Time passes ever more quickly and the inevitable new FHLT / Rigby Road calendar for 2019 is now nearing completion. Focussing entirely on the remarkable English Electric rail coach design of 1933 - the calendar contains highlights of the transition which many of these robust cars endured over successive decades.
Most remarkably none of the forty five strong examples (the largest number of trams of any one class in Blackpool's tram fleet history) have survived - at least in or close to their original form. Possibly the FHLT's example 678 internally at least retains much of the period features of these once classic trams which saw service on every one of Blackpool's tram services.
In later years the frames and bogies (and in some cases bodywork) endured radical makeovers to become Motor Units for the ten 'Progress Twin Cars' of which 678 is one example. The thirteen 'OMO Cars' were all transitions from their 1930s forerunners giving sterling and invaluable service from 1972 onwards until the 'Centenary Cars' assumed their role from 1985. Fortunately two 'OMO Cars' 5/8 remain in frozen preservation at Crich and Rigby Road, while several examples of the remodelled Twin-Car Motor Units are still at large with and without accompanying trailers.
The then Lancastrian Transport Trust made a brave stab at retro rebuilding of one of the latter units to the 1930s styling but this project remains very much frozen in time at Rigby Road depot. It will require considerable finance to bring back the original design and interior features (sliding roof panels being just one) of this groundbreaking development of 1933.
Of course other examples have provided the platform for a complete illuminated car (222 - the Hovertram) whilst 209 offered itself to Rigby Road Works to become the basis of the original steam locomotive of the Western Train set. A Heritage Lottery funded project saw the remains of 209 give way to a second former English Electric rail coach taking its place (as it were) within the rebuilt loco.
Whilst Blackpool's preserved 'Standard' cars get all the glory these days with their traditional English double deck tram 'look' from the early part of the previous century, the remarkable series of streamline luxury trams, both single and double deck, which emerged from Strand Road, Preston deserve equal billing; starting of course with prototype rail coach 200 of 1933. So our 2019 Calender available in Blackpool and online through the Shop page places a well deserved spotlight on this class and the multiplicity of variations which resulted over subsequent years.