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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Talking of Fenders

John Woodman

One of the several differences between English Electric products and the Brush Company's twenty strong delivery of railcars in 1937 could be seen in the size and profile of the front / end fenders. By way of comparison I took this photograph towards the end of the Lytham Road service with a conveniently lined up English Electric car heading north from the terminus at Squires Gate and a Brush car just arriving also in its later Franklin ordained cream front paintwork. Note the shortened dimension of the Brush car fenders and their positioning. Photo : John Woodman

English Electric applied a standard format to the fenders on their streamline cars for Blackpool (with not dissimilar designs for Belfast and Liverpool's streamliners, as well as the centre entrance models for Sunderland and Darwen). Below : classic trams together at Royal Oak with two passing Marton Vambac cars in this view showing closeups of the front end design and fenders. Photo by John Woodman

In fact English Electric's decision to move away from the traditional solid end fender common to most first generation trams was in all probability influenced by designs from across the pond in the form of new models built by the firm of Osgood-Bradley in 1928. Known as 'Electromobiles' the class were to be acquired by a single conglomerate owning urban systems in Scranton, Altoona and New Bedford plus a demonstrator for the system in York, PA (not England!). Their design featured metal strips across the lower frontage of the bodywork very similar to the later English version applied in Preston to new trams being built during the 1930s for Sunderland, Aberdeen, Blackpool, Belfast and the two double deck cars for Darwen which later went on to Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.- Liverpool also utilised similar fender styling for some of its four axle and two axle cars built at Edge Lane Works. Blackpool's continued use of this fender right up to light rail upgrade derives from an American styling concept of the late 1920s. English Electric Company secured patents on its 1933 'rail coach' model design features, hence the need for the Brush Company to 'tweak' their own1937 version for Blackpool which in fact was an improved design by comparison. The subsequent 1939 'Sun Saloon' model built in Preston acknowledged this with the deeper windscreens and sharper vee front applied to this class (10 - 21).

Our 'heritage' fleet should pay close attention to these finer points in original designs - and of course the relevant liveries applied to reflect an earlier era. Whilst considerable effort went into the retro restoration of Balloon car '717' paid for by a private bequest; as well as the ongoing work on Standard 143 to compare with the excellent restoration of enclosed Standard 147; the slackening of faithful restoration in more recent years has become ever more noticeable to the point that applying the term 'heritage' could be a contravention of the 'Trade Description Act'.


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