Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Trams and tracks

click photo to enlarge
Blackpool is known for its trams as well as its seaside entertainments. The first line opened on the Promenade in 1885, with the vehicles taking power from a slot in the ground. However, this "conduit system" was prone to trouble from rain and sea water, and the present overhead system was soon installed. The tram network expanded quickly, with lines running north to Fleetwood, south to Lytham St Annes, and out to the rapidly expanding Blackpool hinterland. In 1920 Blackpool Corporation took over the bulk of the network, and set about standardising and rationalising trams and systems.

The transport manager, far-sighted Walter Luff, began an inspired period of improvement in 1933. He ordered modern, luxurious vehicles from English Electric - double deckers, single deckers and open-topped "boat" trams. These proved attractive to the travelling public and very durable - examples continue to be used today! In the 1950s further superb trams were added to the fleet. However, by the 1960s the system was suffering from competition from buses and cars, and some lines were closed. Many cities across Britain had dug up their tramways in the post-war decades, and by the 1970s Blackpool's line between Fleetwood and Starr Gate in the south of Blackpool was the only significant UK tramway in commercial operation. The re-appearance of trams and "light rail" networks in a number of UK cities in the 1980s, 1990s and since has shown that trams can still provide reliable, mass transport in urban and suburban areas. And, in Blackpool a sleek new type of tram is being introduced alongside those venerable vehicles of yesteryear!

This photograph shows part of the promenade tracks near Gynn Square. The composition of the sweeping double curve broken by the shadows appealed to me, and I have increased the contrast to emphasize the sinuous lines. I used a zoom lens at 226mm (35mm equivalent), with the camera set to Aperture Priority (f6.3 at 1/800 sec), ISO 100, with -o.3 EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen