Works Car to Heritage Tram - 624 / 287
Above : Gleaming recently repainted 624 with its rail carrying crane mounted trailer (formerly Brush Car 628 underframe and bogies) alongside the Engineering Shop.
One fortunate survivor in the heritage tram stakes is Brush Car 287 / 624 which was plucked from the serviceable fleet to replace an English Electric rail coach (221) assigned to Permanent Way Duties and numbered 5. The latter car was then given a third life as an OMO conversion in 1972 ironically becoming number 5 in the new OMO series. Remarkably this example also survives; having been acquired by the Tramway Museum Society for preservation - albeit stored at Clay Cross.
But back to Brush Car 287. In 1972 it was one of few examples still with air powered centre sliding doors and in this form was internally stripped, given a quick all over green paint job and sent out as replacement for its English Electric predecessor. Subsequently 'married up' to the new rail carrier trailer which itself originated as a Brush car (628/291) - the set became a frequent sight on the tramway in successive decades during track repair and replacement. Renumbered it seems several times 624 ended up as 259 and in later years became somewhat careworn losing parts along the way. One of the cab roof ends lost its destination apertures and roller blind fittings for one or other restoration project - leaving a 'blindless' dome whilst the other end miraculously retained these original fittings.
Eventually 259 became part of the Lancastrian Transport Trust's collection ending up at Brinwell Road and finally in open storage at Marton, before retrieval (along with the other LTT exiles), and return to Rigby Road Depot where it remains awaiting a fairy godmother to fund a return to a more pristine state. Certainly despite the influx of sister Brush cars - 287 will eventually find itself in the pantheon of classic Blackpool trams and deservedly so after the adventures it has gone through over forty odd years. At one point Blackpool enthusiasts placed faith in the 298 Railcoach project with substantial donations to the fund set up for its restoration to 1937 condition - complete with air operating sliding doors, sliding roof panels, and the original art deco features which made these trams so distinctive prior to 1960s 'modification work' set in. Alas this seems destined to be a story which will run and run despite good intentions, a lot of dedicated work by a few people, and considerable amounts of fund raising. In the meantime we have 287 to take its place in due course - with the later modified survivors listed in the previous blog.
Latter day decline with 287/ 624 / 259 in a distressed condition inside Rigby Road Depot in December. One end has definitely suffered from a close encounter with something. However the original half drop saloon windows and at least one original driver's windscreen plus some other features are helpful guides in the eventual full restoration of this survivor. A glimpse of the partly restored English Electric railcoach project awaiting decisions on the next step in this 'lost' class of the town's tram heritage.
Images : John Woodman and John Woodman Archive