More plans revealed for the ‘Merseyside four’

Just a few days after four Blackpool trams previously owned by Merseytravel were transported by road from Knowsley to Fleetwood fish docks for storage after being sold to a new owner, details have been released regarding the future plans for these trams. Unfortunately, despite the considerable cost of moving the quartet it seems that only one of them can be truly considered ‘preserved’, this being Brush Railcoach 625.

Of the two Brush cars which made the journey to Fleetwood during the past week, it is now expected that 625 will be the subject of future restoration work to be carried out by its owner (who is also aiming to restore Balloon 726 to near-original condition) with some assistance from the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, with the possibility of additional help coming from a local skills development organisation. Sister car 637 is not considered to be required for any preservation scheme and is ultimately expected to be broken up, but it is planned to use it as a source of spare parts to assist with other projects. The intention is to offer useful parts such as controllers and windows to other organisations, and some early talks to this effect have already taken place, with other like-minded groups encouraged to make contact as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the decision to scrap 637 and retain 625 means that no swing-over seats will be up for grabs, which is a shame as these are very valuable to anyone with Blackpool streamliners. On the plus side, 625‘s interior is in a much more traditional guise and as such represents a potentially very nice museum exhibit, although any future restoration back to operational standard would probably be very costly as it was considered to be in a very poor structural condition prior to its withdrawal from use in 2004. By contrast, 637 was treated to a heavy overhaul in 1990 and was considered a relatively good car right until it too was withdrawn in 2004, although subsequent years of storage have not been kind to the car.

As for the two trailers which moved from Merseyside, these are expected to be utilised for two very different roles. Presumably inspired by the use of Brush car 622 as a static classroom at Anchorsholme Academy, one of the trailers – 681 or 687 - is earmarked for use as either a classroom or an art studio by a local facility for people with learning disabilities. The other one is to be used as a storage container for various artefacts and other items accumulated by the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust in the last few years, which should be moved into the tram shortly. Oddly, although the car will presumably remain stored on private property, it is also intended to treat it to a full repaint in its 1960s cream livery! It was felt that buying a redundant tram represented better value for money than investing in a more typical storage container, and also ensured the survival of another historic tram, at least in the short term.

In other news, a very public row has erupted after an enthusiast took some photographs of some of the trams in storage at Fleetwood which were then published on the Internet. Despite the photographer apparently gaining the permission of security personnel at the site to do so, this has been very much frowned upon by the FHLT, and we therefore feel it is our duty to remind readers of this site that they should NOT attempt to access the yard where these trams are residing. As mentioned previously, plans are afoot to allow access on an invite-only basis, free of charge, this summer as a one-off event although oddly, priority is being given to visitors from the South of England and London area who are travelling to the Fylde coast. Otherwise, the trams are definitely off limits in their current home.

 

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4 Responses to More plans revealed for the ‘Merseyside four’

  1. Christopher Callan says:

    Whilst for some it will be seen as hopes been dashed with the “rescue” feeling somewhat underwhelmed actually encouraged that realism seems to be creeping slowly. As a movement not every Blackpool Tram can and will survive. Some novel uses will extend their lives for a little longer. Creating spares will help the wider movement. Have always felt movement would be stronger and more prosperous once people accepted we cannot and must not save them all.

  2. Jim Robinson says:

    I wonder if it would be easier to combine the best bits from the two cars to make one good one, You could put the number of bot, one at each end ala Isle of Man

    • Tom Irvin says:

      The idea of combining could work in practice, I’ve no idea.

      I do wonder, however, what would be the point seeing as there are plenty of Brush cars already preserved, both at home in Blackpool and at other locations. Surely it would be better to plough funds into those in better condition, and those with the original bodyshells. Same sort of principle to the twin trailers.

      I do like the idea of reusing the bodyshells though, that way if funds become available, or something happens to the others, they can still be reclaimed. They are doing something useful, the bodywork is being maintained and they survive. Win, win as far as I can see.

  3. John says:

    Preserved Brush cars: 623 at Heaton Park (operational, early 1990s body condition), 630 at Crich (operational, 1990s rebuild), 626 (stored location unknown, 1990s rebuild), 631 in Blackpool (operational, hybrid body!), 259 (Blackpool unrestored close to original condition), 298 (Clay Cross, partly restored to original condition), 632 (stored in Blackpool in 1970/80s condition). 634 at NEETT (restored to hybrid condition), 6?? stored at Beamish for restoration to 1950s condition. Plus the Fleetwood cars. So whilst there are plenty they represent a variety of conditions and only 3 are operational.