Resort trams have been the rail thing for 130 years

Tramway engineer Howard Parish with head of heritage Bryan Lindop.
Tramway engineer Howard Parish with head of heritage Bryan Lindop.
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Enthusiasts from across Europe flocked to Blackpool for the chance to ride the resort’s historic trams as part of celebrations to mark the 130th anniversary of the tramway.

Last weekend saw 22 vehicles from the heritage fleet carrying passengers up and down the Promenade once more.

Volunteer guard Douglas Robertson.

Volunteer guard Douglas Robertson.

They ran alongside the regular Flexity tram service.

Sell-out tours of Blackpool Transport’s Rigby Road depot also gave people opportunity to view mothballed trams awaiting restoration.

Organisers were overwhelmed by the response to the event, which capped a season when classic trams have once more played a key role in Blackpool’s tourism offer.

Bryan Lindop, of Blackpool Transport, said: “The whole weekend was phenomenal and the heritage trams were packed with enthusiasts and families, all enjoying a day out.

Open day to mark the 130th anniversary of Blackpool Tramway

Open day to mark the 130th anniversary of Blackpool Tramway

“It was lovely to see everyone and the event brought a lot of people to the town, including some from as far away as Germany, Holland and Belgium.

“The weather was also good which meant we could put the open-topped trams out which are always very popular.

“The tours of the depot were all sold out as well.

“This year we have extended the operation of the heritage trams and it has been very successful.

Open day to mark the 130th anniversary of Blackpool Tramway

Open day to mark the 130th anniversary of Blackpool Tramway

“Most people enjoy a tram ride as part of their holiday, and the prices are very attractive in terms of something all the family can do.”

Since 2012, the vintage tram service has been scaled back and last year operated for just nine days.

But this year it was decided to use the fleet much more extensively as part of the tourism offer.

Since Easter, it has run every weekend between North Pier and the Pleasure Beach which will continue until the end of the Illuminations, while there was also a daily service during the school summer holidays.

A mixture of Blackpool Transport paid drivers, and trained volunteers, have run the services.

Last night a ‘fish and chip’ special also proved a sell-out, with passengers enjoying fish and chips from Harry Ramsdens on board one of the heritage trams, ahead of a tour of the Illuminations.

Blackpool Tramway dates back to 1885 and is one of the oldest electric tramways in the world.

It is also one of just three which operate double decker trams, the others being in Alexandria in Egypt, and in Hong Kong.

The first part opened on September 29 1885 between Cocker Street and Dean Street.

Prior to 2010 there were fears the tramway could be forced to close due to the deterioration of the line.

But an injection of cash, including government, European and council funds, led to a £100m investment in new track and the 16-strong Flexity fleet.