|Last Updated Sunday 17th October 2010|
|Blackpool Tramway 125th Anniversary 2010|
|The 125th Anniversary of the Blackpool Tramway was celebrated at the end of September with a week of events taking place. In the build up there were many disappointments with trams not being able to go to Blackpool, other trams going but being ruled out and others seeing their restorations taking longer than expected but there was still plenty to keep the tram enthusiast occupied during the week. British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior reports in the usual “A week in Blackpool...” format from Thursday 23rd September to Saturday 2nd October.|
|Thursday 23rd September 2010|
The start of the Blackpool 125 events saw a LTT and Trams Magazine tour take place during the day utilising Coronation 304, Brush 632 and visitor Liverpool 762. 632 ran between North Pier/Bispham and Ash Street (being fitted with a transponder) whilst the other two were to run between Bispham and Pleasure Beach. Unfortunately during the morning 762 suffered a fault (with all lights – external and internal - going out) which required it to the return to Depot for attention, fortunately this was quickly solved and the tram was soon out on the Prom again running the shuttle service. Later on in the day 762 also suffered a dewirement going onto the loop at Pleasure Beach (not the last tram to suffer that fate during the week).
Away from the Blackpool 125 tour Balloon 711 started the day on Ash Street service (route 5) but suffered a fault requiring it to return to Depot and was replaced by Centenary 643.
Three specials entered service from late afternoon (all Centenary Cars) whilst 632 made another appearance in the evening on a Private Hire with its roof advert boxes illuminated.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 238: Blackpool 125 - Thursday 23rd September 2010
|Friday 24th September 2010|
The day started with Sheffield 513 out on an early morning (and brief) TDE before it was to be used on today’s Blackpool 125 Tour. Unfortunately when it returned to Depot shortly after 1000 it blocked Twin Car 672+682 in - which was due to be on Route 15 (Thornton Gate service). With the Twin already on the Depot Fan ready for departure and 513 unable to go anywhere some shunting had to take place to enable a clear exit for 672+682, although this didn’t take place until the tram was 15 minutes leaving Depot. The whole situation was complicated by the fact that Works Brush 259 and Brush 627 had been shunted out of the Depot to enable the drains to be cleaned.
With Set 2 the last of the service cars to leave Depot preparations for today’s Blackpool 125 tour could take place which would feature Marton Box 31, Sheffield 513 and Balloon 715. 31 had already been moved out of the Depot onto Blundell Street by the Fitting Shop wall and as mentioned 513 arrived from its TDE. This was eventually put behind 31 on Blundell Street (to enable 672+682 to escape). The three trams left Depot later than planned and headed straight to North Pier where they split up and fell into their Pleasure Beach to Bispham shuttle pattern for the day (715 worked solo whilst the other two worked as pair). Towards the end of the day 31 dewired on the entry to Pleasure Beach loop causing delays as it also bought a crossbar down. This delayed 31’s departure as it needed fitters to check there was no damage to its trolley.
The day also saw the first appearance of Boat 600 since its major overhaul. It ran a test run from Depot at round 1100 to Bispham and then back to Depot again.
Despite it being a Friday evening during the Illuminations the number of trams in public service was very disappointing with most trams out being full on most journeys in Blackpool. Although there were five trams on specials from late afternoon, three of these returned to Depot before 1900 and of the two remaining Balloon 715 was running Top Deck Closed (with the crew from the Blackpool 125 tour earlier in the day). The service was also struggling to cope with bunching happening all too regularly. During one of these bunches 715 was swapped with Centenary 645 on route 14 (which was operating with two conductors) which gave some much needed extra capacity.
Two further Private Hires took place in the evening with Brush 632 (for the second day in a row) and Frigate 736 both out. Because of 736’s Private Hire Standard 147 was used on Illumination Tour duty with the other two Illuminated vehicles doing two each.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 239: Blackpool 125 - Friday 24th September 2010
|Saturday 25th September 2010|
Quite simply one of the best days I have experienced on the Blackpool Tramway (and I know it is nowhere near the glory days of the past!) The day started with three unrefurbished Balloons coming out on specials pre 0900 - 701, 715 and 726 - and these were followed by several other specials in the next 90 minutes including Boat 604. One of the highlights of the day was to be a “Vintage Tram Service” and these trams started to leave Depot shortly after 1030. The first out was Boat 600 (its first passenger trips since major overhaul) followed by Marton Box 31 (which ran from Depot and used the Foxhall crossover before returning south to Pleasure Beach), Standard 147 and Blackpool & Fleetwood Box 40. Both 600 and 147 returned to Depot around lunchtime and were eventually replaced by Sheffield 513 and Stockport 5 during the afternoon.
From late afternoon further specials started to come out onto the Prom including Balloon 706, Balloon 707, Twin Car 671+681 and Twin Car 673+683 (this meant that at one time all four operational Twins were out in service).
The day’s Blackpool 125 Tour did not take place until the late afternoon/early evening and was the first of the Fylde Tramway Society organised tours for the week. The three trams due to be involved were Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2, Marton Box 31 and Standard 147. All was seemingly well on departure from Depot but by the time the three trams arrived at North Pier a burning smell was evident from under Rack 2. As a precaution it was decided to withdraw 2 from the tour and 147 and 31 continued north to Bispham. Centenary 642 was used to tow 2 back to Depot for attention. When 147 and 31 returned south to Pleasure Beach they were joined by Bolton 66 which was to take the place of 2 for the remainder of the evening (it had originally been suggested that Stockport 5 would be used but this had returned to Depot with a fault).
Blackpool was very busy on this day with hundreds of tram enthusiasts around during the day (throughout the day Pleasure Beach was packed with lots of people taking photos, almost resembling a film premiere!). But it was not just tram enthusiasts around with it being “Glasgow Weekend” and a number of Blackburn Rovers supporters in the town (following a match against Blackpool). During the evening the queues at Pleasure Beach were massive, often stretching to the back of the loop and it is probably true that no number of trams out would have been ample. Needless to say the service completely disintegrated (during the day both Twin Cars on service only managed to run from Pleasure Beach to North Pier rather than Thornton Gate) and it was almost impossible to tell which trams were actually on service and which were on specials by the evening! Of note was that 673+683 returned to Depot during the evening to be replaced by 675+685 (which had finished their day on route 12) with the latter managing two trips to Ash Street. Boat 604 also remained out late on specials not returning to Depot until after 2200 from Bispham.
Seven Illumination Tours ran with the usual suspects plus Boat 604 and a rare appearance on tour duty for Sheffield 513 (when was the last time that tram ran an Illumination Tour?)
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 240: Blackpool 125 - Saturday 25th September 2010
|Sunday 26th September 2010|
The day of the Depot Open Day which meant that any trams required for service would have to leave Depot early on and be stabled on the tramway to enable the displays at the Depot to be set up. This included Brush 632, Twin Car 672+682, Balloon 724 and Bolton 66 at North Pier whilst other trams were stabled at Manchester Square waiting for their turn to enter service. In addition the four trams to be used on the day’s “Vintage Tram Service” were stabled on Hopton Road, these would be Manchester 765, Liverpool 762, Boat 600 and Standard 147 and would operate between Bispham and Depot/Pleasure Beach. One of the journey’s of the day was the first trip on route 14 which utilised 632 because the allocated tram (724) was blocked in by 672+682 at North Pier.
At the Depot Open Day there was a display of trams on the Depot Fan which featured Coronation 304, Oporto 273, Pantograph 167, Standard 143, Rack 2, Box 40, Marton 31 and Western Train 733+734. In addition Stockport 5 and Sheffield 513 were shunted to the front of the Depot. The day also provided opportunities to get photos of the trams in the Depot including many of the withdrawn and stored trams.
One of the highlights of the Open Day was (as it always is at events like these) the Workshop tour. This started at the Paint Shop where on the tram front a pleasant surprise to many was Railcoach 680. This tram has been acquired for preservation by the Heaton Park Tramway and was receiving a repaint into an all over cream livery before it moves at a date to be determined. Next on the tour was the Body Shop where two trams were present both Balloon Cars receiving the enlarged centre entrance bulges - 700 and 713. Another tram receiving these modifications (at an earlier stage) was in the Fitting Shop and this was Balloon 718. The final stage of the tram part of the tour was in the Electrical Compound where the LTT’s OMO 8 was to be found. Unfortunately (at this stage) this tram required work to enable it to be used during the 125th anniversary events and it still lacked a trolley tower and pantograph but it was good to see and photograph it.
Out on the actual tramway Bolton 66 remained stabled at North Pier for most of the day as a “spare” tram whilst 632 (after its exploits on route 14) was stabled at Pleasure Beach. Both these trams were utilised on specials later on in the day, with 66 staying out late (one of only two trams on specials in the evening – and this included Trawler 737 after Tour duty) and also operating an Illumination Tour.
The LTT/Trams Magazine Blackpool 125 Tour in the evening utilised Marton Box 31 and Coronation 304 running several trips between Pleasure Beach and Bispham.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 241: Blackpool 125 - Sunday 26th September 2010
|Monday 27th September 2010|
The day’s Blackpool 125 Tour was another FTS organised tour – “Fleetwood Stalwarts”. This featured Rack 2 (back, fit and raring to go after its problem on Saturday), Marton Box 31 and Box 40. The three trams left Depot to Bispham (via a photo stop between Gynn Square and Cliffs Hotel) then back to Pleasure Beach (via another photo stop near St Chad’s Road). At Pleasure Beach 40 took its break with 2 and 31 heading north with 2 stopping at North Pier for its break and 31 continuing to Bispham for its break. Following their breaks the trams then ran a Bispham-Pleasure Beach service until shortly after 1700.
Elsewhere on this day the majority of the Thornton Gate service cars were Centenaries (with only route 15 having Twin Car 675+685 on it) although they still all retained a crew of three. A changeover took place early on the day on route 11 with Centenary 644 being replaced by sister 642. Four specials came out late afternoon for a few hours and this was probably about five too many!
There were strange goings on with the Illumination Tours during this evening with a possible five being spotted including Balloon 717. The Frigate was completely missing from Tour duty with Western Train 733+734 not being seen until late in the day running the possible fifth tour of the night. Bolton 66 also put in an appearance whilst Trawler 737 ran two.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 242: Blackpool 125 - Monday 27th September 2010
|Tuesday 28th September 2010|
A day full of incident (not all of it good!) with a decidedly foreign feel, with not one but two tram tours featuring trams from other towns. With it being a Tuesday there were also a number of specials in service during the day including a major surprise in Balloon 706 (despite the fact the weather was not exactly conducive to open top trams with a chilling wind!)
The Blackpool 125 tour taking place during the day was the final FTS organised one and featured Stockport 5, Liverpool 762 and Manchester 765 running the usual pattern between Bispham and Pleasure Beach. However, this tour had a bit of a twist because of an incident at Bispham when Centenary 645 reportedly split the points mid-morning. This happened as the tour was heading north and meant that all three trams had to turn at Cabin. As they are all trolley fitted this was an incredibly rare move (because of health and safety reasons trolley fitted cars are not allowed to turn at Cabin) and had to take place with supervision from an Inspector. After turning at Cabin they then headed back south to Pleasure Beach (this move actually got the tour back on time) and the timetabled tour resumed for the rest of the day. Liverpool 762 also suffered a fault towards the end of the day at Bispham but this was soon rectified and it managed to join in the tour again running the final trips of the day in tandem with 5 to Pleasure Beach, North Pier and in.
Rack 2 was strangely out (apparently for driver training) but this failed at Gynn Square bringing the tramway to a halt and causing problems for the timetabled service. Balloon 711 was coupled to the rear of 2 and pushed it from Gynn to Bispham where it was put on the centre track waiting rescue and a return to Depot. There were also at least two occasions when the overhead power went (at least in the Bispham area). All of these problems of course meant that the timetabled service suffered badly during the day.
The evening Blackpool 125 Tour was the “Greater Manchester Tour of Illuminations” and this should have seen Stockport 5, Bolton 66 and Manchester 765 operating. However, before the tour started 762 deputised for 5 and then before they were due to depart Pleasure Beach there were concerns over 765. The other two trams departed without 765 whilst it received fitters attention and Standard 147 was called for from Depot as a replacement. However, a decision was taken that 765 was fine and it left Pleasure Beach to take its part in the tour. The trams ran two return trips to Bispham.
The day also saw 147 and Sheffield 513 on TDE’s.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 243: Blackpool 125 - Tuesday 28th September 2010
|Wednesday 29th September 2010|
Anniversary Day itself and in the morning I took the chance to actually get to Fleetwood for the first time this year, which proved to be a mistake. OMO 8 - which most people had believed to be completely ruled out of the events week and as recently as the Sunday did not even have a Pantograph fitted – was sent out on a short test run to see whether it could take its place at the rear of the Anniversary procession.
The trams for the procession started to come out from late morning and they turned at North Pier before heading to Pleasure Beach. The first batch of trams coming out for the Parade were Coronation 660, Balloon 706 and Boat 600 (the appearance of the latter two was a big surprise as the weather wasn’t very nice and for a time it looked like it might be 1998 all over again.) The next batch of trams left Depot shortly after 1230 in atrocious weather led by Rack 2 (repaired again). This was followed by Box 40, Marton Box 31 and Standard 147. The final tram to come out for the Parade (although it was not to carry passengers) was OMO 8 which left Depot at 1339 running to Foxhall to use the crossover and head to Pleasure Beach.
The Parade itself left Pleasure Beach at approximately 1400 – fortunately with the weather having improved - in the following order:
Passengers travelled on the first seven trams with 8 following behind as part of a test run with fitters on board. The Parade ran Pleasure Beach-Bispham-Pleasure Beach (with the exception of 8 which ran Pleasure Beach-Bispham-Depot). Upon arrival at Pleasure Beach 2, 40, 31 and 147 returned to Depot with 600, 706 and 660 remaining out on specials. 660 remained out on specials until around 1930 when it ran the first Illumination Tour of the evening whilst 600 and 706 had returned to Depot around 1800.
Western Train 733+734 ran a Private Hire early evening which meant it was unavailable to run an Illumination Tour until after 2100 – which was the fourth of the night.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 244: Blackpool 125 - Wednesday 29th September 2010
|Thursday 30th September 2010|
The 125th Anniversary events may have ended the day before but that didn’t mean that there was nothing going on in Blackpool! With thanks to contributors to Tramgen I found out that Pantograph 167 was to be loaded onto a Scott’s Heavy Haulage Low Loader to head back home. So without a Travelcard (as my previous one had run out the day before and I hadn’t found the time to get a new one!) I hot footed it down to the Depot to see the operation of loading it. As I arrived Brush 631 was shunting 167 from the Depot onto Blundell Street and from there it was loaded onto the back of the lorry. The tram left Blackpool at 1100 and it was heading to Scott’s depot before returning to Crich the following day.
Rack 2 made another appearance on the tramway on a TDE for Crich’s Workshop staff with Brush 630 and Centenary 643 also being used for this purpose.
Centenary 644 was an unusual choice for route 4 although it did not leave Depot until after 1100, presumably as a late replacement for a double decker which became unavailable.
There were just two specials in service from late afternoon with Balloon 711 back to depot by approximately 1800 and Centenary 645 staying out until after 2100.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 245: Blackpool 125 Aftermath - Thursday 30th September 2010
|Friday 1st October 2010|
Nothing much to report about until the late afternoon, mainly due to the fact that the weather was foul for the majority of daylight hours. Standard 147 was out on another TDE whilst Engineering Car 754 was noted out in the early evening, seen returning to Depot through Cabin around 1830.
Late afternoon/early evening saw eight specials come out from Depot (some out for longer than others). This included all three available Brush Cars (although 632 - once again – didn’t remain out for long) and Standard 147.
Balloon 711 - which was operating route 6 – was seen heading back to Depot around 2000 and it seemed that Centenary 648 took over the timetable, being seen running at least two trips to Ash Street.
On the Illumination Tour front Trawler 737 was unavailable and with 147 already out, Box 40 deputised. 40 ran the third tour of the night with Western Train 733+734 (2) and Frigate 736 also on duty.
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 246: Blackpool 125 - Friday 1st October 2010
|Saturday 2nd October 2010|
And so to the last day (well done if you’ve got this far through the article, please stay with me not long to go now!) with notes only taken to around 1530 as I had to go home (a word for the good old UK rail network here as well as I managed to get from Blackpool to Farnborough in under four hours, all for around £15 – no chance of doing that by road!). A good selection of trams were out during the day and just one Centenary started the day on service (644 on route 11). There was a mixture of singles and doubles on specials with the highlights including Bolton 66, Boat 600, Brush 630 and Balloons 706, 715 and 726.
As seems to be usual for an Illumination Saturday the timetable disintegrated quite early on with many of the specials travelling through to Ash Street (including a couple of trips for Brush 630).
Standard 147 was also out on a TDE whilst Engineering Car 754 was seen heading back to Depot through North Pier just after 0900.
My trip to Blackpool ended in chaos with Twin Car 672+682 failing near to Tower – causing me to miss the chance to get a photo of 671+681 in daylight! Travelling on 726 from Cabin to North Pier we were held up just before the unloading stop at North Pier as a queue formed behind set 2. Eventually being let off the tram – and despite the fact I was loaded with my heavy luggage I went searching to see what was causing the delays and duly discovered 672+682 with Unimog 939 being attached. 939 was used to tow the errant Twin back to Depot but in the meantime a huge queue of trams had been caught up in the failure. This included Balloon 711, Balloon 717, 600, Balloon 724 (which was being turned short at North Pier), 726, Centenary 643, Centenary 644, Balloon 715 , Twin Car 675+685 and Brush 630 whilst 66 and 147 were turning on the Tower crossover to head back south.
During the chaos the next set of specials started to come out into service. As mentioned above this included Twin Car 671+681 (which was originally planned to go to North Pier from Depot but because of the chaos was extended to Bispham) and also Brush 631 (terminating at North Pier from Depot).
Ash Street Service Cars:
Photos of the Day: Gallery 247: Blackpool 125 Aftermath - Saturday 2nd October 2010
With the number of disappointments which kept occurring in the run up to the 125th anniversary events you would have been forgiven for thinking that the week would not be a huge success. But I don’t think anyone who attended the week would say it was anything but a success, yes there were trams which didn’t run and the cavalcade was not as big as some might have hoped but looking at the positive side of things there were so many plus points – visitors Rack 2, Marton Box 31, Liverpool 762 and Manchester 765 looking splendid on the Prom, successful and packed tram tours, OMO 8 nearly stealing the show by appearing for the Cavalcade and the return of Boat 600 after overhaul (looking stunning it has to be said) to name just a few. On a personal note another highlight was the chance to finally get a ride on Stockport 5, a tram I have wanted to get on since seeing it on a test run during a family holiday back in the 1990s and memories of the Saturday of the events week will remain with me for a very long time.
A huge congratulations and thanks must to go to everyone involved in the organisation and running of the events as there must have been times when everything seemed to be going a little pear shaped and yet they still managed to provide us with a varied programme of events. Thanks to everyone who contributed to Tramgen as well as it meant you were unlikely to miss anything you wanted to see (particularly 167 being loaded on the Thursday after the events week).
And we won’t mention the state of the actual timetabled service as the week was a celebration of the tramway. All I will say is that hopefully with the upgraded tramway coming in 2012 we might actually see a tramway that provides a public service reliably and regularly.
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