Once part of the Totally Transport event held annually on Blackpool’s New South Promenade, the operation of a special heritage tram service to Starr Gate has become an established part of the tramway events calendar in June. This year two days were allocated for this event, and despite some setbacks, a number of interesting ‘firsts’ ensured that an enjoyable weekend was had.
Due to unforseen circumstances it was not possible to allow passengers to get on and off the heritage cars at Starr Gate on Saturday 18th June – meaning that anyone wishing to photograph the trams at the southern end of the tramway had to either walk or catch a Flexity to do so! In spite of this, the planned six car service provided plenty of entertainment, which on this day consisted of all three Boat cars 227, 230 and 600, as well as Marton 31, Twin set 675+685 and Centenary car 648 which doubled up as a mobile shop selling tram related souvenirs. Notably this was 31‘s first visit to Starr Gate since its recent return and its full length run to Fleetwood in the afternoon was probably the highlight of what was a gloriously sunny day. It is also believed that Boat 227 and 675+685 had only previously been to the southern terminus on private hires since the tramway upgrade in 2012.
Unfortunately further disruption was caused by the closure of the tramway through Fleetwood for part of the day due to the town’s carnival, meaning that all trams terminated at Fisherman’s Walk. The advertised heritage tour timetable was therefore largely abandoned with a new one being drawn up to accommodate the fact that Fleetwood bound tours inevitably returned south earlier than expected. 600 also suffered some problems with its trolley and was run in early with Bolton 66 taking its place. The number of enthusiasts present was somewhat disappointing considering the great novelty value of what was on offer, although the fine weather meant that the open cars were generally well filled with tourists.
Sunday 19th June was a much better day in many respects – except for the weather which was dull and cool, with heavy rain in the afternoon! Thankfully most of the previous day’s issues had been resolved with a temporary heritage tour stop in place at Starr Gate and no disruptions in Fleetwood. The trams used on the Sunday were a trio of Balloons in contrasting colours- 700, 701 and 723 – along with Box 40, Twin set 272+T2, Centenary 648 and Railcoach 680 which ran as a ‘special’ directed around by the Inspector at Pleasure Beach. Car 40 suffered a controller fault and had to be swapped for Brush car 631 whilst the Twin set suffered an electrical defect during the afternoon, but on the whole the day went well and was greatly enjoyed by those present.
The June gold heritage weekend may not have been the best ever as a result of the aforementioned problems, but with nice weather (well on the first day!), a good variety of trams to ride on and a number of unusual happenings, overall it was another splendid weekend from Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours. Look out for more pictures from this event on the main website, hopefully in the next few weeks.