Trailer Heads For Rossall
Contrary to the flurry of speculative postings on social media concerning the Trust's Balloon Car 247 aka 710 being transferred to Rossall School - following recent discussions between the School's managers and the Trustees- it has been determined that 710 is unsuited to Rossall's plans. Accordingly an alternative tram owned by the FHLT has been selected for transfer to Rossall School.
Trailer Car 687 acquired from the batch of trams originally intended for the Wirral heritage line (not the museum) and acquired by Merseytravel from BTS - had been placed in store in Knowsley along with its sister Twin Set units. Following a change of heart by Merseytravel (and presumably the Wirral Waters developer) the decision was taken to dispose of all the former Blackpool trams. Announcement of their intended sale drew little interest with the potential for the entire group of cars being turned over to a scrap dealer by Merseytravel. A local enthusiast, Matt Lodge, took the brave initiative to place a bid for the stored cars at Knowsley and found himself owner of all of the units. The FHLT offered assistance in providing storage at the Wyre Dock site to which the trams were then despatched joining the Trust's existing collection. Subsequently one set was acquired by the FTT (the green and yellow MetroCoastlines branded units) and moved to Rigby Road where the motor car made a further move to the Transport Museum in St Helens - covered elsewhere this past week,
More recently used to store miscellaneous tools and materials by the FHLT who acquired this unit from Matt in a subsequent transfer of ownership, the Trailer was given a rudimentary repaint of grey and silver in which it presently stands. Bereft of internal seating the tram provides a useful storeroom at present. Rotting rubber sealant has seen three of the roof glazed fixtures falling off the tram. However the decision of Rossall School to acquire the tram for display and practical purposes inside the school grounds will ensure replacement glazing and a professional repaint to a traditional Blackpool cream and green branding once it is installed there. Plans for the tram's removal from Wyre Dock and transfer to a purpose assigned site at the school are well advanced with expectation this will take place within a few weeks.
BTS Heritage team are providing assistance to this joined up project with logistical support, painting and tram rail with sleepers. A visit to the tram this week to inspect its condition involved Bryan Lindop, along with Rossall School project manager with FHLT Trustees Frank Heald and John Woodman, together with Colin MacLeod who continues his support of the Trust's actions (which include disposal of its collection to new sponsors).
The future plans for Balloon Car 710 remain open and 'fluid' with the Trust again looking for a suitable venue and hosting sponsor able to provide tlc in an extended restoration of the tram.
Trailer T7 in its latter day grey primer at Wyre Dock complete with PRC flags for a visit by Chinese officials a year back. The flag in the driver's windscreen is the Hong Kong emblem sanctioned after handover by the UK to the 'tender care' by the Chinese Communist Party .