It is now less than a week to go until what is probably the most anticipated tram event of the year – the weekend celebration of the Blackpool tramway’s 130th anniversary. Most of what is going to happen is already well known with an intensive heritage tram service, guided depot tours and vintage bus trips amongst the many highlights, but now even more detail has been revealed about what we can look forward to on 26th & 27th September.
Not content at running every serviceable tram from the heritage fleet, a number of stored cars will also be extracted from the depths of Rigby Road depot for static display. It is planned to have three trams lined up on Blundell Street with different cars on both days, and these will consist of Brush Railcoach 632, ‘B Fleet’ Balloon car 720, Jubilee car 761, the Illuminated Trawler 737 and two flat-fronted Balloon cars. It is not known which trams will appear on which day but these should certainly provide a colourful spectacle! The appearance of 761 will be very welcome and has been agreed in co-operation with its owners, the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, whilst for 720 this should be the most visible this particular tram has been to the public since it last ran in November 2011.
Some even more elusive trams will also be displayed on the depot track fan for inspection by those who are attending the depot tours, although others will be able to peer through the gates at them! These will hopefully include the iconic and unique Illuminated Rocket 732, stored Twin set 676+686 which last operated in 2004, and all three surviving Coronation cars – 304, 660 and 663. These special displays will enable the Coronation and Jubilee cars to be represented at the event despite none of either type being currently available to run in Blackpool and is a most welcome addition to the already imaginative programme. Further trams will be placed in the various workshops to add a bit of extra interest for ticketholders on the guided tours, which have, incidentally, now completely sold out on both days – yet more confirmation of the huge interest in this unique tramway. The tours will be served by a designated shuttle service running hourly, and anyone can ride on this although those who have bought a ticket for the depot visits will also be permitted to ride around the tram wash plant at Starr Gate before being shown around the site.
Free tours using a selection of historic Blackpool buses will also run every 15 minutes on both days from Rigby Road from 1000 until 1645, and as well as travelling around some long-closed tram routes these will also run to Starr Gate and Pleasure Beach to connect with the tram service. A timetable has also been published for the core heritage tram service which will operate every twenty minutes for most of the day between Pleasure Beach and Bispham, with additional trips to Starr Gate and Fleetwood at various times. There will also be further trams running as specials as in days gone by, directed around from Pleasure Beach and these will combine to provide the most extensive operation ever seen since the inception of the heritage tours in 2012. All of these attractions, plus the previously announced launch of Twin set 675+685 following a repaint in 1970s green and cream and the bonus of a ‘scruffy surprise’, will no doubt make for a superb weekend and naturally there will be plenty of coverage on British Trams Online!