Event Review: Blackpool Anniversary Spectacular – Sunday 24th September

The second day of Blackpool’s now annual anniversary event followed a similar pattern to the first, with an intensive heritage tram service operating over the full length of the tramway, as well as heritage bus tours, workshop visits and non-operational trams on static display. However, Sunday was even more ambitious than Saturday with a grand total of fifteen heritage cars in service – virtually all of the currently operational fleet.

The day began with all four of the serviceable Brush cars being taken to Pleasure Beach, where they were lined up on the outer loop in numerical order creating a stunning sight for those who ventured to this location early enough to see it. 621, 623, 630 and 631 were then all pressed into service from 1000, along with a varied selection of other trams consisting of Box 40, Bolton 66, Boat 600, Centenary car 648Railcoach 680, Balloon cars 700 and 723, and illuminated Trawler 737. As on the Saturday, these trams were all lined up on both loops at Pleasure Beach with crews swapping between cars over the course of the day to add variety and interest, with also creating various photo opportunities with the gathering of trams of all shapes and colours waiting for their next trips! Three further trams were also in use for the event; Balloon 715 and Rebuilt Balloon 718 maintained a service between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Ferry all day offering a taste of the ’90s, whilst Balloon 713 operated the depot shuttles between Starr Gate and Rigby Road. One other tram could also be seen out on the main line – Balloon 711 was used as the gift shop tram and stabled at North Pier for the second day running.

Once again a number of interesting trams were posed for display with the trio of Brush cars 290, 632 and 634 positioned on Blundell Street. Outside Rigby Road depot, recently returned Brush car 625 and Balloon 726 - both of which are privately owned by the same person – were pulled out for display along with ‘Princess Alice’ 706 and Engineering car 754.

The day was sunny at times and mild, with healthy loadings on the heritage and normal service trams. Unfortunately, a couple of incidents during the afternoon slightly spoilt the day. Firstly, 630 was stuck on the centre track at Bispham for a while due to an issue with the points. On its return south, the same tram was briefly stranded again – this time at Waterloo Road, when the tram service was partially stopped for a short period due to someone flying a kite near to the tramway, which subsequently became entangled in the overhead wire causing much disruption and embarrassment! This resulted in some delays and certain trams were sent back to the depot early, including Balloon 700 which ran straight from Cabin back to the depot. By around 1600 further trams started heading back to Rigby Road, leaving the Trawler to bring the weekend’s events to a close.

In spite of the disruption during the Sunday afternoon, the anniversary weekend was a tremendous success and seemed to be well received by the vast majority of enthusiasts present, as well as the general public, many of whom seemed to appreciate such a large heritage tram presence on the promenade. Clearly the Brush cars were the stars of the show, as is only right in their 80th year, but a great mixture of trams ran and were displayed on both days offering something for everyone. Blackpool Heritage Tram tours have clearly found a winning formula with this event and hopefully it will continue to delight for many years to come – we’re already looking forward to the 133rd anniversary weekend in 2018!

Trawler 737 seen from the rear at Pleasure Beach, with both this tram and Bolton 66 ready to depart for their next northbound journeys.

Houndshill liveried Balloon 713 stands on Hopton Road waiting for people who have taken a guided tour around the workshops.

One of the trams brought out for display on the depot fan at Rigby Road on this day was Balloon 726, recently returned from outside storage which has had a clear effect on its HM Coastguard livery.

Brush car 630 at Pleasure Beach next to fellow 1990s refurb Balloon 723.

An impressive line of trams at Bispham with Bolton 66 ahead of 1990s liveried cars 680 and 630, which had been delayed due to a problem with the points exiting the centre track. (All photos by Andrew Waddington)

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8 Responses to Event Review: Blackpool Anniversary Spectacular – Sunday 24th September

  1. david putt says:

    May I offer my thanks to all involved in the organisation and operations last Sunday. My 280 mile round trip was more than worthwhile, especially as I saw four operating plus four more static Brush cars, built 80 years ago in my home town. It was pleasing to travel on one of them before photographing all the goodies on offer! I was pleased to look through the windows of 634 and see what an excellent job of restoration has been carried out, but does it have an operational future at Blackpool? With so many other goodies lurking in the depths of Rigby Road, a third operational Brush car seems excessive but it also seems rather a shame that a car that has had so much work lavished on it should remain unused.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      David, you have summed up my exact views on 634! I’ve been fortunate enough to see inside the car and it really does look stunning, far better than any other surviving Brush car in fact… however like you, I fear that another one might be Brush overload as they’re not the most useful or appealing trams to the general public. I have heard that it remains a fairly high priority but things can and do often change, so we will see what happens!

      • Mark says:

        I agree to a certain extent, but don’t forget 623 & 630 will be going back home soon. That only leaves 621 & 631 operational, plus 737 (633). I can’t see the likes of 625, 627, 632 or even 259 being re-activated any time soon.
        I thought 634 was powered up soon after arrival, I presume it would have been out last weekend if 621 hadn’t jumped the queue?

        • Gareth Prior says:

          It would still give three Brush Cars operational though and I’m not sure they attract the general public as much as other trams. This time last year it would have been a no brainer to restore 634 back to service but with 621 now having jumped the queue I just feel there are bigger priorities to go through the workshops first. Not that I don’t want to see 634 running again – especially after all the care, attention and time which has obviously gone into the work so far – but not everything can be worked on at the same time!

          • KenW says:

            How did 632 get into its present state considering it was a runner right up to the end of the classic tramway in 2011. I would have thought it would be a quick fix.

          • Andrew Waddington says:

            I think the simple answer is – outside storage. Add to that the fact that 632 wasn’t in fantastic condition when it last ran and we find ourselves where we are today. I suspect it could be restored to service fairly easily, certainly compared to some other cars, but there isn’t really any need for it at present.

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          As Gareth says though, three Brush cars in operational condition is still quite a lot, especially considering we have no Coronation, Twin or Standard serviceable at present. I do think duplicates are fine but in the short term, they can probably only be justified if there is a clear operational need for them: in the case of Boats and Balloons, the more the merrier, but less so for enclosed single deck cars.

          I do hope 634 runs again soon though, personally I’d have preferred it to be done instead of 621 – but I fully understand why 621 was done first and it does look lovely!

  2. Kevin says:

    From my understanding of what I have been told 632 has suspected roof damage ans is in poorer condition because of its outside storage. 621 was outside but not for as long. 634 looks lovely but I’m guessing any wiring additions etc (I remember a report about new plug sockets being added?) would need fully investigating after the Twin set scare last year. In any case 621, 631 and 680 will more than happily fill the enclosed single deck requirment for the medium term. One day we will see Brush cars in all their incarnations I hope but until then lets get the others sorted. personally I’d have put my efforts into the Boats rather than 621!

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