One of the survivors of the 1937 Class on the Fylde coast is out of sight but not out of mind. The remaining highest numbered member of the twenty strong fleet of Brush cars is number 300 - in current speak 637. Withdrawn over a decade ago and sold to Merseytravel as part of a mixed batch of Blackpool trams acquired by that Operator for a mooted heritage tramway on the Wirral - 637 retains a unique feature.
Stored at a yard near Liverpool pending the Wirral scheme eventualising - it did not - 637 became part of a job lot sale by Merseytravel along with three other Blackpool trams held at Knowsley. It was accompanied by sister Brush car 635 (formerly 288) and two trailer units (681 and 687). All four cars were purchased by an inspired local enthusiast and transferred to further open storage by agreement with the FHLT. The FHLT 'depot' became quite a sight with its own collection joined by the latecomers.
Eventually a private sale saw 637 acquired by yet another enthusiast, less some parts which had been seperately sold off from the tram, but nothing vital. Remaining at Wyre Dock 637 has been looking pretty woebegone and in need of some remedial attention. The Owner lives away from the north of England and agreed to the Trust's willingness to take corrective action this summer.
Images : John Woodman / FHLT
Given the looming celebration of the 80th Anniversary of this now famous class of Blackpool tram - they are getting far more attention in retirement than they ever did in service, we deemed it worthwhile to at least ensure that 300/637 was treated to light makeover. This involved carefully cleaning the exterior panels which retain original hand painted designs for Blackpool Zoo. This was at a time when vinyl panels were still in the future and handpainted signage was an essential prerequisite of the Paint Shop.
So 637 is the last surviving Blackpool tram with this craft - and worth a showcase in its own right. The FHLT have treated 637 to some tender loving care on the tram exterior in the past weeks. Even though it remains in storage at Wyre Dock, like the other special promotional tram (also with a Zoo theme) at nearby Anchorsholme - Number 300 is rightfully representing an era of tram design (and handpainted signage) which is now a footnote of our transport history.