Blackpool Pantographs

Technical Information:

Built: 1928

Built By: English Electric, Preston

Capacity: 48

Numbered: 167-176

Trucks: Dick Kerr, equal wheel bogies

Motors: G.E.C . WT 28L 2 x 40 Horsepower

Controllers: B.T.H. B.510

Brakes: Westinghouse

Current Collection: Pantograph until 1933, replaced with trolleypole.

Current Operation: 167 preserved at Crich, 168 became basis of Paddlesteamer 731, 170 formed basis of Frigate 736 and 174 now 734, the trailer from the Western Train.


The Pantographs had the distinction of being the only trams (pre 1950’s) in Blackpool to operate on the route that they were originally built for and never to operate a timetabled journey on any other route.

They were built in 1928 for the North Station Route and operated this route all their lives until the final examples 170, 172 and 175 were withdrawn from service after Easter 1961.

The Pantographs were distinctive by their high steps and flat fronts and large platforms, which made them look old before their time.   They became known as the Pantograph cars as they were the first trams in the Blackpool fleet to use Pantographs for current collection. Their grease filled pantograph trays were soon replaced with trolley poles due to corrosion of the trays and the grease being carried by other trams to other parts of the system and the neighbouring Lytham St Annes tramway. When the railcoaches arrived in 1933, the Pantographs were relegated to seasonal work and mainly short workings and specials on the North Station route.


With the arrival of the 1930’s built railcoaches and with their sleek streamlined cab ends, the Pantograph cars looks distinctly old fashioned.   A programme of modernisation works took place to make the Pantograph cars look more like their more modern looking counterparts with railcoach style moquette covering the seats and new destination screens being fitted.
During the war, the Pantographs were painted in a mainly cream livery with a green band and sweeping ‘V’s at each end. Meanwhile the other tramcars were painted in a mainly green livery with a white band and sweeping ‘v’s at each end. Strangely, after the war the opposite happened with the Pantographs receiving the wartime livery and the other cars receiving a mainly cream livery.

Beginning during wartime, in addition to their regular duties, the Pantographs also found use on the Fleetwood – Broadwater local service. This service was set up following complaints from local people who lived in Broadwater and couldn’t get on the busy service trams and specials full of holiday makers heading to the Fleetwood market. However the locals weren’t happy, they felt that they were being treated as 2nd class citizens as the service was run using the oldest cars in the fleet.

In 1954, Pantograph 176 was scrapped following a failed passenger flow experiment which had been carried out using this car. All other cars received new bogies apart from 167 which was withdrawn for use as a works car.

By 1960, most of the Pantograph Cars had been withdrawn from service, however three cars (170, 172 and 175) would soldier on for a few more months and with less tramcars required due to less passengers being required and the imminent closure of the Lytham Road route freeing up more railcoaches for the North Station route, 172 and 175 became the final members of the class in service and they were withdrawn after running during the Easter Weekend in 1961.

In 1962 167 was donated to Crich Tramway Village for preservation, therfore 170, which had been recently withdrawn from passenger service, replaced 167 as the Works car. Many of the Pantograph cars became the basis for members of the illuminated fleet and were rebuit into their new guises. 168 became the basis of the Paddlesteamer, 170 became the Frigate ‘HMS Blackpool’ following withdrawal as the works car in 1965, and 174 became the carrige of the Western Train, and its past as an Pantograph Car is evident as it still retains the shape and much of the original interior.

167 has visited Blackpool four times since it left for Crich in 1962, returning for the Centenary of the Blackpool Tramway in 1985, the Centenary of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad in 1998, the 125th Anniversary of the Blackpool Tramway in 2010 and for a spell working on the heritage service in 2013.

Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
167 1928 preserved This tram is preserved at Crich Tramway Museum
168 1928 rebuilt see illuminated cars
169 1928 scrapped
170 1928 rebuilt see illuminated cars
171 1928 scrapped
172 1928 scrapped one of the last pantograph’s to run in service
173 1928 scrapped
174 1928 rebuilt see illuminated car
175 1928 scrapped one of the last pantograph’s to run in service
176 1928 scrapped

1Original Info From