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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Barrhead's Contribution to Blackpool Transport

John Woodman

In days of yore Blackpool's buses and trams were given especial customised treatment to the interiors. This involved patterned floor coverings as well as multi coloured moquette on passenger seating and finely detailed roof panels. The roof panelling (in the interior on both decks) utilised a specialist firm in Barrhead, Scotland (close to Glasgow). The patented 'Alhambrinal' covering provided a decorative finish as opposed to simply painted coating and became a feature inside new buses and trams in the early 1930s.

This broke away from austere wooden struts and panelling which hitherto had been acceptable in previous decades. Remnants of this early 'finish' can be seen inside heritage 'Standard' 147 and its open balcony sister car 143 - when it enters service. Alhambrinal panelling was a notable feature inside the Coronation class trams which entered service in Glasgow from 1937 - of which four examples survive in preservation. Walter Luff specified this interior finish on the new buses and trams entering service from 1933 onwards in Blackpool. The last application of this finish was used on the Twin-Set trailers built in 1962 (T1 - T10) and on buses 301 - 310 of 1957 - the decorative detail being far more simplified than the pre-war versions. Blackpool's Transport Department specified the exact colours to be used on the designs for English Electric rail coaches and those fitted on the Brush versions (the latter being entirely different due to sensitivities over patent ownership by the Preston company. This extended also to the design of the cab end fenders for those with especial interest in such matters.

Barrhead was also famous for a tight hairpin bend on its tram route - which prevented certain types of Glasgow trams from services to this out of town location. Fortunately we have examples of the Barrhead products of Thomas Thomson Sons & Co (Barrhead) Ltd in the various heritage trams extant in Blackpool and at other museum collections. The company was so proud of its role in Blackpool that it took out trade advertisements 'Every Blackpool Corporation Bus, Tram and Trailer is fitted throughout with Alhambrinal roof panels, body panels, side panels, seat backs'.

Below : Example of Alhambrinal ceiling panelling in original condition/appearance. The centre platform of restored Brush Car 298 at Crich Museum. Colours specified at Rigby Road and recreated by the Railcoach restoration team at their workshops prior to delivery to Crich. Photo : John Woodman


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