The Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramway 2007

It’s that time of year again when British Trams Online webmaster Gareth Prior takes a week’s visit to Blackpool. This annual report – now in its sixth year – tells you what trams were in service and any interesting movements during the first week of September 2007. Read on for the report from 2007…

Day One: Saturday 1st September 2007

Weather: Sunny but blustery

Highlight of the Day: Coronations 304 & 660 both in service on specials and they also both managed an Illumination Tour.

Arriving in Blackpool early lunchtime I found it almost impossible to decide which trams were on which route (I find if you can’t work it out first thing in the morning it is incredibly difficult later on in the day with the predictable late running). At many points in the afternoon and evening the service seemed to be in chaos with service cars bunching together and short running to places like Thornton Gate and Bispham.

The days excitement was reserved for late afternoon/early evening and the trams used for specials. Coronation 660 was the first special tram spotted seen travelling to Cleveleys through Cabin at 1604 and this was followed by Boat 600 (to Pleasure Beach at 1758 at Lowther Avenue), Coronation 304 (to North Pier at Tower at 1907) and Bolton 66 (heading for North Pier at 1929 again at Tower). 66 was only out briefly and headed back to the Depot upon arrival at North Pier.

The first full night of the 2007 Illuminations (the switch on was the previous night by David Tennant) saw the light shine from 2000 and a healthy seven tours from North Pier. These tours saw two apiece for the two Illuminated cars – Frigate 736 and Trawler 633 – and then one for Coronation 660, Coronation 304 and Boat 600 – with lights strung from the trolley tower.

The following trams ended the day on Fleetwood service (7):

700, 707, 711, 718, 719, 723, 724

The following trams ended the day on Cleveleys service (4):

701, 710, 712, 713

Other tram in service throughout the day (18):

66, 304, 600, 626, 631, 641, 642, 643, 645, 648, 660, 703, 709, 721, 722, 726, 761, 762

Illumination Tours (7):

1. Frigate 736

2. Trawler 633

3. Coronation 660

4. Coronation 304

5. Boat 600

6. Frigate 736

7. Trawler 633

Total number of trams in service (including tours): 31

Day Two: Sunday 2nd September 2007

Weather: Wet and windy, bit clearer late evening

Highlight of the Day: Use of Coronation 660 on specials and Illumination Tour again

What a difference a day makes weather wise! This day was wet and windy and a bit more wet again for the majority of the day – although fortunately by the evening (and round 1 of the World Fireworks Championships) the rain had passed but the wind remained. As for the day tram wise there is not really a great deal to report with just one service changeover noted – 701 replaced 722 (which returned to service later on specials) on Route 2 early in the day. Throughout a lot of the day the service trams seemed to often bunch with Fleetwood and Cleveleys service cars often following each other within a minute.

During the main part of the day there were ample specials in service as there were not a great deal of people braving the weather out on the Prom. 700 was seen in the afternoon leaving depot on a brief test run before returning and then was used in service on specials during the evening. In the evening Coronation 660 was again used on specials and another Illumination Tour (number three of four for the night) but because of the large crowds around North Pier due to the fireworks the service disintegrated. Two examples of this saw 703 operating on Cleveleys service terminated one northbound journey at North Pier and 726 also on Cleveleys service ending at Bispham.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 711, 2 – 722/701, 3 – 726, 4- 703, 5 – 721, 6 – 719, 7 – 709, 8 – 707, 9 – 718, 10 – 723, 11 – 713

The following trams were on specials (12):

622, 626, 646, 647, 660, 700, 710, 712, 722, 724, 761, 762

Illumination Tours (4):

1. Frigate 736

2. Trawler 633

3. Coronation 660

4. Frigate 736

Total number of trams in service (including tours): 25

Day Three: Monday 3rd September 2007

Weather: Sunny but blustery

Highlight of the Day: The use of three Boats on specials

Following the poor weather of the previous day the sun came back out to play although the wind was still making its presence felt. Because the weather was so good three Boat cars – 602 and 605 were on early specials and 600 was used on late specials – were out during the day. Meanwhile, Balloon 706 – Princess Alice – was out on a Private Hire, seen on Pleasure Beach loop with a camera crew at 1306 before heading northbound (it was later seen heading back to depot at 1346).

As for the service trams it goes without saying that at times during the day there was bunching with the Cleveleys and Fleetwood trams often following each other within a couple of minutes. There were several changeovers late evening as several non-halogen headlight fitted Balloons ended up on Fleetwood service whilst halogen fitted trams had ended up on Cleveleys. With only 11 halogen fitted double deckers in the fleet, and Jubilee 761 seemingly unavailable having been replaced on service earlier in the day, Centenary 646 ended the day on Route 1 with two conductors. There was also an incident in the evening when 707 got its pantograph tangled in the overhead causing disruption. This led to single line operation between Manchester Square and Pleasure Beach and also meant Frigate 736 ended up the wrong way round on the last led of its final tour of the evening – to remedy this it ran out of service to use the Little Bispham loop post 2300.

As far as the tours are concerned there were four again with the same three trams involved, meaning 660 was used for the third successive night – not bad considering according to the operating pools it is only a reserve car!

The following trams were on service:

1 – 703/646, 2 – 707, 3 – 719, 4 – 718/711, 5 – 724, 6 – 701/700, 7 – 710/718, 8 – 761/709, 9 – 723, 10 – 713, 11 – 762

The following trams were on specials (9):

600, 602, 605, 631, 646, 647, 648, 660, 680

Illumination Tours:

1. Frigate 736

2. Trawler 633

3. Coronation 660

4. Frigate 736

Other trams out (1):

706 (Private Hire: Pleasure Beach loop and Pleasure Beach-North Pier-Depot)

Total number of tram in service (including tours but not Private Hire): 23 (inflated figure due to high number of changeovers)

Day Four: Tuesday 4th September 2007

Weather: Sunny and Warm – clouded over later afternoon

Highlight of the Day: Boat 602 making it as far as Fleetwood on late morning special

Fleetwood Market Tuesday – its one of life’s little mysteries why everyone chooses to a five day a week market on one day but nonetheless they do – and for the first time in years an enhanced service was actually timetabled for this very reason. This saw the Cleveleys service extended as far as Fleetwood with an extra two trams required.

A healthy selection of specials were also out on this day to the northern terminus of the tramway and the first (and only) Twin Car outing of the week was seen with 685+675 running at least three trips as far as Fleetwood. Other trams making it to Fleetwood of note included celebrity Brush 623 and Boat 602 made a lunchtime trip (seen at Rossall School at 1326).

The three same Boats as the previous day all saw use on specials in Blackpool (with the exception of 602’s Fleetwood trip – see above) and Balloon 706 – Princess Alice also joined in the fun later on, this even managed to stay out on specials late, seen heading for Pleasure Beach at 2247.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 718, 2 – 721, 3 – 726, 4 – 703, 5 – 701, 6 – 723, 7 – 711, 8 – 700, 9 – 713, 10 – 709, 11 – 762

The following trams were on specials (16):

600, 602, 605, 623, 626, 631, 641, 646, 647, 648, 675+685, 706, 710, 712, 722, 761

Total number of trams in service: 27

Day Five: Wednesday 5th September 2007

Weather: Cloudy but dry

Highlight of the Day: Brush 623 in use on specials

A day spent in Manchester on Metrolink and away from Blackpool and as such the notes are incomplete. There were a number of changeovers during the day on service including two late evening – 712 and 721 were replaced by 723 and 761 on Fleetwood service. 623 – which had been in use on specials was seen heading back to depot at 1937 being driven by a fitter – it was replaced in service by 630.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 721/761, 2 – 719, 3 – 711, 4 – 709, 5 – 718/724, 6 – 710/700, 7 – 712/723, 8 – 707, 9 – ?/718, 10 – 762, 11 – 713

The following trams were on specials (6):

622, 623, 626, 630, 642, 646

Illumination Tours:

1. Trawler 633

2. Frigate 736

3. Trawler 633

Total number of trams in service (including tours): 22 (inflated figure due to number of changovers)

Day Six: Thursday 6th September 2007

Weather: Sunny and Warm

Highlight of the Day: Standard 147 in use on a Private Hire

Another day and more sunshine! Once again the same three Boats were out on specials (604, although in the operational pool did not make an appearance in the week) and 600 again managed late specials – seen heading for Pleasure Beach through Imperial Hotel at 2207. Also, of note late evening was the use of Standard 147 on Private Hire. This was seen heading back towards Blackpool at 2247 past St Stephens Avenue.

More changeovers were seen on service with 713, 718 and 761 replacing 722, 726 and 701 on routes 1, 6 and 7 respectively. This was to get halogen fitted trams on services to Fleetwood.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 722/713, 2 – 709, 3 – 724, 4 – 723, 5 – 719, 6 – 726/718, 7 – 701/761, 8 – 762, 9 – 707, 10 – 700, 11 – 711

The following trams were on specials (9):

600, 602, 605, 626, 60, 631, 643, 647, 706

Other trams out (1)

147 (Private Hire)

Total number of trams in service (excluding Private Hire): 23 (inflated figure due to changeovers)

Day Seven: Friday 7th September 2007

Weather: Started off warm and sunny, clouded over later morning, then sunny again later!

Highlights of the Day: Standard 147 on specials and Box 40 on driver training

Another day starting off with warm and sunny weather, although it did cloud over a bit late morning, but the sun came back out later in the day. As it started so nice the three Boats were out again on specials for most of the day, 600 and 602 were out from approximately 0915 whilst 605 joined in later in the morning. In the evening 600 operated an Illumination Tour whilst 602 was sent to Starr Gate as a special covering for the inevitable late running service car.

Another tram of note out of specials was Standard 147 which was out briefly late morning on the Prom. When this tram returned to depot the crew were entrusted with a special Private Hire for the Archbishop of York. The tram used for this was Coronation 660 which came from depot at around 1530 to go to Pleasure Beach and then take the Archbishop to North Pier before returning to depot.

Also of note was the use of Blackpool & Fleetwood Box 40 in the early afternoon for a driver training run. It was seen heading northbound through Gynn Square at 1356 and south again at 1418, it was later on the centre track at Tower before returning to depot.

More fireworks at North Pier meant more chaos for the timetabled service with many trams being turned short at Thornton Gate and Bispham, and also led to 602 (see above) covering a journey to Starr Gate. Interestingly, Balloon 715 was one of the trams used on service during the day, its first appearance of the week and also a tram that is not meant to be available for service – the same for so many of those operating during the week. Also late evening Brush 631 disgraced itself by breaking down on a journey to Cabin. It was seen being towed back to depot at 2210 at Cocker Street tramstop.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 724, 2 – 703, 3 – 701, 4 – 715, 5 – 722, 6 – 719, 7 – 723, 8 – 707, 9 – 718, 10 – 762, 11 – 713

The following trams were on specials (12)

147, 600, 602, 605, 626, 631, 641, 642, 643, 646, 647, 680

Illumination Tours (4)

1. Frigate 736

2. Trawler 633

3. Boat 600

4. Frigate 736

Other Trams Out (2):

40 (Driver Training), 147 (Private Hire for Archbishop of York)

Total number of trams in service (including tours but not other trams out): 23

Day Eight: Saturday 8th September 2007

Weather: Cloudy but dry, sun broke through late morning

Highlight of the Day: Single deck specials

And so to the final day, and the enhanced Saturday timetable with trams between Pleasure Beach and Cleveleys every 7/8 minutes with a 15 minute service on both the Fleetwood and Cleveleys routes. As this day was the last one it only lasts until 1330 and in that time there didn’t seem to be any major incidents. However, 719 (on Route 10) was noted running short to Little Bispham late morning.

Several specials were out in the morning and a few of these ran through to Fleetwood including 680 and 643. Unfortunately, apart from 623 there were no special trams out in service during the morning, although both 147 and 40 were lined up on the depot fan in the morning side by side.

The following trams were on service:

1 – 724, 2 – 713, 3 – 761, 4 – 726, 5 – 709, 6 – 700, 7 – 723, 8 – 710, 9 – 718, 10 – 719, 11 – 715, 12 – 703, 13 – 701, 14 – 721

The following trams were on specials (7):

623, 630, 641, 643, 645, 646, 680

Conclusion 

And that was Blackpool 2007, with the sixth consecutive year I have been to the resort for more or less the same week. Last year I complained about the lack of tram variety but to a certain extent that is not the same this year. This year three Boats made regular appearances throughout the week (helped by gorgeous weather for the majority of the week – we shall just ignore the weather on the Sunday!), both Coronations made appearances on specials, 660 more than 304 but this was enough to please me and Standard 147 made a brief appearance on specials. Even Box 40 was out on the tracks – although only in Driver Training mode – for the chance to get some photos of it with my Digital Camera for the first time (I’ve had it for three years now!).

On the double deck front the only operational tram which did not appear was 702 with everything making several appearances including 715 which is apparently not in one of the operational pools at the moment. All serviceable single deck railcoaches were out at least once including the celebrity for2007 – Brush 623 and its wartime Green & Cream livery. Centenary wise seven of the eight were in use with only 644 missing in action during the week.

Disappointingly only one Twin set – 675+685 made an appearance during the week, this being on specials on the Tuesday with the other four sets sitting idle in the depot. Also, Bolton 66 only made a very brief appearance on specials on the first Saturday.

All in all the week was a pretty good week for tram output. We all know the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramway is not without its problems and is far from perfect – with a timetabled service seeming almost impossible to run for various unknown reasons – but that is really what adds to its charm – you never know what is going to happen from one to the next in the summer!

2008 beckons and with an all year bus service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood starting from the spring who knows what the future will bring for the tramway!

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