More old friends return to Fleetwood

Day two of the new and improved heritage tram service in Blackpool, Saturday 30th March, proved to be even more exciting than the first day with five different vintage trams joining the Flexities in action. Three of these even managed to visit Fleetwood Ferry, with two of those journeys being particularly historic, and despite the bitter cold, the day even witnessed the first Boat car working of 2013!

Easter Saturday got off to a great start with Standard 147 in charge of the first heritage tour of the day, which included a run to Fleetwood – its first since the northern section of tramway closed for upgrading at the end of the 2009 illuminations. It had previously been expected that 147 would have to miss the Easter weekend following the discovery of cracks in several of its ruby quarter window glasses, and delays experienced with the delivery of replacement glass. However, a temporary repair was effected using wooden boards allowing this popular tram to take its rightful place on the heritage tours on this bright but chilly day. It was soon joined by Box car 40, ‘Princess Alice’ 706 and Balloon 717, with the first two running as specials being directed by ‘Mr Heritage’ himself, Bryan Lindop, who was based at Pleasure Beach for most of the day.

However, for many people the highlight of the day occured in the early part of the afternoon, when ‘Princess Alice’ 706 was dispatched to Fleetwood following a request from an enthusiast. Not only was this 706‘s first visit to the town since November 2009, when it had operated a private hire on the last day of the season, but it was also the first such run by any open top tram in the modern era! Despite being completely unannounced, this historic journey was very well patronised and a good number of enthusiasts took to 706‘s top deck to enjoy this memorable occasion. On arrival at the Ferry, 706 stood behind a service car before posing at the new heritage tram loading stop alongside the lighthouse, giving those present the chance to capture on camera some scenes that many had never dared hope we would ever witness again.

The surprises kept coming well into the afternoon though, with 706 returning to depot on its return trip as its determined (foolish?) crew had requested to continue their shift on a Boat car! Despite a few brief snow showers earlier in the day, the afternoon remained dry and so at around 3:30pm, Boat 230 duly appeared at North Pier and was soon packed with passengers keen to enjoy the first Boat car working of the year despite the far from ideal weather conditions. This tram then performed several journeys between Pleasure Beach and North Pier for the remainder of the day. The only black spot on a near perfect day involved car 40, which had to run in early due to a minor defect, with 706 being sent back out in its place. It was then left to Balloon 717 to run to Fleetwood again, concluding another succesful day of heritage tram operation.

With both available Boats expected to run over the next few days and Twin set 272+T2 due to appear on Easter Monday, it looks like the Blackpool tramway is starting the 2013 season in fine form and, as some enthusiasts commented, at times it felt just like the good old days with heritage trams running to various random destinations and plenty of changing between cars so as not to miss out on anything!

A remarkable sight with open-top Balloon car 706 waiting behind a Flexity at the Fleetwood Ferry tram stop on March 30th 2013 - its first appearance here for three and a half years! (Photo by Andrew Waddington)

Standard 147 basks in the deceptive spring sunshine on the Pleasure Beach outer loop, as Balloon 717 waits patiently behind. (Photo by Tony Waddington)

Box 40 retreats to the depot empty with a fault as Boat 230 waits to reverse on the crossover at North Pier for its maiden voyage of 2013. (Photo by Tony Waddington)

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9 Responses to More old friends return to Fleetwood

  1. Ken walker says:

    This is excellent news and positive effort from BTS to give the heritage service every chance of succeeding. Looking forward to visiting tomorrow for a ride on 272/T2 and whatever else turns up. A rule needs to be introduced to prevent ‘Mr. Heritage’ from ever retiring or moving to another job!!!

  2. Ash Tomlinson says:

    Well said! I hope “Mr Heritage” is around for years to come and make sure Blackpool has heritage trams running on its promenade! I hope a Boat Car or 2 run to Fleetwood next bank holiday as I don’t think any have been to Fleetwood in the supertram era.

  3. Bob Milner says:

    ‘Easter Saturday’ is April 6th

    • Gareth Prior says:

      Sorry? I’ve just checked my calendars and it clearly says we have just had Easter Saturday on 30th March. Have we all been having our Easter eggs a week early?

      • Ken walker says:

        Well today is Monday the 1st and Metrolink have been running a bank holiday service today and last Friday, and today I had a couple of trips on the ‘Bank Holidays Only’ heritage trams at Blackpool. Last year April 6th was Good Friday, I think you need a new calendar Bob!!!!

      • Dan Clarke says:

        Yes, Easter Saturday Was On 30th March But I Can Understand Why You Thought It Was The 6th Of April Bob. School Holidays Are Normally A Week Before And A Week After Easter But At Most Schools This Year It Is Two Weeks After.

  4. Ken walker says:

    Good day again today with 272/T2 as advertised on the first Fleetwood, and Blackpool 149 and balloons 706 and 717 out again. There was even a fifth ‘heritage car’ on the prom at lunchtime in the form of engineering car 754 attending to an overhead line fault at North Pier. At times 3 of the 4 heritage trams were present at North Pier at the same time.

  5. Peter Shaw says:

    Bob is quite right! He is obviously a churchgoer, 30th March is Saturday of Holy Week(ie Holy Saturday), Easter doesn’t start till Sunday 31st so April 6th is Easter Saturday.
    News about the Heritage fleet makes me determined to visit over the Mayday weekend.

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