It may be slightly later than originally planned – as so often happens with a new signing – but the Blackpool FC Celebration Tram is now in situ alongside Pleasure Beach loop and will be officially unveiled to the public on Friday 18th September when the full effect of the livery will be seen for the first time. The tram forming the basis of the Celebration Tram is, of course, Blackpool Centenary 641 and over the past few months it has been transformed at the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust’s Wyre Dock storage compound.
641 was acquired by lifelong Blackpool FC fan Trevor Jones and donated to the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust following the end of normal traditional tram operations in 2011. Sadly Mr Jones has since passed away but the Celebration Tram is in part a tribute to him as well as celebrating the long and distinguished history of Blackpool FC (granted not much to be proud of in the last few years but the tram is looking further back than that to celebrate).
On Wednesday 16th September Calked Heavy Haulage arrived at Wyre Dock and proceeded to start to load the tram for movement to Pleasure Beach. Although the loading was not quite as straightforward as would have been hoped for 641 was soon on board the specially extended trailer and embarked on a road journey back into Blackpool. Rather than take the direct route the low loader went within sight of Bloomfield Road – home of Blackpool FC of course – before it headed to its new (temporary) home of the small piece of track at Pleasure Beach. The unloading process was undertaken in the early hours of Thursday 16th September – as with the loading of Brush 290 it was necessary for the overhead to be isolated hence the early hours of the morning unload – and proved to be a far more smooth process.
With the tram now in situ final preparations will be undertaken which will include the fitting of the pantograph tower along with lights so the tram can truly form part of the 2015 Illuminations season.
It is planned that at 1900 on Friday 18th September the official unveiling will take place with the sheets currently obscuring part of the tram being fully removed so any visitors will be able to see the whole of the tram. Of note is that on the destination screens special vinyls have been placed stating “Highbury, Fleetwood & Bloomfield Road, Blackpool” – Highbury is the home of big spending Fleetwood Town FC so both major football teams of the area get some mention on the tram (how that will go down with fans of either remains to be seen!)
With the removal of 641 the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust facility at Wyre Dock is now home to Brush Cars 625 and 637, Centenary 643, Twin Car 673+683, Ex-Towing Railcoach 678, Twin Trailers 681 and 687 and Balloons 710 and 726. Fellow FHLT trams Brush 290 and Jubilee 761 are now stored at Blackpool Transport’s Rigby Road Depot.