Digging deep across the world writes Andy Mitchell
It’s been a joy to see Blackpool’s famous heritage trams driving up and down the Prom over half term, as they made their long awaited return.
Volunteer crews have been trained up and are overjoyed to be back out on the track doing the job they love for passengers they know adore the old trams, and can’t wait to get out riding on them again.
Now attention is turning to the shed where they live, as vital work is needed to ensure the roof of the near 100-year-old structure is replaced, before any damage is done to the fleet.
I took a trip around the shed on Hopton Road this week and was very concerned at the state of the structure, which has been needing some maintenance for decades.
It was interesting to discover the building was originally intended to be dual purpose. Kirby Hall as it was known back in the 1930s was designed to be accessible from Kirby Road and would have formed an exhibition space to compliment The Winter Gardens.
Now, Blackpool Heritage has launched an ambitious fundraiser, seeking £1m in donations from people all over the world. In a week, it’s become known colloquially as ‘The Church Roof Fund’ and now its followers are praying cash will be forthcoming to completely replace it.
Blackpool Transport’s Head of Heritage, Bryan Lindop, always one for optimism with a big Blackpool smile, recognises it’s a big ask. “A million pounds is deceptively easy to say,” he notes.
Yet fans of Blackpool trams aren’t just confined to the resort. They have followers all over the world, indeed several of the resort’s heritage vehicles have effectively emigrated, to be part of collections in places as far flung as San Francisco.
It’s this international link that Bryan is hoping will turn up trumps for them in their quest to hit the million.
Social media campaigns and website reports play their part is spreading a Blackpool appeal worldwide.
There are thousands of tram fans around the globe. Many of them make the pilgrimage to Blackpool to enjoy turning back the clock and ride on a double decker along the Prom.
Now Heritage chiefs are hoping they’ll match their enthusiasm with a bit of generosity and dig deep to “save the church roof” !
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