Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Training Trams Galore

Balloon 711 at Fleetwood Ferry while in use as a Heritage Tram crew driver trainer
Wednesday 3rd February saw no less than four purple and white trams in use on driver training duties in Blackpool. Fat door Balloons 700, 711 and 719 were in use training Heritage Tram drivers, and Flexity 003 was also out on the Promenade training service tram crew. The purple Balloons ranged over the full system throughout the day, from Starr Gate to Fleetwood Ferry.

Balloon 700 southbound at Central Pier on Heritage crew driver training
Balloon 719 heading north from the Starr Gate terminus while on Heritage Tram crew driver training
Southbound driver training Flexity 003 passing Balloon 711 on Heritage Tram crew training near Starr Gate

Monday, 1 February 2016

Trident Driver Trainer 973

Dennis Trident 973 (ex 303) seen leaving Fleetwood along Amounderness Way on 1st February
Blackpool Transport Dennis Trident 303 (PJ02 PYG) now 973, which is the second of the batch to be converted into a driver training vehicle, was noted in use in Fleetwood today. Trainer 973 is in the same "Palladium" style livery of grey and pale yellow that sister vehicle 974 received. Some of the top deck seats from 973 have been cannibalised and removed for use as spares to replace damaged seats on Tridents in the passenger fleet.

Dennis Trident 974 (ex 304) driver training vehicle seen heading south on Clifton Drive in October 2015

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Winter Heritage Day 2

Railcoach 680 pauses at a very wet Bispham on its return journey from Thornton Gate in Cleveleys
The gale force winds that held sway during Saturday had abated by the second day of the January Heritage Tram Tour weekend, only to be replaced by drab, dismal, wet weather throughtout the day. This was definitely a day for riding and not photography, however for the record the early morning tram output as recorded at Bispham was Frigate 736 to Little Bispham, Railcoach 680 to Thornton Gate, Centenary 642 turning at Bispham, Twin Set 675/685 on the first Fleetwood run of the day, then 700 and 147 both turning at Little Bispham. Centenary 642 and Railcoach 680 both suffered from problems and had to return to the depot during the day, being replaced in Heritage Tour service by Balloon 717 and Brush Car 631.

Twin Set 675/685 southbound at Anchorsholme Crossing, returning from the first run of the day to Fleetwood
Standard 147 passing Norbreck Castle Hotel on its way south to the Pleasure Beach
Centenary Car 642 leaving the Bispham heritage stop in order to reverse direction using the centre loop

HMS Blackpool heading south through Bispham towards the Pleasure Beach

Balloon 700 bound for Little Bispham passes southbound Railcoach 680 at the Bispham heritage stop

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Winter Heritage Gold

Twin Set 675/685 at the Pleasure Beach, showing off one of the new coloured destinations added to the blind
Saturday 30th January saw the first day's output of the new expanded Heritage Tram Tour operations for 2016. Although the forecast of 50 mph winds and a temperature of 5 deg C weren't exactly ideal, the day started out full of promise with six Heritage Trams rostered to operate the Gold timetable service. The trams left Rigby Road depot in the following order, Box Car 40 heading for Pleasure Beach and the first Fleetwood run of the day, Illuminated Frigate 736 headed north for Bispham, Brush Car 631 heading for the Pleasure Beach and then Bispham, Centenary Car 648 destined for Little Bispham, Balloon 717 heading north to Cleveleys, and finally Twin Set 675/685 bound for Bispham. Early in the morning Centenary 648 failed at the Pleasure Beach with electrical problems, and had to return to Rigby Road depot to be replaced in service by Centenary 642. The weather did its best to dampen people's spirits, ranging from rain, sun, hail and heavy clouds, with gale force winds throughout the day, but most of the visiting enthusiasts were undaunted and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, making the most of this rare winter outing for the heritage fleet.

Balloon 717 arriving at the Pleasure Beach on a Heritage Tour, during one of the brief sunny spells of the day
Brush Car 631 laying over at the Pleasure Beach before heading north to Little Bispham
Box Car 40 approaching South Pier on the return leg of its journey to Fleetwood Ferry
736 HMS Blackpool leaving the Pleasure Beach with a healthy passenger load bound for Fleetwood
Centenary 642 arriving at the Pleasure Beach having replaced the defective 648 on Heritage Tour service
648 heading for Little Bispham, unfortunately this tram suffered electrical problems later on at the Pleasure Beach

Thursday, 28 January 2016

719 on Driver Training

Balloon 719 at Central Pier in use on heritage crew driver training duties on 28th January
Purple Balloons 711 and 719 were noted on the Promenade being used for heritage crew driver training on 28th January.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Lytham 43 arrives at Rigby Road

The lower saloon of Lytham Pullman tram 43 being delivered to Rigby Road tram depot
The only surviving tram from the Lytham St Annes Corporation Tramways system arrived at Rigby Road depot on 24th January to join the growing Heritage Tram fleet. The lower saloon of Lytham Pullman car 43 has been in preservation for many years, latterly in kit form, and at one stage it was going to be converted into a railway carriage for use on the narrow gauge West Lancashire Light Railway. Fortunately the tram was secured for preservation by Robert Mortimer, who has spent the last couple of years painstakingly reassembling and restoring the tram body to the stage where it was ready for acceptance by the Heritage Tram Trust on long term loan at Blackpool for eventual restoration into a fully working tramcar again. The Lytham Tramway system closed down in 1937, but prior to this Lytham trams were frequent visitors to the Blackpool system and could be seen operating as far as the Gynn.

A view showing how Lytham tram 43 might look when it is eventually restored to operating condition

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Norbreck North Progress

Flexity 004 passing a lorry delivering fresh tarmac to the new Norbreck North tram stop that is being built
The task of constructing the new tram stop at Norbreck North is about halfway through now. Work has nearly been completed on the southbound platform, with the tarmac surface having been laid on the platform and adjoining pavement on the Promenade. The northbound platform is still in the early stages of construction, with work partway through laying the bricks and concrete blocks for the wall along the edge of the new platform. Through service trams are being controlled by a temporary stop sign situated between the rails.

Northbound Flexity 002 waiting at Norbreck North for a workman to remove the temporary stop sign