Tram books on right track for nostalgia

Image of a boat tram from Barry McLoughlin's book
Image of a boat tram from Barry McLoughlin's book
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A trio of newly published tram books is set to revive memories of 1970s Blackpool when the resort had the only surviving street tramway in the country.

Blackpool Trams and Recollections 1972 and the two-part Blackpool Trams and Recollections 1973 are the latest books by author and former Gazette journalist Barry McLoughlin.

Barry McLoughlin's latest tram book

Barry McLoughlin's latest tram book

He has linked the fortunes of the street cars with events going on in the wider world at a time when Blackpool was experiencing the first impact of the package holiday revolution.

Photographer and railwayman Ray Ruffell spent several days photographing Blackpool’s trams in 1972 and 1973.

Now some 45 years on, these previously unpublished pictures provide a fascinating window on life at that time.

They are the latest in Silver Link Publishing’s Recollections series of nearly 70 books which relate transport in a certain part of Britain to events that were happening nationally and internationally that year.

However one constant was its tramway system, the first in the world and Britain’s last remaining traditional street tramway

Barry said: “In the early 1970s, Britain’s biggest tourist resort was experiencing the ominous first stirrings of the package holiday revolution, as Britons increasingly forsook their traditional two weeks by the sea in search of sunnier climes.

“However one constant was its tramway system, the first in the world and Britain’s last remaining traditional street tramway.”

The year 1972 saw the launch of Blackpool’s one-man operated trams in an attempt to cut costs as passenger numbers dropped.

On the local front, the year’s headlines were dominated by the tragic murder of three children by a doctor at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and on a happier note by the opening of Blackpool Zoo.

Front cover of one of Barry McLoughlins tram books

Front cover of one of Barry McLoughlins tram books

Nationally the country was ravaged by high unemployment and industrial unrest with Prime Minister Edward Heath declaring two states of emergency.

The pop charts were dominated by the likes of Sweet, Wizzard and Slade while the first legal commercial radio station was launched and the first hand held mobile phone call was made.

Barry added; “There are obviously quite a few books on Blackpool trams but mine aim to be a bit different, appealing not just to tram buffs but also to anyone nostalgic about, or interested in, life in the 1970s in Blackpool and beyond.”

Barry, who is editor of Steam World, has previously written eight books about the Fylde Coast’s railways and tramways.

A conductor collects fares from photographer Ray Ruffell's wife and daughter Joan and Margaret on board an open boat tram July 27 1973

A conductor collects fares from photographer Ray Ruffell's wife and daughter Joan and Margaret on board an open boat tram July 27 1973

The latest trio is available from Silver Link Publishing at The Trundle. Ringstead Road, Great Addington, Kettering, NN14 4BW, telephone 01536 330588 or go to www.nostalgiacollection.com

Illuminated tram the frigate HMS Blackpool near the Metropole July 27 1973

Illuminated tram the frigate HMS Blackpool near the Metropole July 27 1973

A tram going past Lewis's, from Barry McLoughlin's latest tram book

A tram going past Lewis's, from Barry McLoughlin's latest tram book