Saturday, 24 December 2011

Council agrees "Offer of Lease" for Thornton Gate

Blackpool Council's Asset Management Group has approved to lease the site at Thornton Gate to the LTT for the development of a Transport Heritage facility. This is fantastic news which now allows us to develop our plans for the site and apply for appropriate funding. As an early Christmas present, the Council forwarded the LTT an "Offer of Lease" on 23rd December.
In advance of this positive news, we commissioned architects to produce 3D drawings of what the site could look like, whilst construction company Parkinsons of Blackpool has offered to assist the LTT with cost projections.
The "Offer of Lease" recognises that the tramway contractors Bam Nuttall are likely to occupy the site until Easter 2012 and that the creation of a permanent home for the LTT tram collection is expected to take a further 12-18 months.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Gazette reports on pivotal Council meeting

The LTT's trams will remain in their Rigby Road depot home for another 12 months while an alternative destination is found for them. Blackpool Transport had told Lancastrian Transport Trust to move 13 of its trams out of the depot by the end of the month or face seeing them scrapped.
Coun Tony Williams, deputy leader of the Conservative group, proposed the motion to stop the trams from being sold off. He had called on the council to ask the chief executive to write to Trevor Roberts, the managing director of Blackpool Transport, “to request that Lancashire Transport Trust continue to enjoy a grace and favour rent period of a further 12 months up to December 1 2012”.
“I’m asking you to support the heritage of Blackpool, because the threat of scrapping trams is unforgivable.
Conservative leader Coun Peter Evans added: “It would be fantastic if we could have something similar to York’s railway museum. “It would be nice if we could support this.”
Instead, the motion was amended, but the trams will remain in the depot.
Both sides of the council spoke passionately about the importance of the trams and what they mean to the town.
Plans for a museum in Cleveleys seem to be the most likely destination for the vehicles.
Councillors voted in favour of giving the trust until the end of the calendar year to “come up with a credible plan” and show the trams can be moved into a new site.
However, Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the council, said Blackpool Transport would allow the trams to remain in the depot for another 12 months. He said: “I believe we are all heading in the same direction. The trams are pivotal to Blackpool’s history and Blackpool’s future."
“Providing Lancastrian Transport Trust are able to come forward with funding and are able to make the contribution for storage, Blackpool Transport Services will allow them to store their whole fleet, not indefinitely, but for 12 months.”

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Trams and politics don't mix!

At the full meeting of the Council on 23rd November, elected members voted to accept a revised motion that commits Blackpool Transport "to an extension of the agreement to sell and store surplus trams to the LTT if they can come up with a credible plan, before the end of the calendar year". Furthermore "the Chief Executive to write to the Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services to confirm that negotiations with the LTT will continue".

The sting-in-the-tail however, was that the revised motion proposed by the Labour administration (proposed by Council Leader Simon Blackburn) failed to overturn Blackpool Transport's threat to charge £100 per tram, per week for storage.

Whilst wishing to stay out of the politics, the LTT would like to place on record our thanks to Councillor Tony Williams, Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, for proposing his original motion.

Today, LTT officers met with Wyre Borough Council planning team for informal discussions on the Thornton Gate plan - and received an excellent response and interest in the proposals presented.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Full Council to vote on tram storage issue

In a surprise move, a motion has been put for consideration at the full Executive Meeting of Blackpool Council on Wednesday 23 November to secure a stay of tenure for the LTT tramcar collection at the Council-owned Rigby Road depot site.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Tony Williams and supported by other councillors across the political spectrum, will be voted on by all Councillors in attendence at the meeting. The motion recognises the plans that the LTT has to develop a visitor attraction at the former tram depot sidings at Thornton Gate - reawakening a proposal originally drafted back in 2001.

The motion proposes that "the Council requests the Chief Executive to write to the Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services to request that the LTT continue to enjoy a grace and favour rent period of a further twelve months up to the 1st December 2012, when their new building at Thornton Gate will be completed".

10 trams are affected by the threat of eviction - 304, 605, 624, 632, 671, 676/686, 704, 715 & 732 with Standard Car 143 still expected to be incorporated within the retained BTS operational fleet - once they complete their commitment to the lottery supported project.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Thornton Gate site selected as development option

Following talks with Blackpool Council and detailed discussions with the Blackpool Civic Trust and key Blackpool Councillors, the LTT has started negotiations on the terms of lease for the former tram sidings at Thornton Gate in Cleveleys.

The plan would involve the creation of a Transport Heritage centre on the site, which is currently being used as a construction compound for the tramway upgrade. However, the site will be vacated by Easter 2012 and the LTT has already started costing the options for erecting buildings on the site to store its vintage tram collection. Planning meetings are also advancing with a view to submitting a planning application early in 2012.

It is hoped that the plans which we feel will be "credible, achievable and deliverable" will be sufficient to secure continued accommodation of our vintage trams at the Council-owned tram depot at Rigby Road, until the site is ready to receive vehicles. The LTT is particularly pleased with the response from Blackpool Councillors and MPs across the political spectrum, and we will be keeping members fully informed of developments

We have drafted plans for a Transport Museum on the Thornton Gate site before - back in 2001, but these were rejected at the time because of possible use of the site for either a tram depot or turning circle as part of the tramway upgrade. Thankfully, Blackpool Council now accept that the site is redundant and offers a permanent home to the LTT tramway collection. We expect to have an offer of lease from Blackpool Council within the next two weeks.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

632 and 715 star in last weekend of traditional trams

LTT's End of Season tour on Saturday 5 November saw Balloon 715 and Standard 147 make several trips between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. A late flurry saw a sell out load start out from North Pier at 1400 and the cars returned to depot just after 2200. 715 was also hired (with Twin Car 675/85) by the Fylde Tramway Society on Sunday 6th.

Brush 632 was allocated to route 6 which is scheduled to work to Cabin and Pleasure Beach, 8 trips to North Pier and a final Cabin, Pleasure Beach then Foxhall working. Sunday saw it cover one Little Bispham working and its evening Cabin run became Bispham and in instead. 632 has seen extensive service use in September and October while 715 has seen use on Tram Driver Experience sessions, specials and was used for testing at Starr Gate on 2 November. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

Blackpool’s Tramway Heritage at Risk

The largest collection of vintage trams outside of the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire is at risk – and it is based here in Blackpool.

Ever since 1984, the Lancastrian Transport Trust has been collecting significant examples of Blackpool’s unique transport heritage and further examples have been added more recently as the tram fleet is thinned out ready for the new Supertrams to take over. In fairness Blackpool Transport, prompted by the Council to clear redundant trams from the Rigby Road depot, gave us notice 18-months ago that we would need to remove the vehicles. We have found homes for a couple of them in museums around the country – but this means that our priceless collection is being dispersed. We began talks with Council officers as soon as Blackpool Transport gave notice but now, with less than four weeks to go the collection risks being homeless. For the past 18-months we were just passed around from one officer to another.

The Trust has not been short of ideas. Dating back to 2002, the organisation has been submitting plans to Blackpool Council for a tramway visitor centre with proposals based at Starr Gate, Blundell Street and Thornton Gate, but none of them have been taken forward by the Council. We are also concerned at the official information about the tram fleet being retained on the tramway – 24 trams are being kept but 10 of these are substantially rebuilt double deck trams, plastered in advertising and rebuilt out of all recognition of their iconic heritage status, some are illuminated trams and very few represent the genuine article – unlike our own Blackpool collection.
Blackpool Council has, this week, offered to assist with locating an alternative site but the common sense, no cost answer of keeping them in the part of the tram depot that will soon become empty has already been rejected by Blackpool Transport and the Council.
History has a habit of repeating itself. Back in the 1960s when the last major tramway upheaval took place, many tramcar types either disappeared or were sent off to museums around the country, depriving Blackpool of a significant chunk of its tramway history. As the country’s first electric tramway, surely our unique collection deserves to be retained intact and in Blackpool?

For more information, visit or contact Paul Turner by email at

Is the LTT Collection of significance?

Yes. It is the second largest collection of preserved heritage tramcars in the UK after the National Tramway Museum.

Isn't Blackpool Keeping 30 Heritage Trams?

The retained Blackpool Trams comprise:
  • 10 Double Deck cars heavily rebuilt with modernised interiors and widened centre platforms. They are similar in appearance inside to buses from the early 2000s and even the one example which retained heritage features has lost many of them in the last year.
  • 3 Illuminated Feature Cars - two of which were rebuilt from older cars in 2001 and 2004 and have no heritage feel or credentials
  • 1 Works car
  • 5 reserve cars - two open boats, two modernised double deckers and one modernised single decker
  • Five Vintage Cars - Standard 147, Boat 600, Coronation 660 open top Balloon 706 and Balloon 717
  • In addition the National Tramway Museums Fleetwood car 40 is retained on loan.
There are therefore six trams, plus the Western Train that have relevant tramway heritage, although these examples have generally been modified for regular operation on the tramway. The LTT has preserved tramcar types not being retained by Blackpool Transport, that will otherwise be lost – but we also have examples in more original condition.

Can ‘Museum’ Trams operate on the refurbished tramway?

Yes. The operation of the LTT’s Railcoach 632 and Balloon car 715 during 2011 has proven that these cars can work with the increased voltage - and our other cars will likewise. Vehicles would need to be fitted with transponders and minor modifications to lights may be required too. Similar modifications will be required to the retained cars in the Blackpool fleet - and the NTM's Fleetwood Box 40 - so this is not an issue.

Is there a commercial case for Heritage Tram Operation?

Yes, but such an operation needs to generate new revenue and not simply abstract passengers from the main tram service. We believe there is a viable demand for tourism related travel products such as sightseeing Tourist Trams, Wedding Guest transport to the new Wedding Chapel, themed Illuminations Tours, for example. These require above average management time to capture the business and market the products which does not fit with the business model of conventional public transport operators such as Blackpool Transport. Similar successful examples across Europe are generally managed independently.

Is there a Precedent for Museum and Tourist Car Operation on a modern tramway

Yes, many examples occur across Europe including regular operations in Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Lisbon, Zurich and others. There are also examples of museum facilities sharing depot accommodation with the tramway operator, with the best known examples being in Brussels and Lisbon.

Has the LTT presented its ideas?

Yes, we first submitted ideas to Blackpool Council back in 2002 for a Visitor Centre on the former Blundell Street depot site to be incorporated within the regeneration proposals. More recently, back in December 2010, we drafted a report to Blackpool Transport proposing partnership working to retain vintage tram operation on the upgraded tramway. The Blackpool Tramway is one of the resort’s key stories and we believe that the opportunity exists to develop a great “Blackpool Tramway Experience” visitor attraction.

Monday, 10 October 2011

End of Season Tram Tour Saturday 5 November

Its now less than four weeks to our end of season tram tour. Our Balloon 715 will team up with Standard 147 and run between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. We hope to do a few short workings as well. Start time is 14:00 at North Pier.

If you would like to join the tour please either book on line or by post - details

Thursday, 8 September 2011

LTT Open Day Sunday 11 September

LTT's Depot at Brinwell Road is open for viewing on the afternoon of Sunday 11 September between 1200 and 1600. Its part of Heritage Open Days with a packed programme from Thursday to Sunday - see Blackpool Civic Trust page for details.

LTTs contribution is its open day plus a free vintage bus service on Sunday linking several of the other open day sites including St Stephens Church, Little Marton Mill, the Shrine of Our Lady or Lourdes and the Masonic Lodge.

As a result our bus timetable is different from regular open days and our first bus will leave Blackpool Town Hall (Market Street) at 1140 and then every 30 minutes until 1540 and then 1610 and 1630 back to LTT Depot only.

We anticipate operating Blackpool PD3 529 and Lytham PD1 19 during the day with 529 operating the first journey.

Monday, 15 August 2011

703 tested at Beamish

703 has become the first Balloon to operate in preservation away from Blackpool. This afternoon it moved under power at the tram depot following the fitting of Coronations 663's trolley pole with a swivel head to cope with the overhead alignment at the museum. Further attention over the pit was sufficient to permit a first test run after hours this evening and 703 has passed various tests including starting on the 1 in 16 Pockerley Bank.

More pictures and a video on

Monday, 27 June 2011

Crowds Flock to Totally Transport

Sunday was the seventh annual totally Transport event on New South Promenade and the event due in the crowds during the day. Around 370 vehicles took part - only slightly down on last year despite the huge fuel prices increase that hard pressed owners have to absorb.

Back to its established site from Star Hotel down the Promenade to just north of Starr Gate the Classic Cars and Buses organised by LTT were joined by no less than 204 classic minis at the end of the Blackpool Mini Run. 
Seafront 12 was extended to the event and featured Lytham 19, Blackpool 529, Open Top Bristol VR WTG360T and visiting Kelvin Scottish Routemaster 1929, restored by Busworks in 2010. Record passenger numbers saw some heavy loadings.

Entertainment and trade stalls on Solaris field; model trams in the Solaris centre and the operation of vintage trams by Blackpool Transport completed the line up - albeit the latter were somewhat divorced from the event as the tramway through the event site remains closed.

Thanks to those who took part as exhibitors or volunteers and particular thanks to those who visited.  

Saturday, 25 June 2011

715 tours for shareholders

Balloon 715 joined the LTT's other operational 1970s liveried Brush Railcoach 632 on a tram tour prior to the annual Totally Transport event on Saturday 25 June. 715 was preserved thanks to the contribution of several shareholders and, now complete with correct fleet numbers and crests, the car is looking super.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Balloon 703 aka Sunderland 101

Commissioning work on Balloon 703 at Beamish took a back seat while their team completed the overhaul of Newcastle 114. With this now back in service, 703 - or Sunderland 101 as it is now known - is back under preparation and this latest update on the Beamish blog shows the car lit up while work continues on mounting the trolley. Hopefully 101 will be ready for the Power from the Past Event between 1st and 4th September.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

715 back in service

LTT's Balloon 715 has returned to use this morning leaving Depot at 1120 for Cabin on specials. The car emerged from the paint shop on Friday and is now resplendent in green and cream for the first time since 2005. 715 was the last Balloon to receive the 1990s livery in 2001 and last carried the 1970s livery in 1986 after a repaint in August 1981.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Balloon 715 to paint shop

Our preserved Balloon car 715 was admitted to the paint shop today where it will receive late 1970s style green & cream livery, matching our preserved Brush Railcoach 632. It is planned to hire 715 & 632 for a 1970s themed tour on Saturday 25th June - the day prior to the Trust's "Totally Transport" event.

Monday, 2 May 2011

LTT trams 632 & 715 in action

Preserved LTT trams 632 and 715 are currently enjoying a return to use on the tramway, in what could be their last year of regular operation. Both trams are fitted with transponder equipment that allows them to communicate with the traffic light control systems being installed along the upgraded tramway - and in 2010 confined other trams to the Pleasure Beach to Bispham section only.

715 was used regularly over the Easter period on the restricted Pleasure Beach to North Pier service and 632 returned to traffic on 29th April - the royal wedding day.

Standard 143 update

It has been a long 8-months with seemingly no visible progress on Standard 143. However, behind the scenes has not been inactive. Work on preparing the double deck Balloon cars with widened doorways for the post-2012 tramway has occupied the workshops over the winter months and there is a growing uncertainty over the role of the 'vintage' trams on the upgraded tramway. Both of these issues have resulted in Blackpool Transport parking up 143 over the winter months.

However, a kit of body parts required to complete the bodywork restoration of 143 now exists and awaits assembly. For example, the open balcony stanchions and panelling, the balcony staircase panelling, staircase grab rails and balcony seat brackets and the end destination boxes.
All of these are ready to be delivered to Rigby Road depot for fitting to 143.

We are currently discussing with Blackpool Transport an arrangement whereby the LTT would contract BTS to do the work over the summer months.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

LTT Events 2011

LTT has arranged two depot open days for 2011. The first will take place on Sunday 10 April and the second on Sunday 11 September. The Depot, at Brinwell Road, Blackpool (FY4 4QU) will be open from 1200 to 1600 with £1 admission cost. A free vintage bus service will run from Blackpool Town Hall with the first bus at 1200 and then every 20 minutes to 1600.

Also our flagship event, Totally Transport will take place on Sunday 26th June - details are here

For more information please contact

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Work starts on Atlantean 362

After some delay due to the focus on tramcar restoration projects during 2010, work has started on the lower repanel of Blackpool Atlantean 362. Withdrawn from service back in October 2006, 362 is to be repainted in the early 1990s green and cream livery style, with matt black window surrounds. The framework on 362 is in reasonably good condition, but there is some corroded sections to repair and horizontal timberwork for the decorative mouldings.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Vote OMO8 for Tram of the Year 2011

OMO tram 8 has been nominated for Tram of the Year 2010 by readers of the British Trams Online website, competing with Blackpool 'Marton Box' 31 and Liverpool 762.

After 18 years out of action since withdrawal in May 1992 and then against all the odds operating again in 2010, OMO 8 certainly deserves your support. Winning would allow the LTT other publicity opportunities in Blackpool to showcase our work and your vote is critical.

Go to to cast your vote.

Balloon 704 joins LTT collection

Effective from 1st Jan 2011, Balloon car 704 has joined the LTT collection. Earlier in 2010, car 708 had been acquired but talks soon began with the Heaton Park Tramway who had acquired 704 either for spares or a future restoration project. An LTT member offered to donate funds to facilitate an exchange of trams between the two organisations, with 704 considered for restoration by the LTT.

704 has been out of passenger service since 2003 and has been partially stripped internally, with many opening window units missing. It was withdrawn because of serious water ingress from the roof and, once stripped down, serious corrosion of the steel framed roof cove framing was discovered. Despite this, the structure of the tram is sound and many of the cannibalised parts are replaceable.