Blackpool puts on another spectacular Bank Holiday show

You have probably already read about the aperitif to the latest Gold timetable of heritage tram operations in Blackpool (if you haven’t why not? It’s only a few stories down this page and gives you full details of 718’s relaunch into service in its new livery) but that was just the start of another excellent weekend.

12 different trams were used in service during the three days with a number of changes necessary from the advertised allocations due to tram unavailability and the changeable British bank holiday weather! On each day seven different trams were used in public service with the bonus seventh tram, which had proved popular at the last gold weekend, again in action with two members of the illuminated fleet forming this diagram.

Saturday 27th May was the day which saw the most changes to the advertised allocations with Boat 600 (weather forecast), Brush 631 and Balloon 701 (the latter two through faults) all unable to be used. They were replaced by Balloon 700 (making two B fleet Balloons in service), Railcoach 680 and Balloon 723 respectively. The other trams in use were Balloon 715, Bolton 66, Modified Balloon 718 and Frigate 736. The day didn’t go completely smoothly with one early morning service being delayed whilst 680 also missed out on one Pleasure Beach to Little Bispham return trip.

Onto Sunday 28th May and the ever popular Western Train was the bonus tram with Balloon 723, Boat 600, Modified Balloon 718, Box 40, Balloon 715 and Bolton 66 (a replacement for Brush 631) completing the allocated trams. This was probably the calmest day weather wise and everything seemed to run according to plan on the heritage trams.

The final day of the long weekend started off oh so wet which meant it was fully enclosed trams all the way for the public (a wedding party had hired Bolton 66 but fortunately by this time the weather had dried up). Balloon 717, Railcoach 680, Modified Balloon 718, Balloon 715 (a very unsurprising replacement for Boat 600), Centenary 648, Balloon 723 (replacing 701 for the second time of the weekend) and the Illuminated Frigate formed the service throughout the day.

The usual service operated on each day of mainly journeys from Pleasure Beach to Bispham/Little Bispham with a few short working to North Pier and Cabin thrown in for good measure along with the trips all the way to Fleetwood (with each tram diagrammed to run to the northern terminus once on each day) as well as one morning Cleveleys service and an evening journey to Thornton Gate.

It is just a shame that throughout the weekend it was very noticeable how few enthusiasts were availing themselves of the service. There may not the wow factor of Marton 31 on loan this year but there is still plenty for the enthusiast to enjoy in Blackpool during the gold weekends – where else are you able to travel on 12 different heritage trams in three days? If you haven’t been to Blackpool for a while – or even if you have! – why not visit for the next gold weekend which is the new Totally Models event on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June? You are sure not to be disappointed and always assured of a warm welcome from the crews both paid and volunteer.

* An extensive Photo Gallery from the weekend will follow on British Trams Online in the next couple of weeks.

The Frigate in the unfamiliar location of Fleetwood Esplanade as it moves round between Bold Street and Pharos Street on 27th May.

Star of the weekend Modified Balloon 718 sits on Pleasure Beach loop. This is Sunday 28th May.

Box 40 leaves Pharos Street with a return trip to Pleasure Beach on 28th May.

Balloon 715 heads past the Victoria Street platform as nears journeys end on 29th May.

Railcoach 680 approaches Bispham on 29th May as Balloon 717 disappears into the distance. (All Photographs by Gareth Prior)

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5 Responses to Blackpool puts on another spectacular Bank Holiday show

  1. Neil says:

    Your review comments that few enthusiasts turned up. I have attended several of these events but didnt go last weekend although there is no doubt that £11 for a day ticket is good value for money.

    Problem is that these events are on Bank Holiday weekends. For many going to Blackpool on a BH weekend is the least desireable time to go. Traffic conngestion, rail engineering works, hotel tariffs hyped up, drunks on a long weekend benders and family pressures to do other things etc etc.

    Would it not be better to have the enhanced services on weekends other than BH’s?

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Those who do not wish to attend Bank Holiday Gold Events already have

      June Totally Models- Gold
      July Tram Sunday Weekend – Gold
      September Anniversary Weekend – Gold
      November Winter – Gold

      + had Jan,Feb,March Winter Gold already this year.

      So us enthusiasts have plenty of opportunity to support operation. & if you cant make any of them dates still have plenty of other operating days & can always donate to projects.

  2. David Butterworth says:

    I agree; I avoid Bank holidays now as it is no fun travelling from Oldham on the motorways. One may be lucky by travelling in the early afternoon, say on the Friday, but on the other hand one may be trapped in a stationary or slow moving queue for up to an hour.

  3. Ken Walker says:

    I agree that constant closure of the railway lines on bank holiday weekends is a pain, but the work has to be done and bank holiday weekends present the best opportunity to get work done without disrupting commuters.
    I am unable to go for full weekends but decide to go from Rochdale early on Sunday mornings of bh weekends (leaving about 0830) and have never encountered any problems with traffic. Leaving mid/lat afternoon usually avoids problems as well although delay going home is not as important.

  4. John says:

    Chris is correct plenty of Gold days not on Bank Holidays. You must remember Heritage does not run for our benefit so enhanced days also need to capture the enhanced visitor numbers in the resort. As for travelling most people come up Friday and go back Tuesday or drive early or evening to avoid the rush. I’ve been doing this for years and only hit problems a few times.