top of page
  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Circular Tours 4d Please

John Woodman

Once upon a time joy riding on Blackpool tramcars was almost an essential part of a holiday visit to the resort. The Tramways/Transport Department ensured high ridership on its 'Circular Tour' by providing nearly unique open trams with an easy to find start point in the centre of Blackpool. Heavy advertising of the service (the most profitable of all of the Department's services) aided the ridership with long queues waiting for the next car to arrive at peak times.

Of course the tour was made all the more attractive by the varied route taken from the Promenade, then inland on to tree lined residential streets before returning to the town's commercial centre along busy shopping streets. The Circular Tour was quite a money spinner for the Department (and Corporation).

A well loaded toastrack heads east along Station Road having turned off the Promenade at Victoria Pier (in background). The passengers would be treated to an extended journey from Lytham Road to Marton and then back into the town centre via Church Street and Abingdon Street. We can thank Mr William Smith from Bradford for this unusual view taken around 1914. A few other seaside tramway operators managed to replicate the success of Blackpool's open toastracks viz; Southport, Weston Super Mare, Southend on Sea, Llandudno & Colwyn Bay, Rothesay.

Keeping the fares to a reasonable level within the means of the average working class visitor assured sustained ridership numbers for nearly three decades before the outbreak of the Second World War. A later relatively short-lived revival was less successful, while the much touted 'Coastal Tour' using Blackpool's then novel 'Progress Twin-Car' set in 1958 drew only marginal numbers and was quickly dropped after a few seasons.

Nowadays a ride on an open tram (indeed any tram) in Blackpool is considered an optimum part of seaside visits. However levels of passenger interest or curiosity as to the type of tram being ridden on is notably unimportant other than the fact that it is 'an old tram'. The town's light rail fleet do nothing to inspire visitors and in any event are entirely unsuitable for viewing the Illuminations displays - serving merely as a means of getting from a to b. Pricing what is now a marginal visitor attraction, one among many available, calls for delicate positioning. Bundling offers of depot visits and optimal rides on different car types over two or three days doesn't work, except possibly for those of a fixated hard core enthusiast persuasion.

The absence of a permanent transport exhibition with historical reference and wholesome positioning of different era in the town's history as a resort - is clearly the elephant in the room. Moves to correct this, and away from incessant solicitations of 'tours' as the be all and end all of our town's transport history is highly commended to the town's movers and shakers.


Featured Posts
bottom of page