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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

22-2-22 (What's In A Number?)

John Woodman

No not a code or my birthday. Simply a record of a rare calendar coincidence which happens twice a century on 11.11.11 and in this case today - 22nd February 2022. No connection to any tram numbers I'm afraid but all the same worth noting in one's diary.

Blackpool of course did have a rail coach 222 which rattled around Marton for several years and similarly a Burlingham bodied corporation bus with the same fleet number. Sorry no photos of either. Glasgow did run a Kilmarnock bogie car numbered 1111 almost up to the end of that system in 1962 and almost certainly would have had a Standard car numbered 222.

Most noteworthy fleet numbers on Blackpool trams were of course Conduit Car 4 which became 1, and a companion engineering car also 4 - which still exists at Beamish with its original fleet number 31. Rail coach 200 and sister car 208 which gained fame being upgraded to VAMBAC operation. Blackpool bus 304 also gained fame by being rebuilt with front exit doors and enclosed rear platform doors as well as gaining an additional (descending) nearside staircase - for a while. The experiment was a failure and 304 reverted back to its open rear platform design until withdrawal, Similarly the Body Shop at Rigby Road went to great lengths to insert a front entrance on Brush car 638 (in its later renumbered state) for trials in one man operation -but blacklisted by the Unions who banned Blackpool Transport staff from driving the tram. The other 304 was 'rescued' by Philip Higgs and his cohorts to become the sole VAMBAC equipped Coronation car still operable.

An uncertainty surrounded the renumbering of the OMO car fleet with the first car appearing (at the workshops) with '616' transfers on its dash. These were trimmed leaving just '1' as the first car to appear in the OMO thirteen strong series.

Centenary Car 651 - on hire from GEC Traction who owned the car to test new propulsion equipment - subsequently became 648 when it was finally transferred to ownership of Blackpool Transport. It was numbered 651 in anticipation of Blackpool Council sanctioning a third tranche of three Centenary cars which would have become 648 - 650, but in the event the Council decided not to proceed with this third order from East Lancashire Coachbuilders.

Blackpool Council's light rail upgrade saw delivery of new low floor trams numerically listed from 01 to 16 with two additions to nominally add capacity for the North Station extension services (such as they may be). Remodelled 'Balloon' and 'Millenium' double deckers retain their originating fleet numbers just to confuse future generations of tram enthusiasts - much like the appearance of London Transport Feltham 2099 appearing on Leeds tracks as a trial before orders given to purchase the entire remaining class by Leeds Transport.

There have been several instances of irrational? fleet numbering by Blackpool's transport operator over the decades. The Sun Saloon delivery of 1939 being given the fleet numbers 10 - 21 for no apparent reason while similarly the Transport Department's pre-war single deck fleet from 1937 also gained numbers from 1 to 16 and subsequently 19 to 24 with a tranche of double deck buses appearing in 1940 being numbered 25 to 36. The previous double deck deliveries ending with 195 in 1937. All of this auditing and bookkeeping was of course turned on its head with the introduction of computing systems at the Department in the 1960s requiring the entire tram fleet to be renumbered to avoid duplication with the bus fleet. Just one bus was renumbered as a consequence. No prizes for guessing the number.

OMO Car 1 on Little Bispham turning circle in its later years and red colours.


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