August 28, 2011 at 11:13 am
There is nothing quite as nostalgic as taking a tram ride through Blackpool town. The track covers an eleven mile stretch from Squire’s Gate through to Fleetwood and allows you to take a more leisurely view of all that Blackpool has to offer. The trams come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and are beautifully maintained thanks to the Blackpool Tram Preservation Society and the Blackpool Council. History The first part of the tramway opened in 1885 and ran through the Promenade. It is one of the oldest surviving tram networks in the world, and one of the few to provide double decker tram experiences. Blackpool trams are truly a national treasure, carrying over 6.5 million passengers every year. If you visit the Rigby Street depot you might be able to catch a view of the 108 tramcars housed there. The collection has built up over time, as Blackpool was the only town in England never to give up on its tram car service. Types of Trams By far the most unusual sight to the untrained tram watcher is the boat shaped trams, which travel like an open top sports car. You can stand or sit down on “the boats” as they are known, and watch passerbys as you clutch your trolley pole for balance. Then there are the balloon cars, named for their art deco shape and curved glass lights, for a more elegant ride. The modern version of the Balloon car, the Millenium Class, has squared upper decks to increase seating capacity. The shape resembles that of a London double decker bus and the views from the top are exhilarating. Single deck towing and trailer cars, known as Progress Cars, were recycled from scrapped English Electric cars and there are only a few running today. Similarly a Brush Car is made from scrapped English Electric rail coaches and there are twenty of these. Car number 737 has been named “The Illuminated Trawler” as it crawls along the North Pier lighting up the night revelry with its coloured light display. Many illuminated trams contribute to Blackpool’s equivalent of the Northern Lights, between September and early November each year, when the entire Promenade area is lit up in an array of colourful sensations. Standard cars originally made up fifty trams in the Blackpool fleet. Today one car from 1924 has survived and is still in operation. The beautiful design and woodwork detail makes riding this tram a wonderful experience.