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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman


Ten stylish new trailers were delivered to Rigby Road in the early 1960s. Built by Metro Cammell at their Oldbury plant - these new vehicles were destined to have long and varying lives.

Numbered T1 to T10 the trailers matched in their design ten remodelled English Electric built rail- coaches which acted as the motor units.

'Progress Twin-Sets' as they were called, were intended to operate in a single ended format requiring use of turning circles or loops (or the depot wye). This was found to be inefficient and within a few years seven trailers were provided with a driver's position at their trailing end - making them control trailers.

Seven such 'Twin-Sets' were modified in this way. The three remaining trailers were mothballed and eventually sold off, while their matching Motor Units were further rebuilt to operate as single double ended trams. One of these (678) is in the ownership of the FHLT very much in its original condition. A sister car is now at the Heaton Park Museum having been further rebuilt by BTS. During the great tram clear-out at Rigby Road in 2010/2011 two of the seven trailers, together with a trio of 'Brush' cars were purchased by Merseytravel destined for a proposed heritage service within Wirral Waters development on the Birkenhead industrial waterfront. This was not to be. The renumbered 681 and 687 were shunted off to storage where they have recently been purchased by a private buyer.

Number 687 retains its 1980s BTS livery and end windscreens and still looks impressive despite its somewhat worn appearance. Internally however it has been used over the years to provide seats for other projects at Rigby Road. Number 681 is looking much smarter in Metro Coastlines green and yellow and is complete internally. 681's matching Motor Unit (671) is at Rigby Road Depot pending transfer to the north east of England (now a favoured destination of classic Blackpool trams). The story of these ten 'Twin-Sets' and their individual destinies is worth a book in its own right one of these days. However the full story is yet to be told it seems.

A peek inside 687 reveals its stripped condition and the driving control end. Bits and pieces of seat frames and life guard trays litter one end. A roof glazing panel has been broken, letting in the elements in this area otherwise the tram bodywork is in relatively good condition overall. An update on 687's further travels is likely, along with the fate of sister car 681.

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