Blackpool Transport have confirmed that a number of trams are to leave Rigby Road Depot with the space available to store heritage trams likely to be reduced as a series of redevelopments take place around the bus and tram depot. The exact identities of which trams are to leave has not yet been revealed but the movements are expected to start during the first quarter of 2021.
The first murmurings that there may be some trams being asked to leave was earlier this year when the owner of Brush 625 and Balloon 726 announced that he was seeking a new owner for the cars and that it would be necessary for them to leave Rigby Road. The scale of the likely trams to need to leave was first publicly revealed in the last ever edition of Trams Magazine although it would appear that this article was a little over dramatic and that the alleged bad blood between Blackpool Transport and the owning groups of the trams is a little wide of the mark.
In an unusual move responding to the article, Bryan Lindop, Head of Heritage at Blackpool Transport, released a statement of the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours website which we provide in full below:
As a result of a questionable article in a well-known local magazine, there appears to be a lot of spurious misinformation floating about in respect of some forthcoming tram movements. Whilst not giving too much away about the Company’s future plans, it is no secret that Blackpool Transport is about to commence a phased series of essential redevelopments at Rigby Road depot in order to re-purpose it for the future for both bus and heritage tram. This work will be spread over a number of years. As a result, the volume of space currently occupied by the heritage department will progressively shrink, leaving us with reduced space in which to work and to store our heritage assets. In order to facilitate these changes, it became crucial to re-assess the trams stored at Rigby Road and it was immediately apparent that we have too many.
For some considerable time, in order to assist various organisations and individuals, we have been in the position of being able to store trams on their behalf entirely free of charge because we had the space to accommodate them. Now, those circumstances are changing and we are no longer able to continue this arrangement. The owners are all fully understanding, grateful for the support and assistance that we have provided free of charge in terms of storage and are entirely aware as to the reasons. Indeed, before the notice letters were sent out, I spoke to representatives of each group or owner either in person or by telephone to appraise them of the situation. Additionally I also gave each owner an opportunity to make representation for my consideration ahead of the letters being sent out. This resulted in one tramcar being immediately removed from the list along with another one subsequently. I therefore re-iterate that what is taking place, is taking place amicably on the part of the organisations and individuals involved, who have all been entirely professional about it.
One of the organisations who are expected to have to move some of their trams from Rigby Road is the Fylde Transport Trust who now have an enlarged collection of trams thanks to the merger of the Blackpool Heritage fleet earlier in 2020. In a brief statement on their Facebook page they have said: “We are in dialogue with Blackpool Transport concerning some exciting future projects but in the interim we direct all our supporters to read the statement detailed by Bryan Lindop”.
There is bound to be a fair amount of criticism in regard to this news that a number of trams (with many of the trams departing for the second time of course) but if you cast your mind back to 2011 when the traditional tramway closed there weren’t many who thought it was tenable for everything to survive. Let’s think of what we have and not what we haven’t!
We expect there will be further developments in regards to which trams will be leaving during 2021 and that the owners and owning groups of the trams will provide updates as and when there is something concrete to update.