Catch one of the new Blackpool Trams along the seafront

Blackpool Trams – Then and Now

There’s been a tramway in Blackpool for well over 100 years. Blackpool trams have seen the Fylde Coast change and grow and evolve into the place it is today.

Up until 2011, the “Heritage” cars were the service fleet trams. Operating every day except Christmas Day, they travelled along the tram lines, carrying residents and visitors from A to B.

Then a multi-million pound upgrade transformed the Blackpool tramway. The tracks were all relaid and a new, modern fleet of low-floor trams are now the service fleet. They’re a pleasure to travel on – see what it’s like to take a Blackpool tram ride here.

Catch one of the new Blackpool Trams along the seafront
Catch one of the new Blackpool Trams along the seafront

However, the original Blackpool trams – with their distinctive ‘clickety-clack’ as they drive along – are still much loved. They’re as integral to Blackpool as fish and chips and the donkeys on the beach.

A selection of trams from the original system were restored and returned to passenger carrying duties. So old and new Blackpool trams now operate side by side.

One of the heritage Blackpool trams in front of the Tower
One of the heritage Blackpool trams in front of the Tower

Many of these original trams are over 80 years old and have been retained and superbly renovated. It’s a unique experience – nowhere else in the UK can you still ride a Heritage Tram on the line for which it was originally built.

Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours run most weekends throughout the year and daily during most UK school holidays. Of course you can also catch a famous Autumn Illuminations Tour and ride aboard one of the illuminated trams.

Blackpool Trams Then and Now

Did you know? The Blackpool Tramway is the first and only continuous operating electric tramway in the UK?

In the beginning…

In the late 1800’s, huge numbers of working class people started coming on holiday to Blackpool. Transport had to be improved to cope with demand.

Blackpool had the WORLD’S FIRST Electric Tramway – unveiled when Blackpool Electric Tramway was established in January 1885. The first rail of the Corporation Tramway was laid by Alderman McNaughton in front of Bailey’s Hotel on 13 March 1885. The line was officially opened on 29 September by Alderman Harwood, the Mayor of Manchester. Then the country’s first electric, fare paying street tram (Blackpool Number 5) started running on a short line between Cocker Street and Dean Street. It’s operated there ever since.

Back then, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the tramway was far more extensive than it is today. In fact, trams were a popular method of transport in most towns throughout the UK.

History Repeating Itself…

Back in the day, Talbot Square was previously a busy interchange for trams. The Marton route branched right at Talbot Square to head along Clifton Street, Abingdon Street and Church Street in front of the Winter Gardens.

Also diverging from Talbot Square outside the Town Hall was the Layton route. Before closing in 1936, it once went all the way along Talbot Road as far as the cemetery at Layton Square.

Old tram on Talbot Road
Old tram on Talbot Road

History is repeating itself, as part of the Layton route is presently being reinstated for the modern day. New rails have already been laid at Talbot Road in readiness for the tramway interchange with Blackpool North Station. In 2022, we were lucky enough to get a ride on one of the first test trams to use the new route –

A modern renovation

This wasn’t the first tram reveal that we’ve seen! On 3 April 2012, after a four year, £100m upgrade, the total modernisation of the Blackpool Tramway was complete. Visit Fylde Coast went along to the launch event held in Fleetwood.

The old tram cars didn’t suit modern access rules for disabled passengers. They have high steps up to the tramcars from the floor and an absence of suitable platforms. Without these adaptations and improvements, the tramway service would have had to cease.

Blackpool Trams at North Shore
Blackpool Trams at North Shore

So the huge project to modernise the tram way for the twenty first century began. The £100m of investment included new tracks and platforms plus a completely new tramway system for the future.

The modern, burgundy Flexcity Bombardier trams are a pleasure to travel on. They’re smooth and comfortable to ride on and vastly improve the passenger experience.

We caught a couple of the new trams on Blackpool seafront, in summer 2020 when they were back in service after closure for coronavirus lockdown –

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They made their very first passenger journey along the Fylde Coast in April 2012, marking the start of a brand new era of transport for residents and visitors.

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Heritage favourites

Everyone loves the heritage trams. Part and parcel of Blackpool, they certainly haven’t been put out to grass! These vehicles operate as a heritage attraction, using their own special heritage tram stops which are separate to the new platforms.

Open Topped Blackpool Heritage Tram
Open Topped Blackpool Heritage Tram

Heritage Tram Tours operate at weekends throughout the year and daily during school holidays. Plus, look out for special events throughout the year.

Illuminated Heritage Trams

Here at Visit Fylde Coast we love the fleet of Illuminated Heritage Trams. We know you do too!

Western Train Illuminated Tram
Western Train Illuminated Tram

These favourites come out at night, during Illuminations season. You might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them at other times of the year too!

The next video isn’t much more than a glimpse! Watch closely, it’s a very brief look at the Western Train…

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Festooned from one end to the other with thousands of lights, they’re a tradition in this seaside town. You can also ride them during the popular Illuminations tours.

The Blackpool to Fleetwood Tramway

The tramline stretches right along the Fylde Coast, mostly hugging the coastline.

At South Shore it terminates at Squires Gate – at the big tramshed near to the seafront.

The line runs the whole way along the seafront at Blackpool and through Bispham, along the coast to Anchorsholme.

There it parts from the seafront to go through the town centre at Cleveleys. It continues inland to briefly meet Fleetwood seafront near to the North Euston Hotel and RNLI station at the Esplanade.

There are stops all the way along the route. Trams coming along every 10 to 20 minutes (depending on the time of year). So it’s not only an ideal way to get around, it’s also a good way to see the coast!

…and turning up elsewhere…

Keep your eyes peeled when you’re on your travels because you never know where you might spot a vintage Blackpool tram!

Visit Fylde Coast friend and transport enthusiast Barrie C. Woods spotted Blackpool Marton Box car tram No. 31, currently in operation at the Beamish Open Air Museum near Gateshead. The shot shows it paused to collect passengers at the main street in Beamish. 

Blackpool Marton Box car tram No. 31 at Beamish. Photo: Barrie C. Woods

Note the Confectioners shop behind and the waiting room, also that all the structures in the view had been transported to Beamish some years ago. They were dismantled from their original location brick by brick and re-erected at Beamish. The same applies to everything else in the photo, the cobbled street, tram tracks and so on. Have you ever been?

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3 thoughts on “Blackpool Trams – Then and Now”

  1. Will the new tramway extension run from the Pleasure Beach to North Station and return to the Pleasure Beach or to Bispham?
    Will the new tramway extension run from Bispham to North Station and return to Bispham or to the Pleasure Beach?

    1. The tramway extension loops the existing Fleetwood to Starr Gate route to connect with North Station. There’s all the details about it at this link



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