Lytham 43 has become the latest tram to join the growing collection of historic rolling stock based on the Blackpool tramway, when it was delivered to Rigby Road depot on the afternoon of Sunday 24th January. This follows the previous announcement that the lower saloon of this, the sole surviving electric tramcar from the old Lytham fleet, would be moving to Blackpool for future completion of a restoration to operating condition.
On the morning of January 24th, Lytham 43 was loaded onto a small road trailer to be towed to Blackpool. Due to being incomplete, the tram was sheeted over for its historic journey by road although bits of the ends of the tram could be seen sticking out from beneath its protective tarpaulins. As only the lower saloon of the tram survives, a shorter trailer than that normally required for tram moves was adequate. Despite a short stopover at Kirkham, the tram arrived at Blackpool before the fall of darkness and was driven through the bus yard at Rigby Road, before being moved inside the tram depot still aboard the trailer used to transport it to its new home. Presumably the tram will be unloaded inside the depot – indeed it may already have been – and will then be stored until the resources become available for its restoration to be completed. Although impressive progress has been made already by the tram’s owner, there remains a huge amount of work to be finished before the tram can run again – not least the construction of a replica top deck and replacement of its missing four-wheel truck. No doubt options for funding this very worthwhile project will be investigated in due course to ensure that such a valuable new addition to the collection of Fylde tramcars does not have to wait too long before it can once again carry passengers along the Blackpool promenade.
Whilst numerous Blackpool trams have returned to Rigby Road in the last few years as the fledgling heritage operation has grown at an incredible rate, some permanently and others to visit, 43 is unusual as it was never based at this site during its working life and now becomes the first Lytham car ever to be housed at Rigby Road, another remarkable ‘first’ to add to the heritage team’s ever-growing list of achievements. Hopefully there will be opportunities to see this priceless vehicle soon, but the most important thing is that it is now stored undercover with a bright future ahead of it. This is thanks mainly to the efforts of Robert Mortimer who has ensured its survival and carried out a high quality of initial restoration work, whilst the Blackpool Heritage Trust – and Bryan Lindop in particular – also deserve a mention for negotiating to bring the tram back to Blackpool. Its return is certainly a welcome gleam of good news at a miserable time for fans of traditional British tramways, and another reminder that Blackpool is very much a tramway on the up!