The latest in a long chain of embarrassing events involving the Blackpool tramway’s
upgrade involves recent works being carried out opposite the Blackpool Tower. This site is now occupied by the ‘Comedy Carpet’, a series of decorated paving slabs featuring many famous catchphrases from well-known figures in the world of comedy. This new attraction proved extremely popular with tourists last year, but has arguably been a victim of its own success.
Blackpool Borough Council have now apparently decided that the Comedy Carpet could pose a threat to visitors, as people looking down to read the text on it may step back
without thinking onto the tram lines, and possibly be hit by an approaching tram. Councillors claim that they had originally asked for the ‘carpet’ to be laid further away from the tracks, but this request was apparently ignored. The Council have now seen their concerns as serious enough to take the action of removing some of the slabs so that the ‘carpet’ is not as close to the tramway as it was originally. None of the actual catchphrases have been lost, but the credit for the artist and the Council for the project have been removed and some of the names of celebrities quoted have reportedly also disapeared. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the five slabs that were lifted were damaged whilst being removed. The man behind the attraction, Gordon Young, is said to be most unhappy with what has happened, and considering the many thousands of pounds that went into the project this is hardly surprising.
In other news, there are still a large number of work sites along the tramway. On the
main promenade section, parts of the surface have been dug up as the concrete laid between the rails had cracked in places, and the Council have stated their keenness for the tramway to look as good as possible when it re-opens before Easter. Perhaps more serious is the filling-in of the previously exposed space between the rails at all of the stops along the open sleeper track north of Cabin. Concerns have been raised that waiting passengers could fall off the new waiting platforms onto the track below, so to improve safety, a smoother surface is being provided. Sixteen tram stops will need to be upgraded in this
manner and it is highly unlikely that all of them will be completed by Easter, meaning that works on the tramway could be ongoing for a few more weeks even after the system re-opens for business.