The Blackpool tramway suffered severe disruption on Saturday 10th January, when winds of around 40mph battered the Fylde coast. Whilst the changes to the advertised service was unfortunate, the most serious matter concerned the multi-million pound tram depot at Starr Gate which suffered quite significant damage as a result of the storm.
During the day, high winds managed to tear away a section of the depot roof. Conflicting reports have appeared regarding the severity of the damage, although it appears that the damage affected the canopy of the building which extends outwards at the front of the structure towards the depot track fan. However, the situation was deemed severe enough for the promenade and the adjacent road to be closed off due to concerns that further sections of the roof may become detached and blow onto the path or the road nearby. The southbound tram service was also terminated at Pleasure Beach, meaning that all Flexity2 trams were forced to use the turning circle at this location which is still fairly rare territory for the class. Normal service along New South Promenade was restored the following day with some remedial work being carried out on the depot roof as a temporary measure.
Other disruptions during the day occured on 10th January – most notably at North Pier where concerns of a damaged flagpole close to the tramway led to the service being temporarily suspended whilst the obstacle was removed. This required the overhead power to be isolated and some trams were stabled in the area with their pantographs tied down until the service resumed.
Hopefully the worst of the winter weather is now over and Blackpool can recover from the January storm, although no doubt questions will be asked about the ease with which a modern and highly expensive tram depot became damaged. It is quite astonishing that the 80 year old depot at Rigby Road remains intact,although admittedly showing its age – presumably benefitting from its less exposed inland location.