Totally Transport cancelled

On the evening of 23rd March, it was announced that the annual Totally Transport event in Blackpool would not be taking place in 2015. The New South Promenade based transport event has been a popular part of the Fylde events calendar every year since 2005 and has usually featured a special vintage tram service through the heart of the site, but sadly this will not be the case this year.

A statement from the event organisers on their Facebook page explains that the steering group have been unable to raise sufficient funds to put on a show of the usual calibre, and rather than host a less impressive event, the sad decision has been made to cancel Totally Transport this year. This is particularly dissapointing as last year’s festival had been boosted by the rare operation of heritage trams to Starr Gate in normal passenger service, with the presence of visiting Blackpool ‘Pantograph’ car 167 from the National Tramway Museum being a particular highlight.

However, talks have already taken place regarding future plans and it is hoped that the event may return in 2016. These early discussions have involved the President of the Fleetwood Festival of Transport, alias Tram Sunday, who is keen for the organisers of the two Fylde events to work together more closely in the years ahead. Such proposals may well see Totally Transport return stronger than ever, but for now, this popular addition to the tramway events calendar has been lost.

This will no doubt be a blow to Blackpool Transport who had already promoted a six-car heritage service for this year’s event date, Sunday 21st June, which has appeared on various literature including leaflets which have been distributed extensively as part of the drive to increase custom on the historic trams this year. It has now been confirmed that the ‘gold’ heritage tram timetable will still operate as planned, and further details of what is planned will no doubt be revealed closer to the time. With a four car service scheduled to operate on the previous day, this still has the potential to be a great weekend and if BTS decide to put on any extra events then the loss of Totally Transport will no doubt have less impact. However, with considerable efforts already being made for this year’s expanded heritage operation it remains to be seen whether sufficient resources will be available to organise any additional attractions.

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8 Responses to Totally Transport cancelled

  1. nigel says:

    What a great loss not only to the enthusiasts but also to the resort as it no doubt boosted tourism in general .

  2. Joe N says:

    It probably didn’t come as a surprise to many people who have been to Totally Transport over recent years that the event has finally died.

    It started well enough back in 2005. However the format of lines of preserved buses and other vehicles, most with doors firmly shut, and their owners not engaging with the public began to look increasingly tired and dated. This combined with the diminishing number of vehicle entries and stall holders resulted in an event that year after year looked more and more lacklustre. The Solaris catering didn’t really cope well either with the numbers, and the toilets seemed to fail every year by early afternoon.

    Although I note that TT organisers are in exploratory discussions with the president of the Fleetwood Festival of Transport, I see little value in one tired event being merged with another tired event to produce a combined tired event. The Fylde does have the potential to host a benchmark transport gala that would attract visitors nationwide and even internationally. A state of the art light rail system, a developing heritage tram operation, a north west region with a large number of preserved buses and coaches is a great starting point. However to bring these things together to produce a vibrant transport event that will attract the public in large numbers to the Fylde to benefit the area needs fresh thinking, fresh blood and new ideas.

    There are many examples of really good transport events across the country. Many of these not only offer vehicle displays, but one or more tours operated by preserved buses, with owners of visiting vehicles encouraged to offer their vehicles for service. Variety for the public, participation for the owners. The fledgling Blackpool Heritage Trust has shown it has some innovative ideas for developing the heritage tram operation. Could they be persuaded to take on the mantle of a future annual transport gala? Could the South Promenade be given over to heritage tram operation for one day, with the main light railway service terminating at Pleasure Beach? Would Starr Gate or Rigby Road be better alternatives as the base for a future Fylde Transport Gala? Just throwaway ideas that may or may not be viable. But new ideas and new organisers are needed in my view if a successor to Totally Transport to become a reality and grow in popularity.

  3. John Woodman says:

    A reality check along the lines JoeN has suggested is overdue. Both Totally Transport and Tram Sunday were launched with great public attendance. Latterly health and safety among other regulatory factors have meant that the tram part of Tram Sunday (in Fleetwood) has been limited to one or two static trams display at the Ferry terminus, while the commercial vehicle and bus content has steadily diminished to be replaced by car boot sale type stands and myriad street food stalls.

    Fleetwood deserves an annual event celebrating the longevity of trams running through its main streets and town centre. A fresh look at how this is presented in a creative format is timely. Totally Transport followed a predictable pattern year on year, again with diminishing public service vehicles on display and a tired format that was inevitably subject to the weather on the day. To be fair constraints on Vehicle Owners budgets meant that choices between TT and the myriad other road transport events in the northwest has steadily diluted the numbers of buses and coaches travelling to Blackpool for a predictable Sunday afternoon on South Promenade (itself now badly in need of property redevelopment).

    The advent of new management at BTS and a more assertive view of heritage tram operation does indeed give hope that this may underpin revitalisation of one or both of these one-day events.

    More relevant is the strategic review being undertaken by joined up vehicle preservation organisations in the Fylde area under the aegis of the economic development agency covering all three Authority areas. This has the stated objective of considering the basis for a landmark transport themed visitor attraction which would include not only old Blackpool trams, but also buses, coaches, cars, aviation, horsedrawn landau, and much more. The future of the Rigby Road site, home to BTS and its municipal predecessors is now vmuch under planners’ scrutiny. New housing development is steadily encroaching around the site – and an alternative use of economic value to Blackpool could (and should) be an all weather, all year, all age visitor attraction logically highlighting the diversity of transport history which the Fylde coast has in abundance. This extends to aircraft and aviation, as well as the ever popular (and historic) landau traversing the promenade. Blackpool’s famous car marque – TVR, itself has a substantial national following. HV Burlingham is equally famous in transport circles for its superb bus and coach designs from the late 1920s – all built in Blackpool and bearing the Tower as part of the Company’s trademark. Ribble, Standerwick, Lytham St Annes and many commercial vehicle operators have diverse vehicles which would add colour and diversity in a comprehensive series of displays and the stories behind the names.

    This initiative has been launched with the endorsement of three Local Authorities and the participation of existing Trusts and Preservation groups extending from BAE Systems to TVR Owners. Trams will play their own role within a scheme which inevitably requires a combination of public and private finance on a substantive scale.

    So points raised by Joe have already been officially taken on board and due diligence is underway on how such a strategic visitor attraction can be developed led by private capital with the public sector; and input from diverse heritage transport groups.

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Find myself agreeing with Mr Woodman. Whilst don’t see eye to eye on every issue (perhaps somewhat of an understatement) agree whole heartedly with what he has said in this instance. Found myself agreeing with his recent articles on his website ( in relation to future extensions to Victoria Hospital & Linking up with the new Squires Gate Enterprise Zone and beyond. So its fair to say we do agree on some things.

      Blackpool Heritage Trust are in a unique position. Underpinned by both council, company support and community backing are perfectly placed to achieve the transport visitor attraction Blackpool deserves. Thankfully the damaging and fragmented approach appears to becoming to and end as people realise most want the same thing and that is premier attraction which encompasses the Fylde Transport Story in its entirety as part of a heritage operation.

      • Steve says:

        Firstly I think it is only fair to thank those who made TT and Tram Sunday a success in the past, A heck of a lot of work goes in behind the scenes and that needs to be recognised. I think though that all the speakers here have made good points. As various museums and attactions have found out all products have a sale by date, afterwhich they need to be re evaluated and either adjusted or replaced. What is clear is that there is fantastic skills and talents in the Flyde area and that people are keen to work together. I could copy and post the last part of Chris’s post as it is spot on. Tram Sunday was born out of the Corporation and Enthusiasts determination to organise a big event for 1985 and I now feel that the circle has been completed now we have Blackpool Heritage Trust.

  4. Deckerman says:

    I can find good points within most of the above comments and I especially support Steve’s comments that at least give some, I personally feel, well deserved thanks, to the hard working volunteers and organisers of these events.

    However, whilst fully endorsing that the Heritage Trust are indeed in a unique position to drive a new event forward, even simply an annual open day at the old depot perhaps, I do think that the constraints of the organisation’s time and staffing, might make this an elusive achievement. But with the new management, who know? We shall see. But in their absence, we as yet only have the events we have, “tired” or otherwise, until someone else comes forward.

    Talking of which, what I cannot agree with is the negativity relating to the events being “tired” etc, which I would guess comes from people who have not ever had to organise such events, or they would realise just how much work goes into making them happen.

    In fact you can now fairly set your clock for the annual “event bashing”, so that must be around now I guess. So well done by trying to undermine the efforts of those wanting to help this event, by implying they are all wasting their time and that their events are fit for scrap only.

    Now, Totally Transport has admittedly suffered from diminishing vehicle, stall and visitor numbers in recent years, but whilst some of these may be due to some internal/ organisational factors, most are out of the organiser’s hands. You cannot make large (or even smaller) vehicle owners send a vehicle in and with mounting costs in fuel, parts etc and restricted funds, not to mention in some cases, increasingly ageing vehicles and their owners, something is inevitably going to give.

    However where I absolutely cannot agree is the slating Fleetwood’s annual event seems to get.

    Firstly, this event was only ever meant to be a one off, but somehow due to truly monumental work from totally voluntary efforts that cost nothing to anyone, (other than the volunteers themselves), it has survived for 30 years and visitor numbers wise, has increased year on year to now top the 75,000 mark in 2014 and all on just one day.

    Secondly, it has never been a tram event. It is a transport festival. People call it “Tram Sunday” as it’s quicker and easier, but it has never officially been called that. It was Fleetwood Transport Festival and more recently Fleetwood Festival of Transport.

    Yes, sadly the heady years of being able to run lines of trams through the crowds and the number of available heritage trams to so run have now long gone, but crawling them through those numbers of people was always “an accident waiting to happen” but thankfully it never did. But what it did do was put incredible stresses on not only the excellent, hard working staff but also the venerable trams as well.

    So now instead, special tours of a good length of trip and at a normal speed can be enjoyed instead. This year for the first time, there will be a number of vintage bus trips around the area too, to link the event and as last year, “Spare Parts” will run their separate parade through at 3pm with their variety of very popular quirky vehicles.

    So whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion, “tired”… I don’t think so!! Any event, transport orientated or otherwise, that can be totally free to enter, lasts all day, has two full parades, 50 odd stalls and charity stands, up to 200 classic vehicles, up to ten trams in service/ on display (not two), has upward of 75,000 visitors on one day and that can then try to assist another transport based event, should, I would respectfully suggest, get perhaps a little more credit for it’s efforts.

    That said if others still feel it needs “something else” then I am sure the committee would be only to pleased to hear these suggestions and offer a seat on the committee to them.

    But before you all rush forward, I know from past experience, it is hard work, it costs you personally in both time and money, but is admittedly very rewarding when you see many, many thousands enjoying a great free day out that brings them in close contact with our beloved trams and for possibly the only time many of them will experience them from year to year. (Though it’s not perhaps quite as rewarding when they read such negative and unfair comments and especially from those who have probably done nothing to assist it in happening.)

    So perhaps that is the most important point here for us to note in supporting these events. Not our own rather selfish feelings that this tram or that bus isn’t here, but that these type of events showcase the subjects of our hobby to so many that otherwise might never get to enjoy them and may then even engender some interest within a new generation of enthusiast and thereby hopefully allow our hobby to continue.

    But of course, perhaps it’s just easier to sit on the sidelines and bash the efforts of the few that want to make these worthy events happen.

    By the way, it’s the 19th of July if anyone can be bothered to see this year’s “tired” old effort!!

  5. tony stevenson says:

    Just for the record, Tram Sunday was put together by a few members of the T.M.S and the publicity department of Wyre Borough Council. The management of the North Euston played a mayor role as did B.T.S. At first the shop keepers on Lord Street were not keen but when the crowds turned the shops opened and the rest is history. The event today in my opinion bears no relation to the original idea.

  6. edwin newton says:

    Some great letters here and good points raised.It would appear that there is a lot of support for a heritage museum in Blackpool but on a larger scale that is planned for just heritage trams alone.Some readers may not be aware that the council planners have their eyes on the bus garage and to build low cost housing on the site.The present bus garage would have moved to new pastures,southside.All this however may not happen within the next five to ten years however.If there is to be an all year round exhibition hall/tram museum,then this would be the ideal place to have it.On the other hand,if the bus operations move two or more miles southwards,then there would be costs in regards to diesel expenditure whereas now the bus garage is central to the town.Perhaps another way of looking at any exhibition hall for the use of vintage cars and buses,etc,etc,would be to do it the same way as the open days.Whatever the situation and dreams and aspirations,we have to remember that the Blackpool planning department usually get their way.They are building low cost housing over the former Blunder street track.If Blackpool council had any intention of a heritage scheme then they would have retained that Foxhall track leading to Hopton road and had a good running heritage line.This I fear could be a long running battle with the planners as the council are under pressure to provide more housing under government rules.I do not wish to be a “doom and gloom” merchant but am facing the facts which face any replacement Totally Transport and Tram Sunday days here on the Fylde coast,both of which I have supported over the years.

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