Another busy Bank Holiday for Blackpool’s heritage trams

The August Bank Holiday weekend saw the latest period of intensive operation for Blackpool’s heritage tram tours which was largely blessed with fine weather. This slightly belated report summarises the events of the long weekend, including which trams ran on each day, starting with the now established Friday evening ‘warm-up’ event.

The weekend’s excitement got started on Friday 26th August with a special tour featuring both of the serviceable illuminated trams: Western Train 733+734 and Frigate 736. Both trams ran in convoy to Fleetwood twice, once in the late afternoon sunshine and then again after darkness fell providing the novel sight of two feature cars at the Ferry. On both trips the duo were posed side by side on the passing loop at the terminus, before heading back south. Earlier in the day, the normal two-car heritage service had been worked by Boats 227 and 600, reflecting the glorious sunny weather.

The weekend proper kicked off with fine weather on Saturday morning allowing the use of two Boat cars, with 600 joining the six timetabled heritage trams as a special due to the availability of an additional crew. Twin set 272+T2 suffered a minor fault during the day and was replaced by 675+685; otherwise all the advertised cars ran as planned.

Sunday 26th was slightly marred by an accident involving Flexity 014 and a pedestrian at Cleveleys during the morning which disrupted the service and caused Ex-Towing car 680 to miss its scheduled run to Fleetwood. The day was also notable for car 718’s first use since its evening re-launch tour one month earlier. Note that this car has had new external fleet numbers applied, those on the side panels replacing some small bits of paper stuck to the centre doors which it carried on its last outing! This day was easily the worst for the weather, although by the afternoon the sun was shining again, but fears over the forecast were sufficient to confine all of the open cars to the depot.

An unexpected treat occurred on Monday when B Fleet Balloon car 700 was used on specials, operating in ordinary service picking up and dropping off passengers at the LRT stops. The tram was unusually parked on the turning circle at Starr Gate for the duration of its crew lunch break, adding further novelty value to its appearance, but otherwise ran between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. Balloons 701 and 723 both developed minor faults during the day; the former was soon repaired but 723 was swapped over for Boat car 227 due to the fine weather.

An additional event took place on the evening of Tuesday 28th August, the now annual ‘Ride the Lights’ night offering a preview of the illuminations when the promenade road is closed to all traffic except for trams and bicycles. As an experiment, the Train and Frigate were both used on the familiar circular tours between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham – but in a break from tradition, passengers were able to board at any of the heritage stops at Pleasure Beach, North Pier/Tower, Cabin and Bispham. A detailed timetable was published although unfortunately this proved impossible to meet due to an incident on the tramway early in the evening which caused considerable disruption to the advertised service. Discounted fares were offered on this evening with further reductions available to local residents, helping to tempt even more people to take a ride on one of these Blackpool icons.

As a whole the August Bank Holiday weekend was a great success with healthy loadings on the heritage trams and an interesting turnout. However, the next heritage event should be even better: the much-anticipated anniversary weekend on 24th & 25th September should see every operational tram in use, with static tram displays, depot tours and much more to be enjoyed.

The following trams were used on heritage tours over the course of the weekend:

Saturday 25th August—31, 66, 227, 272+T2, 600, 675+685, 701 & 717.

Sunday 26th August— 272+T2, 648, 680, 701, 718 & 723.

Monday 27th August—31, 40, 227, 230, 600, 701 & 723.

The early evening sun gleams off the side of 'HMS Blackpool' 736 as it stands at Pleasure Beach on 26th August.

The same location a day later, and a splendid line-up of trams including red liveried Marton Box 31, Boat 227 and Balloon 701. The uniform look is slightly spoiled by Boat 600, seen immediately behind 31.

Pleasure Beach is again the port of call for the image from Sunday 28th August, with 'white blob' 718 alongside Centenary car 648, representing more recent but still historic fleet developments prior to the tramway upgrade.

Although not actually part of the day's heritage output, Balloon 700 arguably stole the show on Bank Holiday Monday. Here the tram is shown at Starr Gate where it was parked for a crew lunch break. (All photos by Rob Bray)


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10 Responses to Another busy Bank Holiday for Blackpool’s heritage trams

  1. Neville Sloper says:

    Whilst it was great to see, and ride on, 700 doing the job it was modified to do, it did cause some confusion to the “ordinary” passengers. Being used to seeing heritage cars sailing past the platforms, many were standing back when 700 arrived, not realising it was a service car. And we also witnessed people at the heritage stops putting their hands out, thinking it was on heritage service.
    That aside, thanks to the heritage team for another great weekend!

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Agree Nev and understand something completely beyond control of BHTT as it was BTS decision to deploy it. Happened last August Bank Holiday as well. Daft thing is was pretty obvious demand did not warrant it so can only assume had spare crew with nothing to do (but with only a Paid B Fleet Trained none LRT driver available).

      Without turning over old ground its fair to say the tramway has evolved considerably since the B Fleets original inception and continues to evolve. Increasingly compelling case that the front line modified balloon role is limited at best.

  2. John Hibbert says:

    Great weekend courtesy of Blackpool Transport, but in my experience marred by the poor behaviour of a small number of so-called “enthusiasts”. The heritage cars are a public service for the benefit of everyone – not just us tram fans, and that needs to be respected.
    You are not on a hired tour car for your exclusive use and it is not acceptable to “hog” seats to which all travellers are entitled. I witnessed bags being left on seats while their owners got off the cars to take photographs and people sat in seats next to aisles refusing polite requests by passengers to be allowed access to the window seat next to them.
    My wife and I were subjected to “looks” and audible comments for occupying a seat which was “taken” one one occasion when I changed cars.
    If we want the broader public to patronise the excellent heritage service and bring in the revenue which the unit needs to provide and maintain the cars which give us such pleasure and interest this sort of behaviour is unacceptable.
    Child passengers may well be the enthusiasts of the future any they and their families are passengers of equal status. They shouldn’t have to come excitedly up the stairs of a balloon car to find what they would see as “desirable” seats occupied by various bags and rucksacks and their families then treated with rudeness.
    Please give more consideration to your fellow passengers, guys. We have not experienced such a degree of unacceptable behaviour at previous special heritage events and all everyone wants is to enjoy their day.

    • David Butterworth says:

      I agree. There are certain members of the enthusiast fraternity who are guilty of selfish behaviour; ‘anoraks’ is a term which springs to mind. These individuals will think nothing of dumping a coat, camera bag or some other encumbrance on a tram seat, in order to ‘reserve’ their seat whilst they leave the tram to take photographs. They have no right at all. This type of incident arose a couple of years ago, during a heritage weekend when Coronation 304 was used on special duties , thus depriving others of a seat. That grown men can act in this way is totally unacceptable; they should be ashamed of themselves. A similar criticism applies to those ‘enthusiasts’ who, owing to their own selfishness and inflated self importance, like nothing better than to frustrate the efforts of others around them who are trying to photograph a tram. The Pleasure Beach is one location where this tends to happen quite a lot.

    • Steve says:

      Quite agree with your comments re some so-called enthusiasts. The leaving of bags on seats is totally unacceptable, as isb sitting at the front and taking a double seat for one person so no one else can sit there. You regularly see a small number who take up seats, save seats, are ludicrously loud and I hate to say it, reek. The upper deck of a balloon’ on Saturday night was somewhat fragrant. Around 95% of riders on Blackpool Heritage are ordinary families and seeing this sort of behaviour from individuals puts them off riding and gives enthusiasts a bad name. And don’t even start me on the non payers who think its just for them to take photos of and generally behave obnoxiously to everyone else!

      On another note the enthusiasts who are volunteers are professional to a high standard and do a fantastic job. Always a pleasure to talk to them.

      • Brian Marshall says:

        I think I know who the ‘loud’ person is who Steve makes mention of. I often wonder what the ordinary travelling public make of transport enthusiasts when they happen to stumble across this very vocal individual who has apparently lost his volume control of mute button.

  3. John Hibbert says:

    My wife made me edit my comments re personal hygiene! Thanks Steve we are with you on that one.
    It was unfortunate re the accident – it was a bit chilly at Fleetwood waiting for 680 which never turned up. Thanks go to the bus driver who kept us informed.

  4. Steve says:

    And on another subject, I notice some of the Trams now have Tower and North pier (or could be the other way round). Whilst I understand that this is the new correct name for the Heritage stop, has it occurred to anyone at BTS that you cannot actually read them? The ones on 715 are totally illegible!!!

    • Peter Watts says:

      I find the comment that the new destination “NORTH PIER AND TOWER” on 715 are totally illegible is quite unbelievable. The style takes after the historically correct two line destinations as used on Balloons of this era, and is EXACTLY the same size lettering as used on the following two line destinations:


      In fact I can confirm that the letter stencils used for this destination on 715 are made up from original Balloon blinds. Therefore if I am to believe that this destination is illegible, then countless passengers from 1960 until the end of the traditional tramway (the date where this style was first used) must have had real problems in reading their tram’s destination……

      • Chris says:

        I’m sorry I have to agree with Steve, the ones on 715 are really difficult to read, something I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed on the others. Personally I’m not sure why they need new destinations they never carried! It’s supposed to be a Heritage operation so surely Heritage destinations apply?

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