Thursday, June 10, 2010

Donkeys and other encounters

Earlier this week I found myself thinking of a grand prestigious project which I would love to see come to fruition. My hopes are not shared by everyone. Some think it is just not required, pointless. The cost has grown, compared with original projections. And recently the whole project has run into a further major setback.

No, I wasn't thinking about Kinross and the proposed NCA! I was dreaming about the plans to bring trams back to Edinburgh.

Now, like many of my generation, tramcars played an important part in my formative years. I get quite nostalgic thinking about them. When the Reform Curling Club went to Latvia last year, many of us got rather excited about Riga's trams!

I decided I needed a tram 'fix'!

So where better to go than Blackpool, the city celebrating its 125th year of trams in 2010. There's an introduction to Blackpool tramway here.

Yesterday, the full tram route was not operational. Cleveleys to the Pleasure Beach was the extent of the run.

For part of the way the trams run on a dedicated trackway. Here cars number 641 and 642 pass each other. These are Centenary cars, single-deck, one-man operated, built by East Lancs between 1984-8. These are the most modern of Blackpool's varied fleet of some 76 cars.

Here's another (no 645) just north of Bispham.

I wonder if there were ever trams on New York's avenue of the same name?

Never mind the modern ones, the tram on the left is what I really remember!

It's one of the famous illuminated trams, here relegated yesterday for driver training duties. The various types of Blackpool trams are illustrated here. Sadly yesterday there were no 'Boats' or 'Balloons' running.

Actually it is possible to have 'driver experience' courses, see here.

Here's another tram being used for driver training yesterday. I just loved the L plates!

And here's another, waiting for the lights to change at Cleveleys. No 626 is an example of a single-deck car built by Brush in 1937. The header board says, "PRIVATE, to hire telephone ......"

There's a loop of track opposite the Pleasure Beach, so the trams were just running round to face back in the direction of the town centre and north to Cleveleys. There, the driver moved to the cab on the rear of the tram and drove it in the reverse direction.

There are lots of photos of Blackpool trams in the galleries here. And the Anniversary Week will be from Thursday, September 23, to Wednesday, September 29.

I once spent a day with friends a LONG time ago, riding all the rollercoasters (I seem to remember five of them) multiple times. And no, I wasn't tempted to do that again yesterday!

The weather wasn't at its best yesterday, not that it really mattered. The sands looked great and Blackpool Borough Council is putting a lot of money into improving the promenade. The Golden Mile hasn't changed a lot from how I remember it though. Except that I didn't see one 'Kiss me quick' hat.

Some of my earliest memories as a child are of donkey rides on the beach. See nostalgia! Wallow, wallow.

Photos © Skip Cottage

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