On track to summers gone by writes Andy Mitchell

There aren’t many days when I say I feel 21 again, but this weekend I’ve been out on the tram track again helping out with a bit of conducting on one of the old trams.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:30 pm
Balloon tram
Balloon tram

Known as ‘The B Fleet’, these famous balloon trams can be seen filling in the timetable on the busiest parts of the route and providing a fast service between all stops.

I arrived at Rigby Road and had a quick course in how to work one of the company’s brand new ‘Ticketer’ machines. These portable wonders of modern technology are a long way from the old mechanical ‘Almex’ machines many who did summer seasons on the trams, will remember from the 1980s.

We departed from Rigby Road depot where the double deckers are kept, and made our way out on to the Promenade. It was at this point, waiting for the traffic lights to change at Manchester Square, that I smiled as I knew I’d been here before. Standing on the platform, waiting to cross the Promenade, I was 21 again and looking forward to a terrific day chatting and laughing with the holidaymakers.

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It wasn’t long before our first customers got on at Central Pier and we were off on a journey not just to Fleetwood, but for me, a trip back in time. Blackpool was packed with happy holidaymakers on Sunday, and it was hot!

With the added relief that so many were just happy to get away for a holiday after the darkest 16 months in our recent history, the sheer joy of chatting with visitors about where there were from, where they were staying etc, and, of course calling out the stops along the way was just magic.

I was so proud to be out there, again, doing what I loved doing when I was a student.

Blackpool Transport are now actively recruiting bus drivers, tram guards, and even trainee bus drivers. I whole heartedly recommend giving it a go. It’s a chance to be out there meeting people again, and maybe recreating those lovely summers of years gone by.

I’m looking forward to being back out on the track again soon, with the whole of the top deck trying to spot the hotel with the purple curtains, because one customer has forgotten where they’re staying!

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