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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Well Worth A Read

John Woodman

Another prolific author covering Britain's tramcar history is Peter Waller who has just published his tome on 'second hand' trams which have percolated? between systems during their UK careers. A fascinating account of almost all of the seperate transfers, sales and loans which are on record from Edwardian days up to Glasgow and Leeds purchases in the 1950s. The abortive sale of Aberdeen's postwar double deck trams to Blackpool is of course mentioned - and the much earlier sale of former London United trams to Blackpool in the aftermath of the Great War.

Much research has gone into this excellent book highly recommended to followers of this theme. One small observation of what I believe is missing from the lengthy illustrated record - is the tailpiece and story of Blackpool 651. This car was purchased and owned by GEC Traction to the same design as the Centenary class - to test an innovative bogie design. The company secured agreement with Blackpool Transport Services for the car to be stored and operated under lease from GEC - as a means of gauging the value of their patented bogie design. At the same time the Council were planning for a total of nine Centenary cars in three tranches of three to be delivered following the relative success of the prototype 641 from 1984.

Two of the orders were placed and delivered by East Lancashire Coachworks, whilst GEC Traction owned 651 was an additional 'runner' as well as the prototype 1984 delivery - 641. Having second thoughts the Council did not proceed with the third order of an additional and final three cars which would have been 648 - 650. Hence the GEC loaned test car being assigned fleet number 651. Having cancelled the third order and agreed terms with GEC Traction to purchase their trial car (albeit without the special bogies) - 651 thus was formally absorbed into Blackpool's tram fleet and appropriately renumbered 648 to complete the Centenary series (numerically speaking). This particular transaction did not gain inclusion in Peter's title = but this does not detract from the value of his coverage of this fascinating topic. I got to ride Feltham cars in Leeds and Liverpool cars in Glasgow - in the final years of those great tram systems - just to top and tail this blog.

Well done Peter.


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