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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Trams Ahoy

A sunny today on the promenade saw Birkenhead 20 tentatively take on a trial run from Rigby Road which as luck would have it coincided with my heading very slowly in traffic towards South Shore. Driven by a member of the traffic staff and a seated passenger watching closely the trolleypole and wheel as it traversed the overhead wire - Number 20 certainly got quite a few second looks as it passed the North Pier stop en route towards Cabin, and possibly further north.

I managed a couple of quick images as the tram trundled past the classic Cenotaph fortunately in brilliant sunshine - portending full loadings when it finally takes up service on the Heritage Tour service. A brave sight from the Wirral now in Blackpool.

Not picking up passengers on this test trip northbound.

Further south our own tram, 641 on static display, has revealed its final BTS livery (more or less) having been stripped of the covering vinyl displays which were the principal raison d'etre for the three year stay opposite the Pleasure Beach. The charitable group responsible for the imminent makeover having received endorsement and contribution from Blackpool Council - have started repainting the tram promptly, prior to their own designs being affixed over the next two weeks.

In a reality check for whimsical commentators elsewhere - the FHLT have the full endorsement of Blackpool Council in this latest rebranding - and coordinating support from Lightworks on the lighting surround to be put in place. Blackpool Transport have been alerted to work on the tram being contained within the assigned display area - so nothing is amiss. It is highly unlikely that any visitor or passerby will confuse the fenced in Centenary car in wholly 'unheritage colours' with the tour service promoted extensively along the tramway - and even more so when the newly branded 641 is completed shortly. Given the social programmes which this project is planned to highlight as part of a national gathering of similar organisations during September - there is far more significance in the role that 641 has been invited to play, than becoming yet a further example of this class indefinitely mothballed for the delectation of preservationists. FHLT have agreed with BTS to allow 641 to give up some components for use in the extended operation of sister cars 642 and 648 - and for the record at no charge to the Blackpool Heritage Tours operation.

Centenary 641 bereft of (most) of Blackpool Football Club displays - a little more to go.

Baring all - 641 with its protective cab windscreen panels and still retaining original destination blinds. An undercoat paintjob would shortly begin after these images were taken this morning. Colin MacLeod repainted bogies and fenders in July - helping to keep up appearances !

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