Saturday 12th July was an interesting day in Blackpool in many regards, albeit not a particularly good one for anyone using the tramway as a means of transportation! This was the first day of the annual promenade air show, which always brings hoardes of people to the town, most of whom gather on the promenade adjacent to the tram tracks, which can create some issues.
The day started with a two-car heritage service employing Bolton 66 and Balloon 715. In addition, Box car 40 was used for a Guided Heritage Tour offering a ride to Fleetwood with a local historian on board providing expert commentary on the history of the Fylde coast and various landmarks being passed by. A fourth tram was out and about in the form of Balloon 717 which was used for a private charter and then stayed out as a ‘special’ to give an extra tram for heritage tour patrons to ride on, which was very welcome on this sunny and extremely busy day.
The close proximity of such enormous crowds of people – many of whom were seemingly unfamiliar with the concepts of passing trams and common sense – to the tramway on the seafront caused considerable delays to all service and heritage trams in service. At one point, a cyclist was even seen leaning against a Flexity2 tram as it passed! Despite all of this however, no accidents occurred, thanks to the vigilance of the tram drivers and the assistance of inspectors who walked in front of trams through the worst of the crowds.
Unfortunately, as the trams did their best to go about their usual business, Box 40 lost its trolley head at Starr Gate during its special tour, causing further disruption and for a short time, the unusual sight of Flexities using the turning circle at Pleasure Beach could be seen as all trams were forced to terminate at Pleasure Beach. Engineering car 754 was duly summoned to rescue 40 and at one time, cars 66, 715, 717 and 754 were all bunched together near Waterloo Road, creating a traditional tram jam the like of which has not been seen in many years!
Thankfully the second day of the air show proved to be less eventful but still very busy. This event is clearly hugely popular but the sheer number of people filling the promenade at once is a real cause for concern and something that looks set to delay people attempting to travel for some years to come, unless a big decision is made to change the present set-up. However with such numbers of visitors presumably bringing in a nice injection of cash to the resort, it seems unlikely that anyone will be making such a decision any time soon!