Picture in Time: Blackpool Marton VAMBACs

We head to the Marton route of the Blackpool Tramway for today’s “Picture in Time” image with a couple of Marton VAMBACs passing on 27th October 1962 – the penultimate day of operation for this line.

Originally opening in 1901 the Marton route ran between Talbot Square and Central Station via Church Street, Devonshire Square, Whitegate Drive, Waterloo Road and Central Drive. The Marton VAMBACS were born out of the semi-open Sun Saloons built in 1939 by English Electric but which had progressively been upgraded over the years until finally in the early 1950s they were fitted with the revolutionary VAMBAC equipment and transferred for operation on the Marton route. They remained the mainstays of the route until 28th October 1962 when the last trams ran on this popular route. Of the 12 Marton VAMBACS two did not reach the final denouement – 10 and 14 – but the remaining 10 were to see use in the lead up to the final day with 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18 all used on this sad occasion.

Today’s photo shows two unidentified Marton VAMBAC’s on Whitegate Drive on 27th October 1962.

Photograph by John Hampton

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6 Responses to Picture in Time: Blackpool Marton VAMBACs

  1. HowieB says:

    Are there any pictures extant of the Sun Saloons in original prewar condition?

  2. edwin newton says:

    You may be able to find a postcard of one on the promenade at the North pier taken at a distance from a building which is the one I’ve managed to obtain.The other one that I’ve seen in a book of Blackpool trams was in Hopton road.Keep hunting and I’m sure you will find some,on postcards perhaps.

  3. Chris Mitchell says:

    In Modern Tramway Magazine for January 1963 there is an article about the Marton routes and on page 17 there is a photo of one of the trams in original state with sun roof, teak seats, half height windows and doors and no bulkheads. The photo is attributed to Fox Photos.

  4. John Gilbert says:

    I remember these cars and that route. It epitomised all that was good about tramways with silent vehicles gliding along Whitegate Drive. Their disappearance underlined all that was wrong in British thinking, or non-thinking, about tramways in those days. If it could happen on the Marton route it could happen, and had, everywhere. Thank goodness we have, at last, realised that the car is NOT king!

  5. John Gilbert says:

    As an addendum, why on earth were those cars scrapped? Even if the Vambac equipment proved too complex, the resilient wheels could AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN KEPT and later extended to all the fleet. It is resilient wheels whish make trams quiet, and oh, how long it has taken we British to realise that simple fact. Even now the old, sorry heritage, trams in Blackpool groan and grumble along with their non-resilient wheels!!

  6. edwin newton says:

    John,you are right about the Marton route.The Vambacs were extremely quiet and they gave the residents on the route a very comfortable ride.As far as I remember,the Marton Vambacs didn’t give much trouble from their equipment.Perhaps because of being away from the sea air.By the time of the closure of the Marton route,road traffic was increasing.The junction around Oxford Square was very busy during the summer season and illumination period.The council never had the foresight to alter road layouts in Blackpool and the situation is still very much the same.The Marton route could have,indeed should have been extended in the twenties and thirties when land hadn’t been eaten up for building.Looking back on the decision to close the service,the argument could go on for ever and even today,the older generation of local residents speak fondly of the Marton tram route.For myself,the council should have banned all traffic from parking on the main roads that the trams used,therefore maintaining an extremely fantastic service every four minutes.The same should have applied to Lytham Road and Dickson Road.Keep the roads clear of parked cars etc and more importance on public transport.However,time has moved on but past and present councils in Blackpool have made massive bad decisions over the years.Public pressure esp from Marton residents were up against,what I would call,slightly corrupt,misguided councillors in the early 60s.Because of them,the inland routes could have been kept.Investment in track etc,would have paid off.