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Follow the regular updates on the Trust's projects, comments on Blackpool's bus and tram network and transport issues around the UK and further afield.

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Brush Car 284 Returns to the Prom - (well sort of)

Our first inspection of Brush Car 621 in Rigby Road during 2010 - Colin with his prize. Seven years elapsed since our meeting at Rigby Road Offices when the germs of an idea to save a handful of trams saw its genesis. Steve Palmer, Colin MacLeod and John Woodman were provided with a list of trams being disposed of by BTS - quite a long list. With modest aims at the time, Balloon Car 710 along with Brush Cars 621 and 627 were given a thumbs up. To be sure that 621 was assured of preservation locally Colin put his deposit for the car on the manager's desk and so began the journey for this trio of survivors . Below : Seven years later Colin McLeod relives his role in the preservation of

Looking Up

A visit to Wyre Dock today would have caught the Owner of Brush Car 637 (300) giving attention to its roof and applying a weatherproof seal ahead of the winter months. A continuing watch is necessary to ensure the canvas covering does its job. In this case it had proved worn and in need of replacement. Below : Kevin on the roof of his tram. The FHLT are considering offer of enclosed space in which to further store their trams and an inspection took place today of the building on offer. No decision has been made. Any transfer would need to allow for renovation work on at least two of the Trust's collection over an extended period of time, and further discussions with various Parties

Remembering the Brush Cars in former times

Youthful enthusiasts John Woodman and Derek Redmond enjoy a moment on the platform of Brush Car 287 on Bispham Depot track fan in 1959. Of note are the distinctive numerals which needed to avoid any clash with English Electric's own style used on its cars for Blackpool (and other systems such as Belfast). Also the 'pockets' housing the sliding centre door panels on each side of the entrance platform. Lancaster Grammar School and Blackpool Grammar School pupils with shared interest in Britain's diminishing tramways. We went on to pay our respects to remaining systems in Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow, as these once great tramway redoubts gave way to buses. Derek would in time become Presid

Remembering the Brush Cars - 6

A further member of the 20 strong Brush car class to undergo a major makeover was 638 formerly 301. By the late 1960s Blackpool's Transport Department was urgently giving attention (finally one might say) to the need for reduction of crew staffing. This was a critical issue for the bus fleet which had inexorably built up over ten years to a relatively standardised 100+ rear open platform double decker format which offered no opportunity for modification to driver only operation. In fact the last delivery of this type arrived in 1968 in half cab versions (again showing the absolute need for economy) by the Department which had hitherto favoured full fronted vehicles. Fleet renewal and c

Remembering the Brush Cars - 5

Whilst the survivors of this class are getting a justifiable 'airing' over the weekend in Blackpool - they are of course far removed in style and finish from their original appearance produced by Brush Engineering in 1937. Two examples manage to retain the dual end indicator fixtures on the cab roofs. Number 298 at Crich is the best examplary ambassador of this class (even though it is currently hidden away in Clay Cross store); whilst Blackpool's former 'Permanent Way' car is very much in a woebegone and skeletal state but never succumbed to the fibre glass end mouldings which were applied most of the class. This is but one of many distinctive features which marked these trams out from

Remembering the Brush Cars - 4

In the immediate aftermath of World War Two Blackpool, along with Glasgow's transport management, went ahead with orders for the new control equipment and resilient wheel bogies which became available from Crompton Parkinson and Maley and Taunton. Both companies understandably hopeful that at least some British tram operators would embrace PCC derivative technologies they had licensed from the US. In Blackpool's case this involved trials on two comparable types; the English Electric railcoaches 45 strong in number, and their Brush equivalents delivered just ten years previously. English Electric rail coach 208 was selected to test both the Vambac control equipment together with the new

Remembering the Brush Cars - 3

We are delving into our archive this week to continue with memory lane images of the Brush car fleet in their postwar prime. The new Rigby Road Publishing title now online and available to pre-orders on the Shop page - naturally contains a host of further photos and information on these cars during the 1950s. Below : Brush cars in service on Dickson Road with two examples, one in the white front style adopted (on some) in the late 1950s whilst sister car retains its dual indicators and looks all the better for it... End of the line outside North Station on a misty Sunday morning in autumn. Note the absence of any road traffic. This was before the terminal stub end track was changed

Remembering the Brush Cars - 2

A summer season scene from 1960 with a Brush car unloading at the Station Road stop on Lytham Road. The curving tracks leading on to Station Road being clearly evident. A small group of 'holiday makers' head for the entrance whilst a Balloon car trundles sedately southbound with a handpainted advertisement for Norman Whiteley camera shop on its mid-deck panels. The tram retains all of its chrome exterior embellishments and is more or less as delivered to Blackpool in 1937 but showing due wear and tear. A postwar repaint has replaced the previous dour unvarnished wartime green version - and the chrome beading has been carefully left unpainted on the lower panels. From scrutiny it app

Remembering the Brush Cars - 1

Classic view of a classic tram - in service pre-war running into Fleetwood and almost new in service. John Woodman Archive Memories of this class extend way back to the 1950s when Bispham Depot and Rigby Road shared the honours in stabling the twenty strong fleet. As the class never found their way on to the Marton service and were predominant on the North Station to Fleetwood route, particularly in the winter season, their usage was fairly predictable. The class retained their distinctive air powered centre sliding doors operated by the conductor from a circular switch over the entrance and uniquely kept their individual identities difficult to read except closeup. This was due to th

Brush Car 300 Gets Some TLC

One of the survivors of the 1937 Class on the Fylde coast is out of sight but not out of mind. The remaining highest numbered member of the twenty strong fleet of Brush cars is number 300 - in current speak 637. Withdrawn over a decade ago and sold to Merseytravel as part of a mixed batch of Blackpool trams acquired by that Operator for a mooted heritage tramway on the Wirral - 637 retains a unique feature. Stored at a yard near Liverpool pending the Wirral scheme eventualising - it did not - 637 became part of a job lot sale by Merseytravel along with three other Blackpool trams held at Knowsley. It was accompanied by sister Brush car 635 (formerly 288) and two trailer units (681 and

Blackpool FC 3 Oxford 1

Saturday September 16 saw Oxford United fans travel up north to the seaside for the first match with Blackpool in Division One of the FA. The result was another home win for Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. I lived near to Oxford for many years after returning to the UK from New York and have very good memories of a part of the country previously a big unknown. At the time Oxford's football club was on a roll having been backed by a local businessman who went on to finance the relocation of the club's original ground in Headington to a new stadium on the city's outskirts. Having visited Oxford earlier in the week the city's colourful parade of buses made a contrast with Blackpool's now homog

ORDERS NOW BEING ACCEPTED FOR - Municipal Transport Heyday - Blackpool's

The story of Blackpool's trams and buses continues with Rigby Road Publishing's new title due out end October. Priced at £26.00 plus post and packing, online orders are now being accepted through our Tramtalk Shop from September 23rd. Paid orders are assured of copies on publication of this limited edition title. The book will also be available to paid subscribers ordering and reserving their copy from Toys2Save Shop in Cleveleys and Brooks Collectables on Waterloo Road. Order are now being accepted online on our Shop Page and paid reservations have been received for first run copies. Covering the busy years (for Blackpool Corporation Transport) from the start of the 1950s through to

Unacceptable Diesel Trains

The overriding concerns of governments and health authorities around the world over the cummulative impact of emissions on both health and global climate are now at a tipping point. China this month signalled intention to halt production and sale of diesel and petrol powered vehicles by 2030, whilst auto manufacturers are racing to bring to market electric cars (and other vehicles) as quickly as possible, with similar elimination of petrol (and diesel) engine products. On UK railways the prevalence, certainly in the northwest, of superannuated diesel powered motive units is an issue of public health concern. To be fair Network Rail and the Northern Rail franchise operator are pushing ahea

BTS Bus Makeover

As posted last month Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. have announced plans to take delivery of further new buses to replenish their current fleet. Blackpool Council have approved a ten year loan to the Company (Council Owned) of £16M. This will cover the purchase of 72 buses over the next three years, including the next tranche of ADL Enviro double deckers arriving imminently. These are planned to provide rail replacement services from Blackpool to Preston Station on closure of the railway line between the two towns (and stations inbetween). This includes the South Fylde single track line from Kirkham as far as Blackpool South. Below : Blackpool buses in profile at Hoo Hill on the 9

641 In the Limelight

The Trust's Centenary Car is the centrepiece of a national network of social campaigns and programmes convening in Blackpool. Through the initiatives of the local groups the tram was made available by the FHLT to provide a visual centrepiece for artwork originating by people engaged in drug and alcohol withdrawal programmes. Given a purple makeover the tram has become host to visual material on its side panels and windows, with very colourful interpretations and themes. It will feature in today's 'walkathon' along Blackpool Promenade attended by thousands of participants in the national programme convening over the weekend. The Trust is pleased to make 641 available to highlight the work o

Another Bridge Strengthening

Work commences this weekend on the road bridge over the railway line on Squires Gate Lane. This once carried trams running between Blackpool and St Annes (and beyond). Built in 1931 with an inscribed stone pediment to commemorate the year, the bridge roadway still contains tram tracks which were last used in 1961 after cessation of the Circular Tour which ran from west to east. The tracks connected with those on Lytham Road. The Lytham St Annes Corporation Transport Depot stood on the southern side of the road with an impressive double track fan leading off the road. With sale of Fylde Buses/Blue Buses to Blackpool Transport Services, the historic depot structure was sold off for the

A Brush Car Once

The twenty strong class of Brush single deck rail coaches built in 1937 and numbered 284 to 303 up until the entire fleet renumbering of the mid 1960s when they became 621 to 638 - managed to find several different guises over the years. The first to be altered from its original condition was Number 303 which in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War was selected to trial resilient wheel bogies and subsequently the new 'VAMBAC' control equipment, along with its English Electric counterpart 208. Both cars continued in service thereafter in their newly acquired upgrade status, although 208 was the more regular performer joining the famous 'Marton Vambac' class (10 - 21) which were al

Brush Car Resurgence - 1937 - 2017

The ultimate and finest tramcars built by the Brush Engineering Company's factory at Loughborough emerged in 1937 in the form of twenty luxury single deck cars. Following the centre entrance streamline styling of the English Electric Company's Preston plant on Strand Road - the new trams numbered 284 to 303 had enhanced design features both external and internal. Notable among these were air powered sliding doors on the centre platforms and elegant art deco lighting decor. Enhanced 'Alhambrinal' ceiling panels competed with elaborate moquette seating to provide an interior level of comfort and class unequalled in British trams. It is pertinent to record the company's design drawings and

Travel Melee Blackpool Style

The Lights Switch On last Friday with its now major event taking over the Tower Headland took place on a marvellous day weather wise, attracting predictable crowds no doubt to the satisfaction of the organisers. However elsewhere in the town centre scenes of public confusion reigned with bus services being abruptly terminated (again) and traffic encircling that Blackpool landmark (the Wilko concrete edifice) in a continuous frustrating circle. The recently enhanced bus stances on Market Street were weirdly empty and devoid of traffic as an exercise in frustration took over in nearby Talbot Road. Here some very uncomplimentary language was heard from crowds of people endeavouring to find

641 and Horizon

The Trust's Centenary Car 641 is now transformed into a dramatic new focal point on the Promenade to coincide with the Illuminations Switch On which took place on Friday night. Work continues on 641 with volunteers taking advantage of several days of sunshine this week - Below : Through the efforts of a national network of health and social network under the banner 'Horizon' the tram is now in an all over purple livery which is the theme colour of this UK national campaign. Local volunteers stripped the car of its former BFC display and repainted it during the past two weeks. The fencing around the tram has been further strengthened and painted white as a sharp contrast to the now respl

Working to conserve for display, trams and artefacts of the longstanding coastal tramway serving Blackpool, Thornton Cleveleys and Fleetwood.


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