The May Day Bank Holiday weekend saw Blackpool’s heritage trams grace the promenade rails once again for two days, thanks to the financial support of the Fylde Tramway Society. Although most of the trams used were the same as those which ran at Easter, the weekend was particularly notable for the appearance of both of the Centenary cars which remain at Blackpool, which were making their first appearances in passenger service this year.
Sunday 4th May saw a three-car service in operation, with Twin set 272+T2 kicking off the day’s events with a morning run to Fleetwood. It was later joined in service by Centenary car 648 (with the driver taking fares to free up an extra conductor to work on the Twin car) and open top Balloon car ‘Princess Alice’ 706. Later in the day there was an extra surprise in store as 648 was swapped over for its sister car 642, which was employed on the final trip of the day. Due to concerns about the Centenary cars swiping a bollard at Fleetwood Ferry, 642 was turned short at Fisherman’s Walk on this journey, with passengers unusually permitted to alight at this location to take photographs and transfer onto car 706, which then continued alone to the Ferry terminus whilst 642 headed back south.
The following day, improved weather blessed the morning tour to Fleetwood which featured a pair of green and cream Boat cars, 230 and 600, with ‘Princess Alice’ 706 also out to give a trio of open trams in use on the Bank Holiday Monday. Once again an exchange occurred late in the afternoon, when 706 returned to Starr Gate depot, allowing Standard 147 to take its place in service, and this car rounded off the weekend in fine style with a journey to Fleetwood.
Although this weekend was a rather muted affair compared with the Easter festivities, with a reduced heritage tram output and no photographic opportunities on Blundell Street, it was still a very enjoyable few days and the use of two Centenary cars in a single day was many peoples’ highlight – pretty amazing when you consider that most enthusiasts would have turned a blind eye to these trams just a few years ago! Passenger numbers were respectable but not as impressive as at Easter, and as such it is understood that no heritage service will operate over the May Day weekend next year. The close proximity of this to two other, generally busier, Bank Holidays means that it is unlikely to be very profitable, and as such efforts are likely to be focussed on making the Easter and late May events extra special instead. Although not officially confirmed, it is believed that the Fylde Tramway Society may also be moving its AGM weekend to the late May Bank Holiday in 2015, so as to ensure that those who attend can also enjoy an action-packed weekend of traditional trams.