The Blackpool tramway upgrade has resulted in several of the tramway’s old fleet ending up in some rather odd places – and Centenary car 643 looks set to join their ranks. Having already changed owners more time than many considerably older trams, 643 has been sold yet again and looks set for a new life at a school for young people with learning disabilities somewhere in the Midlands.
Since it last operated in November 2011, 643 has already had two different owners although it has not ventured very far from its native rails. In 2012 it departed for Broadwater Caravan Park, where its interior was refurbished for use as a static cafe and the tram was repainted in an attractive cream and green livery, seemingly inspired by that worn by the Coronation class when new in the 1950s. Sadly it did not last long in this guise and was donated to the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust in 2014, moving to join many of their other trams in storage at the Fleetwood fish docks. Last year it was announced that the tram had been sold again but its intended fate has only just been confirmed. It is understood that 643 will leave Fleetwood shortly, initially bound for a railway maintenance facility where it will be transformed again before heading to what will presumably be its final destination. The FHLT state that the search for a meaningful role for this car has now been achieved, although what a school catering for learning disabilities intends to do with a Centenary car remains a mystery for now at least! Whilst it is pleasing that 643 will live on, it is perhaps a pity that, having been donated to a charitable organisation so recently, it has been sold out of preservation – but hopefully monies gained can benefit other trams in the Trust’s collection.
Incidentally, this will leave the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust with just one Centenary car, this being prototype 641 which remains at Pleasure Beach in its Blackpool FC livery. The tram has recently been smartened up with the repainting of its bogie frames and bumpers in black, which will help it to remain presentable as it enters its second year in this location. Another makeover to replace the current football livery is reportedly expected for 2017, indicating that 641 looks set to stay where it is for some time to come.