Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Birkenhead 20 on the Prom

Birkenhead 20 on test at the Gynn with Head of Heritage Bryan Lindop at the controls

Wirral Tramway based 1900 Milnes built Birkenhead open-top tram No. 20 was spotted on test on the tramway this morning, at Gynn Square. At the controls of Birkenhead 20 was none other than the Head of Heritage, Bryan Lindop. This was a proving run for the tram in preparation for it entering Heritage Tour service.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Blackpool Trams at the Airshow

Flexity 004 and its walking guide, with a youth on a bicycle leaning against the moving tram
The free annual Blackpool Air Show was held over the weekend of the 12th and 13th of August along the seafront. The air show attracted very large crowds, and the Flexities did a marvelous job of bringing visitors to the show from all along the Fylde Coast. The tram service was so popular that many intending passengers had to stand and watch as fully loaded trams passed them by. The airshow display area was centred between North Pier and Central Pier, and this part of the Promenade saw the largest concentration of people watching the flying display. With the air show drawing very large numbers of visitors into the resort, it was inevitable that many of them would be unfamiliar with the concept of a tram service. During the show the tram tracks were continually being used as a pedestrian pavement and cycling route by both children and adults. Because of the density of the crowds, and people constantly spilling over on to the tram tracks, many trams were being escorted through the busiest areas of the Promenade by a guide walking along in front of the tram. One Flexity was even observed with a youth on a bicycle leaning on the side of the moving tram. It's amazing that there were no serious accidents, but fortunately these seem to have been avoided due to the care of the tram crews and their walking guides, with the assistance of security staff employed to help keep the crowds at bay. The presence of heavily armed policemen equipped with assault rifles and pistols was a slightly disconcerting sight to some people along the Promenade, but they were there for a very good reason, to dissuade any would be terrorists from committing atrocities. One only has to remember what happened on the promenade at Nice in France not so very long ago to understand why it was felt necessary to deploy armed police at this very well attended (and quite vulnerable) public event.

Air show crowds watching from both sides of the platform barrier at the Tower tram stop
Balloon 715 at North Pier with police and crowd security personnel passing each other
Balloon 717 passing one of the many police cars to be seen along the promenade

Heavily armed policemen patrolling along the Promenade with a Flexity approaching
Boat 600 heading south at the Tower on Sunday afternoon
Operational Firearms Commanders, armed with assault rifles and pistols

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Centenary 645 returns to Blackpool

Centenary 645 at Windy Harbour Caravan Park, showing some of its broken and boarded up windows
Hot on the heels of the move of loaned Birkenhead 20 from the Wirral to Rigby Road depot, Scotts made the short journey to Little Singleton to collect Centenary 645. It was shortly after 4.00pm before Scotts Heavy Haulage arrived at Windy Harbour Caravan Park to collect 645, and as it transpired it would be a long and protracted procedure recovering the Centenary Car from the caravan site. On measuring both the tram and the trailer, it was discovered that the latter was fractionally too short to load 645 onto its flat bed. To overcome the slight hitch it was decided to construct a sloping rail ramp on the trailer bed so that the end of the tram could be positioned above the low loader's rear wheels, thus resolving the problem. After a long and tiring loading process, 645 was finally chained down to the low loader late on the Thursday evening, eventually being unloaded back in Blackpool some time after 1.00am the next morning! The ultimate plan is to restore 645 back to operational condition for use in the heritage fleet, this tram carrying the final incarnation of the Centenary fleet modifications.

The pantograph tower being removed from the roof of 645
Centenary 645 being pulled from its resting place towards the trailer
Centenary 645 making its way gingerly up the rail ramp

Centenary 645 being hauled up the rail ramp onto the trailer

Centenary 645 being hauled onto the low loader with the tractor unit's crane
Centenary 645 inching its way to its final loading position on the trailer
Centenary 645 chained down onto the low loader trailer of Scotts Heavy Haulage

The arrival of Birkenhead 20

Scotts Heavy Haulage reversing into Hopton Road with Birkenhead 20 on board
1900 Milnes built Birkenhead open-top tram 20 arrived in Blackpool on 27th July. The tram had been transported from its home on the Wirral Tramway to Blackpool by Scotts Heavy Haulage, arriving in the resort shortly after Thursday lunchtime. Birkenhead 20 is due to spend a year operating alongside the heritage fleet at Blackpool before returning to the Wirral. During its period of loan it is planned that remedial work will be undertaken on the trams tyres.

Scotts low loader reversing along Hopton Road with Birkenhead 20
Birkenhead 20 sat on the low loader trailer in Blundell Street
Birkenhead 20 was unloaded using the depot forklift truck
Birkenhead 20 sat on Hopton Road before being towed into the tram depot

Thursday, 20 July 2017

New Darts for Catch22Bus

Former Manchester Airport Dart SN55 HSZ at Cleveleys Bus Station on the service 24 to Poulton
Catch22Bus have recently taken delivery of several more long Dennis Darts, to replace some of their older short MPDs. Noted in service this week was SN55 HSZ, new to Manchester Airport in 2005 and still wearing their full all-over advertising livery. Spotted in service today was orange Dart Y381 GAX, new to Cardiff Bus in 2001.

Ex Cardiff Bus Dennis Dart Y381 GAX on the Coastliner 21 service in Cleveleys
Former Manchester Airport SN55 HSZ on Fleetwood Rd South in Thornton on service 24

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tram Sunday

Brush Car 40 after arriving in Fleetwood with the Civic Party, shadowed by Railcoach 680
The annual Fleetwood Transport Festival was held this year on Sunday 16th July. The event, more commonly known as Tram Sunday, saw an enhanced tram output from Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours, who operated an all day service from the Pleasure Beach through to Fisherman's Walk in Fleetwood. Trams in use on the Sunday were Bolton 66, Brush 623, Railcoach 680 and Balloons 715, 717, 718 and 723. A static display of trams was parked up in Pharos Street throughout the day, these being Box Car 40, Balloon 711 and Trawler 737.

The Civic Party posing in front of Brush 623 at Fisherman's Walk in Fleetwood
Balloon 723 heading along Copse Road in Fleetwood towards the Pleasure Beach
Bolton 66 departing from the Fisherman's Walk stop in Fleetwood
Fleetwood bound Balloon 717 passing through Rossall Square
Southbound Balloon 715 approached Rossall Square
Recently repainted Balloon 718 heading south at Broadwater

737, 711 and 40 lined up on static display in Pharos Street

Friday, 14 July 2017

Brush Car 623 launch tour

Brush Car 623 on North Albert Street in Fleetwood
Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours ran an evening tour of wartime liveried Brush Car 623 on Friday 14th July, to celebrate its launch back into passenger service in the resort. Brush 623 is currently on loan from the Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester, to coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the Blackpool Brush Car event which is taking place over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of September.

Brush Car 623 at Fleetwood Ferry during its launch tour on 14th July
Brush Car 623 heading south along Lord Street in Fleetwood