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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Roman 'Brush' Cars - 1930s style

The development by Brush Engineering in Loughborough of their finest tram design - finessing the originating styling of English Electric 'rail coaches' for Blackpool did not go unnoticed elsewere in Europe.

Rome, like many European major cities, in addition to its extensive urban tram system under municipal control, also hosted several lengthy interurban services.

These extended east and southeast of Rome in the Lazio Region. One of these semi rural lines linking villages and small towns along its route into central Rome had a small fleet of four axle double deck top covered trams - a rarity in Europe.

Under the modernising fascist government from the late 1920s - transport and architecture, along of course with the military and police, underwent radical modernisation and capital investment (not always with the desired results). The STEFER line with its antique double deckers was an early target for modernisers. In 1938 the prototype articulated design was launched at the interurban terminus which was situated next to Rome's main railway station.

Number 4001 had unusual pointed ends and domed cab roof not dissimilar to the Brush design. The tram was an articulated single ended model and the images show the official public launch that year. 4001 would be followed by a series 401-412 and a slightly upgraded version in 1952 (501 - 508). These ran in conjunction with the double deck bogie cars making an unusual sight on Rome's streets.

Blackpool's modernised tram system was visited by countless foreign transport professionals up to the outbreak of the war. One notable visit involved the top management of a major German city. Its transport manager brought his Mayor with him on a return visit a few months later. Their request to ride on one of Blackpool's newest trams may well have featured a 'Brush' car but sadly no photos or records exist of their journey along the promenade. Tentative discussions over a possible German model understandably did not come to fruition.

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