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TRAM: British and Australian (American usually streetcar also trolley) noun [C]
An electric vehicle that transports people, usually in cities, and goes along metal tracks in the road. (Taken from the Cambridge English Dictionary)

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Article Posted Tuesday 16 September 2003
The Blackpool Tramway has this year been receiving criticism from many quarters with staff shortages leading to limited trams in service. In addition the continued track problems north of Thornton Gate have meant that for the first full illumination season in 45 years no double deck trams can help move the crowds to Fleetwood on market days. For the second full week of the 2003 Illuminations British Trams ONLINE webmaster Gareth Prior was in Blackpool and this is a report of the tram output…

There is a major shortage of bus drivers across the country but Blackpool is suffering more than most with the tramway relying on additional specials to help supplement the timetabled service with the crowds attempting to move along the Promenade to the Pleasure Beach and northwards for shopping in Cleveleys and Fleetwood. The week chosen for the Blackpool trip of 2003 was the second week of the illuminations and also the first full week of the new school year. This meant that a lot of the visitors in the resort were of a more mature age and as such Cleveleys and Fleetwood would be the more popular destinations, rather than the Pleasure Beach.

Saturday 6 September
Weather: Afternoon - Showery. Evening - Clear skies and cool breeze

Having commenced the journey by train to get to Blackpool early morning everything fell into place and your reporter was into the resort just after 1pm. The first tram seen was Balloon 711 on a journey to Pleasure Beach noted at Cocker Street. The timetabled service was in the hands of Railcoaches with Twin Cars being used on specials for the day and the Cleveleys flyer service did not run, although a few specials were noted going to the town. No trams were noted running the Vintage Tram service along the Prom although not much of the day was spent between North Pier and Pleasure Beach. The afternoon passed without any real incident which leads us to the evening and the illumination tours, of which 3 ran during the night. Illuminated Trawler 633 (2006 from North Pier), Bolton 66, which incidentally this year has had its 1901-2001 illumination replaced by an illuminated Acdo advert, (2027) and Standard 147 (2053) were the trams used on the tours with the first 2 running all the way to Little Bispham (66 seems unable to turn at Bispham on tours this year). The first tour of the night is again running through to Starr Gate with the remainder turning at Pleasure Beach. Before 66 had loaded up at North Pier it experienced a few problems with the trolley pole dewiring from the overhead several times.

Trams in service (35)
66, 147, 513, 621, 622, 623, 626, 627, 630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 641, 644, 646, 648, 671+681, 676+686, 678, 679, 680, 701, 703, 707, 708, 709, 711, 719, 720, 722, 723, 726, 761, 762

Illumination Tours
Illuminated Trawler 633
Bolton 66
Standard 147

Sunday 7 September
Weather: AM - Sunny spells, PM - Slightly showery, Eve - Wet

The Fleetwood service was again in the hands of Railcoaches with the Cleveleys flyer service not even running and no Twin Cars were in service at all. There was no real effort to run the Vintage tram service between North Pier and Pleasure Beach although at times Standard 147, Bolton 66, Princess Alice 706, Coronation 660 and Trawler 633 were out on specials. However many of these trams ran beyond North Pier and most of them also returned to depot in mid afternoon. In the morning Engineering Car 754 was seen going around the Metropole Hotel on its way northbound. The evening was very wet with the rain starting at 7pm and not relenting at all during the night, as such only one tour was noted out in the hands of Trawler 633 (2033 at St Stephens Avenue).

Trams in service (32)
66, 147, 622, 623, 626, 627, 630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 637, 641, 644, 646, 648, 660, 679, 680, 701, 706, 707, 711, 718, 719, 720, 721, 722, 723, 726, 761, 762

Illumination Tours
Illuminated Trawler 633

Monday 8 September
Weather: Mostly cloudy although by late afternoon sunny

Today saw a mixture of Railcoaches and Twin Cars on the main Fleetwood-Starr Gate service whilst the Cleveleys service again did not run with Balloon specials used instead to Cleveleys. Rebuilt Balloon 718 failed whilst on a journey to Cleveleys and Engineering Car 754 was sent to perform the rescue and the two were seen at Manchester Square going up to depot just after 2pm (718 was not seen in service again during the week). The morning also saw Centenary 645 make its only appearance of the week being driven by two fitters on a presumed test run, going northbound through North Pier at 11.35 am. There was a 5 minute delay suffered at North Pier in the morning when Brush 622 stopped for no apparent reason and whilst it stood there a queue of 631, 627, 677+687 and 726 built up behind it. Unfortunately I am unaware of how many tours were run during the night (anybody with any ideas please email us).

Trams in service (27)
66, 622, 623, 626, 627, 631, 632, 633, 637, 641, 642, 644, 646, 648, 671+681, 676+686, 677+687, 679, 701, 707, 709, 718, 719, 721, 723, 726, 761

Tuesday 9 September
Weather: Sunny spells but mostly cloudy and windy

A very windy day was experience in Blackpool with the Fleetwood-Knott End Ferry suspended and it was very difficult to find sheltered spots. Tuesday is traditionally the busy day for the Fleetwood Market and so should be a good day for trams to the town, however today was not brilliant. There were often large gaps at Fleetwood Ferry waiting for the next tram to arrive with the tram replacement bus (111) being used instead of trams on many occasions. On Tuesdays the Cleveleys service is also supposed to extend into Fleetwood but once again this did not run and so the timetabled service was just a basic 20 minutes with Railcoaches and Twin Cars in charge. The trams were of course quite full going from Blackpool with most full by the time Bispham was reached. The weather remained very windy going into the evening and two illumination tours were noted out with Trawler 633 (1958 at Bispham) and Bolton 66 (2048) again the trams given the responsibility.

Trams in service (27)
66, 621, 626, 627, 631, 632, 633, 634, 637, 641, 642, 644, 646, 648, 671+681, 675+685, 676+686, 677+687, 678, 680, 701, 707, 719, 721, 722, 723, 726

Illumination Tours
Illuminated Trawler 633
Bolton 66

Wednesday 10 September
Weather: Day - Cloudy with sunny spells. Evening - bright sunshine

Very limited notes for Blackpool on this day as your reporter spent the day in Manchester but it appears that the Cleveleys service again did not run and that the Fleetwood service was in the hands of Railcoaches and Twin Cars as per Tuesday. The evening saw 2 illumination tours with 633 (1949 from North Pier) and 66 (2034) again the trams used for this purpose.

Trams in service (17)
66, 623, 626, 630, 632, 633, 641, 644, 646, 671+681, 675+685, 676+686, 677+687, 679, 703, 708, 719

Illumination Tours
Illuminated Trawler 633
Bolton 66

Thursday 11 September
Weather: Sunny spells with showers

Another day on the Blackpool Tramway which saw no attempt to run the Cleveleys service and the Fleetwood service was again a mixture of Railcoaches and Twin Cars. During a period of time at Cleveleys there were several long gaps between trams going to Fleetwood which meant that queues built up and then when trams did appear there was no space for all the passengers. The new multi purpose vehicle used by the engineering team, 939, was also noted out today on the loop at Little Bispham where 941 had been seen 2 days previously. Again I am unaware of which trams were on illumination tour duty so any help would be gratefully received here. Although I was away from the tramway for the evening I have since heard that Coronation 304 was out on a special tour during the illuminations for the purpose of filming for Channel 4’s Salvage Squad.

Trams in service (26)
621, 623, 626, 627, 630, 631, 634, 641, 642, 643, 644, 646, 648, 671+681, 676+686, 677+687, 678, 679, 680, 708, 719, 720, 721, 722, 723, 726

Friday 12 September
Weather: Cloudy start developing into sunny spells

At last Blackpool Transport managed to run the Cleveleys service exactly as advertised going all the way through to Starr Gate. Non advertising Balloons were used on this service whilst the Starr Gate-Fleetwood service was solely in the charge of Railcoaches with no Twin Cars out at all during the day. On a journey I took from Fleetwood to Starr Gate a changeover occurred at Tower when Brush 626 was removed from service due to a defective door and fellow class member 621 was provided with all passengers crossing over direct between the two. Lunchtime also saw another appearance from Coronation 304 which was parked on the centre track at Tower whilst interviews were being conducted for the next series of Salvage Squad which will again feature the tram. In the afternoon whilst outside the depot a shunting move took place to free Standard 147 from the depot which saw Bolton 66 having to be moved out of the way. The evening saw 3 illumination tours in the hands of Trawler 633 (2) and Standard 147, Bolton 66 also undertook a private tour from Pleasure Beach leaving at 2007 northbound before being noted at St Chads Road heading back at 2130. There was a major lack of specials out during the evening with large queues developing at Pleasure Beach with all of the Cleveleys service trams having returned to depot as per the timetable. Luckily as if by miracle Jubilee 761 made an appearance at 2116 which cleared most of the backlog that had developed.

Trams in service (27)
66, 147, 621, 622, 626, 627, 630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 641, 642, 644, 646, 679, 701, 703, 707, 708, 709, 719, 720, 721, 722, 726, 761

Illumination Tours
Illuminated Trawler 633
Standard 147
Illuminated Trawler 633

Saturday 13 September
Weather: Sunny and Warm

For the second year running the final Saturday saw lovely weather however there were no Boats or even Princess Alice in service before 3pm. After the excitement of the day before seeing the Cleveleys service it was back to usual today with just specials and the Starr Gate-Fleetwood service, which was today in the control of Railcoaches with the Twins left to specials. The Vintage Tram service was not strictly run although 147, 66 and 513 were all out in service but 513 regularly ran to Cabin rather than North Pier and all 3 took their lunch breaks at Bispham at around the same time. The day also saw the first appearance of Cadbury Blue Twin set 674+684 which seemed to sporting a fairly major dent at the trailer cars driving end. In order so that your writer could return home the Prom was left at 3pm with the final tram seen being Brush 632 at North Pier on a journey to Pleasure Beach.

Trams in service (24)
66, 147, 513, 621, 622, 623, 626, 630, 631, 632, 641, 642, 644, 646, 648, 671+681, 674+684, 676+686, 677+687, 680, 701, 719, 720, 722


The Blackpool Tramway in 2003 was always going to be different from the same week 12 months ago as since then double deck trams have been banned from going any further north than Thornton Gate and there are severe driver shortages. This was shown during this week with the year definitely one for the Railcoaches and Twins, for so long trams which have been supporters to the Balloons. The output for the Balloons must be at the lowest point for many years but maybe it is what they need as they aren’t getting any younger and many are starting to look at little worse for wear. Probably the biggest concern there can be at the moment is that although a service to Cleveleys is advertised at all the tram services on just one day out of eight during this holiday was it run, something which must be sorted out. If Blackpool Transport have decided that they are not going to run it they should have put out a revised timetable.

Obviously the trams which have been put as being in service will not have all been out at the same time and also some may have been missed as the only way it is possible to say every single tram in service would be to stay at Manchester Square all day every day! However the figures are as complete as I have been able to make them.