Blackpool Tramway 125th anniversary procession

Blackpool Tramway 125th anniversary procession

30th September 2010
Yesterday was the 125th anniversary parade at Blackpool, which really marks the end of the British traditional tramway as Blackpool moves towards modernisation and new, articulated tramcars. As part of this a number of heritage trams moved to the resort, and far more information on this can be found on other websites such as British Trams Online. Unfortunately, logistical and operational problems reduced the number of visiting trams, though our own Sheffield 513 and Blackpool 31 featured and operated on a number of days.
The procession itself saw a good turnout of tramway enthusiasts lining the prom, but a rather depleted number of vehicles taking part. A number of classic Blackpool types were absent and there were mutterings amongst enthusiasts that the first two trams were actually Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad cars! This was once a separate system though to all intents and purposes it is integral with the Blackpool Corporation Tramways history.
Much comment was made that this was a sad end to the event programme and also to the traditional tramway. It is not the place of this blog to comment on such but I am sure we will read more elsewhere. Blackpool is modernising its tramways for the future, which is surely a good thing, though perhaps there is a place for a strong heritage component too.
The organisers, nevertheless, have done a great job to still bring together such a line up of tramcars – no mean feat given that there were still a dozen heritage cars in the town to participate! Perhaps those of us with tramways to operate can consider how we might satisfy the very apparent appetite for tramway special events on our own systems – I am certainly mulling over some exciting ideas for 2011 and we fully intend to carry on ‘swapping’ trams!
A rumour circulated over the weekend that Beamish and Heaton Park are negotiating a further swap, between Blackpool 31 and Manchester 765. I can confirm this is true! Still subject to detail planning, we will hopefully see something tide up between the two organisations before long and it is the hope that 765, alongside others, will visit for our Spring ‘Power from the Past’ event in 2011. What the others are/can be remains to be seen…!!! If anyone is willing to come forward to support us with haulage costs we would be very glad of it – moving a tram up the country and back costs at least £2000!!! We have seen from this years events that all the heritage tramway players are willing to cooperate so it is up to the tramway enthusiast fraternity to support us all by attending our events and ensure we at least don’t loose money on these moves and maybe we even make some towards the next project and the one after that…
So, Blackpool 125th anniversary parade – here goes:
Below: I’m showing the cars in the parade in order, though the photos were taken at different times during the day. We start with two very different eras, with Centenary car 644 working a service northbound to Thornton Gate with Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad 2 leading the procession back from Bispham where the cars were turned back.
Below: A closer view of B&F 2 at North Pier, where most of these views were taken. This tram was visiting from the National Tramway Museum at Crich.

Below: Next up was Box 40, another NTM tram but long-term Blackpool resident in recent years.

Below: Here is 31! Seen heading south with the tower behind, just to prove it went!

Below: Following 31 was Standard 147, a resident at Blackpool and restored by BTS after being repatriated from the USA where it had been sent in the 1960s. One of the supremely elegant Standard cars, which were loosely derived from the rebuilt Marton Box cars, of which 31 is the last example.

Below: Boat 600, a BTS car and recently refurbished to suit the modern tramway, note the skirts under the ends. Seen heading south along the prom.

Below: Following the Boat was 706, an open topped Balloon. Sadly no enclosed Balloons, the icon of the tramway, took part in the parade, though one was in normal service.

Below: The Coronations were the last attempt at major modernisation and initially were a failure. Expensive, complicated and heavy they were later rebuilt and gave useful service before being withdrawn. The trams they were built to replace soldiered on for many more years! Here 660 makes its way south.

Below: OMO (One -Man-Operated) car 8 made the parade literally by the skin of its teeth – the first such car to run in Blackpool for 18 years I was informed! Owned by the Lancastrian Transport Trust, the tram brought up the rear of the parade and was very popular with the enthusiasts around North Pier where I was stood. A significant design (actually they were rebuilds of older vehicles), though certainly not the prettiest vehicles, these trams enabled year round operation to Fleetwood to be economically viable, perhaps contributing to the longevity of the tramway at Blackpool.

Below: A selection of views taken yesterday.

Below: At the end of the day Boat 600 makes its way back into the shed at Rigby Road.