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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Remembering the Brush Cars - 4

In the immediate aftermath of World War Two Blackpool, along with Glasgow's transport management, went ahead with orders for the new control equipment and resilient wheel bogies which became available from Crompton Parkinson and Maley and Taunton. Both companies understandably hopeful that at least some British tram operators would embrace PCC derivative technologies they had licensed from the US.

In Blackpool's case this involved trials on two comparable types; the English Electric railcoaches 45 strong in number, and their Brush equivalents delivered just ten years previously. English Electric rail coach 208 was selected to test both the Vambac control equipment together with the new bogie design; whilst Brush car 303 (the highest numbered car in the tram fleet) was initially tested with new bogies but retaining its Alan West controllers.

Number 303 is seen here in an official Department photograph taken for promotional purposes with bogies painted white to stand out for publicity purposes. Subsequently 303 would also receive new Vambac controls inserted under the tower gantry with a lowering of the centre entrance ceiling panels. In this state it would continue very much as is up until withdrawal from service in 1962, immediately after closure of the Marton tram service. Rail coach 208 similarly suffered the same fate being non standard with the Transport Department's understandable desire to rid themselves of the costs of maintaining such advanced equipment.

This solitary Vambac Brush Car was stabled at Bispham Depot, being a definite 'oddity' amid the standard Brush Car assigned fleet and the 1928 Pantographs always based there. Some of the English Electric railcoaches were added to this mix, but 208 remained at Marton Depot with twelve upgraded 'Sun Saloons' by then transformed into the famous 'Marton Vambac' class 10-21 by 1951. All performed superbly on Blackpool's only all-street tram route up to closure - a fine tribute to both the Department and suppliers in a brief window of optimism over potential UK tramcar development from 1945 to 1952. Alas this was not to be.

Image : John Woodman Archive

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