Blackpool 680 on the move again

Despite having only arrived in Manchester at the end of March following a period of operation at Beamish Museum, Blackpool Ex-Towing car 680 will soon be leaving the Heaton Park Tramway for another loan period. This time, the car is set to return ‘home’ to Blackpool, where it will be joining the heritage fleet as a temporary new addition to coincide with celebrations marking the 130th anniversary of the famous coastal system, and to help fill a gap in the resident heritage collection.

It is planned that 680 will remain in service at the park for most of the summer in its current guise as 280 and retaining the bland cream livery it has worn since October 2010, and it will be one of the main attractions at a Blackpool-themed event to be held on 8th & 9th August, after which it will be withdrawn in preparation for its next adventure. Shortly afterwards, 680 will be treated to a full repaint in the 1990s style green and cream livery, complete with black window surrounds and Blackpool Transport logos, which will suit its current condition much better than the plain cream livery worn at present, and it will also regain its more familiar latter day fleet number becoming 680 once again. It is planned that the tram will be ready to move to Blackpool in time to participate in the weekend of events being held on 26th & 27th September to celebrate the tramway’s 130th anniversary, and it will regain a pantograph before it re-enters service in Blackpool to complete its authentic appearance. It will therefore become the second preserved Blackpool tram to return for a visit in the light rail era, following on from the memorable visit of Pantograph car 167 from Crich in 2014.

MTMS Chairman Bob Hill said ‘We are delighted to be working with Blackpool Transport once again and that Heaton Park Tramway can support the ground breaking Heritage venture. I am thrilled that one of our Trams will delight visitors as part of Blackpool’s famous Heritage Tram Tours. 680 will fill a current gap in the Heritage Collection as it is the only operational Ex-Towing Railcoach and will be the only single deck Tram in 1990s condition in Blackpool.’

680‘s loan should further strengthen the excellent working relationship between Blackpool Transport and the Manchester Transport Museum Society, whilst enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy the chance to ride on an Ex-Towing car to Fleetwood again for the first time since 2008 – something that few of us had ever expected to be able to experience again. However, some people have already expressed slight disappointment that the tramway’s latest addition will depart so soon after being launched into service, although for most seeing 680 back in Blackpool should more than make up for this!

The chance to ride on 680 at Blackpool again is likely to be one of the unexpected highlights of the year for tram enthusiasts. The tram had last operated in Blackpool in 2008, and its return will enable it to become the first single English Electric Railcoach to run on the modernised system, albeit in a heavily modernised form.

A classic Blackpool scene with 680 in its 1990s livery at North Pier, a sight which should be recreated in just a few months from now when it returns on loan from the MTMS. (Photo courtesy of Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours)


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10 Responses to Blackpool 680 on the move again

  1. Christopher Callan says:

    Think its fabulous that Heaton Park Tramway & Blackpool Transport enjoy such a close and successful relationship. Its great that their able to share what is a gap in the operational fleet and will be a valuable enclosed car at Blackpool.

    • Ken Walker says:

      Are Blackpool going to loan Heaton Park a Flexity in return, the same as they loaned out 600 in place of Manchester 765 in the 1980s? (Only joking!). I agree with Chris that it is very good to see such a warm relationship developing between the two organisations.

  2. John says:

    Just one point – the photograph which went on the FB page and which you have used is incorrect! The version of the livery 680 will have is the second version with cream stripe above the windows.

  3. John says:

    Just for the record nothing is coming the other way!

  4. Phil Hart says:

    Can’t understand why the heritage fleet have always to succumb to a pantograph as they look so out of place on any of the heritage fleet.

    • Paul D says:

      In present condition, a pan is the only power collector that is correct for 680… She only carried a pole at Beamish and at Heaton Park because the overhead is not compatible with pantographs.

      I would say, the best policy is mix and match selecting the most appropriate collector for the condition of the tram. So a pan would be out of place on 147 or 66 or a boat, but is entirely correct and in keeping for 680 and 701 and 715 for example…

      • Peter says:

        And we must remember that the Blackpool system is a commercial operation allowing Heritage operation, we should be happy that this is the case and that the overhead is maintained in a way some trolley fitted trams can operate. Many other European systems where Heritage trams run must comply to modern current collection which is usually pantographs.

        Also some of the Heritage fleet are actually correct in running pantographs rather than trolley poles as Paul D points out.

        • Ken Walker says:

          At the end of the day it is people riding on the trams, and not people tajing photos, which is going to pay for the vehicles to continue operating, and when you are travelling on the tram it is irrelevant which type of current pickup it is using!

  5. John says:

    We are lucky that so many Blackpool cars still have trolleys – most European Heritage operations are all pantograph. Does it matter if the car keeps running? They can be taken off if they are ever stuffed and mounted – remeber 66 nearly got one! Also there is an acute shortage of pole bases – they are not all stored somewhere, most were scrapped as life expired.

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