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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Sunshine seagulls and squalls

The FHLT have privately arranged storage for several trams saved through sponsorship support. Pending the development of a permanent home in Fleetwood - the trams (most of them) have benefitted from generous contribution of storage on properties owned by HMP Kirkham, Halsall Toys International and latterly by Associated British Ports which owns most of the dockside land in Fleetwood.

In neither case have these storage arrangements involved covered accommodation and thus the trams are exposed to the vagaries of the weather on the Fylde coastline. This has had minimal effect on the trams although dampness and contrasting summertime heat (not necessarily a major factor!) have naturally placed stress on the wooden frames of the two Balloon cars. In the case of the four trams 'rescued' by a single individual's efforts from probable scrapping - and delivered to the Trust's site - the only one on offer; two were metal framed trailer units and two were of course long withdrawn 'Brush' cars. Close examination is underway on the two Brush cars by their respective Owners to ascertain insofar as is possible without workshop resources, the degree of repair required to bodywork in particular, before any formal restoration is commenced.

One of the two trailers (681) has been returned to Blackpool Transport's depot for a more elaborate project - joining its original Motor Unit which arrived seperately, also from extended outside storage. Trailer 687 has been signed over to the FHLT with no plans for its restoration to running order; nor indeed replicating what has already been achieved by Blackpool Heritage Tours with units now in service. The interior of 687 had already been the subject of removal of interior seating and parts long before it was sold by BTS in 2010. However it retains its running gear and original end driver's cab windows. Apart from a broken eaves window on one side, 687 is otherwise weather proof. This makes it an excellent resource for a components store for which purpose it has been acquired. The alternative would have been a container which the Trust was intending to acquire for this role.

Neither wind, rain nor seagulls affect the overall condition of metal framed trams with several examples stored or displayed outdoors locally in the Fylde. Number 643' s roof provided a roosting locale for one seagull pair last year and it seems they have returned to repeat their pairing exercise again in 2016. The Brush cars and two Balloons are less attractive for such arrangements apparently. Given the profusion of nicely repainted 'heritage' trams trundling up and down the promenade and the quadruplication of several types locally - the Trust sees no value in expenditures on creating a photo opportunity for Trailer 687 in a 'pristine' state. The Trust's trams remain on private property and subject to site security conditions prominently posted. Individual visits are possible with advance notice and a contribution to the Trust's ongoing work. Our activities involve extensive discussions with a number of Parties on securing a permanent venue in Fleetwood to which, in good time, the wider public will be most certainly welcome. In the meantime there are more than enough museum tram riding opportunities at hand thanks to the work of Blackpool Heritage Tours team and BTS. Below : FHLT Tram Depot in the sunshine.

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