The good news keeps coming from the Blackpool tramway of late, and following on from the initial disappointment regarding the reduced number of operating days for the heritage fleet this year compared with 2013, another positive step has been taken to reverse this unpopular but understandable decision. Two more running days have now been added to the existing programme, taking the total up to a credible thirteen days, which is just two short of what we had last year.
When the planned running dates for heritage trams were first announced by Blackpool Transport, it was quite a shock that no Bank Holiday Mondays were included. However, thanks to some incredible generosity, three of these have now been added to the existing dates. As previously announced, the Fylde Tramway Society have agreed to sponsor the heritage service for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend (4th and 5th May). Now, an anonymous individual has come forward to finance the running of a three-car heritage service on the late Spring Bank Holiday, 26th May, and also the August Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August. This means that both of these long weekends will now see the classic trams grace the promenade for three consecutive days – a real treat for enthusiasts and a definite incentive for more people to visit the resort.
In addition to this wonderful news, Blackpool Transport have also revealed some additional details regarding plans for the Easter weekend, when an enhanced four car heritage service will operate on 18th, 19th & 20th April. Billed as ‘English Electric at Easter’, this weekend will primarily celebrate the 80th anniversary of the iconic streamlined fleet, including the Boat and Balloon cars. One of the highlights of the event should be the naming of a tram on Easter Saturday, when the name of the legendary transport manager Walter Luff will be unveiled on one of the English Electric fleet as a permanent tribute to his major role in the tramway’s history. Luff was of course responsible for modernising the Blackpool tramway with a vast fleet of modern trams introduced at a time when most British towns and cities were seeking to rid themselves of this mode of transport. It is a tribute to Luff’s vision and investment that many of these 1930s-built trams played a key part in maintaining the core service right up until the end of the traditional tram service in November 2011, and that so many survive in various guises to this day. As such, it seems only right that Walter Luff be honoured with a tram named after him, and this name will be revealed at the Pleasure Beach heritage tram stop at 2:30pm on Saturday 19th April by his daughter Daphne. The identity of the tram which will bear this name remains a secret, but whichever vehicle is chosen it should be great to see this great man honoured in such a way.