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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Jubilees : Blackpool Trams and the Red Rose County CORRECTION

John Woodman

A century or more ago a coronation, royal wedding, or royal visit outside of London merited the creation of at least one ornately decorated tram to mark such occasions locally. Blackpool was not at the forefront of such commemorative displays surprisingly. Neither were the accompanying tramway operators to the north and south of the town on the Fylde coast. The very first crowning ceremony to gain over recognition on Blackpool's transport fleet was that of HM The Queen in 1952. By way of acknowledgement small union flag decals were affixed over the Transport Department's crests on the side of buses. Delivery that same year of the magnificent new trams built by Charles Roberts gained them the title 'Coronation Cars' - even though internally tram depot staff were far less complimentary.

Below : Coronation Car 304 - the first of the series, stands on its low load trailer outside the storage yard on Fleetwood where it was temporarily held pending move to Brinwell Road in care of the LTT who had responsibility for saving this remarkable tram of 1952.

Below : Brush Car 290 in its special 2012 Diamond Jubilee colours displayed at the Pleasure Beach tram terminus courtesy of the FHLT. Saloon windows were subsequently filled with special artwork created by students at schools in Fleetwood and the B&FC.

The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 was marked by redesign of a Brush rail car number 634 which had already benefitted from a makeover commemorating Blackpool's centenary year as an incorporated borough the previous year Subtle (and economic) adjustments by the Paint Shop staff allowed 634 to transition into its follow up role for the Royal anniversary. The extensive reconstruction of double deck car 761 and its emergence in 1979 in a wholly new form merited its being branded as the 'Jubilee Car', to be joined three years later by sister rebuild 762 - both cars now thankfully in preservation, the former thanks to the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust's actions.

Below : The Red Rose Tram. A design which did not make it past the drawing board from the Illuminations Department former graphic designer on Rigby Road. Perhaps it might be finally brought to life on one of the many stored 'Balloon' cars in Blackpool - celebrating the County Palatinate's aims of consolidating working partnerships with all of the Local Authorities announced today as an agreed policy approach to central Government. One which would attract over £5Billion in public funding to be applied throughout Lancashire. The FHLT is ready to contribute its own Balloon car to such a project.

Some twenty five years later a further Brush rail car, in its original fleet number 290, then recently purchased by the newly formed Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust became the star attraction on the Promenade celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Year in 2011. Repainted in HM Prison Kirkham where it was transferred for remedial work to its roof and trolley gantry and embellishment of external window panels - the tram took on the unofficial role of commemorating the Jubilee Year on Blackpool seafront, albeit as a static exhibit. As the very last car to operate the original Blackpool North Station to Fleetwood tram service in October 1963, number 290 retains an important pedigree.

2022 is yet a further historic year in the present Monarch's long reign, the longest in fact of any British monarch with seventy five years of continuous service. CORRECTION : Our avid reader and spell check Editor Mike Morton points out that in fact the Platinum Jubilee marks the 70th Anniversary of Her Majesty's ascending the Throne. My apologies for irrevently hastening the Monarch's age and longevity of her reign. Thus presenting an even more unique anniversary and the first such 'Platinum' milestone in the long history of Britain's monarchy. The question now is whether or not Blackpool Transport will bestir itself by recognising the Platinum Anniversary of HM The Queen's reign with a special tram display launching the June long holiday weekend marking the occasion in the 2022 Calendar. There is seemingly no end to themed vehicle external displays applied to the bus fleet - while the fated winter 'santa's tram' branding on a 'Balloon' car occupied the Paint Shop team in the run up to Christmas. It will be remiss of Blackpool Council - Owner of Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. (the Company) to completely ignore the first time a reigning monarch has served 75 continuous years as the crowned Head of State by omission of acknowledgement on its operating transport fleet.

Reverting to another important anniversary, this time of the Incorporated Borough. In 1924 Blackpool Corporation Tramways commissioned construction of a further illuminated tram which was 'launched' that year in the form of a replica Lifeboat. The car's prow was adorned with special crests marking the town's Jubilee year - which it retained until final withdrawal in the early 1960s.

Sadly the bus fleet never gained such recognition beyond those token union flags applied in 1952. Perhaps powers that are in the Company's Board Room might be influenced to persuade management to invite Blackpool and Fylde coast schools to contribute 'Platinum Anniversary' designs with local sponsorship underwriting.


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