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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

726 and (288) Gain Sanctuary at Rigby Road

726 at Wyre Dock stands alongside 678 on the right and Brush car 635 in the background. Both Images by Steve Meyer-Rassow.

After gaining secure storage with the FHLT trams at Wyre Dock both Brush Car 288 (625) and Balloon Car 263 (726) are destined to return to Rigby Road Depot. By agreement with the Owner both trams will transfer by the usual means from Wyre Dock to Blackpool - in the near future.

Number 288 was the very first Brush Car to go through the Workshops in 1958 and receive a single indicator in place of the twin indicator cab domes which formed part of their 1937 design at Loughborough. It would be followed by 291 and then over a very extended period the rest of the extant Brush car class with sole exception of two examples. Number 298 was acquired for preservation during the 1970s by a private group headed by Keith Terry retaining its twin indicator destination apertures, whilst one tram was assigned to the Permanent Way Car duties and given a sequence of fleet numbers over the years. It managed to retain its original cab domes up until final preservation in a skeletal condition, firstly through efforts of the LTT, and latterly as part of the Blackpool Heritage Trust's continually expanding collection.

Number 288 joins many of its sister cars at Rigby Road including 290 which remains in ownership of the FHLT. A further Brush car, 635 (300) remains at Wyre Dock with the FHLT collection by arrangement with its Owner. This car, along with 288 (625) was in fact retrieved from storage at Knowsley near Liverpool after the Merseytravel company decided not to proceed further with a scheme for Wirral Waters which intended to use several Blackpool trams as an extended heritage service through what is to become a major property development along the former dockside area of Wallasey.

Tram 625 formerly 288 awaits its journey to Rigby Road (alongside Trailer T7).

All four cars at Knowsley were saved by a now well known private enthusiast and retrieved from potential scrapping to find temporary security in Fleetwood for the past two years. They involved two trailers T1 and T7 288 and 300 aka as 681, 687, 625 and 635. The FHLT offered their premises for immediate safe storage and in so doing by agreement with their new Owner acquired trailer 687 (T7) for future display purposes. The other trailer car (681) T1 (681) was returned in 2016 to the ownership of the BHT with intent for its future operation with Motor Unit 671. The latter being seperately acquired by BHT from the LTT and storage in private premises in Marton. Brush Car 635 after initial efforts to dispose of it for spare parts (some items being individually acquired) - was subsequently transferred into seperate private Ownership and will be retained at Wyre Dock with the Trust's collection.

If you can follow this story you deserve a drink. Quite remarkably Rigby Road will shortly hold a substantial number of the original twenty strong Brush car fleet delivered in 1937. The Crich collection owns two examples including the original preserved 298 now awaiting its own place in the pantheon of British tram design classics. A further Brush car 636 - is in ownership of a Derby energy technology company and uniquely (for the moment) retains its eaves glazing. As of course does 298 at Crich when it comes back into public view. Given the pending plans to commemorate 80 years of this class of especial Blackpool tram - the arrival of yet a further example is extremely timely. Whether it will be placed on display along with the impressive lineup of existing examples at Rigby Road is a matter for BHT and the Owner who has been diligently working on the interior of the car during the past year. There is of course the further example now functioning as a classroom at a local school not too far away from the seaside tramway. This is one class of Blackpool tram which has refused to die quietly.

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