One of the marvellous reincarnations of Blackpool's tramway history looms with completion of work on Standard Car 143 to its open ended condition when built during the mid 1920s. Number 143 was fortunate in being selected to replace
Engineering Car 4 in 1958. Fortunately for both cars in fact as they will soon share
the spotlight in Blackpool Corporation Tramways livery at Beamish and Blackpool respectively, resulting from their long 'second lives' as works cars.
Number 143 of course is familiar from its initial role based at Bispham Depot still retaining top deck end compartments and given a repaint in more or less Standard Car livery of the 1930s which it retained, (albeit in a somewhat worn state) until final withdrawal. A fire in the lower deck brought about its premature end with resulting transfer to the care of the Lancastrian Transport Trust. The LTT made a brave effort to restore the tram to its original appearance, with work well
advanced up until a difference of views between BTS and the Trust. All's well that ends well however, as moving forward a few years 143 is now back at Rigby Road Works with expectations that under the new heritage 'regime' there the tram will finally receive concluding restoration attention in the coming months. We will be welcoming it taking its place in the heritage fleet in 2016.
Whilst it is unlikely that Blackpool will ever regain a third Standard car - the missing link of an open balcony, enclosed platform example such as Standard 40 at Crich, and 144 at Seashore Museum in the US, would complete the transitionary phase of this important class of Blackpool tram. But having the only fully open ended example is a major step in its own right. In fact this will be the only such example in the UK of a four axle traditional British double deck tram of this type.
By way of reference a photographer in the 1920s captured Standard 143 heading towards North Pier in the condition we can expect to see it later next year.
Ironically it is very close to the Heritage Tram Tours stop near North Pier.
TALBOT SQ. is the destination and so 143 is at its terminus. More interesting work for Peter Watts to recreate a set of mid to late 1920s linen blinds perhaps ?