening's grand tour of the city's tram system (not all of it). Music and entertainment onboard made it a memorable occasion fortunately without a whiff of malt vinegar or fish.

The Times August 7, Page 36 in the Business Section refers.

PS : Goodbye JD Sports

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