Monday, 2 October 2023

Rigby Road Tram Depot Closed

One of the closure notices attached to the fence in front of the tram depot
It was noticed over the weekend that the heritage trams at Rigby Road tram depot have become barricaded in the running shed behind a line of steel fencing. Attached to the fence are notices saying "Pending survey results, the Tram Shed will be closed until further notice. Access may only be obtained with written permission from Jess Brown, Head of Safety & Facilities. Unauthorised access will be classified as a breach of Health and Safety rules and will therefore be treated as gross misconduct". Perhaps an inkling of the impending closure was the appearance of several heritage and illuminated trams down at Starr Gate depot over the last few days. Tramtown tours have also been cancelled at short notice, which is a further clue as to what is happening. The fitting shop, and presumably paint shop, are similarly out of bounds with prohibition notices posted on the doors. In the absence of any official announcement (as of Monday 2nd October) read into this what you will at the moment.

The heritage trams barricaded in the running shed at Rigby Road

There will be nobody queuing up for Tramtown tours for the foreseeable future
Even the red heritage plaque is obscured by the steel fencing
The closure notice on the Fitting Shop door
Presumably the depot cat will be able to wander around the depot unchallenged

Saturday, 23 September 2023

September Heritage Trams

Bolton 66 was the last heritage tram of the day to Fleetwood, seen here passing the Pharos Lighthouse
The September heritage tram weekend took place on the 23rd and 24th of the month. The scheduled output for Saturday was Railcoach 680, Balloon 718, Boat 600, Bolton 66 and Boat 227. The day started out dull with occasional spells of sunshine in the afternoon. The weather on Sunday was lousy for photography, being mostly miserable and wet, so all the photos shown here were taken on the Saturday.

Railcoach 680 at Bispham, with a BTS ADL Enviro400 City passing by
Boat 277 at Bispham, heading north to turn around at Little Bispham
Boat 600 approaching Bispham tram station
Balloon 718 pausing at Bispham on its way north to Fleetwood
Railcoach 680, Balloon 718 & Boat 600 meet at Bispham tram station

Sunday, 3 September 2023

2023 Bus Driver of the Year Final

First Eastern Counties Scania N250UD ADL Enviro400 City 36918 at Gynn Square
The National Final of the 55th Bus Driver of the Year competition took place in Blackpool on Sunday 3rd September. Bus drivers from all around the country compete to be the top driver, and this year saw 12 buses being used, with 10 of them travelling from various parts of the UK to take part in the event. The competition commences from the seaward side of the Metropole Hotel, before proceeding along Middle Walk where a series of tests are set out for the drivers. The buses then navigate the roundabout at Gynn Square before returning south down the Promenade, where drivers are allowed to pick up and set down passengers at temporary bus stops positioned along the route. The winner of the 2023 Bus Driver of the Year competition was Lee Grantham from National Express, based at Acocks Green depot in Birmingham.

First Potteries low height Wright Streetdeck 35944, leaving the Metropole Hotel heading for Middle Walk
Stagecoach Manchester ADL Enviro400 MMC 11719 passing the Spitfires at Gynn Square roundabout
Lothian Buses Volvo B5TL Wright Gemini 3 445 leaving Middle Walk at Gynn Square
National Express West Midlands ADL Enviro400 MMC 7541
Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire open top Volvo B5TL Wright Gemini 3 13804
Go North West Volvo B5LH MCV EvoSeti 3061
McGill's Mercedes-Benz Citaro 0295 G3340 leaving Middle Walk at Gynn Square
Blackpool Transport ADL Enviro400 City 411 taking part in the event at Gynn Square roundabout
Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire ADL Enviro400 MMC 11637, based at Preston
McGill's 3359, a Mercedes-Benz Citaro 0295 heading south on the Promenade
Blackpool Transport ADL Enviro400 City 450 at Gynn Square, one of the early runners in the event
This tiny Subaru Sambar (with a VW body kit) could be a contender for the smallest bus at the event

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

The bus that has never been a bus visits Blackpool

Scania Omnidekka PE55 WMC at Bickerstaffe Square on 23rd August
A Scania double-deck bus branded 'Your Heart Matters' visited Blackpool on Wednesday 23rd August. The bus was parked on Bickerstaffe Square, opposite Blackpool North railway station between 10am and 3pm, enabling people to be checked to see if they had heart valve problems. Scania Omnidekka PE55 WMC was delivered new in 2006 to Newcastle Council, and has never seen use as a public service vehicle. The bus was built from new for use as a mobile showroom to promote council housing in Newcastle.

An offside view of Scania Omnidekka PE55 WMC in Blackpool

A rear view of Scania Omnidekka PE55 WMC in Blackpool

Thursday, 17 August 2023

First Day in Service for Isle of Man Ferry Manxman

Manxman approaching Heysham on its inaugural passenger sailing from Douglas on 17th August
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's new ro-ro ferry Manxman made its first passenger sailing on Thursday 17th August. The Manxman was timetabled to leave Douglas at 08:45, but the departure was delayed for half an hour due to loading problems, the delay meant that the ferry arrived at Heysham somewhat later than advertised. The ship was scheduled to sail from Heysham on the return journey to Douglas at 14:15, but its departure was delayed until 15:00. The Manxman was constructed at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea, having been ordered in July 2020. The ship was launched in June 2022 and commenced sea trials in December of that year. The delivery voyage to the UK of approximately 12,000 miles started on 13th May, 2023.

Manxman passing the remains of the wooden South Jetty at Heysham Harbour
Manxman approaching the harbour entrance at Heysham
Manxman passing the South Pier Lighthouse at the entrance to Heysham Harbour
A rear view of Manxman entering Heysham Harbour with a truck on the upper car deck
Manxman turning around in Heysham Harbour
Manxman about to reverse into its berth
Manxman berthed at the loading ramp in Heysham Harbour
Manxman setting sail for the return voyage to Douglas in the Isle of Man
Manxman passing though the harbour entrance at Heysham on its way to Douglas

Monday, 7 August 2023

Pleasure Beach all-over advert for Flexity 012

Flexity 012 on North Albert Street in Fleetwood

Flexity 012 entered service on Sunday 6th August with a new vinyl wrap advert for the Pleasure Beach. Contravision has been restricted to the end and centre sections, leaving the windows on the two twin-door sections clear of advertising. The tram is a welcome addition to the fleet, with its bright and cheerful advert, especially in light of other overall wrap adverts having been lost over the last few years. Note all the photos in this report were taken on Monday 7th August.

Flexity 012 at Fleetwood Ferry on the afternoon of Monday 7th August

Flexity 012 at Fleetwood Ferry on the morning of Monday 7th August
Flexity 012 at the northern terminus in Bold Street, Fleetwood
Flexity 012 turning right into Pharos Street in Fleetwood

Tuesday, 18 July 2023

Centenary 645 leaves Rigby Road

Centenary 645 chained down on Allelys low loader in Blundell Street
Centenary 645 was the latest tram to leave Blackpool this morning. An early start was made in moving 645 on Tuesday 18th July, with the tram being towed out of the depot by Unimog 939, before being winched onto the low loader of Allelys Heavy Haulage in Blundell Street. The low loader needed to reverse out of Blundell Street into Hopton Road and then Lytham Road before heading out of town. Unfortunately the loading bay of Home Bargains was blocked by parked cars, necessitating a tricky manoeuvre using the road instead. The low loader first attempted to reverse around the south side of the large kerbed island and traction pole in the middle of Hopton Road, unfortunately this route failed due to a parked car on the road near the depot entrance. The transporter moved back into Blundell Street before eventually squeezing through the tight gap (for a large low loader) on the north side of the large island in Hopton Road. After safely reversing all the way down to Lytham Road, the low loader with 645 onboard headed off just before 10:30 am. The destination of the journey was Crich tramway museum, for some secret project that has yet to be revealed. It's exactly six years this month since 645 returned to Rigby Road tram depot from its previous home of Windy Harbour Caravan Park on the Fylde.

645 in Blundell Street ready to depart
The low loader attempting to manoeuvre around the south side of the large raised island
This route was blocked by an awkwardly parked Ford Ka outside the depot
The low loader then attempted to squeeze around the north side of the large kerb in Hopton Road
This time the low loader successfully gained access to Hopton Road
The low loader reversing from Hopton Road into Lytham Road
The low loader with 645 onboard about to head off down Lytham Road
The low loader with 645 and escort vehicle heading south down Lytham Road
Centenary 645 passing the Imperial Hotel in September 2011
645 on Windy Harbour Caravan Park in 2017 with a few boarded up broken windows