A specially designed heritage tram for the Diamond Jubilee has been announced as being one of the focal points of this year’s Blackpool Illuminations.
Blackpool Council’s Illuminations team have teamed up with Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, Her Majesty’s Prison at Kirkham, and Fylde coast schools to produce the ‘Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tram’, which will be decorated in time for the big switch on.
The tram will be displayed by the tableaux at North Shore when the Illuminations are switched on at the end of August after work has been completed at Her Majesty’s Prison in Kirkham, where the inmates have been carrying out maintenance works on the tram, bringing it back up to its once great standard.
The vehicle has undergone replacement of several of its exterior panels and renewal of parts of the roof prior to preparing the bodywork for its diamond jubilee livery at HM Prison in Kirkham.
Repainting of the tram is underway involving a small team of prisoners in Kirkham with assistance of Colin MacLeod, a member of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust. Blackpool Illuminations technical staff will also install special internal and external lighting features to the tram while it is in Kirkham Prison.
The trolley gantry on the roof of the tram has also been taken to Blackpool Illuminations Depot at Squires Gate for repainting and fitting of commemorative plaques. The gantry will rejoin the tram when it is placed on display later in August.
A moving image of the Queen will be the focal piece of the installation on the front of the tram, thanks to Blackpool Council’s Illuminations team.
Cllr Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said:
“This is a great project that involves the local community in both this year’s Illuminations and in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee too. We are pleased to be working with the Heritage Leisure Trust to incorporate this tram in the Illuminations’ display, and are happy that local students have been able to get involved in the project, as well as Kirkham Prison.
The tram will look fantastic when it is finished and unveiled as part of the many special features we have in place for the centenary of the Illuminations and we believe that when it is switched on it will be the best Illuminations display we’ve had in a long time.”
John Woodman is Chair of the Trust, which owns the tram and has plans for its long term display in a tram depot built in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in Fleetwood. He added:
“It is appropriate that Blackpool is able to celebrate Her Majesty’s long reign with one of its famous trams. Former rail coach number 290 was built in 1937 – the Coronation year of the Queen’s father, King George VI. London will have the Royal Barge – Blackpool Illuminations will have the royal tram.”