Blackpool’s ‘rocket tram’ revisited as pressure mounts for it to return

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The tram is still in storage awaiting restoration, with many calling for it to return to return to Blackpool’s seafront

 

People are calling for the return of The Burnley Building Society "rocket tram" from the '80s and '90s
People are calling for the return of The Burnley Building Society “rocket tram” from the ’80s and ’90s (Image: Blackpool Heritage Trams)

A recent reminder of a once popular illuminated Blackpool tram has prompted hundreds of responses on social media with people sharing their memories and asking for its return.

A picture of the ‘rocket tram’, sponsored by Burnley Building Society, was post on the Facebook of tourism page ‘I Love Blackpool’ prompting hundreds to react to the nostalgic gem.

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The tram provided a unique experience for thousands of passengers from the 1980s to 1999 who travelled at an elevation of almost 30 degrees.

Two redundant waxworks from the old Louis Tussauds museum – King Peter of Yugoslavia and General Neguib of Egypt – were dressed as astronauts to ‘pilot’ the cockpit.

The sloping floor combined with a high passenger load meant that there were concerns raised of running it safely. However despite these challenges, it seems that the public want the vintage vehicle to return.

Kayleigh Bainton commented to say: “Bring it back but don’t have passengers on it just have it go up and down a few times a night for nostalgia.”

Paul Routley said: “Bring back the ROCKET, I remember the rocket as the most anticipated tram on the tracks, always the one to look out for.

“So glad it was not sold off, or dismantled, even the sight of it parked on the Island always gave you hope it would be restored one day, can we not get lottery funding for this restoration?”

Christopher Bright said: “This one really needs to return, seriously all illumination trams need to return. The elevated height won’t be a issue if everyone is seated until the end of the ride. If the rocket returns in my life time then I’m complete.”

Others shared their memories of riding the quirky tram.

Phill Davidson reminisced: “I always remember some words of wisdom from a tram conductor in the 1970s. These illuminated trams might look nice, but if you want to look at the lights, catch a normal tram because you get a better view. These are lit up too much and it’s harder to see out of the windows.”

David Rankin added: “I worked for the Burnley Building Society from 1979 and it merged with the Provincial Building Society to become National & Provincial Building Society in 1982 or 83 I think.

“I remember that, because we had sponsored the tram, we were allowed to have a ‘works do’ on it one night so off we set and there were a couple of crates of beer on board and soft drinks too. I ended up walking up and down that incline many times that night, serving everybody!

“Funny, the things that stick in your mind, isn’t it??”

Blackpool Heritage Trams works to preserve those trams which were in day-to-day use over the past 100-plus years.

The Heritage Tram Depot is the last working first-generation tram depot in the UK and one of only three working historic tram depots in the world built for double-deck trams.

The organisation is always need of vital funds so it can continue to run, maintain and restore the historic trams of Blackpool.