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September Home Page 2016

For a second year the Blackpool Heritage Group has celebrated the beginnings of the tramway which is Britain's longest surviving tramway on the main land. Not to be forgotten of course a few miles across the Irish Sea is the historic Manx Electric Railway, running since 1893 along the eastern coast of the Isle of Man with the majority of Victorian & Edwardian era infrastructure and rolling stock still in use.

Winter Saloon No. 21, Laxey railway station of the Manx Electric Tramway bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Blackpool Fleetwood tram Built in 1914 by the United Electric Car Company in Preston, Box Car 40 was one of a batch of 4 additional trams built for all year round use. Both these trams have survived but for Blackpool only the one, but that in its self is a remarkable achievement and a credit to Blackpool.

In 1925 the Illuminations were back, and along with the first of the elaborately decorated trams - the Gondola (above left) which also appeared in 1925. It wasn't a public service tram but carried the crew and a small orchestra who rode up and down the tracks playing music - helped by a few specially invited guests. Today the once larger fleet of trams has declined however in 2016 the Hovertram has returned to the Rigby Road depot along with the Rocket that for a couple of years was placed on the Gynn roundabout. The present day illuminated trams are able to carry passengers perhaps the most popular being the Western Train  (far right). Nn Friday 7th October 2016 the Fisherman's Friend illuminated tram (below) will be re-entering service after being refurbished.

Two of the Boat trams in the Heritage Fleet one with the famous Blackpool Tower in the background. The roller coast ride at The Pleasure Beach provides the back drop for the other . 12 cars were built by English Electric in 1934. These are single deck open-topped trams with central doors and gangway. There are four boats in the United States, Blackpool having retained three, regrettably the others were broken up some time ago. 

Above two trams that proved to be popular was the Marton Car No 31  31 was originally built as a four-wheel double deck open-top car in 1901 by the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. Ltd., for use on the Marton route.  In 1918 Blackpool rebuilt the car as a trial prior to embarking on the production of its 'Standard' cars. This tram survived in regular use in this guise, remarkably, for 50 years. Then in July 1984, it was transferred on long-term loan from Blackpool for restoration and operation at Beamish.  This work was undertaken over the succeeding three years in the Beamish workshops, and this very popular high-capacity tram now operates regularly every summer as open-platform, open-top double deck Blackpool tram 31 in its 1920s condition art Beamish, but for the 2016 season was returned to Blackpool being swapped with Blackpool standard car 147.
Tram No 718 having being stripped of its plastic vinyl adverts made an appearance in its all white livery for the 2016 event. It was rebuilt from along with four other Balloon cars between 1998 and 2004 to an in-house design. It has a much more rectangular shape which gives the upper decks increased capacity. They were unofficially named Millennium cars due to their appearance after rebuilding and due to the beginning of the third millennium A.D. The tram retain the numbers they carried in the Balloon series, the numbers being 707, 709, 718 and 724. They have all since been modernised with widened doors and other modifications 718 is part of what the call the "B" fleet that with the modifications can operate in service with the new Flexity 2 trams.

Blackpool Tramway received government funding to upgrade the system with new overhead, overhead supporting poles, new tracks and a fleet of 16 Flexity 2 trams one of which can be seen alongside one of the 3 Balloon cars that were modified to be reserve trams for the main passenger fleet. They have had special doors fitted so as to take passengers at the new raised platforms. With the many activities of both the heritage fleet and the passenger service trams Blackpool Tramway should now be assured of a good future that should include shortly an extension to the North Railway Station from Talbot Square. Below the point work is already in place on the sea front. Below right shows  an artists impression of a tram on the new line. Two new trams are now on order for this new service.

Network Rail and other contractors are busy with the new Doncaster Station "0" and                           the Tram/Tran project for the Sheffield Supertram.

The first sign of tracks at the Rotherham Parkgate shopping centre whilst the two views to the right with views taken from the lower deck of the M1 viaduct show the first signs of the connection to the tramway and freight line at Meadowhall.

Work still in progress but very much delayed on the construction work on Platform "0" at Doncaster that should have been open by now.  The new staircase is in place as is the new waiting room but much work needs still to be done.

Still a few rails survive on the Thorne and Crowle Peatlands railway