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Blackpool Trams

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Blackpool Trams

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Blackpool Trams

When Alan Bradley – Rita Fairclough’s psychotic lover in Coronation Street – met his fate under a Blackpool tram in 1989, the soap pulled in one of its highest audience figures ever, and Blackpool’s trams got their moment of national fame. The town’s tram system is usually a source of pleasure, rather than drama, though. Blackpool blazed a trail through the transport firmament in 1885 when it introduced the country’s first electric tramway system. While other towns got rid of their trams in the 1960s, Blackpool held on to part of its network. The route, which takes in Blackpool Promenade, and extends from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, is the last traditional tramway in Britain and carries seven million passengers a year. Sadly though, the Blackpool tram could be in jeopardy, as the network is falling into disrepair. Some relief arrived in July 2006 in the form of a government subsidy of £11.8m, a long way short of what Blackpool had requested, but a start anyway.

Photo: Courtesy of Blackpool Council


Your comments

Blackpool's trams really represent the English seaside at its best. They are traditional, but still so vital for the resort's future.

Clare Purdy

Blackpool trams are far more than a transport system. Where else can you travel on vehicles built seventy years, or more, ago, other than the National Tramways Museum at Crich; many of whose, still working exhibits, come from Blackpool anyway. Blackpool?s tramway is twelve miles long and it?s the same price as the bus. Not only that when you get to the other end of the track there is something to see, or a ferry to get to Ireland or the Isle of Man. What can compare in travel with a tram on the cliffs when the driver puts the motors into parallel, or as it hurtles flat out round the Thornton Gate curve. The Standards, the Balloons, the Coronations most still in their cream and white livery; the English Electric Railcoaches introduced in 1934, so plush that people wiped their feet before they got on and all still running. The Fleetwood Rack 2 that entered service in 1898 - much changed but still running. And, Old Number 4. It still runs, but it?s on loan to the museum at Crich. Number 4 was one of the first batch of six trams that went into service in 1885 only five years after Werner Von Siemen demonstrated the principles of electric traction; it is the oldest electric tram in the world. The survival of this tram is mainly due to a number of lucky decisions. After being withdrawn from service around 1914, the tram was used as a bread transporter, bringing bread to the troops at the army barracks at Squires Gate during the First World War. After the war it was converted to an overhead line car. After it was withdrawn in 1930, It was stored at the Bispham Depot and forgotten about for the next 40 years. Eventually, when the tramway was celebrating its 75th anniversary in 1960, it was "rediscovered", driven back to the Rigby Road Tramsheds under its own power and restored to near original condition, it was further restored for the Centenary of the tramway in 1985, which was the last time it ran in Blackpool.
Neil Horsefield

Totally useless mode of transport every other town in the country despatched to history over 60 years ago. Not Blackpool tho, who still rip off people with this cold old and slow method of transporting people about. It's time Blackpool started living in the twentieth century like the rest of us.
D Turner

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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England