The eyes of the first generation tram world will be on Blackpool over the weekend of 11 and 12 September 2004 as the iconic streamlined trams will be celebrated in a couple of special events. This mini article is just a small preview of the weekend’s events…
The events of the weekend will kick off on Saturday 11 September with a Cavalcade of Trams. The procession is due to leave Pleasure Beach at 10.30am and will go through to Little Bispham pausing at North Pier where a small commentary will tell onlookers about the trams. The trams are expected to go in the following order:
– Standard 147 (disguised as 177 – the last built Standard) to show what the tram fleet looked like pre the Streamlined trams
– Boat 600 (original livery)
– Open Top Balloon 706 (original livery)
– Balloon 700 (Wartime livery)
– Balloon 712 (1960s livery)
– Balloon 702 (1970s livery)
– Balloon 703 (1980s livery)
– Ex-Towing Railcoach 679 (representing the English Electric Railcoaches – 1980s livery)
– Jubilee 762 (all over advert)
– Rebuilt Balloon 724 (Metro Coastlines livery)
The trams involved in this procession should show the development of the streamlined trams over the last 70 years, including liveries and rebuilds.
It is believed that tickets are still available from Blackpool Transport (by phone on 01253 473001 or in person at the BT offices) to ride in the procession on these trams. Travel on 600, 706 and 700 will cost £10 for all whilst tickets for all the other trams will be £10 for adults and £6 for all concessions. After the procession they will then act as One Day Travelcards for the rest of the day.
In the evening of Saturday 11 September the Illuminated Frigate 736 is to be officially “launched” outside Blackpool Transport’s offices in Blundell Street. A bottle of champagne will be broken onto the bow of 736 before it embarks with its maiden voyage to a hotel on North Shore with invited guests only on board.
The big event of the weekend is on Sunday 12 September and is the Depot Open Day. This is the first time that Blackpool Transport have opened the doors to their depots since the Tramroad Centenary in 1998 and we think is only the third time ever there has been such an event at Rigby Road. The event is raising money for the Princes Royal Trust for Carers and runs from 10.30 am until 4 pm.
The day’s events will include displays of trams and buses in their respective yards and there will also be guided tours of the Body, Paint and Fitting shops – a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of Blackpool Transport. A vintage tram service is to be operated from North Pier to the depot (although at the time of writing there is no confirmation of this or the route it will take). On site at Rigby Road there will be bands playing, the Radio Wave roadshow, model shows, transport themed stalls and talks and slide shows in the bus depot.
In addition to the days main events at Rigby Road the Lancastrian Transport Trust will be opening their depot full of their exhibits in the afternoon. A shuttle bus is to be operated from Blackpool Transport’s depot as from 12 noon. For the tram enthusiast exhibits at the LTT depot of interest will be Standard 143 (the ex-Engineering tram 753 – and also the next project for restoration by the LTT) and Coronation 663 (which has returned to Blackpool in the last year or so), in addition there are many buses on display here.
The final official event of the weekend occurs in the evening of Sunday 12 September, when the Illuminated Frigate 736 embarks on its maiden public illumination tour. Tickets for this event are also available in advance from Jean Cox, Blackpool Transport Services Ltd, Rigby Road, Blackpool, FY1 5DD, costing £5 for adults and £4 for concessions and children. You are advised to check before sending money that there are still seats remaining for this trip. Special souvenir tickets will be issued for the journey and the crew should be in appropriate dress (whatever that may be!)
As well as these official events for the weekend, Trams Magazine are due to hold a tour on Saturday 11 September – after the official launch of the Frigate. This tour will be undertaken by Princess Alice, Open Top Balloon 706, and is to go to Fleetwood and then through the Illuminations to Starr Gate, Tower and depot. Full details of this tour can be seen here.
Finally a bit of as disclaimer for you, please check that events are taking place before travelling to them, as British Trams Online cannot be held responsible for any amendments made to anything mentioned above. All that is left for me to say is if you go to these events enjoy yourselves, if you see me say hello and there will be full reports including photos of what happened in mid-late September on British Trams Online!