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Dreadnought 59

October 24, 2016

One of the great survivors from the earliest years of Blackpool's tramway is the unique double deck open top car number 59 built in 1902 by Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in Shrewsbury.   The tram was one of eight examples in the third tranche of this  unusual design featuring twin staircases at each end of the bodywork descending on to a platform and steps which led down to the track.

Of course this wouldn't get past the drawing board in later years but the need for faster unloading (and loading) of these high capacity cars on the busy promenade service overrode any inhibitions of management in those days.  It is salutory to note that no other British tramway opted to acquire similar cars.

 

With the advent of the streamlined open top cars from English Electric in 1934 the days of the 'Dreadnought' class as they were known - were over, all being withdrawn by 1935.   A chance mention of preserving one of these distinctive trams in the local newspaper resulted in Number 59 being hastily shunted to the back of Copse Road Depot in Fleetwood, just as dismantling of the tram was about to begin.  And here the matter would rest (literally) for a further twenty four years when the imminent celebration of seventy five years of continuous electric tramway brought its solitary sojourn to an end.   Towed back to Rigby Road 59 was brought back to life in the tramway workshop, with the writer on hand when it emerged into daylight onto the works traverser for transfer to the Paint Shop.   It would be one of four remarkable restorations to mark the 75th Anniversary.

 

Thereafter this distinctive  tram was very much in the public eye, both in Blackpool and also at Crich (which owned the car).   A further rebuilding of the tram took place at Blackpool Technical College in 1975 allowing its continued service on the promenade and a leading role in the Centenary Year 1985 procession.   Returned to the Crich Museum in 1990 it subsequently was placed in store in 1995 out of public view where it remains today at Clay Cross.   There is no doubt that continuous calls for 59 to be brought back to life (for the third time) will eventually see its return to Blackpool in a mutual agreement with the TMS.  

 Not a sight usually seen at Royal Oak.   Dreadnought 59 followed by Fleetwood 'Rack' 2 en route from Marton Depot to Rigby Road (this was not a tour).  

 

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