About the Illuminated Heritage Trams

About the Illuminated Heritage Trams

We all love the Illuminated Heritage Trams! They’re a long standing tradition in Blackpool, guaranteed to make you smile!

The Current Fleet of Illuminated Heritage Trams

Meet the Illuminated Heritage Trams seen on the Blackpool tramway during the autumn evenings of the Illuminations season. Follow the links to photos, videos and more information about each one.

HMS Blackpool

The HMS Blackpool Frigate Tram is based on the Royal Navy Frigate of the same name.

Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, HMS Blackpool Frigate
Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, HMS Blackpool Frigate

Fisherman’s Friend Trawler Tram

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The beautiful Fisherman’s Friend Trawler Tram has been fully restored and returned to the tramway, bedecked in thousands of glittering LED lights! It’s sponsored by the famous Fisherman’s Friend – the little lozenges are made up the coast in nearby Fleetwood.

The Fisherman's Friend Trawler Tram, one of the current Illuminated Heritage Trams
The Fisherman’s Friend Trawler Tram, on display at Tram Sunday
Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, Fisherman's Friend Trawler
Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, Fisherman’s Friend Trawler Tram, lit up at night

Western Train Tram

The Western Train is a firm favourite, and it’s also the tram that carries Santa to meet excited children at Christmas time too!

Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, Western Train
Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram, Western Train

Blackpool Illuminated Heritage Tram Tours

One of the treats of the autumn season is a ride on one of these three amazing illuminated heritage trams. They’re lit up at night during the Blackpool Illuminations and operate in the evening from September to the beginning of November each year.

Catch your Heritage Tram Tour from the heritage tram stop at the Pleasure Beach. It’s just across from the main entrance, adjacent to the tram turning circle at the left hand side of the Sandcastle Waterpark.

Heritage Tram Stop, where you catch the Illuminated Heritage Trams
Heritage Tram Stop, where you catch the Illuminated Heritage Trams

An illuminations tour lasts on average 1hr 15 mins. Your ride takes you from the Heritage Tram Stop, through the Lights of the Golden Mile, all the way along Blackpool promenade to Bispham. Then return back to where you began at the Pleasure Beach.

PLEASE NOTE that you can ONLY board an Illuminations tram tour at the Pleasure Beach Heritage Tram Stop. Having turned round, on the way back you can get off the tram at any of the Heritage stops between Little Bispham and the Pleasure Beach.

Tours run about every 20 mins from switch on time. The first tours are always the busiest, so come back in about an hour if you don’t want to queue or wait.

The modern, burgundy service trams stop at the platforms along the route. Heritage Tram stops are separate to them, they look like bus stops but are on the tramway.

Tickets are valid for one return journey.

How did Blackpool get Illuminated Heritage Trams?

The first illuminated trams were seen on our promenade in 1897. Early ones celebrated Royal visits and the completion of promenade works.

You can find out about the history of the first illuminated trams here, complete with some old photos of the first trams including the Gondola, Progress and the Blackpool Belle.

This video clip of the Illuminated Heritage Trams in 2012 is by Bruce Kitchener from YouTube –

Heritage Tram Tours

You can ride the traditional Heritage Trams throughout the day, and they come out at night for tours of the Illuminations too.

Heritage Tram being exhibited at Fleetwood Tram Sunday, run alongside Illuminated Heritage Trams
One of the Heritage Tram Fleet on display at Tram Sunday

Heritage Tram Tours FAQs and Helpful Hints!

• Can we pre-book tours? – Generally no, just turn up and pay the conductor on board. The only pre-bookable tours are Great British Night Out, Guided Tours and Ghost Tours.

• Do you operate every day? – Promenade Tours operate most weekends and school holidays. Illumination Tours operate every evening during the Illuminations except Switch On night. Illumination Tours start from Switch-On time until 9pm Sun-Thurs & until 10pm Fri/Sat.

• Do you operate tours on Switch On night? – No, we start the day after, on the Saturday. This is because the Tramway is closed at Tower Headland for The Switch On event.

• What’s the best time to catch an Illumination Tour? – The first tours are always busiest and get quieter during the evening. An hour after switch on time is best for a shorter wait! Friday/Saturday are the busiest days. Tours take just over an hour and you can catch one about every 20 minutes.

• Where do we catch an Illuminations Tour? – ONLY from Pleasure Beach Heritage Stop. You can get off an Illuminations tour at other Heritage Tram Stops on the return journey.

 Are all trams illuminated? – A mix of Illuminated and Heritage trams are used. You can get a great view of the Illuminations from the top deck of the Double Deckers!

• Can I get off and rejoin a tour (split tour)? – Daytime tours-Yes, Illumination tours-No.

…and a few more!

Are Blackpool Transport Saver/Day/24/One tickets valid on Heritage Tram Tours? – No. But Heritage Day Tickets are available which also include modern tram and bus services.

• Can we buy Heritage Day Tickets on all trams and buses? – Yes, Heritage Day Tickets can be bought on any Blackpool Transport bus or tram service, remember to ask for HERITAGE! The price includes all tours/buses/trams.

• Are Heritage Tram Tickets available online or on the Blackpool Transport App? – No.

• Can we pay by Debit/Credit Card? – No, we only accept £cash on our tours.

• Are concession passes accepted on Heritage Trams? – No, these are not valid for tours.

• Are Heritage Day Tickets valid for 24 hours? – No, only valid on the day of purchase.

• Can I hire a Heritage Tram? – Yes, please call Emma on 01253 209521 for more details!

Other Illuminated Heritage Trams

Hovertram comes Home!

The illuminated Hovertram, no.735 returned to Blackpool in September 2016 after an absence of nine years.

Hovertram arrives back in Blackpool, September 2016
Hovertram arrives back in Blackpool, September 2016

735 has been placed on loan to the Blackpool Heritage Trust for a minimum of 20 years from its owners, the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust (NEETT). It had spent the last two years at their Sunderland premises.

After a four hour journey, the Hovertram arrived at the Rigby Road depot. It looks in better condition that you might expect, especially since it’s not run since the 2001 Illuminations.

It spent six years in store in Blackpool before leaving for preservation in Scotland in 2007, then being transferred to Sunderland in 2014. Its return reunites the entire collection of 1960’s built illuminated trams.

Blackpool Heritage Trust would like to thank NEETT for allowing the Hovertram to return home to Blackpool, and to the Blackpool Tram Shop for sponsoring the move.

The Rocket Tram

Not on display now, but worthy of a mention in this section about illuminated heritage trams, is the Rocket.

Rocket Tram on display at Gynn Roundabout in 2012
Rocket Tram on display at Gynn Roundabout in 2012

The Rocket Tram was a pioneer of the earliest days of space travel – remember that man didn’t walk on the moon until 1969. It came to the Blackpool tramway in 1961 and ran until 1999.

It was a unique passenger experience, riding in a tram elevated at almost 30 degrees. King Peter of Yugoslavia and General Neguib of Egypt were dressed as astronauts in the cock-pit! They were two redundant characters from the then Louis Tussauds Waxworks.

By 2010 it was beyond the point of economic restoration, so for ten years it gathered dust in the tram depot. A plan was put together to display it on the Gynn roundabout as part of the Illuminations Centenary display in 2012. It was removed in 2014 to make way for a refreshed display.

The Rocket Tram is stored with the fleet of old Heritage Trams at the Rigby Road Depot, along with the rest of the Blackpool Heritage Trust fleet.

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