The annual Fleetwood Festival of Transport – more commonly known as Tram Sunday – took place on Sunday 21st July and attracted the usual mix of vintage vehicles, stalls and fairground style rides and attractions. However, after playing a limited role in recent years, it was quite rightly the trams which stole the show, with four different members of the heritage fleet taking part in this year’s event.
The day began unusually early for the historic trams, with both ‘Princess Alice’ 706 and recently repainted Brush car 631 leaving Rigby Road depot after 7:00am and heading to Fleetwood before the roads through the town were closed off as preparations for the festival got underway. Both trams travelled empty to the Ferry apart from a small number of very lucky invited guests. These trams were then used to promote two local tramway organisations: a sales stand for the Fylde Tramway Society was placed inside 706, with several new members reportedly joining up during the day, whilst 631‘s interior played host to the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust. During the early afternoon, the Trust held a talk outlining some of their ambitious future plans, although this was poorly attended with just four people turning up to listen – perhaps more were put off by the compulsory donation to attend? One late arrival was reportedly not allowed to board the tram, which seems a little odd as surely his money would have been a welcome boost to the day’s takings.
Meanwhile, at around 10:00am both operational Boat cars, 230 and 600, were at North Pier. Various dignitaries were seen riding on 230 which took part in the opening ceremony on arrival at Fisherman’s Walk, Fleetwood, with the remaining seats on both cars offered to the general public. The two Boats then operated circular tours between Fisherman’s Walk and Thornton Gate throughout the afternoon, proving very popular and carrying several full capacity loads despite the glorious sunshine which Blackpool has bathed in for the last few weeks being noticeably absent on this day.
By 4:30pm events were winding down and the two Boat cars were dispatched back to Blackpool. However, 631 and 706 were required to stay in position at Pharos Street until Lord Street was reopened, which meant they did not depart from Fleetwood until just before 7:00pm. Both cars returned to Blackpool in service carrying passengers who had reserved a seat for their only passenger-carrying journey of the day, bringing a successful end to an enjoyable day. Although the festival itself may be less impressive than it once was in terms of transport interest, there remains plenty to entertain the average visitor and the return of vintage tram rides at the event seems to have been welcomed, hopefully ensuring that a similar pattern will be followed next year and well into the future.
Finally, following some inaccurate claims in the local media, we must set the record straight to clarify a few matters. All four of the heritage trams at this event were provided by Blackpool Transport, and the Lancastrian Transport Trust had no involvement despite what has been stated elsewhere. Although the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust were present, none of the group’s trams appeared at the festival and the tram the talk was held inside, 631, is owned by Blackpool Transport and not the Trust!