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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool's Furness Era Trams

John Woodman

Whilst many yearn after the once familiar green and cream fleet colours on Blackpool's municipal buses and trams - evident ever since 1933 to the 1990s - the preceding maroon/red and white livery is rarely seen on vintage trams. Charles Furness, Manager from 1911 to 1932 maintained a conservative style which emerged pre-war (pre-world war 1) up until his retirement from the Transport Head Office on West Caroline Street.

Fortunately examples of this municipal branding have appeared on preserved trams exemplifying the era before Mr Luff took charge. The Tramway Museum Society opted to repaint their solitary Blackpool 'toastrack' number 166 in a correct rendition of its Furness livery which it has retained to the present day. Similarly Standard 40 (the open balcony survivor) was returned to fleet colours of the same era, whilst the more recent restoration of sister open balcony standard 143 has also received red and white colours (as well as open platform retro features). Another Standard car at Crich (49) was repainted in the same red and white colours for a period before returning to its green and cream appearance shared with other preserved examples (48/144/147/159).

The 1928 'Locomotive' used to tow 'coal train wagons' to and from Thornton Gate Sidings was repainted into red and white styling after joining the Crich Museum collection, but has since reverted to all over green which was its long lived livery up to withdrawal. Former Marton 'Box Car' 31 in its later extended four axle open top condition has been authentically painted in the Furness 'brand' in its lengthening time at the Beamish Museum. Whilst Open Balcony 144 has worn the Furness red and white colours during its time at Seashore Museum in the USA - but latterly returned to a fresh rendition of Luff era colours. One 'Balloon' car emerged from the Paint Shop in the 1980s in a red and white version of the then standard livery - continuing to the present day by way of contrast in heritage service. In later years Blackpool's Heritage Tours team gave one Boat car a 'Furness' rendition with a red frontal 'vee' making it stand out in the fleet.

Red and white buses on Blackpool's services are far rarer with PD3 507 given a makeover to commemorate the Tramways Centenary year as a sole example. Although the London Routemaster contingent were treated to red and white lined out colours on arrival at Rigby Road - and looked very smart indeed.

Left : Blackpool's Electric Tramway Centenary Year in 1985 with a token bus contribution from the Paint Shop in the form of PD3 507 seen here amid admirers on the Promenade.

One of Blackpool Transport's Routemaster fleet found its way into the heritage collection of the 'Lancastrian Transport Trust' in whose Brinwell Depot it is seen stored. Service 22 apparently straying as far south as 'Picadilly Circus'.

Both Images : John Woodman

The Sainsbury store at Bickerstaffe Place (opposite Blackpool North Station) has this excellently drawn version of Standard Car 147 but in the Furness era colours. It is standing next to the Oporto 'Brill' bogie car also preserved at the Crich Museum. These drawings can be viewed on the first floor 'landing' in between the ground floor and the Sainsbury multi level Car Park.

By way of contrast Standard 40 in action at Crich Museum resplendent in its Furness fleet colours.

Below : Former Marton Box Car 31 during its loan to Blackpool set against ominous skies with passengers hastily unloading at the North Pier Heritage Tram stop.

And finally 1928 toastrack 166 also in less than sunny weather and passenger less at Crich. Actually entering service from the depot yard. All Images : John Woodma


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