The FHLT are providing storage for a Blackpool tram which retains its handpainted imagery advertising Blackpool Zoo. Uniquely privately owned 637 (300) still has carefully applied renderings of colourful creatures, as well as an early vinyl marking the advent of this technique which has now all but eliminated signwriting and its art, although privately owned small and medium size businesses still take a pride in their vehicles, whether trucks, lorries or vans, with traditional hand painted exterior signage. Ironically perhaps these stand out more in traffic than the gross in your face corporate messaging which is an all too frequent approach of bigger firms.
So Brush car 637 is the sole survivor of an era when the signwriter held sway at Rigby Road creating both commercial and 'house' promotions on buses and trams. Interestingly the 'Metro Coastlines' phase (2000 - 2009) of Blackpool Transport's branding transitions since the company's inception in 1986 saw extension of the signwriting approach, but with vinyl applications, examples of which also adorn the Trust's Twin Set 673/683 which is stored at Fleetwood. In addition to the 1960s interior 'Limited Stop' route cards still fitted inside the motor unit, reminders of tram stops of former years eg : Central Station, Miners Home, Ash Street, Harrowside, and so on - the tram's exterior side panels retain listings of places reached on these cars.
In the early years of the Twin Sets when they operated in unidirectional mode the motor units were fitted with destination boards above the saloon windows; much akin to British Railways carriages on express and mainline trains of note. A further variation were boards fitted on the front of the motor unit below the driver's windscreen with similar listings, although whether these had any useful effect on passengers waiting for their next tram is moot. Both features fell into disuse by the 1970s. Revival on one of the surviving sets in the all cream styling would be a nice touch at some point.
But back to 637 - now a solitary survivor of another time in the tram fleet's extended history, we have at least one tangible momento from the Paint Shop's creative skills.
Thanks to Kevin Buckley 637's proud owner whose recent album on the Brush Cars through their eighty years is now on sale at various outlets in Blackpool 'The Blackpool Brush Railcar - 80 Years of Service'. Priced at £14.00 it is a highly useful reference for enthusiasts and heritage research. It will soon be available online on the Tramtalk Shop - proceeds of this privately published title go to aid Kevin's work on 637 (300). The tram was to have been disposed of for parts in 2016 but has thankfully survived its near escape and remains a uniquely colourful member of the 'Brush Car Survivors Club'.