Blackpool Transport Museum & Exhibition
As preparatory plans emerge to reconfigure the 1930s tram depot on Hopton Road it is becoming necessary to consider an eminent display that tells the story of Blackpool's embrace of electric power from the 1880s right up to the 2020s. Fortunately many examples of tramcar design and development, (mostly unique to Blackpool) still exist, albeit with examples in diverse collections. The story of electric power and its diverse application has to be of equal importance, given that Blackpool Corporation Electricity and Tramways Departments were jointly managed during the early decades of the 1900s through municipal power generation and distribution.
Leaving aside the present fixation on 'tours', steps need to be taken to collate representative vehicles for meaningful conservation, embracing what will soon become 150 years of sustained electric tram service in Blackpool in 2035 - unparalleled in the United Kingdom. An official Museum Board in tandem with the Unitary Authority will also need to 'reach out' to other coilections to attract long term loans of certain trams (and buses) no longer held in Blackpool.
An absolute must for display in Blackpool is former Conduit Car 4, seen here in its 1985 Tram Centenary guise as '1' in unauthentic fleet colours and top deck trolleypole. Now in ownership of the TMS at Crich.
A further marvellous exhibit is 'Dreadnought' 59 with its dual staircases at both ends. Seen here negotiating the three way junction at Royal Oak on its way from Marton Depot to Hopton Road. This tram is also owned by the TMS and presently in store at Clay Cross. Photo by John Woodman
Blackpool's transport story spans several distinct and evolving phases, each of which calls for defined exhibition segments each providing succinct background reference. Obviously the final section will bring visitors to the monumental changeover by BTS now pending to all-electric bus operation and redevelopment of the Rigby Road site. Blackpool's transport system is noteworthy for the longevity of its management (in the previous century at least) with individual managers impressing their respective roles with vehicle design and livery ('branding' as we refer to it today).
This is an amazing story now waiting to be told. It naturally includes Blackpool's eminence in creating special illuminated tramcar tableau for over a hundred years. In and of itself no small achievement. Fortunately the 1960s creations 'Tramnik One' and the 'Hovertram' have been placed in custody of Blackpool's foremost heritage group - Fylde Transport Trust responsible for both bus and tram restorations. Blackpool's role in nurturing the forerunner of Jaguar Motors and of course TVR, as well as the coachbuilding excellence of HV Burlingham company in its Preston New Road and Marton factories certainly deserve especial reference.
The Blackpool Transport Museum & Exhibition should emerge in time as part of every visitor's leisure experience - if the venue is responsibly managed and creatively promoted. Perhaps the Pleasure Beach Company might contribute its longevity of marketing experience in bringing about this all age year round quality heritage venue.