Tram Museum at Starr Gate?
Wed 22 Apr 2009
From Blackpool Gazette - 22 April 2009
A NEW museum could be built on Blackpool Promenade to showcase the resort's world-famous trams.
Just weeks after unveiling plans for a £20m depot for the resort's new fleet of supertrams, the council has revealed plans for a second major building to house the heritage trams – which will continue to operate as a tourist attraction.Back
If it goes ahead, it will be built alongside the supertram depot at Starr Gate, which will be open by Easter 2012 when the new tramway will be operational.
Although, for the immediate future, the older vehicles will continue to be stored and maintained in the existing Rigby Road tram shed, a planning application has been submitted for the new facilities.
There is no funding in place as yet for the museum. The cost of the supertram depot is already assured through the £100m tramway upgrade funding announced last year.
Paul Grocott, Tramway Programme Manager at Blackpool Council, said: "The current phase of Blackpool's tram development concentrates on the future.
"But we also want to celebrate our wonderful heritage trams and provide a tourist attraction with these much loved trams running along the Blackpool Promenade section of track. These old trams will continue to be maintained and operate from Rigby Road but it is our aspiration in the future to add a tram heritage centre to the Squires Gate facility.
"This second phase will not happen for a number of years but the outline planning application records the council's intention to create a heritage facility so that the many enthusiasts can enjoy the whole story of the Blackpool tram from its beginnings in 1885 right up to the present day."
Philip Higgs, of the Lancastrian Transport Trust, said the scheme would provide a fantastic new tourism attraction if it could attract funding.
He said: "There is a great deal of interest in the Blackpool tramway and we have a lot of heritage here but at the moment there is nowhere to showcase it. It would be a fantastic venue and would help to make that area of Starr Gate into another visitor attraction.
"San Francisco has a cable car museum which is very popular while the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden attracts between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors a year so it shows how successful these kind of attractions can be."
The heritage fleet is expected to be slimmed down to 22 vehicles once the new fleet of 16 supertrams is in service. The working museum would have glazed walls and provide exhibition facilities as well as storage and maintenance space.