OK so where do I go from here?
I suppose that I should first explain for those not of a British persuasion that Blackpool is a Resort town on the North West coast of England, in a county called Lancashire.
Being there was quite a problem for the good burgers of that town in the Victorian days when the Railways came and, like so many coastal railheads in England, they tried to make a go of it as a holiday resort.
The only slight concern was that it is situated on the west coast in the face of the prevailing weather. On a very flat part of the country called the Lancashire Salt plains.
To the North is the English Lake district, which is a mountainous region and thus drags all the bad weather over the town towards the high ground.
So this is the rub. When the weather is glorious then it really is. When. The coast is subjected to strong winds, thus blown sand and often heavy rain. Salt laden rain. Everything engineers like me try to avoid.
However being of good solid northern stock they were not deterred and the result is the Blackpool of today which must be loved, if not by all, by at least a vast majority of the country.
They set to and built a monument to the greatness of Victorian Architecture and Engineering. Those across the Channel built the Eiffel Tower, so they went one better and built a slightly bigger one.
They built a fun fair wondrous to behold. Then to connect it all along the front they built this tramway.
All the way from the southern end of Blackpool Promenade at the border with St. Annes to Fleetwood in the North.
To cap it all they girded it all with an electric light show for a mile of its length, which was, and still is, turned on at the ending part of the natural holiday season and runs into the beginning of winter proper.
These light now extend for some five miles I think.So what? I seem to hear you say, gentle surfer.Stop and think about it for a minute if you will.
This was now well over a hundred and ten years ago. Electricity as a useful tool was but newly discovered. The electric motor, generator and lamp new on the shelves. Houses were lit by oil and candles. Transport was by foot, horse or the new steam trains.
A visit to Blackpool then must have been akin to a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre by someone in the 1960's with the ability to participate.
In this jaded age I can not think of an equivalent. Maybe someone can and will tell me.
However, things move on though and so has Blackpool. The Funfair, or Pleasure Beach has been added to yearly and has as good a mix of the old and new rides obtainable anywhere.
The front has added attractions over the years and as noted above the lights have spread in size and complexity to become called the greatest free show on earth.
So even today, in the face of cheap foreign holidays, Blackpool is still a vibrant buzzing holiday resort right through its extended season. Even more so, perhaps when the lights are on and all the other resorts have gone to sleep for the winter.
Fine, OK, but what has this to do with the tramway?
Well all through the rushes to 'modernise' in the last half of the last century as experienced over the rest of the country, tramways were ripped up wholesale.
Through the good works of a few good men, this tramway survived.
If any could be thought of as being one of the first for the chop, this should have been it.
The conditions it runs under could not be worse for a tramway, with all its rails and cabling systems. The salt laden rain, seas breaking over the promenade, sand being blown everywhere, rust wastage and erosion at every turn.But no, it was a survivor when all the others were ripped up in favour of the diesel bus. Little funded, it survived on old trams it had built in the 1930's and some Coronation Trams in the early '50's to become a national heritage. I hope that it eventually gets that status and support funding, for surely it is a heritage site.
So now we come to the reason for this site, if I ever needed one!!
It is to pay some sort of personal tribute, as another engineer, to those who went before and built this and so many other tramways, within such a short time of electric motors and transmission systems being invented. Who had the guts and determination to build out into the lands of the unknown and make it all happen. Finding the solutions to the problems on the way with materials which to be honest the modern engineer would turn his nose up at and, OK, the modern Health and Safety Officer would go white about.
Following on from them, in Blackpool, to those who came after and ensured that it survived for the next generations then to that army of men who still make it all happen.
Think about it.
Where do you go for spares for the simplest part of a fifty plus tramcar or a 70 plus one? You don't. You don't for most of the system out on the road either. You have to set to and make it from raw materials.That I understand is just what has been happening there for years.A staff of very able engineers, Blacksmiths, machinists et al in the workshops keeping everything running when most would have given up years ago.
So here is my little salute. Enjoy the pictures. If you have got this far down my ramblings and wish to contact me then please do so by clicking here Keith J (Boiler Bill) Chesworth Other Web sites by me, including Unseen London, the biggest photo site of London can be found by clicking here