Picture in Time: Blackpool Marton VAMBAC 11

It is the turn of Blackpool Marton VAMBAC 11 to feature in our archive photo series “Picture in Time” today with a couple of images showing the tram at Hayling Island and at Beamish 43 years apart.

Built by English Electric in 1939 as a Sun Saloon 11 was converted to its final form as a Marton VAMBAC in March 1952. It ran in this format until October 1962 when it was withdrawn from service as the Marton line was closed. Unlike the other 11 members of the class which were to be scrapped there was to be a future for 11 and it left Blackpool in September 1965 for the unusual location of Hayling Island. The plan was for the tram to re-open a short railway branch line as a tramway but these plans eventually fell through and 11 was on the road again at the start of 1969 with its destination this time being the East Anglia Transport Museum. It ran there from 1978 to 1983 and then spent 22 years out of service with a high quality restoration taking place before returning to service in 2005. It had been hoped that 11 would head to Blackpool for the 125th anniversary of the tramway in 2010 but this fell through although it did have a very successful loan period at Beamish in 2011.

Our first image shows 11 at Hayling Island looking rather sorry for itself in 1968 but fast forward to 2011 and the trams condition is much improved as it turns head at Beamish during its loan period.

Both Photographs by John Hampton

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6 Responses to Picture in Time: Blackpool Marton VAMBAC 11

  1. Phil Hart says:

    This is one of my favourite Blackpool heritage trams along with Pantograph 167.
    Blackpool should never have scrapped them and transferred them to the Promenade route in place of the EE Railcoaches. Or let them all go to museums.

    • Andrew says:

      The EE Railcoaches were also being scrapped at this time. The Marton Vambacs lost their route and therefore lost their usefulness. Which museums would have taken a Vambac in 1963? Crich were offered one and rejected it. Beamish, East Anglia, Heaton Park etc didn’t exist so where do you suggest one could have found refuge?

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        And of course the Coronations didn’t exactly thrive on the promenade route did they? Let’s just be happy that one of these magnificent trams survives – we can’t change the past, but we can make history now by helping with the preservation of trams from Blackpool and elsewhere.

  2. John says:

    The VAMBACs would have survived better than the Coronations on the prom but the equipment was out of favour. At a time when the whole system wasn’t expected to last beyond 10 years it was keep the tried and tested sadly. We also don’t know what structural weaknesses the VAMBAC may have caused to the flimsy roof. Crich were also offered Railcoach 200, the car which started the streamline revolution.

  3. edwin newton says:

    For those out there reading about 11,I enjoyed many years of riding in the Marton Vambacs going to school in them,and later to work.A sheer luxury and extremely fast around the Marton route.Many happy memories of using all the inland routes in Blackpool,best being the Marton one.To all those entheusiasts out there who missed out,or weren’t born,if you get the chance,ride it.

  4. Brian Smith says:

    This tram never reached Hayling Island, it was stored in the open in the Goods Yard on the North Side of Havant station. Havant was the junction station for the branch to Hayling Island.