Marton VAMBAC Trams

Built in 1939 by English Electric as the part of Walter Luff’s modernisation plan, the Marton VAMBACs began life as ‘Sun Saloons’.   The sun saloons were a part enclosed summer tram designed to be used to transport tourists along the promenade.

The Sun Saloons were of a similar shape to the English Electric railcoaches and were numbered 10-21.   They had half height windows and doors, there was no partitions between the driver and passengers, fold away tarpaulin roofs in the passenger saloons and the controllers and braking equipment was salvaged from older cars which were being scrapped at the time.

As the Sun Saloons entered service, World War 2 was declared and the role originally invisiaged for these trams was soon abandoned as they were required for a completely different purpose.   This new role they had was transporting troops from their barracks at Squires Gate to the Rifle Ranges which had been set up at Rossall.    Every day they would carry troops, their equipment and live ammunition (Modern Day Health and Safety would never have allowed this to happen!) to the ranges. When returning to collect the troops to return them to barracks, there was often a delay and initially the trams would have to line up on the running line waiting for them and holding up the service cars, this was soon remedied with the addition of a loop to the east of the running line to allow the troop carriers to await their passengers there.

The troops soon christened the Sun Saloons ‘Cattle trucks’ as they were uncomfortable and draughty. To make the journey more bearable for the troops, the Sun Saloons were refurbished with a proper roof, full sized drop down windows and full sized doors.    The driving cabs were also fully enclosed. Later on the thin wooden seating was upgraded with cushioned seating being fitted.

After the war, they would find another new role as modern single deckers were required for the Marton route to replace the aging Standard Trams.   They began to operate on the Marton route and in 1948, when the Marton route was being relaid, the trams were further upgraded and fitted with flourescent lighting and the then revolutionary VAMBAC equipment which allowed smoother acceleration and braking and by 1952, these trams were the mainstay of the route, with additional railcoaches supplimenting the service.

The Marton VAMBAC trams were very popular with the residents along the Marton route as they continued to provide a reliable service for the remainder of the 1950’s.   The first VAMBAC was withdrawn in 1960  as car 10 suffered accident damage and was scrapped soon after.   The second VAMBAC withdrawn was  21 in 1961 which was withdrawn  as a source of  spare parts for the remaining trams, while 14 was also withdrawn for use as a driver training car.   The writing was on the wall for the Marton Route, which had been isolated and lost it’s summer services to South Pier following the closure of the Lytham Road route in 1961, however, the remaining VAMBACS remained in use until October 1962 when the Marton route closed, with 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18 operating on the last day. The VAMBACS remained in Marton Depot and were joined by other surplus trams for scrapping in 1963.

One VAMBAC did manage to survive however, VAMBAC 11 was requested for a tour of the remaining parts of the tramway early in 1963 and was extracted from Marton Depot and made it’s way to Rigby Road. Following the tour, 11 was eventually preserved and found its way into preservation and is now at the East Anglia transport museum, where it still sees regular use today.


Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
10 1939 scrapped first to be scrapped, 1960
11 1939 preserved Green and Cream In use at East Anglia Transport Museum, used on the final day of service on Marton Route
12 1939 scrapped
13 1939 scrapped used on the final day of service on Marton Route
14 1939 scrapped used as Driver training car 1961/62
15 1939 scrapped used on the final day of service on Marton Route
16 1939 scrapped
17 1939 scrapped used on the final day of service on Marton Route
18 1939 scrapped used on the final day of service on Marton Route
19 1939 scrapped
20 1939 scrapped
21 1939 scrapped withdrawn for spare parts 1961


Original Info From