In line with government restrictions we’ve cancelled and refunded all tours up to and including the 2nd of December.
Following a 6 month cessation of all heritage activities at Rigby Road depot brought about by a complete closure of the heritage works and the furlough of its staff, the engineering team began a phased return from circa September onwards. On our return, a priority target for us was to resolve the issue of the intermittently faulty traction motor on car 143. Prior to lockdown the motor had been sent to CPM Engineering in Manchester, a specialist contractor in rotating electrical machines and they determined that a full rebuild and restoration would be required costing £13,600. Everything then stalled as the country went into lockdown.
As Blackpool Transport had previously undertaken a £23,000 overhaul of the bogies, including a full overhaul and repair of the other motor by CPM as our contribution towards this project some years earlier, we felt we were honour bound to make good the newly failed second motor as part of our ongoing contribution towards the operational re-instatement of this lovely vehicle. CPM were duly contracted to undertake the work and we are awaiting the return of the motor. Once this has been fitted the tram will undergo a period of testing before release into traffic. As yet we can put no timescale on these events.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve had an update for you on Coronation Tram 663, which is still at Riley & Sons Engineers in Heywood.
Both bogies are now complete having been fully rebuilt with new components, and they look absolutely superb! This represents a considerable achievement towards the eventual return to use of 663, but there is still much to be done including a full rewire and refurbishment of the bodywork. The bogies (which are of type Maley & Taunton HS44 for those interested) are now back under the tram. The next steps will include some underframe repairs around the centre platform and the overhaul of the four motors.
We are pleased to announce the return of our Illuminations Tours for 2020. We plan to have tours almost every evening of the lights which, as you may know, have been extended this year and will shine until 3 January 2021.
We still have the same unique view of the Lights, including the new NHS & Key Workers Tribute and Corona Heroes display on the Golden Mile. Don’t forget the Tower with its brilliant new lighting system is just part of what’s new in 2020.
Capacity on our trams is restricted as we have to apply social distancing to our seating plans. In fact we are taking a whole range of actions to ensure your safety in this current situation and you can read about them on our Keeping you Safe page.
Please note that boarding for Illuminations Tours is only at Pleasure Beach Heritage Tram Stop.
One of the changes we have introduced for 2020 is bringing you the top item from the wish list of previous season’s customers – online pre-booking for all tours.
In common with all our tours in 2020, you will be able to reserve and pay for your seat in advance and know which of our services you will be travelling on. Please go to our Illuminations Tours page where you will find all the information you need plus a link to our booking system.
At the moment only tours in September have been released for booking. These will be on the iconic Balloon trams so typical of Blackpool’s Promenade. It is planned that the Illuminated Trams, including the famous Western Train, will be ready for service by early October and we’ll keep you up to date with progress of that on here and our social media.
Please ensure you book your tour as soon as you can, we expect many dates to sell out due to our restricted availability.
Having been suspended for lockdown, we’re pleased to announce that our Ghost Tram tour will return just in time for Halloween – the day before to be precise!
Join the Victorian Ghost Hunter, Stephen Mercer, on the UK’s only Ghost Tram Tour. Hear tales of terror and stories of the supernatural updated for our 2020 tours.
The gripping and chilling tour departs from North Pier & Tower Heritage Tram stop and travels along the Coast to Little Bispham, then returns along the Promenade to Blackpool’s South Shore where it turns once more to take you back to North Pier & Tower where you started.
2020 turned out to be a very different year from the one that we envisaged when we discussed the big plans and service improvements we had hoped to bring to you. But the time has now arrived that we can dip our proverbial toe into the water once more. But only a toe at this stage.
Much work has been taking place behind the scenes as not only has there been over three months of engineering backlog to catch up with but our service and the Tours have had to be redesigned from the tracks upward.
We can’t tell you how good it’s going to be to see you climb on board with us once more.
So when will the Heritage trams run again?
Our first public services will be for the Bank Holiday weekend of 29th to 31st August 2020. The timetable will be a very different one than the one you may be used to so please read on.
We don’t intend sitting back at this point though – we are busy working toward restarting a service for other weekends and even Illuminations Tours. Some more weekday services may be in the offing too – watch this space!
What sort of service will it be?
We’ve updated the pages of our web site with all the detail but below is an overview of the changes and new arrangements containing links to the pages that will give you the nitty gritty detail.
The main changes
Much as we would like to offer a turn-up and ride service as in the past, it’s simply not possibly to apply social distancing on that basis. We strongly recommend that you pre-book your tour with us.
We have created new pages on here for you to see the details of the two new style of Tours and on those pages are buttons so you can choose, reserve and pay for your ticket online.
Our fares have not changed from those prior to the closure of the tramway last March but we are no longer able to offer one-day or 3-day tickets, concessionary or group tickets as these are not compatible with pre-booking.
4 for 3 Pass
We now have a ‘4 for 3 Pass’ for Coastal tours and for Promenade tours. With a pass you will be able to book 4 tours at any time during 2020 yet pay for only 3. You’ll find details of these on the Fares page.
These arrangements are not intended to be permanent and will be reviewed as the situation changes but always with an emphasis on safety.
We’ve have made a slight adjustment to the age at which children can travel for free – this is now only available to those under 3 who are not occupying a seat of their own. If a child under 3 needs a seat of their own, please book a child ticket for them.
We have had to simplify our timetables to match the availability of trams and of staff. Our Timetables page gives details. This will be updated as arrangements change.
We have carried out a full review of our trams to create seating plans that will allow for social distancing to be maintained. This does mean that the capacity of our trams has been significantly reduced.
It also means that, when booking your tour, you will need to select if you wish to travel on the upper or lower deck of double-deck trams. You will be shown to your reserved seat as you board the tram and it may not be possible for you to change seats on arrival nor during the tour. This is so that we can maintain social distancing at all times.
Travelling as a family/with friends
When you pre-book your ticket we will allocate seats on the basis of the number of tickets on that booking so that all those on the same booking can sit together. If you need social distancing between members of your group, please make separate bookings for those that need it.
If you have made individual bookings we regret that it may not be possible to arrange for you to sit together.
We realise that many passengers have previously swapped from tram to tram during their tour by leaving one tram and waiting for the next. Unfortunately this is no longer possible whilst social distancing is in force.
The ONLY boarding point for Coastal and Promenade Tour trams will be our northbound North Pier & Tower Heritage Tram stop. You cannot board at any other stop. You are welcome to leave the tour at any of our intermediate stops but, once you have left, that will be the end of your tour and you will not be able to complete that tour later.
Initially our tours will be very different from the ones you may have taken in the past. We are constantly reviewing the ever-changing situation with Coronavirus and associated laws and gudelines. When possible we will adjust our services and the way they work. The safety of our passengers and our staff are our first concern. We are very much aware that the precautions and changes that we have had to put in place may not seem ideal but they are there for the benefit of us all.
Whilst on board you will need to comply with the laws and recommendations for travel that may be in force at the time of your tour. This includes, for example, the wearing of a face covering at all times when on board, unless you have an exemption. If you would like to read more on this subject, please go to this page on the Blackpool Transport web site.
Please allow our staff to keep you safe
Our conductors are briefed before every tour day on any changes to laws and recommendations.
We would ask that you listen to and act upon the recommendations and instructions given to you by our staff – they have been trained in how to keep you safe but will need your help to do so.
For more details of how we are trying to ensure we can all travel safely, we explain it at Keeping You Safe
If you would like to comment about our new arrangements, you’ll find our contact details on our Get in Touch page.
Today’s Press Release from Blackpool Transport has produced the biggest smile seen on a Heritage Tram for quite some time:
We’re very excited to announce that our famous Heritage Trams will begin running again on August Bank Holiday weekend. You must book online in advance to guarantee your seat!
We are starting the wheels turning on August Bank Holiday Weekend (29,30,31 August) and will then run from September. Then as we head to October and darker evenings our illuminated trams will join their fellow heritage trams, bringing that extra sparkle to the world famous illuminations.
This year, things will be a little different, as it will be a socially distanced onboard experience which makes it all the more special as our conductor safely seats you in your pre-booked seats.
You must book online in advance of your planned trip. Spaces are extremely limited so we suggest booking early to avoid disappointment. You will be seated with those in your booking so if you do not wish to be seated together please make separate bookings.
Whilst the extra safety measures mean this will be a different experience to the normal turn up and go services of the past, it means you can safely enjoy a Heritage Tram experience on Blackpool’s world famous tramway.
Ian Middlemiss, Head of Tramway for Blackpool Transport said: “Though we can’t offer the usual full service this year, we know that this Heritage experience will be as wonderful as always. Online pre-booking allows us to prepare for each individual journey and allows our conductors to provide a special and personal customer experience.
This is just the start of an incredible and unique journey for Heritage Trams as we wrap them into the heart of our Blackpool Transport team. Next year there will be an expansion of our operations that means you will see an advanced offer and unique experiences on our Heritage Trams.”
Martin Gurr, General Manager for Heritage Operations is working with the team of award-winning volunteers to deliver the required training for them to return to the tracks in August.
Our web site has been updated with all the new details of our tours and we’ve prepared a summary of the changes.
We just can’t begin to tell you how pleased we will be to see you.
We are delighted to announce that we have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The volunteers who operate Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours, part of Blackpool Transport Services, enable the protection, conservation and operation of a unique fleet of vintage tramcars on the tramway for which they were built (one of only two tramways in the world to operate double-deck trams), thereby widening public access to a rich part of the nation’s heritage. In doing so they are developing a wide variety of skills, creating a major contribution to the welfare of their local community and fulfilling the purposes of wellbeing, learning and education.
Blackpool Heritage Trams are one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down.
Representatives of Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours will receive the award later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Head of Heritage, Bryan Lindop says: “Having worked with this remarkable and talented group of volunteers now for over 5 years, it fills me with great pride to see them achieve this pinnacle of national recognition. It takes a lot of dedication, commitment, sheer grit and determination to maintain the high standard of excellence that they have become renowned for. The volunteers, the community that they serve and indeed the nation’s heritage adoring public who come to Blackpool to benefit from the sheer feel-good factor that the heritage tram tours create are inspiring new generations to cherish and appreciate their heritage; to participate in something culturally unique and life-affirming, and by doing so, ensuring that future generations will be able to continue to enjoy this inspiring public amenity.”
Regrettably we have had to cancel our Totally Models Weekend for 2020.
Totally Models will return in 2021. Watch out here for the dates.
As you may know, the organisers of Tram Sunday have postponed the Tram Sunday Weekend 2020 with no alternative date yet set. Consequently we will not have any special services running. on the originally planned date. Further details will be available once a revised date has been announced.