Event report: Heritage trams to Starr Gate

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.


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9 Responses to Event report: Heritage trams to Starr Gate

  1. Irvine Cresswell says:

    I very much enjoyed the weekend, well worth the trip.
    What did suprise me was that on Friday afternoon, the tourist office on the promenade and the transport office in town knew nothing of the planned event and each refered to the other.
    Surely a trick was missed there.

  2. Phil Hart says:

    Anyone know why Boat 600 wasn’t give it’s original fleet number (225) like the other Boats. Same with ex-towing railcoach 680 which was 280?

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I would assume 600 is due to it being heavily modernised in 2010 – when/if it regains its earlier appearance with sprung bumpers etc. it could well become 225 again.

      As for 680 – again, in modernised condition and 1990s livery, the number 280 would not be historically appropriate.

      • Paul Turner says:

        That said the boats are an anomaly. 600 is in a livery where it should carry 225 and 230 is in a livery where it should carry 604!

  3. John says:

    Andrew is quite correct, 600 is very much modernised so kept its post renumnbering identity. The MTMS chose to keep 680 as 680 as that is the condition in which it currently exists. It was temporarily renumbered as 280 due to its cream livery and trolley pole while it was at Beamish and Heaton Park.

  4. Douglas freston says:

    is there a chance of the Coronation trams being in heritage service this year?

    • John says:

      663 is stored awaiting restoration, 660 is stored awaiting a full assessment and remedial work, 304 is, I believe, awaiting sassessment of/ attention to its electrical system.

  5. Raymond Luxury-Yacht says:

    Always nice to see 648 out and about, a truly stunning looking car. If only a extended visit to Crich could be arranged for it (as with 711 and Box 40 two years ago)…

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