Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Blackpool Trams

R embarrasses me when he is asked why we visited Blackpool in England. He tells people that I wanted to see the Blackpool trams. Makes me feel very nerd like. Truth is that I just thought that Blackpool looked to be interesting, plenty to do, well set up for tourists, had a strong gay aspect and yes, ok, the trams too.

Do you want to have a bit of a look at Blacker's trams? Come with me.

I just love this picture. I have posted it twice so better not again.

Blackpool trams are run by Blackpool Transport. The infrastructure is owned by the local council.

There are about eighty trams, and at the height of summer, sixty five are pressed into service. Annual kilometres travelled by the trams is about 1.5 million carrying around 7 million passengers. That is not an insignificant system.

The tramway opened in 1885 and by 1898 had been extended to Fleetwood to no doubt provide transport for Lord Hughes' antecedent's convenience . It travels along the seaside from Fleetwood in the north, through Blackpool to Starr Gate in the south. Time for a photo. This is a double deck balloon tram.

No one could accuse the trams of being of being speedy. They are driven quite slowly. Only a tiny percentage of the track is on normal road way, but there are many street intersections and neither the local motorists nor tram drivers seem to know how to treat each other.

But Blackpool's trams are not resting on their laurels. In spite of a court case in Manchester's High Court, work is underway on a new £20 million tram depot at Starr Gate. Overhead wires are being worked on so that a higher current can be supplied. The balloon cars are being modified for present day running, with cctv and other accessories. Much of the existing track is being replaced including in Fleetwood. Let's see, another photo. This is an open boat car. Your trivia is that they were converted to pantographs from overhead poles, and then quickly changed back when passengers had dirt and grease dropped onto them. Regardless, don't they look like fun.

Here is another photo. A newer tram? Not really. It is a balloon car from the thirties and modified in the seventies and called a Jubilee Car.

Coronation cars were added in 1953, but they often failed to proceed. Some were modified and made more reliable, but by 1975, they were all gone.

The £100 million upgrade to Blackpool's trams means that it shuts down for a couple of winters and even this summer, it will be a late start for operation to Fleetwood as someone nicked the overhead wiring cable. Danger, live wires, did not deter them.

By summer 2012, all work should be finished and sixteen new trams will be operating. I can't find out what trams are being bought, but we can guess it will be French, German or Canadian. Later: Looks like Canada won. An artist's impression indicates it looks like any other sleek modern tram.

This would seem to be the last tram added to the system, the Centenary car, which by its name, would date back to 1985. Look like a bus to me. Once source suggests that this model of tram is the most unreliable tram in the world. They are used mostly in the winter. I guess they have heating then.

Do you want to see a boat tram? These are especially popular when the Blackpool illuminations occur in Autumn. Kilometres of lights are strung along the coast and many buildings are illuminated and decorated and illuminated trams play their part too.

And back to the beginning, a new sea wall has been built, so you probably won't ever see the seas flooding the roadway as you can see in the linked photo at the beginning. Boring!


  1. Loved the trams, so much character :)

  2. A wonderful assortment Andrew. I can't see why we can't have a few of those lovely open boat cars.

    The bus-like tram is very strange. Pleasure Beach might also make an interesting post lol.

  3. ha ha none of them even LOOK like trams. Imagine them trundling round Melbourne! People wouldn't cope... they can't cope with the poor old W class trams!

  4. Plenty of character for sure Jayne.

    Agree LiD. The open tram looks like fun. I think Pleasure Beach was named after carnival like activities, rather than some other kind of pleasure.

    Fen, I guess we don't have the sense of history that they do in the UK. They do history much better than we do.

  5. Anonymous1:57 pm

    I've wanted to go to Blackpool for years because there's a big ballroom dance comp. there every year. After seeing all these interesting trams, I now have two reasons for going! Vik.

  6. Vik, they have a monstrous complex called the Winter Garden I think, which no doubt would be where the comp would be held. We both liked Blackpool, although we were not there much longer than 24 hours....or was it two days...forget.

  7. Anonymous7:28 pm

    Yeah, the comp is held at the Winter Gardens. Vik.

  8. Anonymous7:36 pm

    Actually, it might be called the Winter Palace...Vik.

  9. That's it Vik. Winter Palace. We saw it from the outside.

  10. The line from the Pleasure Beach to Starr gate where the new tram depot is being built wont be open this summer (2010). I believe that it will be open in time for Easter 2011.
    As for the new trams I believe they were going to use a British!!!! tram but on a test a year or 2 ago it caught fire and the whole thing was destroyed as it was fibreglass. I have heard rumours that they are still going to use the British ones but with a redesigned fire protection system.

  11. Thanks. I have seen a photo of the tram on fire. I believe Bombardier of Canada has won the contract but it does not follow that they will be built in Canada. New tram have been built in Britain quite recently.


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