Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road

Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road

Are you lucky enough to have visited the heritage tram depot at Rigby Road? Goodness it’s a fascinating place – but it needs some help. Come and take a look…

Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road

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.

We went to have a look in August 2021. Come and take a look –

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Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours has served more than a quarter of a million customers over the past 7 years, playing an important part in Blackpool’s cultural, educational and heritage offering.

And the famous Blackpool Illuminations also depend on the show stopping illuminated trams to bring the seasonal event to life. All of which are operated from the heritage tram shed at Rigby Road depot.

35 vintage trams are operated and maintained here by a fleet of volunteers.

Did you know? Now culverted, Spen Dyke once ran into the sea along Rigby Road?

Do YOU want Heritage Trams to Carry on Running?

Because vital funds are needed to keep Blackpool’s Vintage Trams running for years to come.

Housed and maintained at the Rigby Road bus depot, there’s an urgent need for funding in order to build a new roof and preserve these historic vehicles for years to come.

So Blackpool Transport’s Heritage Department has launched a £1million fundraiser to build a new roof and preserve its fleet of Vintage Trams.

The million pound fundraiser is looking 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.

New roof needed at the Heritage Tram Shed at Rigby Road
New roof needed at the Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road

Raising the Roof

Bryan Lindop is head of heritage at Blackpool Transport. He said “Replacing our roof is the first step on a journey that will secure the future for our famous trams in their rightful home. It underpins our strategy to develop a long-term vision for a visitor attraction. The roof is the most expensive single item on our To Do List. And it’s also the most essential to keep out the elements, protect the fleet and make the remaining repairs less onerous.

“The current building houses a fleet of more than 35 vintage trams. It’s in vital need of renovation. The roof must be completely replaced first in order to prevent water ingress. That must be followed by regeneration of the building to give better structural integrity and protect the trams from the torrent of Fylde Coast wind and rain.”

Brian adds “it’s an ambitious target and we will of course by applying for grant funding. But it’s highlighted the plight of the building and made a fabulous connection with the general public along with the tram enthusiasts.”

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 that’s enabled these vehicles to continue to run. Delighting residents and visitors to Blackpool’s seafront.

Bryan Lindop added “Whilst a million pounds is deceptively easy to say, I fully recognise it’s a big ask. But when all’s said and done, it’s a big roof! I have always believed in the incredible power of lots of people working collectively together for a common cause. A lot of people making a small contribution can have a major impact on the outcome. Will you help us raise the roof?”

Restoration Plan

Thankfully, the structural skeleton of the building does appear to be in quite reasonable order.

To determine that’s really the case, some sandblasting trials are to be carried out on the structural steels to make sure to make sure no surprises lurk underneath…

History of the Heritage Tram Depot 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.

Engineering and maintenance works at Rigby Road
Engineering and maintenance works at Rigby Road
  • 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

What does the Future Hold?

Well the future is, of course, a long way away. But the long term ambition is to develop a Heritage Tram Museum on the site.

We’ll keep you posted!

View of the depot from the main front gateway
View of the depot from the main front gateway

While you’re here…

What do you think? Why don’t you join in and leave a comment below?

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6 thoughts on “Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road”

  1. George Williamson

    I have an old Blackpool bus and tram timetable which unfold like an O.S. map and would love to have it dated of possible (price sixpence. I can’t find a print date but one of the suggested places to visit is the Cleveleys Hydro.
    Could I bring it along for someone to look over?


  2. Please would you advertise forthcoming heritage weekends more extensively? I would suggest the Railway Magazine.

  3. Hi Jane,
    Loved your video of the old tram depot on youtube too! I would love to visit it myself when the tours re-start. Being a retired electrical/electronics engineer, I’m also interested in the technical aspects of the control systems in the old trams. Maybe they could have some ‘technical’ tours, for us nerdy types!
    The Coronation class trams were controlled by a fascinating device to watch in operation, called a VAMBAC (Variable Automatic Multinotch Braking and Acceleration Control).
    Both the acceleration AND braking were electric.
    A 2003 channel 4 programme with Suggs (from pop group Madness), called Salvage Squad, featuring the tram no. 304 restoration, showed it in operation,
    and gives an interesting insight into the restoration process:
    The VAMBACs didn’t work very well in practise, and they were soon replaced. I believe tram 614 has been preserved at Rigby Road with one still in operation. One of the problems was that the equipment was housed behind the vents in the power pickup tower on top of the tram, to get rid of the heat produced, but it got corroded with the salty air. A fault developed in one tram, and it dripped molten solder whilst the Mayor was riding in it. Another jammed, and the tram went hurtling down the promenade, unable to stop…I don’t know what the outcome of that was, but I hope it was OK!

  4. It says about the Heritage Tram Depot at Rigby Road, “Come and take a look”, but it doesnt give details on how to do that

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