T7 Puts on a Show
Rossall School have had the unique benefit of electric trams stopping opposite the school gates since 1898 when the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company inaugurated its interurban service to Talbot Road Station in Blackpool (now known as Blackpool North). Successive generations of students and visitors have been familiar with a diversity of tramcar types over the past 119 years - something of a record for a UK scholastic institution.
Nowadays the School has a significant student body from China - studying and taking specialist courses across several grades. In 2010 Rossall School was a contributor to the initial launch of the FHLT's proposals for a tram museum in Fleetwood and provided several pupils for the press display of Balloon Car 710 at Rigby Road. Number 710 was one of two trams reserved for the Fleetwood proposals (the other being Brush Car 290). Both trams attracted private sponsorship allowing their acquisition during the great tramcar 'sell off' by Blackpool Transport.
A more recent acquisition (2016) was Trailer Car 687 - formerly T7 which is now stored with 710 and other cars at Wyre Dock, Fleetwood courtesy of Associated British Ports (ABP). T7 returned to Blackpool in 2016 from outside storage near Liverpool where it had been one of several trams acquired by Merseytravel in preparation for a proposed heritage tram scheme in the Wirral involving Peel Holdings. Four trams were placed for disposal by Merseytravel following on cancellation of the initial proposals. All four found their way to Wyre Dock through a private purchase of a local enthusiast and under arrangements with the FHLT. A second Trailer Unit (681) was sold on to the Blackpool Heritage Tours operation and found itself back in Rigby Road Depot while 687 was subsequently acquired by the FHLT for its own developments in Fleetwood. The quartet from Merseytravel also included two Brush cars (details in earlier Blogs).
Trailer T7 as it is now known in Fleetwood is undergoing refurbishment for special display purposes. In similar fashion to the successful displays of both Brush Car 290 and Centenary 641 at the Pleasure Beach tram terminus on Blackpool Promenade - T7 will be the subject of themed 'rebranding'. This is in anticipation of the proposed scheme for Wyre Dock moving ahead. One element in proposals under shared review includes Chinese anchor attractions. Concept designs for the scheme and visual images created at Rossall School by Students will be applied to T7 for display. A visit this week from a number of Students allowed them the chance to inspect the trailer ahead of completing designs. T7 took on a 'foreign' appearance in line with intended developments at Wyre Dock. Coincidentally Hong Kong's Twentieth Anniversary of the Handover from Britain to China is the subject of formal ceremonies and a visit by China's Head of State. Hong Kong of course being celebrated by transport enthusiasts for faithfully retaining operation of double deck trams to a traditional style. Two examples actually came to Blackpool for testing and trials before being transferred to the Birkenhead tram museum where they were for a time operated initially by Blackpool Transport crews under licence to Wirral Council. The duo remain (69 and 70) in Birkenhead providing reliable service at busy weekends augmenting the impressive core collection of Merseyside area heritage cars which is still expanding. A former Warrington tramcar is in the throes of being restored to an operating condition through local enthusiast efforts - adding to this varied representative collection.
Trailer T7 with China's national flag on display.
Below : a concept design affixed to one of the tram windows. This would become a full vinyl panel in the final format.
Trailer 683 sneaks in on the scene.