PRESERVING THE BLACKPOOL BRUSH CARS
The Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust (FHLT) have supported preservation of FOUR Brush cars since their disposal by Blackpool Transport in 2010.
The two examples acquired directly by the FHLT in 2010 with sponsor support from local companies were: Number 284 (621) and Number 290 (627). Both trams initially went to HM Prison Kirkham for storage from Rigby Road Depot in 2011. Below - 621 arriving at the Prison and 627 (290) being launched after its repainting at the Prison into the Diamond Jubilee celebration colours and before transfer back to Blackpool.
Both trams then went in different directions before returning to Rigby Road Depot by 2016. Number 290/627 received restoration work whilst inside Kirkham Prison. The tram was given a special livery and lighting features along with artwork renderings from local schools and the Blackpool & Fylde College to celebrate HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year. It was then placed on static display at the Pleasure Beach tram terminus with cooperation of Lightworks and Blackpool Council Operational Services who installed the display track.
Above - Brush Car 627 departing Rigby Road for HM Prison Kirkham in the horrendous all over advertising which was its final service condition. A resplendent makeover at Kirkham by a small cadre of offenders and our Trustee Colin MacLeod – 290 is installed at the special Pleasure Beach display track. The third image shows 290 returned to a version of its 1960s green and cream livery which the tram still retains as 290. It will join the FHLT fleet to operate at Wyre Dock, Fleetwood on a new tourist line planned as a part of the regeneration scheme under discussion in 2017.
First in the Brush car series (284 / 621) was also acquired by the FHLT in 2011. Transferred initially to Kirkham Prison (below) it was later sold on to an enthusiast group who sought its restoration and operation at the Beamish Museum. On arrival at the Museum it was placed in store pending workshop space which did not eventualise. Offered back to Blackpool’s Heritage Tours operation it returned to Rigby Road having completed a remarkable full circle over five years. Given Workshop time in 2017 it now forms a key role in the 80th Anniversary of this class, taking its place in Blackpool’s heritage tram fleet.
Two further examples would eventually find themselves at the FHLT compound at Wyre Dock, Fleetwood. Along with two 1961 trailers these were purchased privately from Merseytravel in 2015 following decision by that Operator to ‘unload’ assets acquired for a speculative heritage tramway scheme at Wirral Waters.
The quartet remained stored at a logistics depot yard near Knowsley until later placed on sale. The initiative of a Fylde enthusiast secured private purchase from Merseytravel thus saving all four trams from the scrapyard – there being no other offers. The FHLT offered ongoing storage with their collection at Wyre Dock, to which the quartet were transferred (681/687/625/637).
Further arrangements by the new owner saw Trailer 681 acquired by Blackpool Heritage Tours; whilst Trailer 687 was purchased by the FHLT for its collection.
Brush car 625 (288) remains privately owned and stored at Rigby Road Depot, whilst 637 (300), in still extant handpainted promotion for Blackpool Zoo, was sold on to another enthusiast. The Trustees have cleaned the tram’s exterior – as tribute to its 80th anniversary. This car now remains at Wyre Dock reserved for future operation on the tourist line to be developed there, along with the Trust’s other trams.
An intriguing history involving preservation through diverse private efforts, together with the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, of these four of the twenty strong Brush cars of 1937.