Farewell to Blackpool tram driver and war hero Jack

A former Blackpool tram driver who was one of the Fylde coast's last surviving Dunkirk veterans has died.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 7:52 am
Updated Friday, 19th January 2018, 7:55 am
Former Blackpool tram driver John Nicholls, known as Jack (left) in the 70s.

John Nicholls, who was known to many as Jack, died aged 98 in Clifton Hospital, following a short illness.

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Fascinating story of Blackpool war hero

He drove hundreds of thousands of tram passengers around Blackpool during a 35-year career folloiwng his service during the Second World War, which saw him awarded the Burma Star for his efforts in South East Asia.

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Mr Nicholls, who lived in Bispham for much of his adult life, joined up to the King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) before the war was declared in 1939 and a year later found himself posted in northern France.

He was witness to the horrors of the events at Dunkirk, which has been described as one of the major turning points of the war and resulted in more than 338,000 Allied troops being evacuated across the English Channel.

Mr Nicholls wrote his own in-depth account of events at Dunkirk, which he self-published.

Great nephew Blaise Tapp said: “John lived to a ripe old age and there is much to celebrate about his life.”

After returning to England in the summer of 1940, Mr Nicholls was eventually posted to the Far East and saw service in what was then Burma.

Following the end of the war in 1945, he returned to the North West and found a job with Blackpool Corporation Transport as a tram driver.

A staunch trade unionist, in 1971 he founded the Fylde Tramway Society and served as its inaugural chairman.

Until his retirement in 1979, he would often drive FTS tours and became vice president in 1985 and held that post until he died.

Mr Tapp added: “He fought to save the existence of the tram network back in the 1970s, which is why he helped set up the society.

“The whole town should be grateful for that.”

In 1980, Mr Nicholls enrolled on a history degree course in Preston and later studied French while in his 60s. And almost 15 years ago, he had a brief brush with fame when he appeared on the television programme Salvage Squad, presented by Madness frontman Suggs.

Mr Nicholls died on December 19 and is survived by a brother and sister and nephews and nieces.

His funeral will be held at St Stephen on-the-Cliffs Church, Holmfield Road, North Shore, on Monday at 2pm, which all are welcome to.

A private service will follow at Carleton Crematorium. The family has requested donations, instead of flowers, to Dementia UK.