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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

After 140 Years - Finally A Tram Museum ?

John Woodman

The announcement that Blackpool Transport are launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise a Million Pounds to cover costs of refurbishing the tram depot at Rigby Road/Hopton Road - to allow creation of a tram museum is welcome news. A physical reorganisation of the existing structures on the BTS property will involve resiting and transfer of essential repair and engineering sections. Plans to revise the existing layout of the bus side of operations to provide upgraded facilities in support of the anticipated new electric bus fleet means an overall redesign of the entire area of operation.

The opportunity to create a year round (or seasonal) tram display and heritage exhibition (long overdue in Blackpool) is thus inherently possible in the pending reorganisation of BTS operations. First and foremostly is need for comprehensive reconstruct of the tram depot roof - which has for years permitted rainwater ingress. New depot doors are envisaged, and no doubt replacement (or discontinuance) of depot track fan sections badly in need of renewal.

Creation of a comprehensive exhibition themed to Blackpool's transport through the years is long overdue and a worthwhile quality all age visitor attraction for the resort. No doubt considerable engagement by enthralled enthusiasts as to which trams will feature in the permanent exhibition is likely to follow, as well as involved debate over the selection of those cars which do not merit retention. The large number of retained trams filling the depot at present involve considerable duplication of Balloon and Brush cars. The FHLT have been invited to remove their solitary stored example 'Brush Car 290' being just one example.

Nevertheless at the end of this process at least BTS with curatorial & heritage team will have the means of securing revenue from visitors and special events in secured and safe surroundings - more or less year round. Quite apart from the equally important conservation of vital aspects of the resort's extended history since inception of electric power, trams and street lighting. This is an important story meriting professional attention and quality infrastructural surround. It will do much to aid regeneration of Lytham Road - one hopes. Full marks to BTS and Blackpool Council planners.

Trailer T9 on its way out of Rigby Road - this time to a testing trial for GEC John Woodman Archive

An interesting lineup on the three eastern most tracks now given over to storage of buses. Below : Once upon a time the depot also had an automatic washer situated on the depot fan access track.

Seen here in action on Balloon 704. Both Photos John Woodman


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