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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman


Long before the querulous criticisms by today's enthusiasts over whether this or that tram is worth retaining or restoring from remaining examples now surviving - a far greater loss occurred in the early Sixties following on closure of the street routes (and two depots) on the Blackpool system.

Among the many trams scrapped or given away at the time by an indifferent management - were several important examples meriting individual 'rescue'.

A total of forty five rail coaches built by English Electric - the largest single class on the system - were gradually whittled down over subsequent years. None now survive in original or near original form.

An important member of this 'workhorse' class was Number 208. The tram was selected as a testbed for new 'silent running bogies' and 'variable automatic braking and acceleration controls' (VAMBAC), along with Brush Car 303. Both trams would aid the Transport Committee (and Council's) decision on whether or not to renew the all street Marton tramtrack in the immediate aftermath of the War. Additionally the successful testing of this new technology - derived it must be said from the PCC developments of the mid 1930s in the US - would lead to a far less successful order for similarly equipped trams for the Promenade service to Fleetwood - the ill-fated 'Coronation' cars.

Along with another important member of this class, prototype rail coach 200 of 1933, 208 joined a sad lineup of trams in Marton Depot - sold collectively for scrap in 1962. Both 200 and 208 were examples of tram development - each important in their own right. If it were not for the quirk of a planned light rail development (of the time) on Hayling Island by a small but ambitious group putting their hands in their pockets - the solitary example of Marton's 'Vambacs' (Number 11) would also have joined them to make this class extinct. Number 208 with its distinctive inverted cab windscreens and enclosed gantry base (for the VAMBAC equipment) unloads on Waterloo Road railway bridge one bright summer day. Three English Electric railcoaches in varied forms meet up at St Annes Road. This was the occasion of an enthusiast's tour - with the rebuilt example on the crossover, while two service cars (4 minute service on Marton) patiently wait out proceedings.

Both Photos : John Woodman - apologies for the dark and grainy tour day image.

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