Welcome to Blackpool Tramtown! In 2023 ambitious plans begin to transform it into a brand new museum.
The tram depot at Rigby Road in which Tramtown is located is one of only three remaining working locations in the world. It features around 40 trams, some up to 120 years old. Blackpool Transport’s Heritage Trams have been running for over 100 years. Most recently since 2014 as a visitor experience, led mostly by a team of volunteers.
- Welcome to Blackpool Tramtown!
- Take a Tour of Tramtown!
- Take a Heritage Tram Ride
- Red Heritage Plaque for Rigby Road Tram Shed
- While you’re here…
Welcome to Blackpool Tramtown!
Early Days at Rigby Road
Way back in time, on 24 August 1893, the Blackpool, St Annes and Lytham Tramway Company was incorporated. They were to build their tramway system from Rigby Road, travelling via Lytham Road and Clifton Drive, through St Annes to Clifton Square at Lytham.
Fast forward quite some years and the Rigby Road tram depot was built in 1920, when the previous depot at Blundell Street was outgrown. Four of the corrugated iron ex World War One aircraft hangars were used, from Squires Gate Lane. The original Rigby Road tram depot had its own foundry and sawmill. In 1923 they began making their own trams! An awful lot of engineering, manufacture and maintenance still goes on behind the scenes there today.
The Blackpool Heritage Tram Shed at Rigby Road is a purpose-built tram shed. Built in 1935 it was part of the Blackpool Corporation Transport Department’s five-year modernisation plan (1933-1938). It housed many of the modern streamline tram fleet delivered to Blackpool between 1934 and 1939. Remarkably, many of which are still housed, maintained, and operated from there.
When completed it could house around 120 trams. Now, it’s the last operational first-generation tram depot in the United Kingdom. It is also one of only three tram depots in the world that operate double deck trams on a mainline tramway.
Designed as a dual-purpose building, it was originally known as Kirby Hall. Trade exhibitions were hosted at the rear half of the building in the early days, accessed via Kirby Road. However, this use of the shed was relatively short-lived.
- There’s MUCH more to the history of the heritage tram depot at Rigby Road. Why don’t you take a look at Nick Moores fascinating History of Blackpool. You can read it here
Keeping the Heritage Trams on the Tracks!
Until recent years there wasn’t a long-term intention for the transport operator to continue running Blackpool’s Heritage Trams. Renovation of the tramway and introduction of modern, light rail trams in 2012 replaced the operation of the old trams.
It’s only the dedication of volunteers and collaborative working with partners across the resort which has enabled these vehicles to continue to run. Much to the delight of residents and visitors to Blackpool’s seafront and enthusiasts from all over the world.
Becoming Blackpool Tramtown!
Now known as Tramtown, the iconic Blackpool heritage trams operate from Rigby Road under the Heritage Tram Tours brand. With £800,000 of funding secured, the first phase of a five-to-seven-year redevelopment plan can begin, to restore the building. By converting a third of the building into an exhibition hall, a dynamic new heritage visitor attraction will be developed in Blackpool.
It’s wonderful news! Blackpool Tramtown, the heritage tram depot, has secured £800,000 to start work on Phase One of a new four-phase vision to create a brand new visitor attraction for the town.
We went along to the launch event on Saturday 25 February, to hear about the exciting Four Phase Plans –
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Phase One will ensure the continued maintenance and running of Heritage Trams for years to come.
In 2021 Blackpool Transport’s Heritage Department launched a £1million fundraiser to build a new roof and preserve the fleet of Vintage Trams. The million pound fundraiser looked for donations from people all over the world. It will enable the first, most costly, and most important part of the restoration plans to begin. Namely the installation of a new roof.
Funding is now secure for works to begin. Including –
- A new roof for a third of the tram shed
- A new headbeam
- A new partition wall
- Repairs to the gutters and drains
- Relocation of engineering equipment into the redeveloped facility
Fundraising continues for an Enhanced Phase One
This is just the start of the story. Heritage Trams still need your support to deliver an enhanced Phase One scheme. The last part of Phase One is the installation of purpose-built doors for a third of the tram shed.
£70,000 buys purpose-built doors to keep the wind and rain out of the facility. The new doors will create better working conditions for engineers and protect the trams stored in this part of the tram shed. Ultimately creating the first truly water-tight area – and supporting the next three development phases.
Can you help?
Every penny takes the team closer to their target of a safe and sustainable future for Heritage and Illuminated trams in Blackpool.
If you can spare £5, please donate NOW!
The Next Three Phases of Tramtown
The recently submitted four-phase vision will see repair works to the depot plus a brand new exhibition hall, viewing platform, café and shop.
Work is now underway on funding bids for the next three phases in the Tramtown vision. This includes:
- A full roof replacement for the remaining two thirds of the depot
- New doors
- A brand new exhibition area including a café, conference facilities and retail areas
- A mezzanine floor for visitors to freely walk and look out over all of the trams
You can be part of this exciting future for Blackpool’s oldest working trams!
Artist impressions: Studio John Bridge | Blackpool Tramtown | Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours
Did you know? Now culverted, Spen Dyke once ran into the sea along Rigby Road?
Take a Tour of Tramtown!
WHILE CONSTRUCTION WORKS ARE ONGOING AT RIGBY ROAD, TRAMTOWN TOURS ARE SUSPENDED
See the inner-workings of Blackpool’s Heritage Tram Centre and hear how the wheels keep on turning on the wonderful world-famous Heritage Trams.
Book your Tramtown Tour
TOURS NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
Starting from the main tram gates on Hopton Road/Blundell Street (use postcode: FY1 6EA)
In the 90 minute tour a resident expert will guide you around Rigby Road tram sheds and engineering workshops. They’ll talk you through each area and the work being done to preserve history for years to come.
All money collected from these unique tours contributes to the preservation of trams for future years. Their fundraiser explains the challenges and ambitions for the future.
Take a Heritage Tram Ride
Don’t forget that you can also enjoy a ride along Blackpool seafront on one of these lovingly restored beauties.
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Red Heritage Plaque for Rigby Road Tram Shed
Fantastic news, Blackpool’s Heritage Tram Shed now sports a red Heritage Plaque by The National Transport Trust. It recognises the historic significance of this industrial heritage building in the heart of Blackpool. The plaque unveiling took place at 2pm on Friday 10th March 2023.
Jerry Swift is Deputy Chairman of the National Transport Trust. He proudly announced, “Established in 1965, The National Transport Trust is the only national body that promotes and encourages the preservation and restoration of Britain’s transport heritage in all its forms – road, rail, wings and water. Our red plaque initiative is a national scheme of marking key locations around the UK which have significant historical value to British transport heritage. We considered that Blackpool’s Rigby Road Tram Shed met all our aspirations in this regard.”
Bryan Lindop is Blackpool Transport Head of Heritage. He said “The national recognition of the historic status of this building means a lot to us, because it firmly cements our faith in retaining and restoring it. It has always been overshadowed by its iconic and scene-stealing contents, but it is a significant piece of heritage in its own right and a rare survivor. I am grateful to the National Transport Trust for this significant award. Also to Paul Maynard MP not only for suggesting it, but for kindly agreeing to unveil the plaque for us, ably supported by Scott Benton MP”.
While you’re here…
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