A new look for the illuminated Trawler

Trawler 737 may not be the most striking of Blackpool’s famous illuminated trams, but the tram looks set to become much more eye-catching thanks to a makeover funded by Lofthouses, whose Fisherman’s Friend brand has been advertised on the car since it debuted in 2001. The Trawler is of course based on the iconic brand logo and it is pleasing that its sponsors are continuing to support the tram as their contribution to both the annual ‘lights’ spectacle and the heritage tram fleet.

The local company have long been supporters of the illuminated trams; the creation of the Trawler followed the withdrawal of Western Train 733+734 in 1999, although their long-running contract on this tram was briefly transferred to the Hovertram 735. Since 2001 the Trawler, created from the remains of withdrawn Brush car 633, became an important part of the fleet and a popular car for illumination tour duties every autumn. Having received no significant attention since being built, 737 had become very shabby and was rested during 2015. Now, following discussions between Blackpool Transport, the Blackpool Heritage Trust and Lofthouses, the tram is in the works for a makeover which should allow it to resume tour duties during 2016.

The main change will see all of the tram’s external illuminations replaced, and it will receive new ‘state of the art’ lighting effects which should look very impressive! 737 is currently in the Paint Shop where it is being fully repainted before the lighting features are added later on; these are being produced by the Blackpool illuminations department, making this project a real team effort. Some mechanical work is also being carried out and finally, the multi-coloured seat cushions will be replaced by more traditional leaf green moquette, in a nod to the tram’s Brush car origins.

Whilst the Trawler may not have been the first choice for workshop attention with some enthusiasts, for the general public this is fantastic news. There can be no doubt that the illuminated trams are a huge attraction in their own right, and although other older trams are popular when used on tours of the lights, for many people – particularly with young children – there really is no substitute for one of the illuminated cars! Naturally the commercial aspects of the operation will ultimately determine how much finance is available for other projects, and so the refurbishment of the Trawler will almost certainly be a very positive development for the heritage fleet as a whole.

Trawler 737 in its original guise but minus its 'sea wave' skirts and most of its external light fittings, is seen in the Paint Shop in the early stages of its make-over. (Photo courtesy of Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours)


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4 Responses to A new look for the illuminated Trawler

  1. Kev says:

    Great news indeed. This much missed Tram will be a great assett this year as a numb er of people were disappointed at not being able to ride an illuminated Tram due to the long wait for the two to come back. Hopefully this can now be redressed. My only question is why change the seats? Green may be more traditional, but its not authentic for this Tram. Surely looking to the future ‘museum’ all the Trams should be correct to what they are/were. Its a minor dripe I know.

  2. Franklyn says:

    This refurbishment, although positive at first glance, does raise a few questions. Is the trawler one of the vehicles now in the care of the new Heritage Trust? If it is, then the ‘changes’ to take place during the refurbishment are quite worrying. The tram can in no way be claimed to be preserved if changes are being made just for the sake of it. The idea of preservation is to keep something in it’s present form or even to restore it to it’s past form, but never to alter it into a new form without seriously good reason.

    Of course if the tram is not preserved and is still regarded as being a member of the regular service fleet, then the alterations are no problem. Museum space is limited for static exhibits, so keeping vehicles of any type in service and making money is almost always one of the best ways to ensure their long-term survival. However I think it would be nice to see some kind of mission statement from the new Trust and BT regarding what the situation actually is with the fleet, especially as people are now voluntarily giving up their time and money to support these important vehicles and their continued operation.

    • Ken Walker says:

      As the trawler was only “built” in 2001 it doesn’t have much in the way of “heritage” to conserve! The seat moquettes are being replaced with ones more in keeping with its Brush origins so it’s being retro restored rather than being modernised. And as for the lights – which no doubt have to be replaced on a regular basis anyway just as with any bulbs – what is wrong with them being replaced with more efficient lamps which last longer and use less electricity, increasing the viability of the vehicle?

  3. Kev says:

    My understanding is that the illuminated cars are part of the retained fleet as the fatties are and come under the Heritage department. I don’t think there has ever been an attempt to preserve them as such (except the Train which was specifically restored to close to original) so surely new lights etc is a natural part of the cars life. How is museum space limited in a 100 capacity shed? You have no idea what the format of the new museum will be.
    Asking for anything from the new Trust is early days. My understanding is that it is still being set up and isn’t yet ready to go ‘live’ as it were. All these things will come in time. There is a collection policy in draft I know that as I asked!
    This is my understanding – happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.