Sunday, 17 July 2016

Fleetwood Tram Sunday, 2016.

It was Tram Sunday today and we went along to Fleetwood quite early so as to be able to park at a reasonable distance and filled the time in before the day officially opened by having breakfast in the excellent family-run Ferry Cafe.

We always expect Fleetwood to be busy on this day, but we also commented on how busy the water was. There were three people on jet skis, there were yachts and even a catamaran going out down the River Wyre into Morecambe Bay as well as several small boats and a medium-size boat on what I presumed might be a fishing trip. The Knott End ferry was busily crossing to and fro across the river. The weather was warm...ish... but it wasn't promising to behave. Although in the event it did and as I write at 8:20pm, the sun is "cracking the flags" as we Lancastrians are wont to say. This despite the fact that any pavements paved with flagstones are likely to turn back to earth overnight these days, the price of flagstones being what it is...

Despite the name "Tram Sunday", these days the trams are relegated to static displays only. The narrowing of the roads to "calm traffic" has left too little space to allow trams to try to share the road space with pedestrians in recent years. On display near the Pharos Lighthouse was my old friend, ex Twin-Car tractor unit 680. It spent many years acting as a stand-alone without its trailer and now looks refurbished and sparkling, if sadly lacking the old Progress logo on the side. Balloon tram 700 sits behind in the new tramway livery.

Parked on the other side of Balloon 700 was Fleetwood Box tramcar 40. It was built in 1914 for the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad which since 1898 had operated from Fleetwood to the Gynn, Blackpool, where passengers could either travel up Dickson Road towards Blackpool North railway station, or get off and then get onto a Blackpool Corporation Tramways tramcar to continue their journey along the seafront. The Fleetwood and Blackpool Tramroad was bought out by Blackpool Corporation as from the beginning (the very beginning - 1st January) 1920.

A side-effect of the pavement widening / road width reducing nonsense has been the drastically reduced amount of parking space available for vintage or classic cars on Tram Sunday. And, of course, yours and my cars on every other day... In the early days of this event there would be two long lines of cars, vans, lorries and buses all the way along Lord Street, but now they are dotted here and there and have become increasingly disappointing to someone who loves the days when you could tell the make and model of a car with a cursory glance. I'm sure they probably excite someone, but a line-up of American SUVs from 2002 do nothing for me. I would much rather look at a Ford Transit Mk.I. The Mk.I was introduced in 1965 and remained in production until a facelift in 1978 resulted in the Mk.II. This 1975/76 example has a drop-side pick-up configuration.

Sunbeam Talbot 90 Mk.II 2-door drophead coupe. Built from 1948 to 1954, this was the last Rootes model to bear the Talbot name. This particular car dates from 1952.

The same car. As with most other cars of the period, the ignition key goes in the dash and is probably just that. On or Off. The starter is probably the red button. You would turn the key and then press the button to start the engine. The surround to the keyhole has a pointer because it is the lights switch with three positions labelled Off, Side, Head. The switch for full beam will be where it still should be in modern cars if it weren't for idiot designers thinking people can steer and reach behind the steering wheel at the same time. It will be a small toggle button on the floor to the left of the clutch pedal. So easy to immediately dip your headlights no matter whether you were negotiating twisty moorland roads - there were no motorways in 1952. Column gear change too. I used to love those...

A 1967 Morris Oxford. Two-tone cars - weren't they just the biz...! My great-uncle had a similar car, a Wolseley I think.

I had a couple of these one after the other, though they were company cars not my own. Not as posh as this either, mine were the basic 1600. This is the 1970s glam car - the Ford Capri. I remember one of mine had a problem with the driver's seat which wouldn't lock into place on the floor but shot forwards or backwards if I stopped or set off too quick... Hence the fact I managed to get a second one...

A 1963 Volvo PV544. The design was never going to win prizes. It looks like a 1930s car with the front cut off but the original bonnet retained and plonked on top of a more modern front grill and wings. It was long-lasting though, despite upgrades it remained in production for 18 years and towards the end of its production run Volvo placed tongue-in-cheek adverts asking the car's fans not to hate them!

A Leyland half-cab open-top bus. Looking back twelve months to the last Tram Sunday, I see that this same bus was then identified as a Leyland Tiger PS2/5 with a Burlingham body, built in Blackpool, converted to open top use in Southport and rescued from dereliction in Rhyll. Elementary my dear Watson...

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