Since leaving its long-term home at Blackpool’s Rigby Road tram shed, no time has been wasted in preparing the illuminated Rocket 732 for static display as one of the star attractions of the 2012 illuminations. 732 moved to Blackpool Council’s illuminations depot on July 9th and since then the dusty old tram has been smartened up considerably.
Work on the tram’s electrics has already taken place, enabling the large front and side panels to be illuminated for the first time since 1999. Most of the light bulbs on the actual spacecraft itself have been removed for attention, and repainting of the exterior is progressing well. The driver’s cab has been treated to a fresh coat of dark green, the colour chosen for this car on the occasion of its last full repaint way back in the 1980s. Other work still to be completed will see the skirting panels, which were removed to enable 732 to be transported by low loader, replaced with new, easily detacheable panels which will assist with any future road journeys that it may be required to make.
Once the work is complete, the Rocket will be placed on the Gynn Square roundabout as the centrepiece of a space-themed display, which will be just one of the main attractions of the annual autumn illuminations, now in its 100th year. Although undoubtedly a return to operation for this iconic tram would be preferable, the Lancastrian Transport Trust and the Illuminations Department are to be congrtaulated for working together to ensure that this much-loved tram will be visible to the public after more than a decade of neglect. With Brush Railcoach 290, now preserved by the Friends of Fleetwood Trams, also set to be on static display for the centenary of the illuminations, 2012 should be a good year for the lights and the trams, and hopefully this will be appreciated by many visitors to the town for the yearly spectacle.