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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman


The Trust’s Centenary Car 641 is about to step into the limelight more than thirty years after its introduction as Blackpool’s newest tram and prototype for a small fleet (641 - 648). Built in Blackburn for Blackpool Borough Transport - they became the final all-British tram design before foreign imports took over UK light rail growth. Criticised by observers for being too much like buses - the Centenary cars never caught the imagination of tram enthusiasts. Nonetheless all except one unfortunate of the eight strong class survive in various forms and collections. For some reason 41 was a popular fleet number for prototype trams. In 1937 Glasgow launched the first of their famous Coronation cars designed and built by the Transport Department’s Coplawhill Works. Number 1141 carried on from the last fleet number 1140 - of a more traditional design. Over 150 similar trams becoming the mainstay of Glasgow’s tram services in later years. Four examples have been preserved. Melbourne’s pro-tram management authorised work on a completely new design in 1972 with the emergent model appearing the following year numbered 1041. Much like our Centenary prototype it was a four axle (bogie) car intended for one man operation. Launched in a brand new colour scheme of orange with brown and cream trim - it stood out immediately in the huge fleet of green and cream single deck trams of the M&MTB system. Its success was immediate and confirmed with an order for 100 similar cars. The ‘Z Class’ have since been superseded by low floor light vehicles from different suppliers. We are pleased that 641 is in such distinguished and diverse company. No doubt there are other examples.

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