The Trawler sails again!

Blackpool’s illuminated Trawler 737 has finally made its long-awaited return to service following a thorough overhaul. The tram made its first appearance on the promenade for nearly two years on Thursday 6th October, when it was unveiled to its main sponsors Lofthouse’s, the makers of the famous Fisherman’s Friend products which of course bear the trawler image which inspired the tram’s design.

Work on the Trawler’s refurbishment has been delayed a few times, and as a result having the tram ready for this deadline proved to be quite a challenge for both the Blackpool Transport workshop staff and the Blackpool Illuminations Department who have worked together on this joint project. However, on October 6th, 737 was towed out of the Fitting Shop to greet a small crowd of invited guests, before operating its maiden voyage to Fleetwood. There, the name ‘Cevic’ painted on its end panels, was unveiled by Tony Lofthouse, having been covered over for its northbound run, before the dignitaries retired to the nearby North Euston hotel for a meal whilst the tram laid over on the Ferry loop before returning south later in the afternoon. Due to bright sunshine it was difficult to appreciate the full effect of its new external illuminations, although this may have been just as well, as a few teething problems were experienced with them! However, a preview was given showing that the many new lights covering the tram can be programmed to display a wide range of different colours, which will no doubt look stunning once these gremlins are ironed out.

Unfortunately, despite efforts to get the lights working properly, the tram had to run unilluminated for its public launch the following evening, with the exception of the blue ‘sea wave’ effect on its skirts. Despite this, the car operated two trips to Fleetwood with ticket holders also receiving a souvenir programme to celebrate its return to service. Hopefully the issues with its new lights will soon be resolved, and 737 can rejoin the Western Train and the Frigate on nightly illumination tours for the remainder of the season after being noticeably absent from service since November 2014.

The refurbished Trawler is seen being towed out of the Fitting Shop by a diminutive forklift truck on 6th October.

With the invited guests on board, 737 is seen heading for the promenade on its maiden voyage following its refurbishment. (Photos x 2 by Rob Bray)

On arrival at Fleetwood, the tram was officially launched by Tony Lofthouse who revealed the name 'Cevic' on the front of the tram - in very bright sunlight!

Speeches were made in front of the assembled crowd on Bold Street. (Photos x 2 by Paul Galley)


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19 Responses to The Trawler sails again!

  1. Phil Hart says:

    Looks great except for one thing. That silly diamond pantograph. It really looks our of place. I don’t know why they can’t fit retro trolley poles on the heritage fleet, the pantos really look silly.

    • Tommy says:

      But some of the heritage trams didn’t carry trolley poles in the condition they’re representing – such as 701, 715, 642, 648. 737 never carried a trolley pole – therefore it would be inaccurate (and much less practical) to fit one.

      • Phil Hart says:

        The balloons originally had trolley poles, the centenaries had pantos.

      • Phil Hart says:

        In fact all those trams built before 761 originally carried trolley poles. This includes all Standards, Balloons, Brushes, Railcars, Coronations & Twin Cars

        • Michael says:

          But not the “Pantograph” cars, or the Conduits!

          • Paul says:

            Erm yes they did… The “Pullman” cars (to give them their official title) WERE originally fitted with Pantographs which is how they gained the nickname they are more commonly known by and retained long after they were fitted with trolley poles!!!

    • Ken Walker says:

      By that logic any form of power collection equipment looks ‘silly’ on top of a trawler, but this particular trawler wouldn’t get very far without one!

    • Paul says:

      As others have said most heritage cars with pantographs carried them in the condition they have been restored to – but there are other reasons. There are few, if any, spare trolley bases and I suspect they would be quite expensive to produce, for little benefit, other than addressing subjective personal views on aesthetics!

  2. Mark says:

    When 737 is lit up at night you won’t see the panto and besides it has never run with a trolley. When 701 was originally painted red in 1991 following a major overhaul, it was fitted with a pantograph, so makes it historically correct. Same with 715.

  3. Nick says:

    Why does it matter? No European system Heritage operation uses poles so be grateful that Blackpool has any at all! If some cars retain them for ease of operation then so be it!

  4. Dave says:

    I know this may be controversial but I think it looks awful. The concept is fantastic and the light show will be stunning but its the wrong vehicle – it is no longer a Trawler its a black box with pointy ends. It should have been kept in its Trawler state as the last illuminated car, possibly with upgraded lights/LEDs but in the same style. A fat door with the new light show would have been stunning and a natural progression of ‘Progress II’. It’s also pretty useless as a 48 (?) seater for lights tours. Quiet mid-week possibly, but hardly at weekends. I know I’ll get shot down but just my opinion.

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Nobody when making rational sensible arguments for or against something should feel like they will be “shot down”. Your taking a pragmatic approach identifying the capacity constraints whilst recognising merit in the concept. The Trawlers inception in the first place was on limited budget which dictated a Brush Car so in effect was always austerity contraption. Am grateful the Lofthouses have provided the majority of the funding and guess it be hard for them to transfer attention to something else whilst their Trawler lay idle. It wont be particularly useful dealing with regular illumination traffic but once fully up and running gather they hope to market is for hires with the fully customisable LEDs been particularly useful. I do like your idea of Illuminated Modern Balloon mind. Hope it happens.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      To be honest I don’t think it looks good at all in daylight, but presumably its not supposed to – I’m reserving judgement until I see it fully illuminated. I think as Christopher says, its important to remember that the project was largely funded by Lofthouse’s who probably wouldn’t have given so much cash towards another car. As it is, we now have three feature cars to enjoy and they will no doubt be much admired by the public, plus I suspect the revenue that the Trawler will generate from private hires will probably pay for a few other nice things. I too like the sound of a double deck car covered in LEDs though!

      • Dave says:

        Whilst Private Hires are an excellent source of revenue the limitations of single ended and small capacity won’t help in this case! I’ve seen the Frigate on hire on Sunday evenings and its nearly always full. The question is why was it pulled off in the firs place? I don’t remember there being anything wrong with it!

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          Actually I was thinking more in terms of things like birthday and wedding parties. I gather it will be possible to create shapes and letters in lights using the new LEDs – imagine a tram with ‘Congratulations Bill & Lindsay’ for a wedding, for example. The possibilities are huge!

          • Dave says:

            Agreed huge possibilities providing you have a small guest list! Seriously though, s a two car hire say with the message across then a Balloon for the guests does create serious potential.

  5. John says:

    For a Tram which is used at night a pantograph is much more practical expecially in the high winds the illuminations are often blessed with. It is also historically accurate. Trams have pantographs for operational ease and why not? We are running a Heritage fleet NOT a museum fleet. When the day comes for the cars to be incorporated into such a museum fleet, yes they will get them.

  6. Ken Walker says:

    The illuminated cars, like the rest of the fleet, make the money for their upkeep from carrying passengers, not from posing for photographs. And you can’t see the pantograph or trolley from inside on most of them. So it doesn’t matter. Neither pantographs or trolleys do much to engance the appearance of a tram but are an operational essential, as I don’t think the tramway will be going back to conduit operation any time soon.

  7. Georg V says:

    I must say my feelings are bit mixed about the new look 737.
    On the one hand it´s of course wonderful to see the Trawaler back on the Prom as working Illuminated Feature car, right where it belongs.
    The approach towards flexible LED lighting is a nice step of progress as well.

    But I think the outside of the car, around the new lights, looks rather unfinished. For example the “FD 241” above the corner windows is only partly left and visible. Also the main doors and front have kept the thick red stripe above the underframe, which to me now look really out of place…
    With these minor things fixed I would rate it as a perfect – well let´s call it modernisation.

    And if everything is done with LED, why not fit an LED destination display, as we know from the Flexities or state of the art buses (I do bear in mind the possible problems with making the blind out within all the LEDs).

    Greetings from Halle, Germany

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