In Pictures: A soggy spring gala at Heaton Park

The Heaton Park Tramway’s almost annual Spring Gala has not had the best of luck with weather in the last few years – and so it was that the 2015 event on Sunday 29th March was marred by miserable conditions, with heavy rain for much of the day. Unsurprisingly this had a negative impact on attendance numbers, but even so the volunteers at the tramway did their best to put on a good show for those who did brave the elements.

The day commenced with Blackpool Brush Railcoach 623 as the first service tram, an appropriate choice considering the other two operational Brush cars (630 at Crich and 631 at Blackpool) were also used that weekend. It was later joined by Manchester 765 and Blackpool Vanguard 619, although the latter did only a few trips due to the less than ideal weather! However, all three of these trams were easily upstaged by the presence of Blackpool 280 which spent much of the day parked outside Lakeside Depot, giving visitors the first chance to inspect the car in its new home. 280 was also briefly posed alongside fellow ex-Blackpool residents 619 and 623, and operated a few journeys along the full length of the line for crew familiarisation purposes.

The next, and more ambitious, special event at the park will be the launch of car 280 on 26th April when a series of line-ups, parallel runs and other activities are planned to provide a day packed with excitement. Hopefully the weather will be much kinder!

The start of the 2015 Spring Gala at Heaton Park with Blackpool 619 and Manchester 765 awaiting the arrival of early visitors.

We now move to the Lakeside end of the tramway where Blackpool 623 is seen alongside Manchester 765.

Star of the show 280 pauses at Whitegate with 623 pulling up behind for a photo opportunity.

Probably the highlight of this event was this lineup of three Blackpool trams in contrasting liveries: 280, 623 and 619.

Blackpool 280 heads towards Middleton Road during a crew training run in the afternoon, with two service trams also visible in the background. (Photos x 5 by Bradley Jones)

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8 Responses to In Pictures: A soggy spring gala at Heaton Park

  1. malcolm webb says:

    Not surprised they didn’t get many customers.
    It is a long trip for me over the Pennines from Nottinghamshire. I turned up early complete with dog and lady friend. After tea at the Lakeside
    café we walked back to the Park gates in the rain and just missed the first tram.
    When the next one arrived, the conductor changed the trolley, ignored us
    standing at the stop, in the rain, and moved up the line to take photos. Then the car disappeared off into the distance. By then my friend was less than amused. I did check with someone at the shelter and he picked up passengers there. Mr conductor of the green Blackpool tram that was two fares you didn’t get!
    Sadder and wiser we departed Heaton Park. We stopped off at Ellenroad
    Engine House Museum and, though not a steaming day, got a friendly welcome and a tour round, so it wasn’t entirely a wasted day.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      That’s really surprising to hear, usually Heaton Park gets a lot of praise for good customer service and being friendly. I’d suggest you contact someone at the tramway about this as that is likely to be more useful than airing your grievances here and you may well get an apology.

    • Paul D says:


      As a Senior Guard & Guard Trainer at Heaton Park I am disappointed to read this. Can you just clarify a few points in you posting for me please in case one of our staff does need some retraining?

      1: What time did this happen?
      2: Was this at Lakeside or Middleton Road? (I’m not wholly clear from your message but neither location has a tram shelter).
      3: Can you confirm which Tram? (the pointed ended Brush car 623 or flat ended Railcoach 280)
      4: Did you attempt to board the tram and were refused entry or did you not approach the tram?
      5: Can you describe the Guard in question?

      As a point to note; a full schedule for the day was published in advance and freely available on the day that clearly showed which trams would be in service when, and that the Blackpool cars would be lined up (not in service) for photos at certain times. Throughout those times the advertised service was maintained with Manchester 765. Everything happened as scheduled +/- a few minutes (unusually for us!)



  2. malcolm webb says:

    I did complain , at the shelter, to a chap wearing the biggest cap and shiniest cap-badge that I have ever seen. I explained what had happened, and he just laughed and conformed that the tram had picked up passengers there.
    I am an enthusiast, I know how much effort goes into these events. But my friend isn’t an enthusiast, having dragged her up there she was given the impression that photographing the two Blackpool raiLcoaches
    together was more important than running a service. If I had been on my own, I would have shrugged it off, but her attitude was, “if my money isn’t good enough for them then I will keep it”, and having dragged her there I had to agree. It soured our morning, lucky the EllenRoad people were so welcoming.
    I see nothing wrong with “airing my grievance here” otherwise what is
    the purpose of a comment page? It was probably a misunderstanding
    and I am not looking for an apology but, hopefully, someone will take the
    hint that what we call “Customer Service” is important for the survival
    of the heritage industry generally. My friend, who has less understanding of these things, won’t come there with me again.
    Perhaps the Heaton people will, as they used to say when I lived in Yorkshire : “Think o’nt!”

    • Ken Walker says:

      I’m very puzzled by this. On arrival at Middleton Road the guard must have opened the doors in order to get off the tram to turn the trolley, surely there was time to board while this was happening. From my experience the location isn’t one where you have to wait to be invited to board. Perhaps the guard thought that you were just observing the tram rather than intending to travel maybe? From my experience I can only second John’s comment that it is very uncharacteristic, the staff are normally extremely friendly.

  3. JOhn says:

    I am Operations Manager for the Tramway and can only offer my apologies. It really is uncharacteristic of our staff. This will be looked into so that we do not show poor customer service again. Please feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to send vouchers for free tickets if you visit again in the future. All feedback reaches our Board so we can up our game where necessary.

  4. Alan Kirkman says:

    I was exhibiting elsewhere but I would point out a couple of things which may be relevant. One Car 680/280 was as the article says out on testing and training runs for visitors to see and photograph but having only arrived last Tuesday is not yet ready to carry public passengers. Two the Tram stop at Middleton road is only a portable A board at the track side. Heaton Park is a listed Park so permanent signs or shelters etc. are not permitted or at least haven’t been. However the Park authorities have recently erected but do not yet use some wheely bin shelters for large wheely bins as part of a changed system coming in. Now one of these is down by the Middleton Road Tram Stop but it is NOT the stop or the MTMS’s at all. I wonder if in the weather conditions understandable confusion set in with the presence of this empty apparent shelter?

  5. Mark says:

    Firstly I had not planned to comment on Malcolm’s post, but based on my wide experiences of museums and not being involved with the park think I should. I think there are two issues here. Running to time and customer care. Having worked on various tramways one of the biggest handicaps some have are the presence of single line sections, this means that trams MUST leave on time, or they will affect the total time table. The second point is customer care. As Andrew said Heaton Park enjoys an excellent reputation in this area, although as said earlier timetabling is important from my past dealings with them I have seen trams being held for potential customers, which some other operations would not do. I have also been there with friends from other European Museums and they have also said that this is not a scenario that they recognise as members of the park have always gone the extra mile to make them feel welcome, even when not expected. I can see from the other posts that Heaton Park are concerned by the incident and I hope that I hope Malcolm will enjoy his next visit and see the park as others see it.

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