Blackpool's Blue And Yellow Trams - Once Upon a Time
News reports from Kyiv show people sheltering in that city's subway stations on platforms and making temporary homes (some with their pets) inside parked subway trains. Noteworthy is the fact that the trains are painted blue and yellow - Ukraine's national colours. This makes it all the more frustrating that the Trust's request to repaint its only tram currently on Blackpool Transport property was barred by BTS as a result of prescribed priorities of the heritage setup in the depot.
Blue and yellow schemes have however featured in at least two other earlier sponsored designs on Blackpool trams. Most notable was the dramatic half yellow and half dark blue paint scheme which adorned the Balloon car selected for a tyre brand; whilst the boat car loaned for the Glasgow Garden Festival was also painted blue with yellow 'relief' for the Scottish brewery sponsor.
Given the agony which is being endured by the people of Ukraine day in day out and their brave defiance of Russian aggression; with images of their national colours being flown amid the devastating ruins of towns and cities, it was all the more depressing to receive a thumbs down verdict from Blackpool's council owned transport system to allow (at no cost to the public purse) the repaint of a tram for public display in the colours of Ukraine. And more precisely a tram which is in ownership of a charity. Given the increasing level of criticism addressed to this UK Government over its calibrated approach to welcoming refugees from Ukraine, especially women and children - the aged and inform, from Putin's psychotic attempt to recreate a Soviet 'empire' in eastern Europe - the apparent lack of empathy in Rigby Road is deeply regrettable..
It is in definite contrast with the actions being taken by other countries enduring the fall out from Ukraine's borders and humanitarian outflow. There, countless public and private arrangements are sheltering millions of displaced families and individuals in schools, sports halls, private homes, train stations and the like. In 1938 and 1939 Britain was seen as a beacon of safety for children and families fleeing Nazi aggression, with sponsored trains loaded with children leaving Prague's central station for England's shores - the 'Kindertransport' initiated by an inspired British civil servant in the UK Embassy in that city. Some thousands of children were thus saved from extermination by being given sanctuary and care by English families. One wonders just how many refugees from Lviv will eventually find safety from Russian bombs and shelling in Britain? With or without Home Office paperwork.
At least one publicly owned transport system has found the means to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine by painting a vehicle in blue and yellow. Newport's operation has demonstrated where its heart is by repainting one of its buses for regular service. When will Blackpool's Council similarly ldemonstrate wide public empathy for a beleagured European country? Of course the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust has 'twin-car set' 683/673 in Wyre Dock painted in Metro Coastlines pale blue and yellow colours from the 1990s. A home is being sought for the set 'as is'.
Another former FHLT owned Balloon car now at Rigby Road Depot and in private ownership still retains its HM Coastguard dark blue and yellow livery as seen at Wyre Dock. (Below). Photos : John Woodman