An illuminated tram-car which is touring Blackpool as a recruiting agent for the A.R.P. services.1
Every autumn in Blackpool, the promenade is festooned with miles of multicoloured lights -- the 'Blackpool Illuminations'. Part of this display involves similarly-decorated trams -- the 'Blackpool illuminated trams'. (Or so I read, I've obviously never been.) This particular example featured in the 1938 illuminations, and was fitted out as a travelling advertisement for recruitment into air raid precaution jobs, such as wardens and first aid. It looks like it's the same tram as the third one pictured here, which was built in 1937, and later rebuilt and called "Progress". Evidently it could be modified to reflect a particular theme. In the picture above, it's got some slogan written on the top windows -- something about ARP -- and a model aeroplane fore and (looks like) aft -- a fighter? My favourite is in the front window: 'A.R.P. DISPELS FEAR'.
I wonder who the intended audience was? ARP was largely a devolved responsibility; local authorities planned and implemented their own schemes. Since, I assume, the tramway was also paid for and operated by the town, it's probably just aimed at local citizens. But of course Blackpool was also a major holiday destination (the sunny Spanish coast at this time being far more likely to receive visits from Italian bombers than British airliners!) The illuminations, then, were also an opportunity to influence visitors from a much wider area than Blackpool, particularly from the north-east. So I wonder if the Home Office played a role in encouraging such recruiting methods?
It's probably only a coincidence, but the day when this photo was published, 27 September 1938, was practically at the peak of the Sudeten crisis. 29 September was the day when the Munich conference was announced in the papers; only on 1 October was it clear that it had succeeded in averting war (and that was the deadline Hitler had announced for resolution of the Sudeten problem). On 27 and 28 September, war seemed imminent. So as the brand-new ARP tram trundled along the promenade, its lights could have been extinguished at any time ...
Manchester Guardian, 27 September 1938, p. 7. ↩
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