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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Great Authors : Great Tram Books 2020-2021

John Woodman

Receiving in the last postal delivery for 2021 a fresh copy of 'Destination City' with its marvellous detailed coverage of ALL the trams which have graced the streets of Melbourne brings to mind outstanding titles emanating from the keyboards of authors in recent years. Close at hand we have the immense refined story of Lytham and St Annes tramways written by Brian Turner in a fitting definitive tribute to the 'Blue Trams'. Complementing his earlier work on the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company, this most recent title deals with the trials and tribulations of the south Fylde coast operation. One which lurched fitfully from initial service using the latest German technology of compressed gas cars to proven overhead electric trolleypole models (all built locally in the northwest) by the late starting (and short lived) British Electric Car Company at Trafford Park.

The Fylde coast it seems was a testing ground for power technology in the final decades of the 19th Century with underground conduit in Blackpool, gas powered trams in neighbouring Lytham and St Annes, and the proven overhead electric power brought in by the Blackpool & Fleetwood Company. Thankfully all three pioneering tramway systems have benefit of insightful books by local authors over the years. Donald Phillips began coverage with his articles appearing during the 1950s with the Steve Palmer and Brian Turner duo producing their groundbreaking volumes 'By Tram To The Tower' in subsequent decades. Both authors then pursuing individual endeavours for future generations. Blackpool's iconic buses gained rightful coverage with the definitive title 'Blackpool's Buses' written by David Dougill in 1982 - with additional articles and updated fleet reports from Philip Higgs and colleagues. The early years of the town's tram fleet were researched and published by Ian MacLoughlin and Paul Abell in an excellent tome which covered the pre-Luff era.

Nick Meskell covered the tramway's later years in his magazine style thankfully recording the colourful years up until its transformation in 2011 providing anecdotal coverage of the ups and downs of the operation. While this author added his own contribution with themed titles on successive decades of the town's transport system from the 1930s to the 1970s and an individual tribute to the amazing Marton tramway service. All in all Blackpool's transport evolution has been beneficiary of this rich lode of continuing research: the Fylde coast thus joins London, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool in the scale of published reporting, A fitting tribute to managers, engineers, fitters, staff and uniformed crews delivering services year in year out from 1885 to 2022.


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