The day before the annual Fleetwood Tram Sunday event was a big highlight of 2017 for fans of Blackpool’s heritage tram service, with an intensive heritage service to Fleetwood in operation – and this is set to be repeated, even bigger and better, for 2018! This month also marks the 120th anniversary of trams running to Fleetwood, and although no specific events have been arranged, this is being reflected in the day’s output.
Saturday 14th July sees a twenty-minute frequency of heritage trams to and from Fleetwood for most of the day, with eight different trams expected to reach the northern terminus of the Blackpool tramway! This will include Brush Railcoach 623 on what will be its final day in service before it heads back to the Heaton Park Tramway (this follows its previously announced tour on Friday 13th). The other two operational Brush cars which are permanent Blackpool residents – 621 and 631 - are also expected to be in use along with some other trams reflecting the history of the Fleetwood Tramroad, including veteran B&F Company car Box 40 and Centenary car 648 of 1985. The day’s lineup is completed by Standard 147 and Balloons 715 and 719, with Boat 600 due to operate specials on the core promenade section to supplement the Fleetwood service cars. Finally, Balloon 700 will be the shop tram, stabled near North Pier for the day offering various souvenirs for sale, including the excellent new book by Brian Turner ‘Stopping Car to Fleetwood’, newly released to mark the 120th anniversary of the Tramroad.
This book has highlighted that the first ever Balloon car to run in passenger service was car 256, now known as 719, on 26th October 1954 – and in recognition of this, 719 is scheduled to operate the first heritage tour of the day to Fleetwood on 14th July, with two further trips to Fleetwood in the afternoon. A nice, and very imaginative, touch which has added a bit of sparkle to the day! After a few ‘Gold’ weekends which have been a bit lacking in some regards, it is good to see that more thought and innovation has been put into this one, so that hopefully even regular tram riders will find this event a bit different. Another especially welcome touch is the provision of a temporary heritage stop at Fisherman’s Walk/Ash Street, designed primarily to allow passengers to get good photographs of the various trams passing through the streets of Fleetwood.
Top marks to Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours for deciding to try a few new ideas, and here’s to what should be a very good weekend! Don’t forget that Brush car 623 is also running a full system tour, including a few unusual turn-backs, on Friday 13th July, and then Sunday 15th sees Tram Sunday itself, with another regular heritage service to Fleetwood, albeit terminating at Fisherman’s Walk.